Author Archives: Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at Follow her on Facebook.

Addressing the cost of the health reform wars

The ceaseless political warfare over health care, ironically, has become a big obstacle to … fixing health care.

Because what Americans care most about is cost – and we can’t fix the rest of our coverage problems without also addressing cost. And we, as a nation, are not really talking about cost. The president’s budget would slash entitlement spending, particularly on Medicaid. But like all presidential budgets – it’s not going to pass and lowering federal spending on old, poor and sick people isn’t going to make the costs of taking care of old, poor and sick people go away. Continue reading

The other Democratic health agenda (hint – it’s not Medicare for All)

With all the attention on Medicare for All, it’s easy to forget that congressional Democrats have another important health care agenda: shoring up the Affordable Care Act.

A bunch of proposals are floating around. It’s worth checking out whether your state legislators or regulators have similar ideas of their own to strengthen their individual markets, such as adding more generous subsidies or forms of reinsurance. Here is a sample of proposals that are at least now getting a hearing in the House. (This list is adapted from a summary issued by the House Energy and Commerce Committee for spring hearing — it’s not all-inclusive of every idea of every Democrat.) Continue reading

As the ‘Medicare-for-all’ debate heats up, some useful terms to keep straight

Photo: Kat Grigg via Flickr

“Medicare-for-all,” “single-payer” and “universal coverage” are going to be in the news a lot over the next few years – and confuse many people. While these terms often are used interchangeably, they all mean slightly different things. Continue reading

Chronicling the uninsured: A yearlong look that combines policy, narrative

Bloomberg Health reporter John Tozzi has written a terrific “how I did it” essay summing up a yearlong project on Chronicling America’s Uninsured that really delved deeply into who can’t afford health insurance – or chooses not to pay the high cost – and what they experience.

It’s a powerful combination of policy and narrative in a way we don’t often hear. And he showed that health care and insurance isn’t just beyond reach of the poor or working class. It’s a crisis for growing numbers of people much further up the income ladder. Continue reading

Utah’s Medicaid expansion hits some headwinds

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

No sooner had we posted an update on the prospects for Medicaid expansion in several states, including the three that passed ballot initiatives in November, than news came of obstacles emerging in Utah.

The state legislature may take one or more of these actions: delay the April start; cover fewer people; add work requirements or other conditions. Continue reading

Midterm elections changed prospects for Medicaid expansion

The Commonwealth Fund’s Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., vice president for health care coverage and access, walked us through the prospects for Medicaid expansion and the ongoing controversy over work requirements in a recent webcast for AHCJ members. (The recorded webcast and her slides are here.)

Collins noted that the November midterm election changed the odds of expansion in at least six states – the three that approved ballot initiatives on expansion (Utah, Nebraska and Idaho) and three that elected pro-expansion Democratic governors to succeed Republicans (Kansas, Wisconsin and Maine.) Continue reading