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Checking In With…

KHN talks with experts about the key health policy questions and political debates that shape the nation’s health care system.




Checking In With...

Michael Needham 
Michael Needham, the Heritage Foundation staffer in charge of the organization’s action plan to repeal health reform, discusses part of the strategy involved in achieving this goal.

Checking In With...

Rep. Gerry Connolly 
The first-term Virginia lawmaker says the public mood has switched dramatically from the cantankerous town hall meetings of last summer. “The policy debate is over for the public,” which is interested in the details of implementation, he says.

Checking In With...

Dr. Oxiris Barbot
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, a pediatrician who will be Baltimore’s health commissioner starting Monday, spent 7 years as medical director of New York City’s schools, where she helped develop an electronic medical records system.


Checking In With...Rep. Lois Capps, D-CA
The vice chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee discusses her support for the public option and the challenges of negotiating for the best possible bill.

Checking In With...

Francis Collins
Physician-geneticist Francis Collins led the Human Genome Project, and now, as director of the National Institutes of Health, his mission is to improve the nation’s health system, starting with individual patients.

Checking In With...Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND
The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee talks about the need for full financing and cost reduction in any health bill, and gives his take on the political manuevering in Congress.

Checking In With...Rep. Diana DeGette, D-CO
One of the House’s chief deputy whips and vice chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, DeGette talks about mapping out a winning strategy to pass a bill, and how she believes reform should be financed.

Checking In With...Nancy-Ann DeParle
The head of the White House Office of Health Reform, DeParle discusses the challenges of bringing various factions to agreement on a massive overhaul of the nation’s sprawling health care system.

Checking In With...Linda Douglass
The communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform, Douglass talks about the administration’s perspective on the issues and compares current reform efforts with those in the 1990s.

Checking In With...Sen. Charles Grassley, R-IA
The ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley discusses the difficulties of working with members of both parties to try to put together a bipartisan bill to reform the health care system.

Checking In With...

Betsy Markey
Colorado Democrat Rep. Betsy Markey opposed health reform legislation in the House, but later was a critical vote for the final bill. Now, she is working to defuse criticism before the November elections. 

Checking In With...Rep. Mike Ross, D-AR
The chairman of the Blue Dog Democrats’ health care reform task force, Ross talks about the health care problems of his district and the primary reform concerns for the Blue Dog Democrats.

Checking In With...Carol Steckel
The Alabama Medicaid Commisioner, Steckel expresses her concerns about the states facing increased costs and implementation challenges with Medicaid expansions proposed in health reform legislation.

Checking In With...Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR
A long-time advocate for health reform, Wyden says current Democratic proposals don’t offer consumers enough choice, which he suggests is key to creating competition and making coverage affordable.


Checking In With...Joseph A. Califano, Jr.
The Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the Carter administration, Califano sees similarities in the issues being grappled with in today’s health reform efforts and those in the 1970s.

Checking In With...

Tom Daschle, Former Senate Majority Leader
Daschle says Democrats need to seize on the historic opportunity that the health overhaul bill represents. He said he’s “confident” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will get the votes to pass the bill.

Checking In With...

Dave Durenberger
A former Republican Senator from Minnesota, Durenberger co-sponsored a failed health reform bill in 1993 under President Clinton. He talks about the lack of bipartisanship in today’s reform efforts.

Checking In With...Bill Frist
Formerly the Senate Majority Leader, Frist predicts reform efforts will fail to “bend the cost curve,” and talks about his new book, “A Heart to Serve, The Passion to Bring Health, Hope, and Healing.”

Checking In With...Dr. John Kitzhaber
The former governor of Oregon, Kitzhaber talks about some of his unorthodox ideas about medical service valuation and controlling health costs that he says could fix the country’s health care system.


 Checking In With...Stuart Altman
The partisan vitriol and Democratic infighting that threatens this year’s health reform efforts is reminiscent of the battles dating back to Richard Nixon’s administration, says Stuart Altman, a veteran of that campaign. 

Checking In With...Dr. Donald Berwick
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Berwick talks about how to encourage front-line health workers and leaders in the health care industry to make changes to reduce hospital deaths and complications.

Checking In With...Stuart Butler
The Heritage Foundation’s Stuart Butler talks about the “endgame” for health reform, addresses what the future may hold, and provides some ideas for expanding insurance to more Americans.

Checking In With...Daniel Callahan
Reknowned medical ethicist Callahan argues that Medicare should determine what benefits it will make available based on costs and other considerations, and then simply not pay for others.

Checking In With...Patricia Danzon
A professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert in the field of pharmaceuticals, Danzon discusses the debate over patent protection for biologics, drugs made from living cells.

Checking In With...Victor Fuchs
Longtime health economist Fuchs expresses disappointment about President Obama’s handling of the health overhaul debate and argues for a voucher proposal that he says would curb health costs.

Checking In With...Jacob Hacker
Political scientist Hacker created his signature idea for a public health insurance program a decade ago. Now, to his surprise, it has emerged as one of the most contentious issues in the health care debate.

Checking In With...Dr. Barron Lerner
An associate professor at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and author of “The Breast Cancer Wars,” Lerner discusses the history of the politics and science behind breast cancer.

Checking In With...

Kate Lorig, Stanford University
Professor Kate Lorig of Stanford University designed a program to help patients cope with the frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation of chronic disease.

Checking In With...Fitzhugh Mullan
The George Washington University professor talks about his Health Affairs essay, which calls on activists to resurrect “the fire of the Civil Rights movement” in their quest for universal health care.

Checking In With...

Gail Wilensky

Health policy economist and GOP adviser Wilensky weighs in on the importance of both clinical-effectiveness and cost-effectiveness research, which she says could lead to better outcomes medically and financially.


Checking In With...Ascension Health
Ascension Health is the nation’s largest Catholic system and an important player in the U.S. health care system. President and CEO Anthony Tersigni argues the true measure of reform is to cover all Americans.

Checking In With...Dr. Douglas Eby, medical director of Southcentral Foundation
Southcentral Foundation uses an integrated-care approach to health care: viewing physical, mental, social and spiritual wellness as interconnected. Dr. Eby talks about using this approach to treat chronic disease.

Checking In With...Dr. Antonio Falcon
A family doctor from Rio Grande City, Texas, Falcon says the failure of health reform to address the needs of illegal immigrants could cause the collapse of hospitals and open the border to public health risks.

Checking In With...Denver Health CEO Patricia Gabow
One of every four Denver residents is served by Denver Health, a system known for its efficiency and quality. CEO Patricia Gabow talks about how ‘integrated care’ works.

Checking In With...Group Health Cooperative’s Pam MacEwan
Non-profit health co-ops have attracted interest in the national health reform debate. Group Health’s executive vice president for public affairs MacEwan explains what has made their co-op successful.

Checking In With...Dr. Robert Ouellet
The former President of the Canadian Medical Association recently went on a fact-finding tour of five European countries that he says offered lessons that could improve the health systems in the US and Canada.

Checking In With... Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, Indian Health Service Director
The IHS is responsible for the health care of 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. Dr. Roubideaux discusses what the IHS has learned about managing diseases that could help other Americans.

Checking In With...Scituate, RI
This small town has taken its own first steps toward health reform by creating a system for the town’s uninsured residents that allows them access to basic primary care services.

Checking In With...Dr. Abraham Verghese
The author of “My Own Country” and “Cutting For Stone” talks about the critical shortage of primary care physicians, the power of health care lobbies and “the charm and magic” of being at a patient’s bedside.


Checking In With... Eric Dishman
Director for health innovation and policy at Intel, Dishman dreams up ways to improve care for the rapidly growing senior population. He talks about why he views this “age wave” as a market opportunity.

Checking In With...

Jim Firman
Expert on aging Jim Firman, president of the National Council on Aging, says a program established by the new health law may help meet seniors’ needs and keep them in their homes.

Checking In With...James Gelfand
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s senior manager of health policy, Gelfand argues that Congress should focus on the issues everyone agrees on, instead of the more contentious proposals.

Checking In With...Jim Guest
President and CEO of Consumers Union, the nonprofit organization that publishes Consumer Reports magazine, Guest says change is needed to ease the burden of rising health care costs.

Checking In With...Karen Ignagni
Top insurance industry lobbyist Ignagni discusses her take on the political assault her industry has taken, her end-game strategy and her unflagging opposition to a public plan.

Checking In With...Dr. Fikry Isaac
Isaac, executive director of global health services at Johnson & Johnson, also runs the company’s wellness program. He says corporate wellness and prevention programs have great potential to curb health care costs.

Checking In With...Charles “Chip” Kahn III
As head of the Federation of American Hospitals, Kahn helped negotiate a deal in June among the hospital industry and the White House and the Senate Finance Committee.

Checking In With...David Nexon
As senior executive vice president of Advanced Medical Technology Association, which represents the medical device manufacturers, Nexon’s working to ensure that any health care overhaul doesn’t squash innovation.

Checking In With...Wal-Mart’s David Tovar
Spokesman Tovar talks about the company’s letter to the President in support of an employer mandate, which was co-signed by Service Employees International Union and the Center for American Progress.

Checking In With...Lou Saccoccio

The executive director of the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association is on a mission to stop the estimated $65 billion lost annually by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to fraud.

Checking In With...

Andrew Sperling
Andrew Sperling – of the National Alliance on Mental Illness – talks about progress implementing the 2008 mental health parity law and how it might change under the new health overhaul.

Checking In With...Richard Umbdenstock
As head of the AHA, Umbdenstock has a daunting task: fending off billions of dollars in payment cuts to hospitals proposed by the Obama administration to help pay for a health care overhaul.