Tag Archives: politics

Getting the facts straight in the ACA reform debate

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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Dem-candidatesMany of us spend time fact-checking what political candidates say during the debates.

But sometimes we need to fact-check the moderators (or perhaps the TV producers who help create questions outside a moderator’s area of expertise).

Witness the last month’s debate among candidates for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Most of it was focused on foreign policy, but there were a few health care questions. At one point, moderator Martha Raddatz noted that health insurance premiums had risen 27 percent in five years. She then asked Hillary Clinton how she would fix the Affordable Care Act: Continue reading

Be prepared to cover medical research claims during election season

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: FreeImages.com

Photo: Kristen Price via FreeImages.com

As the race toward the 2016 election gradually takes over more and more media coverage, Americans’ attention will be pulled toward the issues that dominate the election.

In some cases, unexpected issues will take center stage, if briefly, following a campaign trail speech or an organized debate. And sometimes, these issues will have a connection to medical research, so journalists need to be ready. Continue reading

What the Republican win might mean for the Affordable Care Act

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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Image by  ofacalifornia via flickr.

Image by ofacalifornia via flickr.

Come January, the Republicans will have big majorities in the House and the Senate – majorities they have not had since President Obama took office or since the Affordable Care Act was passed along party lines in 2010.

Now what?  Even the Republicans are figuring that out  – but here’s some of what we know.

The Senate and the House will both have ACA repeal votes. Such a vote will win overwhelmingly in the House and, in the Senate, the Republican majority is also expected to vote against the ACA (or for a procedural motion related to a straight out repeal vote) but it will still fall short of the 60 needed to clear a filibuster.

Continue reading

Watch funding, implementation and court cases as health reform moves forward

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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

The election is over. Obamacare survived.

So what’s the story in your state or community?

Implementation. Or lack thereof.

Joanne KenenJoanne Kenen (@JoanneKenen) is AHCJ’s health reform topic leader. If you have questions or suggestions for future resources, please send them to joanne@healthjournalism.org.

So here’s an overview of where things stand in D.C. – and what it means for the health beat.

(Soon we will post a short separate item on the new state insurance exchange deadlines. If your state wants to run its own exchange, the deadline is still Nov. 16. They have more time to fill in the details though.)

The Affordable Care Act will not be repealed. Maybe the House will still hold a few symbolic repeal votes, but it’s not going to be repealed. That does not mean that critics of the law won’t try to dismantle parts of it. Some likely targets include the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board and some of the industry taxes, particularly the medical device tax. Watch your own legislators to see where they go on this—if you are in a state or district with a medical device industry, watch the Democrats as well as the Republicans (and the medical device businesses themselves). Ask them how they want to offset the funding; if they eliminate one of the taxes that paid for the coverage expansion, where do they want to get that money instead? Adding to the deficit isn’t going to go over as a solution.

The law’s funding is vulnerable. How vulnerable and which parts? Hard to say yet. But for what it’s worth, #DEFUND is the new Twitter rallying cry for opponents of the law (some of whom do not seem to realize that the Republican House can’t act unilaterally … but I digress). There will be ample opportunities for Republicans to try to take a whack at this, not just through the annual budget and appropriations process but through the lame duck session of Congress getting under way this week that will try to find a way of averting, at least temporarily, the fiscal cliff. Continue reading

Panelists: Watch state activities for stories about seniors’ health services

Judith Graham

About Judith Graham

Judith Graham (@judith_graham), is a freelance journalist based in Denver and former topic leader on aging for AHCJ. She haswritten for the New York Times, Kaiser Health News, the Washington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association, STAT News, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.

What lies ahead for Medicare now that election results are in?

Two words sum up the short-term outlook:  cost cutting.

Judith GrahamJudith Graham (@judith_graham), AHCJ’s topic leader on aging, is writing blog posts, editing tip sheets and articles and gathering resources to help our members cover the many issues around our aging society.

If you have questions or suggestions for future resources on the topic, please send them to judith@healthjournalism.org.

Down the road, a more ambitious and difficult task awaits: restructuring the program and realigning its incentives to create a lower-cost, higher quality, more sustainable health care system.

What isn’t on the horizon is a radical overhaul of Medicare along the lines that the Republicans proposed. Converting Medicare to a premium-support model isn’t going to happen, at least not any time in the foreseeable future.

Just after the election, AHCJ asked three distinguished experts – Karen Davis of the Commonwealth Fund, Joseph Antos of the American Enterprise Institute and John Rother of the National Coalition on Health Care – to weigh in on the outlook for health programs that serve seniors. Medicare held center stage during most of that web chat.

All three experts said that traditional Medicare isn’t sustainable and that a top priority should be reimbursement reforms that shift the program away from “paying for volume” to “paying for value.”

Although Medicare spending per capita has slowed, total spending will soar as tens of millions of baby boomers become eligible for the program, putting intense pressure on the federal budget, said Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund.

Core Topics
Health Reform
Aging
Oral Health
Other Topics

With a 27 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement for physicians due to go into effect in January, the most immediate task for legislators is averting that, panelists agreed.

Next will come dealing with the “fiscal cliff” (a package of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts) that could throw the country into another recession, according to the panel. While an end-of-the-year deadline looms, that will surely be extended into next year, the panelists predicted.

“A key issue is whether Medicare and entitlement reform” will be part of these “fiscal cliff” discussions, Davis said. “Short term savings” in Medicare above and beyond those already proposed by the administration will likely be a focus, suggested Rother, president of the National Coalition on Health Care.

(President Obama had previously announced plans to cut projected increases in Medicare spending by $716 billion over a 10 year period. That’s now a floor for cuts that will be upcoming.) Continue reading

A quick Obamacare election recap – or ‘precap’

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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

So the election is finally here. What do we know about the fate of “Obamacare?”

As I write this on Sunday, Nov. 4 – not much. But here are the four main  scenarios to think about. When we know the results, we’ll explore more in depth.

Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen (@JoanneKenen) is AHCJ’s health reform topic leader. If you have questions or suggestions for future resources, please send them to joanne@healthjournalism.org.

At this writing, the presidential race is considered very close (with each side predicting that its guy will win.) The conventional wisdom is that the Senate is likely – not certainly, but likely – to remain in Democratic hands. But we’ll look at what would happen if the Republicans pull out a narrow win.

All the scenarios I write about here assume that the House remains Republican – that’s pretty much a given. Should the entire politicoscenti be wrong about that (highly unlikely) and it goes Democratic, that would mean more support for President Barack Obama’s health law, if he’s re-elected, and more obstacles to repeal if Mitt Romney wins. But, I repeat, it’s unlikely.

So read through the other four scenarios – and I put the most interesting and least understood last. Continue reading