Posts Tagged - ‘healthcare reform summit’

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4 Republican Ideas Now Included In Obama’s Healthcare Reform

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Image: UPI

Although last week’s bipartisan healthcare reform summit appeared to make little headway in solving the impasse on the issue, it has nevertheless had an impact on the latest affordable health insurance proposal from President Obama.

The Obama administration has offered to add several ideas suggested by Republicans during the summit. These four proposals generally center on cost control, and include:

  • Some level of tort reform, through the expansion of pilot programs that seek to overhaul the medical malpractice system. These programs would not involve a jury trial; instead, they would create specialized health courts
  • Promoting Health Savings Accounts (HSA plans), which are touted as a way to reduce the unnecessary use of health care
  • Launching an investigative program, which would root out waste and fraud by sending private eyes disguised as patients
  • Increasing payments to providers who accept Medicaid, because lower reimbursement rates have resulted in many doctors refusing to accept that health insurance

Despite their concern with the budget deficit, some of the aforementioned Republican proposals (such as increasing Medicaid payments and launching the secret patient investigations) would require even more funding. Meanwhile, the heavily criticized Medicare Advantage exception–saving Florida alone from proposed cuts–was dropped.

The question is whether the GOP will budge in their opposition. It doesn’t appear very likely, because much of it is on ideological grounds. Not to mention, most legislators are up for re-election this year. However, the changes will probably anger some Democratic interest groups.

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Republicans: Underpants Gnomes in Health Insurance Summit

Friday, February 26th, 2010

(Image: Bill Ward’s Brickpile under CC 3.0)

Yesterday’s marathon bipartisan healthcare reform summit was interesting, but probably made little progress. There were definitely some areas of agreement. Most notably, Democrats and Republicans agreed that nobody should be denied individual health insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition. They simply have different ways of going about it.

The problem with their differing methods is that Republicans would like to expand coverage without creating a mandate, which they consider to be unfavorable government intervention in private enterprise and consumer choice. In effect, their proposal is similar to the Underpants Gnomes of South Park fame. For those who have not heard of them, they have a business model that goes something like this:

  1. Steal underpants
  2. ????
  3. Profit!

Obviously, their strategy failed. The view presented by the GOP at the summit fell along those lines:

  1. Ban health insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions
  2. ????
  3. Access to affordable health insurance for all!

Unfortunately, our health insurance industry doesn’t work that way. Health insurers refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions because they fear that they will file too many claims and be unprofitable customers. In order to maintain profits for their shareholders, they can only accept those consumers if there is a larger pool of policyholders among which the cost of coverage can be spread around. Some younger, healthier people will continue to drop their individual health insurance plans if not encouraged to keep them. Therefore, as nice as it sounds, health insurance providers will not simply allow everyone to buy health insurance if it causes them to lose money.

A health insurance mandate is not an ideal solution, but there are few other options to accomplish the goal of eliminating barriers based on pre-existing conditions. Others include a government-run public option, or even a full scale single-payer system, which the Republican party is even more opposed to.

Admittedly, liberals have also been accused of using similar logic: that increased public spending on health care will eventually reduce the deficit.

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GOP Doctor Presence at Healthcare Reform Summit

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The Republicans have several physicians presenting their views in Congress. They have showcased their views regarding the potential negative impact reform of health insurance plansh on doctors.

These doctors, who have clear experience with the health insurance coverage system in this country, had valuable insights to bring to the table:

  • Dr. Tom Coburn (Senator from Oklahoma)
  • Dr. John Barrasso (Senator from Wyoming)
  • Dr. Charles Boustany (Representative from Louisiana)

There are several Democratic doctors in Congress, who were for whatever reason weren’t invited.

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McCain and Obama Face Off on Health Insurance Reform

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

(Image: Chesi – Fotos CC under CC 3.0)

One of the most famous attendees of the bipartisan healthcare reform summit is Republican Senator John McCain. The Arizona senator and President Obama’s opponent in the 2008 election has been a feisty counterpoint. Some would speculate that some bitterness from the bruising campaign was in play.

John McCain wants each state to be treated equally in any bill, and is concerned with legislative process. He spoke up against the budget reconciliation option the Obama administration is considering to push this health insurance plan through.

At one point, Obama agreed with one of his comments, which took McCain aback with shock. However, there was still some back-in-forth. His presence is slightly puzzling, since he is not a ranking member of relevant committees. Although McCain has previously been known for bipartisan cooperation with Democrats (such as the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill), he is currently facing a more conservative Republican primary opponent. Therefore, he may not have the flexibility to compromise, even though there is a surprising amount of common ground when it comes to affordable health insurance.

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Watch Bipartisan Healthcare Reform Meeting Live!

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

(Image: kevindooley under CC 3.0)

President Barack Obama is holding a healthcare reform summit this morning. Republicans and Democrats alike are set to present and discuss affordable health insurance solutions.

Here is when it will start in different time zones:

  • 10:00 AM Eastern
  • 9:00 AM Central
  • 8:00 AM Mountain
  • 7:00 AM Pacific

You can watch it on TV on C-SPAN, or via live streaming on the Web. Barack Obama’s Organizing For America website has a live feed. Stay tuned for the policy debate and the drama!

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