health care

health care reform 2009

After ten plus years of sitting on the sidelines of political debate, health care reform is back on center court.

Obama made health care one of his key campaign issues and top administration priorties. True to the president's style, he's pushing his dual goals - reining in health care costs and extending coverage to all Americans - without prescribing the details of how to pull them off. Those details he's leaving to lawmakers at the same time as pressuring Congress to have a final bill passed by the end of the year. The president's stance of keeping an open mind on the details notwithstanding, Obama has made many of his views known through speeches; those view are outlined below.

Congressional committees have okayed no less than three comprehensive health care reform bills (with a fourth still in the drafting) which they will certainly struggle to knit together in the fall. All of the bills are outlined below, although congress watchers have voted the drafts coming out of the Senate Finance and House Energy committees to be "most likely to be our next Health Care law."

health action 2009

Bills in Brief

It took over a decade for health care reform to lose its Clinton-era-induced taboo status - but 2009 could be the year Congress approves sweeping changes to health care.

While lawmakers rev up for large-scale reform, though, some smaller health bills seeing action include:

SCHIP. Congress head butted with Bush the past two years over expanding State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which covers low income children who aren't low income enough to qualify for Medicaid. Having lost the battle in '07 and '08, lawmakers put SCHIP at the top of their agenda in '09, passing an expansion of coverage to 4 million additional children (up from 7 million) at an additional cost of $32 billion. (WP)

health action 2008

Bills in Brief

It took over a decade for health care reform to lose its Clinton-era-induced taboo status - but while health care policy is coming back in vogue, America will have to wait until 2009 before any major reforms become ripe for passage.

In the meantime, in 2007 Congress set out to pass a series of mini health care initiatives - which it may follow up on in 2008:

SCHIP. Congress head butted with Bush last year over expanding State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which covers low income children who aren't low income enough to qualify for Medicaid. Congress, which wanted to double the scope of the act, lost. It considered a second go in '08, but now SCHIP has officially been punted to '09 (NYT). Meanwhile, the administration sent states a letter saying they had to tighten eligibility for SCHIP, only to have the GAO weigh in that the administration overstepped its legal boungs (GAO).

SCHIP - state health insurance program for low-income kids

The State Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers low income children who aren't low income enough to qualify for Medicaid, was up for renewal since 2007 - and Dems (with the help of moderate Republicans) locked horns with President Bush to try to double the scope of the act. The president, who wanted more modest reforms, won.

Congress ultimately passed an expansion of SCHIP in 2009 under the Obama administration. This page just offers this recap of last year's debate:

In late September of '07, the House and Senate passed a bill that would increase spending on SCHIP to $60b over five years (up from $25b), paid for by a 61cent tax on ciggies.

The president vetoed the high price act but signaled he'd compromise on a cheaper bill. Although the Senate had enough votes to override the veto, the House failed to clear the veto threshold. (WP)

Posted In

small business health plans

Issue in Brief

Congress has a number of ideas on deck to bring down health care costs and/or increase the ranks of the health-insured. One - "Association Health Plans" (AHP) or "Small Business Health Plans" (SBHP) as it's now in vogue to call them - would let small businesses band together to give health insurance to their employees while being freed up from state rules. It's not a new idea; AHP bills have passed in the House for a few years in a row now, but they usually get stopped in the Senate where critics say the plans leave folks unprotected by minimum care requirements and risk skewing the health insurance market. A renewed push to pass an SBHP bill in the Senate failed to make it to the floor in May, 2006. With the dems taking over Congress in 2007, it's doubtful SBHPs will make any headway for the next couple of years.

Posted In

This Week on Capitol Hill

The Week of July 13

The floors of Capitol Hill are busy with spending matters this week. While the House churns through two more of its twelve spending bills for fiscal year 2010 - a $33b Energy and Water bill and $24b for Financial Services - senators will wade into lengthy debate over the $690b defense authorization bill, HR 1390. The "authorization" bill doesn't write the check for the military ("appropriations" bills do that), but it does okay what can go into an appropriations bill for next year. One budgetary item that will slow up passage is a $2b allotment for F-22 fighter planes: the Pentagon says it doesn't need the extra planes; the administration doesn't want to pay for them; but lawmakers in the homestates that build F-22s are pushing to buy them anyway.

health bills 2007

Bills in Brief

It took over a decade for health care reform to lose its Clinton-era-induced taboo status - but while health care policy is coming back in vogue, America will likely have to wait until 2009 before any major reforms become ripe for passage.

In the meantime, in 2007 Congress set out to pass a series of mini health care inititiatives - which citizenJoe kept track of here:

SCHIP. The State Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers low income children who aren't low income enough to qualify for Medicaid, was up for renewal this year - and Dems (with the help of moderate Republicans) locked horns with president to try to double the scope of the act. In late September, the House and Senate passed a bill that would increase spending on SCHIP to $60b over five years (up from $25b), paid for by a 61cent tax on ciggies.

issue guide: Medical Malpractice

The Skinny

see also background & facts, pro & con, links

What's Up

All across the US, doctors are packing up their little black bags and heading to state capitals and DC to protest skyrocketing medical malpractice jury awards, which – they say – push up their insurance premiums, scare doctors off from higher-risk practices and raise health care costs for us all.

health care

Facts

Health care reform fell out of fashion after the Clintons' push to create a national health care system went down in flames in the 90's. But reform efforts are making a comeback. Everyone agrees on the two big problems: high costs and a high number of uninsured. Costs continue to soar and show little sign of letting up. For Americans who don't get insurance through their job, health care remains either a burden or, at times, a luxury to do without. Employers offering insurance to their workers, meanwhile, are beginning to buckle under the rising premiums.

While the problems are clear, the solutions are not - so we won't try to provide any. We do try, however, to lay out the big picture on how much we're spending, what on, and how our current insurance “system” works. For a great primer on the debate to bring costs down - and for any other info on health care, for that matter - see Kaiseredu.org.

Costs

How much the nation spends on health care (2005)

Posted In