Some Rethinking in Canada?

August 17, 2009
10:21 am

While healthcare reform is dominating the political landscape here in the United States, there are some interesting developments taking place as well with our neighbors to the north.

Canada’s doctors are in Saskatoon this week for the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association and, according to a report in The Canadian Press, physicians in that country are confronting serious problems with the country’s government-run health system. Read more

A Centrist Democrat Fights Back

August 12, 2009
3:40 pm

The old saying that no good deed goes unpunished has, unfortunately, been proven to be the case too often during the current health reform debate.  Conscientious lawmakers who are working hard to construct centrist, bipartisan legislation are being villainized by groups on the political fringes who are blatantly mischaracterizing these moderate members of Congress as being “anti health reform.”

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is a prime example.  Organizations that strongly advocate a government-run health plan have been advertising heavily in Nebraska, condemning Senator Nelson for the simple reason that he doesn’t agree with their point of view.

I’ve met with Senator Nelson and I can guarantee you that he is a strong health reform advocate and wants a bill to emerge from current Senate negotiations.  He’s a former state insurance commissioner who has a detailed understanding of how health coverage works and wants legislation that will strengthen, not undermine, a robust, competitive, affordable marketplace.

That’s why I’m pleased to see that the Senator won’t allow himself to be a punching bag and has started purchasing his own ads on Nebraska TV stations to answer the unfair charges of his critics.

If You’re Going to Quote Polls, Do It Accurately

August 11, 2009
5:46 pm

I wish I had the proverbial nickel for every time I see advocates of a government-run health plan option cite polls that show an overwhelming majority of Americans support the idea.  Their citation is neither accurate nor timely. 

What they’re usually quoting is a New York Times survey from several weeks ago which asked respondents whether they would like to have the additional choice of a government plan option made available to them.  As I said in an earlier post on this blog, the problem with the Times poll is that it asked no follow-up question to see if that support stayed strong even if respondents knew of potential ramifications of the government plan option.  A Washington Post/ABC News poll did ask those follow-up questions and found that support for a government plan option dropped precipitously when respondents knew more about the issue.

Now, this month, we have a new survey from Rasmussen Reports which shows growing public skepticism about an expanded federal presence in the health insurance marketplace.  This week, Rasmussen found that only 32 percent of Americans favor a single-payer healthcare system in which government provides coverage to everyone, with 57 percent opposing the concept.  There is, of course, concern that a government plan option could lead to a single payer system if the government paid providers at below-market Medicare rates and priced premiums accordingly. Read more

Cleveland Clinic’s CEO on the Focus of Health Reform

August 10, 2009
2:44 pm


President Obama has rightly and frequently cited the Cleveland Clinic as one of the health providers in this country that provides the kind of high-quality, cost-effective care that should be emulated nationwide.  Given that fact, it makes sense to take note of an interview the Clinic’s CEO, Toby Cosgrove, provided last week to Newsweek Magazine.

As Dr. Cosgrove points out, the debate over health reform during the August congressional recess has focused almost exclusively on the coverage issue.  In fact, there has even been a tactical decision by some policymakers to refer to “health insurance reform” instead of “health reform.”  This, unfortunately, takes attention away from the issues of quality, delivery reform and cost-effectiveness that will have the greatest impact on the future and sustainability of our healthcare system. Read more

The Media and Health Reform

August 06, 2009
3:30 pm

There’s a very interesting survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, that’s out today, dealing with media coverage of the ongoing health reform debate.

On the bright side, the survey shows that Americans are closely following the health reform deliberations.  36 percent of Americans say they’re keeping a close watch on health reform coverage, a higher percentage than exists for any other ongoing news story.

But, on the flip side, people don’t seem to be that impressed with what they’re seeing.  Seven of every 10 respondents say the news media has done either a poor or fair job of describing the effect health reform “proposals would have on people such as yourself.”  Only 23 percent say the media has done a good or excellent job in this category. Read more