Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare Reform’

Let’s take a moment to celebrate

March 24, 2010

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but let’s pause and be happy that our government finally passed real health reform. It’s not perfect, and there are many battles ahead, but for just a few moments, let us celebrate what we accomplished today.

Interstate health insurance shopping

February 24, 2010

John Goodman doesn’t seem like someone I’d normally agree with. I’m not talking about the former Roseanne star; I’m talking about the founder of the National Center for Policy Analysis. The site calls him the “Father of Health Savings Accounts” and  lists one of his major accomplishments as “playing the pivotal role in the defeat of the Clinton Administration’s plan to overhaul the U.S. health care system.”

That being said, I really enjoyed a posting he recently submitted to the HealthAffairs Blog on allowing consumers to purchase health insurance across state lines. He makes some great points about the benefits, including the ability to choose among 50 different insurance regulatory schemes. This means that if your state mandates in vitro fertilization coverage but not the chiropractic coverage you want, you could shop around for insurance from a state that does require chiropractic coverage to ensure you always have that coverage.

He notes that allowing interstate shopping could be bad for people with preexisting or chronic conditions. Healthy people from their state that might have normally subsidized their care through “guaranteed-issue and community rating in the individual market” might flock to states with cheaper insurance rates. This could leave people with preexisting or chronic conditions (which insurance companies do not like to insure) in ever smaller insurance pools and accordingly, higher premium costs. He mentions that the 6 states that currently require this could be exempt from interstate insurance shopping unless they want to opt in, but an even better solution would be “for states to find more rational ways of subsidizing the care of high-cost patients.” That’s the part that made me smile the most, because I fully agree that it’s important to help people with preexisting and chronic conditions receive affordable health insurance!!

Read the full posting here. If interstate health insurance shopping were allowed, what do you think states could do to subsidize the care of high-cost patients?

Dental health should be included in reform

February 21, 2010

Dental health has long been considered “optional” or an “extra” when it comes to health insurance. Just having insurance for dental procedures made you a lucky person; having good dental insurance that actually helped with the cost of expensive procedures (such as root canals and crowns) was like hitting the jackpot.

With the recent recession, dental health has fared even worse. People who lost their coverage along with their jobs are turning to safety net clinics, which were already overwhelmed with clients who never had dental insurance. Some states offer dental insurance to qualified applicants, but even that is dwindling.

States are feeling the sting of the recession when it comes to their budgets for dental insurance. According to NPR, California dropped 3 million people off of their dental plan 8 months ago due to budget cuts. The consequences of this? People are thronging to safety net clinics, which are struggling just to stay afloat in the economic downturn. Folks are turning up at these clinics swollen gums and infected teeth – problems that might have been avoided had they had access to regular cleanings. Instead of preventative care, people are forced to get teeth pulled because they can’t afford the expensive root canals and other treatments.

Public health has been pushing oral hygiene for several years now, since studies  have linked oral health to diabetes, stroke and heart disease. It is clear that dental health should not be considered optional, an extra or a luxury. I believe health is a human basic right – and this includes dental health.

House Still Arguing Over Abortion

October 29, 2009

The House of Representatives is on the cusp of unveiling their health reform bill and they’re still going back and forth about abortion. There are a million reasons why leaving “no federal funds for abortion” language out of the bill is important. For one, it’s assumed in the legislation because of the laws we already have. It’s redundant.

I’ll let Rep. Yarmuth (D-KY) make the second point for me:

…consensus that we are not going to use taxpayer funds. The question is how you define it. … what [Stupak] wants to do is go a lot further than the status quo … And a woman under his amendment, as I understand it, shopping in the exchange for insurance would not be able to buy coverage for insurance, even with her own money. She would have to actually buy a separate rider, which means she would have to plan for an unplanned event, which I think is illogical.

But the part that makes me the most crazy: there are several groups (Catholic Bishops, moderate Democrats) who acknowledge that health is a human right, who support health reform legislation, but who will withdraw their support if the federal funding wording isn’t included. So basically they’ll pull legislation for a basic human right because their stance is implied instead of explicitly stated.

Make sure to check out the rest of the quotes from Stupak, he makes some great points. And if you want to hear more about this, I wrote a paper on the topic. Since everyone who reads this blog knows me personally, just shoot me an email. *Hehe, internet self-deprecation.*

A Truly Public Option?

October 16, 2009

It seems like even the mention of a “public option” right now is enough to bring some people to blows; okay, maybe not, but at least tense sneers and a few choice words under one’s breath. But what if there was another way? What if the public option was really “public” as in publically decided?

Currently floating around Congress is the idea of a robust public option with an opt-out clause, not on the individual level, but at the state level. This could either be done by a legislative action or by popular vote. Below are some reasons why this idea is awesome:

– It would appease the Conservatives who are all about state rights while also appeasing Democrats who want the public option. It would also quiet Blue Dog Dems who say that a public option is too politically dangerous for them back in their home states.
– Back in the day Medicaid came with a similar such clause, and you know what, every state has offered Medicaid since 1982 (Arizona was the last hold-out) and no state has ever dropped out.
– If the public option is the default decision and the state would have to opt-out, behavioral economics tells us that most states would do it (default preferences are extremely powerful).
– Even in states that do opt out of the public option, the fact that voters could presumably elect later to restore it creates an extremely credible threat to the private insurance industry that will itself help to create price competition (FiveThirtyEight.com).
– If the public option indeed reduces the costs of insurance — and most of the evidence suggests that it will — then the states that opt out of it will have a pretty compelling reason to opt back in after they see the effects in neighboring states.
– And if for some reason costs do sky-rocket (even though it would give the government a pretty good advantage of scale in addition to Medicare/Medicaid for negotiating prices, etc), the opt-out clause would be a relatively painless way to do away with the public option.

A Step Back in Women’s Rights?

October 4, 2009

From Christina D:

I was quite alarmed to learn that some anti-choice lawmakers are trying to use health care reform to restrict access to abortion and family planning.  Check out this article in the Boston Globe.

This goes beyond restrictions in public plans and may influence women with private health-insurance.  I urge you to speak out against this by contacting members of congress.  NARAL Pro-Choice America has crafted a letter.

Senate Finance Committee Approves Funds for Abstinence-Only Sex Ed

October 2, 2009

Sad news.

In my program, we’ve read plenty of studies showing that abstinence-only education isn’t working. Here’s an example. Comprehensive sex ed is a pet passion for many of my classmates and I have to agree that it’s a better option for schools. Luckily a proposal by Max Baucus (D-Mont), the committee chairman, was also approved. This proposal would include other types of sex ed.

Baucus’ measure, which passed 14-9, would make money available for education on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, among other things, in addition to abstinence. Lawmakers will have to reconcile the two measures, both approved during debate on a sweeping health overhaul bill, as the legislation moves forward.

I’m all for teens being abstinent, but it’s not practical to assume they will be. I’m very interested to see how this will all shake out while the health reform bills are being developed.

President Obama Discusses Healthcare Reform

September 10, 2009

The health-related blogosphere is blowing up!

Sure enough, I won’t be able to escape discussing healthcare reform on this blog.  Which I think I’m fine with.  Anyhoo, I only caught the last 12 minutes of the speech, but I just finished reading a transcript of the part I missed. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/09/obama-health-care-speech_n_281265.html

A few stats from the speech:

  • More than 30 million Americans can’t get healthcare coverage.
  • The US spends 1.5 times more than any other country on healthcare [and as I mentioned in my last post, have poorer health outcomes].
  • $1000 per year of that money goes to pay for stuff for the people who aren’t covered.
  • Healthcare represents 1/6 of our economy.

I’m really glad President Obama outlined his plan in order to squelch the ridiculousness that’s been flying around on both sides of the aisle.  Basically, no changes for those who are already covered except that you won’t be denied coverage for preexisting conditions.  Limits on how much people can be charged out-of-pocket.  Tax breaks or exemptions for small businesses and government-sponsored options for those individuals who can’t afford insurance.

My favorite part? “Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action.”

I’m interested to see what people will be saying tomorrow.  Maybe fewer tears on the local news?  One can only hope.

Physician answers questions about healthcare and healthcare reform

September 9, 2009

I saw this article: http://www.eugeneweekly.com/2009/08/27/coverstory2.html when I was in Eugene last weekend (apologies for the long link, I’m still figuring out how to work this blog contraption). It’s no New York Times and it’s clear where he stands on the healthcare debate, but I think the physician, Dr. Todd Huffman, did a good job talking about healthcare statistics in the US. For example, the US has the highest per-person medical bill in the world ($7000/person/year) but lag far behind many other countries in critical health statistics like infant mortality and life expectancy.