A new report from the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t received wide coverage, so far but may become an important resource for journalists in the coming months if Democrats in the U.S. Congress seek to increase competition in health insurance markets nationwide. It also could be a useful resource if any state seeks to develop a public option. Continue reading
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has been a vocal burr in the saddle of the Democrat majority’s push for health care reform. Writing for CJR.org, Trudy Lieberman seeks to explain why Joe Lieberman has so vigorously opposed measures like the “public option” and the long-term care CLASS Act. Trudy Lieberman says the senator’s position would seem to have something to do with his constituent base.
Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Photo by NewsHour via Flickr.
Joe Lieberman comes from Connecticut, and Hartford is America’s insurance capital. It’s home base to Aetna, one of the country’s largest health insurers and a huge lobbying force this year, not to mention some lesser carriers that dabble in the health insurance business.
Trudy then goes down Lieberman’s reform stances issue-by-issue, pointing out exactly how vested interests in his constituency could have influenced each one.
ProPublica’s Sabrina Shankman reviews America’s existing “public options” for health care, finding mixed results and limited utility. In addition to Medicare and Medicaid, Shankman reviews a few less prominent institutions:
- The armed forces Tricare plan: Covers all active members of the military, retirees and their families, regardless of preexisting conditions. If you stick to military treatment facilities, it’s cheap.
- Veterans Health Administration: Veterans who meet its standards are guaranteed high quality care, but funding is tight at the VA right now.
- Indian Health Service: Allows American Indians and Alaska Natives free access to reservation clinics… until the service’s funding runs out, as it does about halfway through each year.
- Healthcare Group of Arizona: It was founded to provide afforable insurance to certain small businesses, but a lack of funds and climbing deductibles mean that many employers will be better off looking to the private market anyway.
Reuters has a handy summary of the key provisions of the latest bill likely to be considered by the House of Representatives.
Bloomberg’s Kristin Jensen and Nicole Gaouette have perused all five proposed health care reform plans, each originating from a different committee in either the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives, and were kind enough to explain exactly what they have in common and what they don’t.
In case you’re wondering, they all come with an individual mandate, expanded coverage, comparative effectiveness, increased regulation of insurers and cost-cutting measures. They differ in terms of budget, funding, a public option and an employer mandate.
AHCJ president Trudy Lieberman writes at CJR.org that, in his speech last week, President Barack Obama didn’t put anything new on the table, he just arranged the existing place settings to make them look more palatable to three key groups of constituents: the insured, the uninsured and those on Medicare.
In other words, the public option, should it exist, will be very limited, there will be an individual coverage mandate and Medicare won’t be footing any of the reform bill. Lieberman ends her column with the polite request that the media not allow itself to be sidetracked by South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst and instead focus on how the president’s proposals would affect their readers.
In a related piece, Lieberman took the time to praise two outlets which managed to squeeze past all the political posturing and report on the real issues surrounding health care reform. The Kansas City Star‘s Diane Stafford looked for answers to hard questions about the enforcement of an individual insurance mandate, while Kaiser News Service’s Jordan Rau explained just how expensive the individually mandated coverage could be.
As part of her ongoing Who will be at the Table series, Lieberman points out that Gun Owners of America, the NRA’s smaller rival, is opposing current reform proposals because they’re afraid gun-related medical information would end up in a national health database, and because they’re wary of an individual insurance mandate.
In another report, Lieberman posted the results of her interviews with another group, small business owners and employees in a Midwest college town, who sounded unsure about whether they were even at the table or not.