On call, officials stress public options in health care shift – Ben Smith – POLITICO.com

February 28, 2011

Jennifer Haberkorn reports that President Obama’s move to allow states flexibility in spending health care funds is the “most significant change” since the law was enacted, and a potential gesture toward critics.

But a source on a White House conference call with liberal allies this morning says the Administration is presenting it to Democrats as an opportunity to offer more expansive health care plans than the one Congress passed.

Health care advisers Nancy-Ann DeParle and Stephanie Cutter stressed on the off-record call that the rule change would allow states to implement single-payer health care plans — as Vermont seeks to — and true government-run plans, like Connecticut’s Sustinet.

More at On call, officials stress public options in health care shift – Ben Smith – POLITICO.com.


President Obama Endorses Earlier State Opt-Out of PPACA « The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

February 28, 2011

The ongoing debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is about more than whether this provision or that provision is beneficial or damaging to the nation’s economy and health care system. The debate is also about the appropriate role of the federal government compared to that of state governments and individuals. Health insurance, and consequently much of health care, has long been the purview of the states. The PPACA changes that balance considerably.

Enter Senators Ron Wyden and Scott Brown – the former a Democrat the latter a Republican. They are co-sponsoring a bill allowing states to opt-out of many of the more controversial provisions of President Barack Obama’s health care plan as early as 2014 if they meet certain eligibility requirements. (The health care reform law already provides for this opt-out in 2017, but by then states will have invested heavily in implementing the PPACA).

More at President Obama Endorses Earlier State Opt-Out of PPACA « The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog.


GOP governors want Medicaid block grants – Sarah Kliff – POLITICO.com

February 28, 2011

Republican governors are pushing Medicaid block grants as the best path to more flexibility.

Block grants would give states fixed, upfront funding for a predetermined period of time, a marked departure from the traditional Medicaid financing, in which the federal government generally matches state spending on a per-claim basis.

More at GOP governors want Medicaid block grants – Sarah Kliff – POLITICO.com.


Governors Scramble To Rein In Medicaid – WSJ.com

February 28, 2011

More than half the states want permission to remove hundreds of thousands of people from the Medicaid insurance program, a move that would represent a rare cut to a national social program.The push sets up a showdown between states struggling with fiscal 2012 budgets and the Obama Administration, which says it may lack the authority to allow such cuts. That means Congress could be forced to settle the matter.

More at Governors Scramble To Rein In Medicaid – WSJ.com.


Rate Regulation Grants Announced by HHS « The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

February 27, 2011

That encouragement is the reason the Department of Health and Human Services is making $199 million in grant funds available to help states “create or enhance their premium rate review programs.” The goal is to bring greater transparency to the rate making process while assuring that the states are “comprehensively” reviewing carrier’s proposed prices hikes.The idea is to prevent “unreasonable” rate increases – which begs the question: what’s unreasonable? According to a regulation proposed by HHS, that would be any rate increase of 10% or more in the individual and small group market segments. Maybe. The 10 percent threshold doesn’t determine whether a rate increase in unreasonable, but it would trigger a state review to determine if it is. Carriers would also need to post their justification for such rate increases on the Internet.

More at Rate Regulation Grants Announced by HHS « The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog.


The end of the New Deal? – The Week

February 26, 2011

On a third front — on the federal bench — Republican judges, in the dark spirit of Bush v. Gore, have taken to declaring health reform unconstitutional. And here, too, the cause they have in mind is bigger than the case before them. If upheld, their rulings could threaten the entire regime of national regulation, and a generation of civil-rights legislation, by returning to the narrow, pre-New Deal reading of the federal power over interstate commerce — a reading under which an earlier Supreme Court struck down a law prohibiting child labor.

More at The end of the New Deal? – The Week.


RealClearPolitics – Romney Aide Defends Mass. Health Law Against Huckabee Attacks

February 26, 2011

“Mitt Romney is proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting everyone covered,” Romney spokesman Eric Ferhnstrom told the Boston Globe in response to Huckabee. “What’s important now is to return to the states the power to determine their own healthcare solutions by repealing ObamaCare. A one-size-fits-all plan for the entire nation just doesn’t work.”

More at RealClearPolitics – Romney Aide Defends Mass. Health Law Against Huckabee Attacks.


The fear-mongering meets reality – Healthcare Reform | Obama Health Care Plan – Salon.com

February 26, 2011

This rationale looks a bit silly today, with a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation that more than one in five Americans are under the impression that healthcare reform has already been repealed — and another quarter aren’t sure if the law is in effect. In other words, a law that opponents billed as a sinister socialist plot that would fundamentally alter and disrupt Americans’ daily lives has been in effect for months now — and nearly half the country doesn’t know it.

More at The fear-mongering meets reality – Healthcare Reform | Obama Health Care Plan – Salon.com.


How Much Should the U.S. Spend on Health Care? – Hit & Run : Reason Magazine

February 26, 2011

So the mere fact that the U.S. spends a larger share of its GDP on health care is not necessarily cause for concern—at least not in the abstract. Instead, what’s worrying is that the U.S. continues to pursue policies that seem to substantially increase total spending with little evidence that those policies have a significant positive effect on health outcomes.

More at How Much Should the U.S. Spend on Health Care? – Hit & Run : Reason Magazine.


Pajamas Media » How to Insure Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions

February 25, 2011

Patients with pre-existing conditions would be better off without price controls. Insurers would actually want their business, and hence design products that appeal to such customers. Government should respect insurers’ right to price policies as they see fit. Instead of imposing damaging price controls, politicians could support subsidies — or better yet, private charities — that cover the increase in premium.

More at Pajamas Media » How to Insure Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions.