Sunday, January 31, 2010

Demo contemplate piecemeal legislation

CNN Politics January 31, 2010 5:16 p.m. EST

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says passing a health care bill is "still inside the five-yard line."

* Instead of overall health care reform, health insurance reform gains traction among Dems
* White House press secretary says health care bill "still inside the five-yard line"
* House Speaker Pelosi says Congress "must take whatever time it takes" to pass bill

Washington (CNN) -- Democratic efforts to pass a health care bill have stalled a bit, and the immediate focus may be shifting toward health insurance reform instead of quickly trying to pass a comprehensive bill, White House officials signaled whole article

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Demos working on side issue legislation

January 23, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly are considering a new list of changes to the Senate health care reform bill that could be passed separately as a way to advance the suddenly stalled overhaul of the health care system. Read whole story here

Monday, January 18, 2010

Doctors drowning in insurance paperwork

Posted on Sun, Jan. 17, 2010

By Jane M. Von Berge
Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

Administrative expenses cost the U.S. health system hundreds of billions a year. The goal? A standardized, digital process.
read whole article

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Possible effect of Proposed Insurance Exchange

Los Angeles Times
By Kim Geiger

January 17, 2010


"My family's current policy costs more than $400 per month, which is not affordable for us. Will we be able to afford insurance under the healthcare bills?"

Comment: The answer seems to be a qualified yes
read article here

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Courts likely to uphold tax to pay for Health Care.

excerpts from Wall Street Journal Jan 10,2010

WASHINGTON -- As congressional Democrats try to iron out differences in the House and Senate health-care bills, Republicans are attacking the legal premise of the legislation, saying Congress has no power to make people carry health insurance or pay a penalty or tax. However, courts usually defer to lawmakers, and Democrats could smooth the way further by using language in the final version that clearly asserts Congress's power under the Constitution to levy taxes -- which the House bill already does.

Since the New Deal era, the Supreme Court has broadly interpreted congressional authority under the Commerce Clause.

The House version explicitly includes a "tax on individuals without acceptable health-care coverage."

Congress has broad power to tax -- and courts have been highly deferential to the way it is exercised.

"Given the precedent of Medicare, courts are likely to uphold Congress if it imposes an income tax to pay for a government health-care system,".
read whole article

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pelosi Has her work cut out for her

From the Politico

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is telling her caucus not to believe stories that the House will simply roll over and accept the Senate’s hard-fought health care bill.

“That’s not true for one second,” Pelosi told her agitated rank-and-file in a call this week.

But she may not have a choice.

Any major changes to the Senate bill threaten to upset a delicate d├ętente Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) built over months of cautious negotiations to hold together 60 votes in his divergent caucus.

The public option is out. Employer mandates could prove too tough to change. And the president has already taken the Senate’s side in the fight over a tax on high-end health care plans.

“Each of the provisions at issue has already been negotiated ad nauseam in the Senate,” said a Senate Democratic aide. “The physics of this are unlikely to change much.”

Pelosi even seemed to concede one of her top priorities during the call – suggesting she could live with pushing the start date for reforms from 2013 to 2014, the date in the Senate bill. That alone would save $100 billion in the House bill, according
several congressional aides, money the speaker told her caucus could be plowed into making insurance more affordable.

So the ever-practical Pelosi is setting her sights on achievable goals: boosting insurance subsidies, strengthening oversight of insurers and setting up a national exchange to make sure the federal government sets minimum standards for coverage under the reforms.

Even those could prove to be a tall order.

Two key moderates – Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) – have favored the state-based exchanges over national exchanges. The question now is whether it will prove make-or-break for either.

It’s not just the Senate. Pelosi, who relishes a good fight, finds herself locked a duel with President Barack Obama over the so-called Cadillac tax included in the Senate bill – a 40 percent levy on insurance plans that exceed $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families.

To win this skirmish – or any other – she needs to convince Obama her math is tougher than Harry Reid’s.
read whole article

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Why we all must have health insurance

Updated: 01/08/2010
Excerpts from article By Scott Schaefer

Scott Schaefer, associate dean for academic affairs and David Eccles Professor of Finance at the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business.

Why an individual mandate to buy health insurance? We've heard a lot of debate on this question lately. But it seems a lot of the talk doesn't reflect much knowledge of why some think an individual mandate might be a good idea.

Reason 1 » It's because of uncompensated care. it's about 1.5 percent of our overall health care expenditures.

Reason 2 » Because you have to get auto insurance, right? Maybe. A mandate makes sense here because there's a general tendency to think too little about harm we might impose on others. But this reasoning doesn't apply for health insurance.

Reason 3 » It's a plot by the Democrats to take away our liberties. I guess I can't definitively disprove this one,

Reason 4 » To prevent unraveling of the insurance market. This one's kind of complicated, but it's also the right answer. And to understand it, one needs to understand the effect of "asymmetric information" on insurance markets. Asymmetric information is when I know something and you don't.

Let's think about how this applies to health insurance. Some people know they're relatively less likely to get sick, and, for them, insurance is a bad deal. They figure they'll pay in more than they get out, so they don't buy. And if healthy people don't buy, it's harder for insurers to make up the costs of those cancer drugs, which means the price for insurance goes up, to a level far higher than it would be in a market where people weren't asymmetrically informed about their health status.
It's this unraveling of the insurance market that makes it so expensive. A mandate may stop this unraveling, and help bring prices whole article