Tag Archives: public option

Lieberman: Joe’s looking out for folks at home

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

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.

lieberman
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.

There certainly seems to be some data to back Trudy Lieberman’s insights. OpenSecrets.org shows that the “Finance, Insurance & Real Estate” sector has been the largest donor to the senator.

We have public options now. Are they any good?

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

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.
  • ihs

  • 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 explains all five House, Senate plans

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

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.

Decoding Obama’s message; highlighting coverage

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

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.

Perceptions affecting support of public option

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

In the health reform debate, the public option has emerged as the latest controversy and possible stumbling block. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that “the vast majority of those who support the entire reform package also back it without the public option, while removing it attracts some of those who would otherwise be opposed.”

A recent poll of more than 5,000 doctors found that nearly 63 percent of them support a public option. Primary care providers were the most likely to support a public option; physicians in fields that generally have less regular direct contact with patients were less likely to support a public option, though 57.4 percent did so.

The Washington Post points out that, among consumers, support for the public option varies widely based on what its perceived effect will be.

Mother Jones‘ Washington, D.C., bureau chief David Corn, on Hardball with Chris Matthews on Monday night, said that many people still don’t know the details of how a public option fits into health care reform. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, also on Hardball, argues that people who have insurance “don’t focus on the public option because they think it’s not about them.”

 

Do reporters fully understand the public option? Are they effectively explaining it to their audiences?

To learn more about the public option, watch this Talking Health web cast, featuring two experts who explain the public option and potential effects of a public option. The second half of the web cast features Los Angeles Times reporter Noam Levey and New York Times reporter Reed Abelson, who provide insights and suggestions for covering this aspect of health care reform.

It may be helpful to look at what’s happening in San Francisco, where a program for the uninsured offers care in clinics and covers admissions to hospitals located in the city. While it isn’t health insurance, it does include a mandate that employers “offer health coverage to employees, contribute to workers’ health savings accounts or pitch in on Healthy San Francisco.”

Primer on reform draws from AHCJ presentation

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Sarasota Health News reporter and editor David Gulliver released his own evaluation of health care reform, drawing on the Dartmouth Atlas and the speech Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt delivered in “brilliant – and, believe it or not, hysterically funny – style at the Association for Health Care Journalists national conference in April.”

Uwe Reinhardt

Uwe Reinhardt

After sketching a clear and convincing portrait of a failing system, Gulliver takes his assessment even further, venturing authoritative predictions on what a final health care reform package will look like. Gulliver goes into some detail, with the general idea being that the final product will include a universal insurance mandate, a public option that would only go into effect if that mandate’s goals were not met and increased regulation of the insurance industry. Gulliver’s straightforward, un-muddled approach makes the piece both accessible to a broad audience and interesting even to those who read and write about health for a living.

Find a copy of Reinhardt’s Health Journalism 2009 presentation here.