KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Reform Questions, Myths, Comparisons Unwound

With the possibility of a major health care overhaul looming on the horizon, commentators, analysts and advocates have been seeking out points of comparison.

When it comes to actually accomplishing major reforms, many look to President Johnson's successful push in 1965 to enact Medicare, the insurance program that covers America's elderly. One key difference between Johnson and Obama's travails, the Associated Press reports, is a matter of scale. "Medicare was big. This could be bigger. If a bill passes, Americans probably will be discovering - and debating - its effects for years."

The AP points out that after Medicare was signed into law on July 30, 1965, the elderly began receiving health benefits 11 months later. Meanwhile, if Obama signs the House version of the current reform proposal into law, it could take "the better part of a decade… to get all the components of the far-reaching proposal up and running." A timeline produced by the AP shows the role of the federal government increasing each year over that time (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/20).

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal offers a "Frequently Asked Questions" list for health reform initiates. "It is crunch time for health care. Lawmakers who are trying to fundamentally remake one-sixth of the U.S. economy say this might be the most complicated legislation they have undertaken," the Journal says, offering answers to these questions, and more: "Can Democrats and Republicans agree on anything?", "What would a public plan look like?" and "What happens if the effort once again fails?" (Adamy, 7/21).

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