Tag Archives: health care reform

Six words on health care

Everyone’s got a story about health care, whether it’s a late night rush to urgent care with a sick kid or a nightmarish series of calls to the insurance company to settle a claim. Last week, we asked for your Six Word Economy Memoir and received some great responses. With the recent passage of the health care reform bill, this week we turned to health care stories, and here’s what came back:

Alan Atwood: $12,000 A Year is Too Much.

January Hentschke Thapa
: I hope I never get sick!

Allison Olson
: Realizing we’re very lucky. Fingers crossed.

: hoping to die before exhausting coverage

Harlan Lewin
: Why is obesity a fashion statement?

Minnesota Public Radio
put a call out on the air for submissions. Their Public Insight Journalism network connects the station with viewers. Here are some of the responses from the Minneapolis area:

Colin Mansfield
: Minnesota Care is my life saver

Theresa K.
: Insurance is costly product, not guaranteeable.

Patrick S.: Public Sector Dad, Adulthood Is Sad.

Jennifer Hernandez
: Broken ankle. Huge deductible. Ouch!

Oh, and mine? Yoga classes are cheaper than therapy.

Do you have one to share? Add it in the comments below.


The House passed health care reform late last night. What will the new legislation mean to you? What are the biggest myths surrounding the bill and what do you need to know to take advantage of the upcoming laws? Last September we looked at how much of the economy is really spent on health care. Now that a bill has passed, how will those funds shift and how will health care reform change your costs?

PBS NewsHour breaks down the basics:

The legislation will require nearly every American to carry health insurance starting in 2014 and will impose a penalty fee on those who don’t. It will set up a series of state-based insurance exchange marketplaces where people who do not have access to employer-based insurance will be able to shop for plans, and will also offer new tax subsidies to make that insurance more affordable for millions of Americans who earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

It will also impose new regulations on the insurance industry, including barring insurance companies from denying coverage to patients based on pre-existing conditions, and barring companies from using technicalities to drop customers who become ill.

Many of the bill’s provisions, such as the insurance exchange marketplaces and new subsidies, won’t go into effect until 2014. But some of the new insurance regulations will begin this year, such as a provision that allows young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans.

Want to discuss the bill with your friends and colleagues but don’t know where to begin? PolitiFact lists the top ten facts about health care reform and dispels some pervasive myths.

The government will not take over hospitals or other privately run health care businesses. Doctors will not become government employees, like in Britain. And the U.S. government intends to help people buy insurance from private insurance companies, not pay all the bills like the single-payer system in Canada.

So what will happen? Kaiser Health News provides a consumers’ guide to health reform, detailing when various provisions will take effect and answering pressing questions about how health insurance affordability will change and what types of insurance will be available.

WNYC’s The Takeaway spoke with health care professionals and small business owners about how the changes in health care reform will affect them.

“I’m hoping that by adding 32 million people to the insurance pool that premiums will eventually come down by bending the cost curve,” John Brown, VP of Brown Furniture Company, told The Takeaway.

For more on how health care reform could change your coverage, check out this New York Times “choose your own adventure”-style interactive and follow your health care options through the bill.

You can also add a question about health care for Capitol News Connection’s reporters to ask on the Hill.

If you have a health care story or thoughts on how reform could help or hurt your current situation that you’d like to share with EconomyStory, please add it in the comments below. We’ll be featuring stories from readers during the coming weeks.

Health care reform around the country

It was hard to miss: The White House confab this week with the warring sides in Congress meeting over the heated issue of health care reform. National shows and local stations each weighed creative approaches to coverage:

KQED in San Francisco (home city of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has been a leading advocate of health care reform), put together a page for comments and a live blog of the event. The Sunlight Foundation provided a tool to track donations to members of congress Congressional representatives as they spoke during the summit.

Tennesee had three representatives in their delegation: – two republicans and one democrat, some open to compromise on the health care bill, and one, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who made the case as other Republicans did to “start from scratch,” as WPLN in Nashville, with Capitol News Connection reported .

Nashville is a hub for the health care industry, which doesn’t seem to be hurting as the health care reform debate continues. WPLN reported that four major health are providers in Nashville, including HealthStream, posted positive year-end financial results.

But the urgency of health care reform certainly hasn’t gone away with a few hours of debate at the White House. As WAMC in Albany, NY found, thousands of people in New York alone are at risk without some serious changes:

The failure to enact health care reform this year will lead in the next decade to approximately 13,900 premature deaths of people between 25 and 64 years old in New York according to a report released today by the consumer health group Families USA.

Similar stories are cropping up around the country. For a full video roundup of health care coverage, PBS has a collection of clips from Frontline, NewsHour and more.

Understanding PhRMA

The Sunlight Foundation digs deep into the new White House health care proposal and how it may anger the powerful drug lobby, PhRMA.

Just last week, former Louisiana Senator Billy Tauzin resigned as head of PhRMA, the trade group representing the pharmaceutical industry. The group had worked closely with the White House to craft a health care bill that didn’t slam the drug companies.

Sunlight reports:

Throughout 2009, PhRMA and major pharmaceutical companies crafted a deal with the White House to limit cost cutting by the industry in exchange for the industry’s support, through over $100 million in television advertising, for health care reform…The White House’s new proposal contains deeper cost cuts than previously agreed to and contains regulations on the relationship between brand-name and generic drug companies that the industry opposes.

Fresh Air’s Terry Gross spoke with Sunlight Foundation writer Paul Blumenthal to clarify the connections between PhRMA and the administration:

Blumenthal says that the CEOs of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and AstraZeneca attended a series of meetings at the White House throughout the spring and summer, and agreed to spend more than $150 million on ads touting a health care overhaul. That spending and the subsequent lack of progress on the bill, Blumenthal notes, may be why Tauzin resigned.

The Washington Post recently described Tauzin’s role at PhRMA as key:

Tauzin came under sharp criticism for taking the job at PhRMA shortly after helping push through a costly Medicare prescription drug package, which was a boon to drugmakers. Tauzin said he took the position in part because of the role that experimental drugs played in helping him survive a battle with intestinal cancer.

PhRMA, one of the largest health-care organizations in Washington, spent more than $26 million on lobbying last year and has contributed more than $200,000 to federal candidates, mostly Democrats, since 2007.

NPR’s Julie Rovner explains the changes the administration has made to its original proposal:

Sunlight Foundation also analyzed the construction of the first PhRMA health care deal with the administration. The Sunlight Foundation’s commitment to creating more openness in government and providing tools to the public for understanding government data has provided more information about health care reform and other recent initiatives than has ever been available. In an interview with PBS Newshour, Sunlight director Clay Johnson explained the need for Sunlight and similar projects:

Johnson says that feedback is crucial in creating a more transparent relationship between the government and the governed, calling on the American public to be more forgiving with the government in order to see progress. “[Allowing] bad data to exist allows feedback to exist, to correct the data,” he said. “[The public] needs to give government, in some cases, permission to fail.”]

After Mass

Special Election in Mass./Credit: Flickr user Rob Weir

Special Election in Mass./Credit: Flickr user Rob Weir

The special election victory by Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley to fill late Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts yesterday left a torrent of speculation and accusation in its wake.

Will the healthcare bill be put in jeopardy? What does this mean for the Democrats in 2010 and even 2012? Does the public trust the president to lead the country out of recession?

Patchwork Nation looks at what fueled Brown’s win, in economic terms:

Compared with candidate Obama, Coakley did worst in the six counties where unemployment rose by more than 3 percentage points in the last year. In each of those counties, she got 16 percentage points less than Obama did in 2008.

That suggests that Tuesday’s vote was a “change” vote motivated perhaps by disgruntlement. Voters may be punishing Coakley for what they perceive as a lack of focus on jobs and the economy on Obama and the Democrats’ part and overemphasis on healthcare reform.

Coakley lost votes in every county in the state compared with Obama in 2008. Unemployment is up in every county as well. That can’t be a comfort to the Democrats.

For 2010, some signs of recovery need to be apparent before voters retain their support for or swing towards the Democrats. Patchwork Nation’s Dante Chinni writes “Right now the state of the national economy is fragile. What we hear repeatedly from people we talk to in different Patchwork Nation communities around the country is: ‘We have not seen a recovery here, yet.’”

WBUR in Boston took an in-depth analysis of the election results from Tuesday night and took into account who was voting, compared with previous races.

Even in many communities where Obama had a narrow victory over McCain, Brown blew Coakley away. In Weymouth, for example, Obama got 53 percent of the vote in 2008. On Tuesday, Weymouth went red, giving Brown 61 percent to Coakley’s 38 percent.

EconomyBeat pulls from blogs around the web, on both the left and right, to assess response to the special election. Reader comments from beyond Massachusetts on sites including The New York Times and FiveThirtyEight brought out opinions on the democratic party, health care, and spending.