Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Feature Highlights Recent Blog Entries
"Blog Watch" offers readers a roundup of health policy-related blog posts.
The Senate finally confirmed Kathleen Sebelius as HHS secretary this week, but some coverage was quick to note that at least 19 positions at HHS requiring Senate confirmation remain unfilled, including FDA commissioner. The Treatment's Jonathan Cohn jumped on the delay in light of the swine flu epidemic and made several calls to see if any of the confirmations could be moved up. The general answer he received? "Nobody I reached seemed to think so. And, oddly, nobody seemed too worked up about the delay," Cohn noted. Cohn lists nominee Margaret Hamburg's qualifications for FDA commissioner and concludes, "While the government is -- by virtually all accounts -- doing a great job so far, Hamburg would provide expertise as well as, if not better than, anybody in the country. "
Jaan Sidorov of the Disease Management Care Blog takes note of the Obama administration's $1.5 billion request for fighting the H1N1 swine flu and says the federal government's response could be a "defining moment": "This is big and very visible. If the administration appears competent and does this right (or if they're lucky), momentum for reform will grow. If the government proves impotent in changing the course of this emerging epidemic (or if they're unlucky), second thoughts will emerge and public support for health reform could wane significantly."
The top HHS official is now in place, but the media are still scrambling to uncover the details of Senate Democrats' closed-door health reform negotiations, reading the tea leaves in the absence of any leaked documents. CJR's Trudy Lieberman on Campaign Desk thinks Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is leaning against a so-called public plan: "It's sounding more and more like the senator won't let those who may be required to carry health insurance choose to buy it from a public plan that might compete with commercial insurers." But then, she points out that he made comments suggesting U.S. residents could buy plans in a national exchange "similar to Massachusetts." Lieberman says, "Was Baucus mixing up his terms or signaling a different type of 'public' plan? ... This is very different from what some public plan advocates are envisioning: a public plan like the Medicare program, where the government provides the benefits."
On the Republican side, Michael Cannon of Cato@Liberty says he has been "reliably informed" that House Republicans will not be including an individual mandate in any health reform proposal. This is following his post on Monday arguing against such an inclusion.
- Bob Lazsewski of Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review hosts the most recent edition of Health Wonk Review, a biweekly compendium of more than two dozen health policy, infrastructure, insurance, technology and managed care bloggers. A different blogger hosts each issue.
- TIE of the Finance Buff offers the last of his three primers on Medicare, this time focusing on the prescription drug benefit known as Part D.
- Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, says in the New York Times' Economix that financial officials could learn something from public health officials' ability to respond to crises.
- John Iglehart of the Health Affairs Blog posts highlights from a roundtable on public health insurance options with Jacob Hacker, Len Nichols and Stuart Butler.