Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Feature Highlights Recent Blog Entries
"Blog Watch" offers readers a roundup of health policy-related blog posts.
Appropriately, the last of the Senate Finance Committee's three major public roundtables on health reform issues was on finance.
Keith Hennessey lauds economist Kate Baicker's testimony (.pdf) and says it helps connect reform ideas to a system of third-party payment. Hennessey says the current system leads people to "spend more of other people's money than they do of their own, and less wisely." Hennessey explores the example of employer-sponsored insurance, which he says makes health insurance appear less expensive to employees than it is.
Meanwhile, the New Republic's Jonathan Cohn, who has been calling attention to potential ways of financing the significant cost of reform, recommends the testimony of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities President Robert Greenstein. Greenstein testified that there are no "painless" ways of raising money for reform, and said, "This leads to my first recommendation, in the form of a plea to the Committee. Please do not take any offset options off the table at this time. I believe you ultimately will need to put together a package that contains an array of spending and revenue offsets." Offsets could include removing or limiting the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored insurance.
Bob Lazsewski strenuously disagrees. He illustrates a post titled "Paying for a Big Part of Health Care Reform With New Taxes Would Be a Terrible Mistake!" with a graph of the trends in health insurance premiums over the last 20 years and says, "paying for most of health care reform by raising taxes would be nothing less than cowardly and fiscally irresponsible." He continues, "the Congress is so desperate to find money and so unwilling to anger any powerful health care special interests we better get ready for some interesting rationalizations to promote tax increases in the place of fundamental reforms."
After the hearing, ranking member Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) gave a presentation at the Heritage Foundation on his preferences for bipartisan reform legislation and the Foundry's Marguerite Higgins blogged Enzi's key points. She says the senator wants to increase affordability, use private plans for coverage and ensure a bill is fully paid for.
The White House appears to be initiating additional outreach efforts to mobilize support. Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post's Daily Dose reports that President Obama's administration chose to send its first WhiteHouse.gov e-mail on health reform Wednesday. Vargas says, "It's only fitting that Obama's first official e-mail from the White House is about health care reform. As early as December, the incoming Obama administration began using new media tools to build grassroots support around the issue."
- Julie Ferguson of Workers Comp Insider 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 participant's blog hosts each issue of the Review.
- The Health Affairs Blog features a post by E. Richard Brown, Gerald Kominski and Steven Wallace where the authors explore lessons that can be drawn from Medicare's "strengths and limitations" as a public plan.
- James Capretta and Yuval Levin have a piece in the Weekly Standard where they argue that "health care is the key to public enmeshment in ballooning welfare states, and passage of ObamaCare would deal a heavy blow to the conservative enterprise in American politics."
- David Cutler has a report for the Center for American Progress Action Fund on ways to "modernize the health system to eliminate and reduce costs."
- Jaan Sidorov of the Disease Management Care Blog summarizes potential "red flags" associated with implementing a patient-centered medical home model from a new study (.pdf) in the Annals of Family Medicine.