News - Part 2

Another Unsuccessful Spin for the Democrats: Implications of the Midterm Elections for the ACA

The results of the midterm elections show that the Democrats have once again allowed the Republicans to control the narrative on the health of the nation. They further squandered an opportunity to counter the false rhetoric that the country has been on the wrong path under Democratic control. The Republicans now control both the House and the Senate for the first time since 2007 and by some of the widest margins seen since 1929. Calls to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are once again reverberating throughout the Capital. Despite the fact gas was under $3 a gallon, unemployment under 6%, the stock market was breaking records, and the costs of health care have been declining and millions have gained coverage under the ACA, Democratic campaigns across the country embarked on a deliberate strategy of distancing themselves from Obama and Obama’s record. While it was projected that the democrats would…

VA Needs to be Supported not Undercut

In a report released to President Obama last Friday, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors found “a corrosive culture” and inadequate resources contributed to the Veteran Affairs health care scandal. The allegations that led to resignation of Eric Shinseki as VA Secretary has the potential to be more than just another political scandal. Rather, it is a devastating blow for proponents of universal health coverage in the US because it raises questions about the Federal government’s ability to provide health care for veterans and their families in the US. One of the key arguments of proponents of universal health coverage is the notion health care can be provided more efficiently, effectively and fairly by the government.  Free market mechanisms lead to cost inflation, lack of access for those who cannot afford to pay, and, particularly, when for profit, the potential to compromise quality in the pursuit of profit maximization.

Bringing Sexy back to the States fixes may havemet its December 1st deadline for improving the online health-insurance marketplace, but the unrelentingly flow of criticisms over the glitches will continue to pester the Obama administration. However, what is often not mentioned in the “Obamacare narrative” is the Republican Party’s role in the bungled roll-out of the healthcare exchanges, or how well state-run exchanges are actually doing. Republican dominated states overwhelmingly opted to forgo the opportunity to design their own health care exchanges and instead to allow the Federal government to develop the Exchange. This decision was based on a political calculus that to design a state based Exchange would be seen as complying with the health reform law and contradicting the Republican party’s platform of “repeal and replace” Obamacare.

Why I wish we all had Medicaid

Medicaid, a means-tested program designed to provide health insurance to the very poor, has been pejoratively been labeled as “welfare medicine.” The program was hastily constructed in 1965 as an afterthought to Medicare, whose mandate is to cover the costs of health care among older Americans, people age 65 and up,  who have paid into this social insurance system throughout their lives. The quality of Medicaid has consistently been criticized leaving some to question whether Medicaid is “inferior” insurance and whether a Medicaid expansion is the best way to extend coverage to the working poor and near poor. But what some people don’t realize about Medicaid is that the minimum benefits covered under Medicaid are actually more extensive than the minimum benefits provided under Medicare.

Health Equity: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to attain his or her full health potential. But how do we get there? The how is often the debate, and health care access (and delivery) and the social determinants of health are seen as two sides of the health equity coin. Inspired by the “The Two Sides of the Health Equity Coin” blog post which focuses on two health foundation’s perspectives on health equity, we (HJCT) wanted to circle this question back to the community, because central to our work is the belief that communities create the solutions.

Make Medicaid a Starting Point for Health Equity

I first got interested in health equity because of Medicaid. I applied for the Connecticut Health Foundation’s fellowship even though I didn’t know much about racial and ethnic disparities because I thought, I know about Medicaid and that’s a disparity in and of itself. I often disagree with other health equity thinkers because I’d rather not have the government try to fix complex problems because that often comes with negative side effects. Imagine if there was a health condition with the same characteristics as Medicaid. If there was, I think more traditional health equity thinkers would go crazy. They would demand the government intervene to help.

Delay Marks The End Of Compromise

Please get mad that the Treasury Department is delaying the mandate that employer’s buy insurance for their employees (sometimes). While, I am no fan of the Affordable Care Act, more is at stake here. Our political system is built on the rule of law. Process matters more than policy. (If you doubt this, take a second to think about our unintelligible policies on immigration, punishing criminals and healthcare, to name just a few.) If the Executive Branch has the power to delay a law – passed by Congress, signed by the President – what can’t it do. Now, if a President wanted to make the argument the law was unconstitutional i.e. a violation of our most fundamental law, that would be one thing. But the idea that a portion of the ACA is inconvenient for businesses, or that insurers need more time to upgrade their software before out-of-pocket spending caps can be enforced, may be unpleasant. Fine, but who cares….

Seven tips for pitching your passion

Many passionate people are baffled by the media’s coverage of health disparities. Please know that ALL experts and EVERYONE who is passionate about a particular issue feel their topic is neglected. The first mistake you can make is that you are being singled out for poor treatment. Not so. When I used to edit a weekly newspaper, I often told people that my most frequent decision is to NOT put something in the paper. Only a small minority of topics are addressed in each edition. What can you do to improve your odds? Here are my 7 tips.

Two competing visions of America: Are we a leader or laggard in health?

Among the many issues over which liberals and conservatives in the U.S. disagree is how well the U.S. rates on certain key health indicators compared with other advanced industrial countries. That the U.S. is the greatest country in the world is a common meme propagated in conservative circles whereas among liberals, the fact that U.S. infant mortality rates and life expectancy are on par with many developing countries is yesterday’s news. Though it may be yesterday’s news to some, a new report from the Institute of Medicine provides additional confirmation for the liberal perspective finding that there is a consistent and pervasive U.S. health disadvantage compared with its peer countries on up to 9 nine different health indicators.  Specifically, compared with 16 peer countries, the U.S. ranked among the lowest on the following 9 health indicators, which contribute to a persistent health disadvantage: 1) Birth outcomes; 2) injuries (including motor…

Subverting Democracy for the Public Good: Defending Bloomberg’s Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Size Limitation (i.e., the soda ban)

With Mayor Michael Bloomberg leading the charge, NYC geared up last week to implement a bold new policy experiment to combat the obesity epidemic, banning the sale of certain sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces. However, the move was dealt a death blow on Monday by a New York Supreme Court judge who concluded that the ban was “arbitrary and capricious” because of its unevenness in that it “applies to some but not all food establishments in the city,” and “it excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories.”