Author Archives: Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, has been AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curated related material at healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

How Biden can address health care reform ― without the Senate

BidenRegs

Photo: medipics1066 via Flickr

In my last post, I addressed President-elect Joe Biden’s proposals for expanding the Affordable Care Act and the slim likelihood that programs like a public option could get through a closely divided Senate ― particularly if Republicans end up with a narrow one- or two-seat majority after the Georgia run-offs.

But Biden and the leaders he picks to run HHS and CMS will have broad executive power to shape health care, just as President Donald Trump and his appointees did. Continue reading

Biden’s health plan likely to travel a rough road in the Senate

Biden wearing mask at podium

Photo: Budiey via Flickr

President-elect Joe Biden has an ambitious plan to build upon the Affordable Care Act, in effect evolving “Obamacare” into “Bidencare.”

But depending on the outcome of the two Georgia Senate run-offs, Biden either will face a Republican-controlled Senate or a tied Senate in which Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote. On some issues, the Democrats might pick up a few Republicans, and on others, they could lose a few votes from their side. Continue reading

House passes first bill to expand the ACA

Photo: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr

The House recently passed a health reform bill – and it’s a definite win for the incrementalists.

The Democratic presidential primaries – which now feel like they took place in another universe, long ago and far away – were animated by a significant divide over whether to move to a single-payer “Medicare for All” health care system or to build upon the Affordable Care Act. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden wants to build on the ACA and favors adding a public option. Continue reading

Pandemic changes, or pauses, state approaches to health coverage

Photo: Yuri Samoilov via Flickr

Before the new coronavirus pandemic, expanding health insurance was a hot topic in the presidential campaign. States were considering a wide range of health coverage policies, including Medicaid expansion, Medicaid block grants, public options, new subsidies and coverage of immigrants.

Much of the state policymaking has been on hold or is phasing in more slowly as the nation’s health system focuses on COVID-19. States are facing enormous financial stresses due both to the pandemic and the subseqent economic crisis. Continue reading

Fate of COBRA reforms in the HEROES Act

Photo: Jernej Furman via Flickr

Democrats in Congress have several ways that they’d like to address the millions of newly unemployed and uninsured Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, including widely opening enrollment for the Affordable Care Act.

One measure that made it into the recent $3 trillion stimulus bill known as the HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) would subsidize COBRA. That would enable newly unemployed people keep the insurance they had gotten on the job without having to shoulder the entire cost as typical. Taking over the entire premium can be considerable: Employer premiums average $7,188 for a single person and $20,576 for a family of four, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and COBRA adds a 2% surcharge. Continue reading

VOX series examines the approach of four countries to universal coverage.

Dylan Scott

In a new How I Did It essay, Dylan Scott of Vox explains how he and colleagues Ezra Klein and Tara Golshan created their multi-part series “Everybody Covered“ about how four countries accomplished universal health care. They also look at the state of Maryland, which has an all-payer system that may be a model for cost-containment in the U.S. The package, which contains both a series of articles and several podcasts, was supported by the Commonwealth Fund.

The series looks at Taiwan’s single-payer plan (which is arguably underfunded and which is not so beloved by its physicians), Australia’s public-private combo (with significant economic-based disparities), a “supercharged” Obamacare in the Netherlands (where it works partly because the country is not politically divisive) and Britain’s National Health Service. As Scott noted – there are always tradeoffs. Continue reading