The Daschle Example

June 18, 2009
11:39 am

There has probably been no more vocal advocate for the idea of creating a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private plans than former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.  In speeches, media interviews and in his book on how to improve America’s healthcare system, Senator Daschle has said that a government plan option should be at the core of health reform.

But yesterday, when Daschle joined other former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker and Bob Dole to unveil a bipartisan health reform plan under the auspices of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a national government plan option was not part of the proposal.  Instead, the former senators said that issue should be left up to the states to decide. Read more

President Obama Revives The Medical Liability Debate

June 16, 2009
2:38 pm

Even as action on medical liability reform continues to take place at the state level, there’s been a sense of resignation in Washington, DC of late that the issue would have a hard time seeing the light of day this year or next.

Until, that is, President Obama spoke to the American Medical Association yesterday.

In his speech, the President brought new life to the idea that genuine health reform must include action to address a liability crisis that is having an adverse effect on both the cost and quality of American healthcare. Read more

A Busy Week for Health Reform

June 11, 2009
12:51 pm

Some very interesting developments this week:


·             Observers have been waiting to see where the influential American Medical Association would come down on some of the more controversial elements of congressional health reform proposals.  Yesterday, the AMA announced its strong opposition to the creation of a government-run health insurance plan.  The organization made its point very powerfully, saying:


“The AMA does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs.  The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans.”


·             The AMA’s announcement was preceded by that of another major organization, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said that a government-run health insurance plan will undermine the current employer-sponsored health coverage system. Read more

Understanding the Complexities of a Government Health Plan

June 09, 2009
5:45 pm

I’ll be writing more on this later, but I wanted to note that Avalere Health, the highly respected firm that objectively analyzes public policies affecting healthcare, today released a report on the controversial proposal to create a government-run health plan that would compete with private health insurers.

(A disclaimer:  The Healthcare Leadership Council provided funding for Avalere’s research, but had no role in the editorial process or the conclusions reached by the study’s authors.)

The paper addresses many of the key questions concerning the government plan concept.  How can a government plan control costs while, at the same time, ensuring a level playing field with private insurers?  Would a government health plan pay providers fixed rates like Medicare, which could have considerable ramifications on healthcare access?  Or would the government plan have to negotiate with physicians and hospitals, just as private plans do? Read more

A Harvard Economist’s Viewpoint on the Government Health Plan Issue

June 05, 2009
5:50 pm

Greg Mankiw is a Harvard University economics professor who, in my opinion, writes one of the most interesting blogs on the Internet.  He has knack for getting right to the heart of complex issues.  He’s done that today in a response to Paul Krugman’s New York Times column advocating the creation of a government-run health plan.

Mankiw writes that the key question is whether the government-run plan would have access to taxpayer funds that would be unavailable to private insurers?  If so, then it’s impossible to have a level playing field between the private plans and the taxpayer-backed government option. Read more