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Tip Sheets

Resources for covering Obama's health care proposal


Jonathan Oberlander
Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management and Social Medicine
University of North Carolina
Phone: 919-966-6296

Jonathan Gruber
Professor of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Phone: 617-253-8892

Vicente Navarro
Professor of Public Policy, Sociology and Policy Studies
Johns Hopkins University
Phone: 410-955-3280

Uwe Reinhardt
Professor of Political Economy, Economics and Public Affairs
Princeton University
Phone: 609-258-4781

Ted Marmor
Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Management and Political Science
Yale University (based in New York City)
Phone: 203-432-3238

James Robinson
Professor of Health Economics
University of California, Berkeley
Phone: 510-642-0564

Stuart Altman
Professor of National Health Policy
Brandeis University
Phone: 781-736-3803

Marilyn Moon
Vice President and Health Program Director
American Institutes for Research, Washington, D.C.
Media contact number: 202-503-5119

Election 2008: Health CareAHCJ's Election 2008: Health Care
Based on what the presidential candidates said in debates, speeches and statements. AHCJ kept track of information on where they stand on access to health care and other issues, including stem cell research, abortion and more.

Excluded voices: An interview with Theodore Marmor (Nov. 18, 2008)
CJR's Trudy Lieberman is introducing a series of interviews with a wide range of people and perspectives on the health care discussion. The first is an interview with Yale professor Theodore Marmor, a health care expert and the co-author of a recent op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The headline was, "Health-care plans familiar; Obama and McCain fall into old traps when it comes to financing ." 

Health care policy in an Obama administration: Delivering on the promise of universal coverage (Nov. 12, 2008)
A new analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute examines the challenges Obama faces, explains how these reforms may be enacted, the potential impact for employers as well as those in the health industry and provides five ideas for making health care more affordable.

Dissecting the health care debate
AHCJ board president By Trudy Lieberman finds that the candidates did weave health care into the Oct. 7 debate and that the things they said (or didn't say) offer important clues about how their respective plans for health care reform might unfold.

12 health care questions for the presidential debate
AHCJ President Trudy Lieberman, writing for, outlines 12 questions about health care that should be posed during the presidential candidate's debate. Her questions deal with controlling costs, achieving universal health care without mandates, safeguards for policy holders and much more. They also provide a strong guide for anyone writing about health reform and the candidates' proposals.

Commonwealth Fund releases analysis
The Commonwealth Fund analyzed the health system reform proposals of presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. The report describes the 2008 presidential candidates' proposals, examines key differences in their vision of a future health insurance system, and evaluates the proposals against principles outlined by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System.

Actuarial organization publishes, analyzes candidates' health care reform plans
Contingencies, a publication of the American Academy of Actuaries, has published articles about health care reform by Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, as well as one by an actuary who weighs the candidates' proposals.

Decision 2008: The Future of Our Nation's Health Care System
On Sept. 16, 2008, top advisers discussed the presidential candidates' plans for health care at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Audio of this session is available. Speakers were:
• Daniel Kessler, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Professor, Stanford University Graduate School of Business; Health Policy Surrogate, 2008 John McCain Presidential Campaign
• E. Richard Brown, Director, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research; Professor, UCLA School of Public Health; Health Policy Advisor, 2008 Barack Obama Presidential Campaign
• Doug Sovern, Reporter, KCBS-AM (Moderator)

Health Affairs has published studies examining the McCain and Obama health care plans and what their impact would be. (Sept. 16, 2008) NOTE: Access to Health Affairs is free to AHCJ members.
Obama Health Plan: More Regulation, Spending; by Joseph Antos, Gail Wilensky, and Hanns Kuttner
McCain Plan: Transformation, Less Coverage; by Thomas Buchmueller, Sherry A. Glied, Anne Royalty, and Katherine Swartz
• Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis, Ph.D., examines the Health Affairs articles.

Health care on the Mississippi
A Columbia Journalism Review series by Trudy Lieberman examines how ordinary people from different parts of society would fare under the health care plans of Obama and McCain. She focuses on Helena, Ark., a town of 6,300 along the Mississippi River, in hopes that the press will follow suit and do the same thing for people in their areas.
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX

Studies Detail Contrasts in Rivals' Health-Care Plans (Sept. 16, 2008)
Laura Meckler of The Wall Street Journal reports on a report from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The report finds that Republican presidential candidate John McCain's health-care plan would make only a small dent in the ranks of the uninsured, while Democratic nominee Barack Obama would cover more people.

Read the Tax Policy Center report (PDF) - the health care section starts on page 50. The Tax Policy Center is a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

Using What Works: Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program as a Base for Health Care Reform (Sept. 18, 2008)
Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis, Ph.D., testified at the hearing, "America's Need for Health Reform," held by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health.

Putting a human face on McCain, Obama health plans (September 2008)
AHCJ President Trudy Lieberman urges reporters to write about how the presidential candidates' health care plans will affect ordinary people. Lieberman argues that health care is still a top worry for many Americans and crucial to their economic well-being. She says that, unless we tell audiences just what they can expect from either candidate, they might really become disengaged.

Talking Health: Covering the Underinsured (July 2008)
AHCJ, the Commonwealth Fund, and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism present Talking Health, a webcast that explores the growing problem of the underinsured – those who have insurance but are still at risk for substantial out-of-pocket expenses.

Edwards says McCain plan gives insurance companies a pass (April 7, 2008)
Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, was the keynote speaker at the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism luncheon. Edwards discussed her view of John McCain's health care plan, revealed which candidate's plan she favored and she called upon journalists to make sure the candidates tell the truth about health care and their plans.

Which way health reform? (April 7, 2008)
Leading health policy experts from the left, middle and right debated the widely varying options facing lawmakers and voters.

Candidates' health reform language needs closer scrutiny, definition (February 2008)
The health care vocabulary of the presidential campaign includes terms such as "socialized medicine," "universal," "comprehensive," "guaranteed," "mandate," "coverage," "care" and "choice." AHCJ President Trudy Lieberman calls on journalists to pin down the candidates and explain what the words mean before we let them get away with a smorgasbord of empty terms.

Webcast: The Future of the State Children's Health Insurance Plan (March 2007)
With the State Children's Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) up for reauthorization, this roundtable – a partnership between the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Kaiser Family Foundation – focuses on what journalists need to know about covering SCHIP in their states.

SCHIP: Where does it stand and what do journalists need to know? (Aug. 2007)
To find out the details of the House and Senate SCHIP bills, as well as possible complications in reauthorizing the program, AHCJ interviewed Robin Rudowitz, principal policy analyst for the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

Health care coverage for kids (Oct. 2007)
A presentation by Georges Benjamin, M.D., at the Urban Health Journalism Workshop 2007. Benjamin is executive director of the American Public Health Association and he gives information on uninsured children in the U.S., the effect the implementation of SCHIP had on the numbers, and an overview of where SCHIP stands now.

Association of Health Care Journalists/Kaiser Family Foundation Interactive Roundtable on Health Savings Accounts (February 2005)
This roundtable focuses on health savings accounts and related approaches advocated by the Bush Administration and others to address rising health care costs and lack of coverage for the uninsured.