The GM-UAW Deal--If UAW Workers Can No Longer Count on Employer-Provided Health Care Then Neither Can Harry and Louise

Friday, September 28, 2007
I'm not the first one to suggest the GM-UAW deal to set up a VEBA is a watershed event. Most observers are focusing on the trend it will accelerate in the employee benefits market--and it will.I will suggest another dramatic impact that it will have--on voters.The polls already tell us that health care is by far the top domestic policy issue and second overall only to Iraq.This deal is also going

If the $35 Billion Expansion of SCHIP is About Moving to Government-Run Health Care Why Does the Insurance Industry Support It?

Both the House and Senate have now passed the $35 billion expansion of SCHIP. The House by 265-159 and the Senate by a vote of 67-29. The Senate bill got exactly the two-thirds it needs to override the expected Bush veto and the House fell 25 votes short of the 290 it will need.Opponents of the bipartisan compromise to renew and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program primarily

Who's More Frustrated With Bush Over His SCHIP Veto Threat--Republicans or Democrats?

Friday, September 21, 2007
These days its hard to get Democrats and Republicans to agree on anything. But there is one bipartisan bill that has incredible support in both parties--the $35 billion expansion and renewal of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).By any measure SCHIP has been an incredibly good success--covering 6 million kids. There have been some legitimate questions about it growing beyond

Health Wonk Review is Up!

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Joe Paduda is hosting Health Wonk Review over at "Managed Care Matters."Not surprisingly he's got lots of blog entries regarding Senator Clinton's new health plan and lots of other samples of some of the best blog posts from the past couple of weeks.Also making the big time this week was our good friend, Brian Klepper, who had the following letter published in the New York Times regarding Senator

Medicare Advantage Cuts Still on the Table to Offset the Medicare Physician Fee Fix

The House/Senate deal to renew the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) does not include a fix to the January 2008 10% Medicare physician fee cut. It also doesn't include the $51 billion in cuts to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program the House had in their bill to pay for that fix and other Medicare improvements.As I have said many times before, that only means that the Medicare

Hillary Clinton's Health Plan

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Here is an excerpt from the Clinton campaign's press release outlining her $110 billion a year health care reform plan:FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESeptember 17, 2007The American Health Choices Plan:Ensuring Affordable, Quality Health Care for All AmericansHillary Clinton unveiled the third part of her plan today to ensure that all Americans have affordable, quality health insurance. Building on her

SCHIP Agreement "Near"

Monday, September 17, 2007
There are a number of published reports indicating that the House and Senate have reached an agreement to extend SCHIP along the lines of the earlier bi-partisan Senate agreement.That would mean a $35 billion SCHIP expansion paid for entirely be a new 61 cent tobacco tax.Bush says he would veto such a deal. While the Senate seems veto proof on this one, the House is another matter.If Bush is

Hillary Clinton's Health Plan--the Republicans Better Take it Seriously

Sometimes I think that all the Republican candidates for president think they need do is go into a crowded room and yell, "Hillary Care," and all of the voters will run for the exits in terror.This is not 1993 and this is not the inexperienced Hillary Clinton who tried to drop her drafted-in-secret 1,400 page health care proposal on us all in one "take it or leave it" roll out.She has changed

SCHIP Negotiations Not Going Well--Medicare Physician Fee Cuts and Medicare Advantage Payments Hang in the Balance

Sunday, September 16, 2007
Negotiations between the House and Senate over how to extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) before its September 30 deadline are not making much progress.The Senate passed a bipartisan extension of the plan that included $35 billion in new spending and paid for it with a hefty 61 cent per pack tobacco tax.The House passed a solely Democratic bill that would spend $60

Hillary Clinton to Outline Her Health Plan on Monday--She Will Target Insurers as the Bad Guys

Friday, September 14, 2007
Senator Clinton will unveil her health plan in Des Moines on Monday. The heavy betting is that it will look a lot like the general Democratic health reform template that draws on the recently enacted Massachusetts health reform law.We do know this, she will do what she did in 1993 and 1994 and demonize the insurance industry. On Wednesday she said, "I intend to dramatically rein in the influence

The UAW's Negotiations With the "Big Three" Automakers Over Retiree Health Benefits and Why They are Important to California Health Reform

The health care reform debate in California has come down to whether there should be an individual mandate to purchase health insurance and whether a big chunk of the cost of the program should be put on the employer community in the form of a 7.5% payroll tax for businesses that don't provide their workers with coverage.Organized labor is firmly behind the Democratic legislature's efforts to

Health Insurance Premiums Rose Only 6.1% in 2007--But This May Be The Last Year the Trend Rate Will Fall

Thursday, September 13, 2007
According to the annual Kaiser Family Foundation survey of employer health benefit plans, the average employer premium rose 6.1% in 2007--the lowest increase in four years of successively falling trend rates.The increase was 13.9% in 2003 (the recent peak), 11.2% in 2004, 9.2% in 2005, and 7.7% in 2006.The average cost of family health insurance also rose to an incredible $12,106 while the

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn Joins the Blog World

Wednesday, September 12, 2007
A very smart lady who knows a lot about the intersection of health care and technology has joined the health care blog world.Jane has a post up today that puts the new figures on personal health care spending in context with what Americans spend on technology.Her new blog is, "Health Populi."

Could America Reap International Good Will By Ramping Up its Health Diplomacy Efforts?

Brian Klepper joins us again today with one of his welcome posts:Reasserting Global Health Diplomacyby Brian KlepperA couple weeks ago the Washington Times ran a sensible and honorable article by Susan Blumenthal MD and Elise Schlissel at the Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP) in DC, arguing that America could reap a huge benefit in good will by significantly ramping up its health

The Cavalcade of Risk Is Up

Dave Williams hosts the latest "Cavalcade of Risk" over at his "Health Business Blog."Check out his picks of the best on insurance risk in the blogosphere.

Schwarzenegger is Right––You Can't Achieve Universal Coverage on the Backs of the Employer Community Alone

The California legislature has passed a major health care reform proposal but Republican Governor Schwarzenegger says it isn't good enough and he will veto it and bring the legislature back to do it over again in a special session.Give the California governor and legislature credit for hitting the problem of health care head-on. If the biggest state can make headway, it could well open up the

The Obesity Epidemic--It's Time to Deal With it the Same Way We Did Smoking

Monday, September 10, 2007
While we debate just how we will change our health care financing system so that more people can be insured at an affordable cost, we are too often overlooking one of the biggest drivers of health care costs--America's obesity epidemic.The latest report on obesity in America by the Trust for America's Health found that the problem is growing at an ever larger rate despite recent "wellness"

People Who Say Insurance Regulation Creates More Uninsured Are Missing the Forest for the Trees

Friday, September 7, 2007
The health insurance trade association, AHIP, just released a new study on the impact of state health insurance reforms on the market and argues that the "unintended consequences" of these reforms hasn't been good.Here is an excerpt from their release:“This report offers important lessons. It demonstrates that insurance reforms without universal access drives up health care costs for consumers

How Will SCHIP Be Extended and What Will Happen to Medicare Advantage and the Upcoming Medicare Physician Fee Cuts

Thursday, September 6, 2007
Health Market Survey publisher Bill Boyles joins us again today. After getting his perspective on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) debate yesterday, I prevailed upon him to put a post together for our readers.Bill has some very important news on just how this debate, which involves three greatly important health care issues--the SCHIP extension, proposed Medicare Advantage

Health Wonk Review is UP

This time Brian Klepper over at "The Doctor Weighs In" has an assortment of provocative posts on a wide range of health care policy and marketplace issues.Check it out.

Romney Wants to Reform State Health Insurance Regulation--Just What Does He Mean by That?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is calling for the cutting of state health insurance regulations to make policies more affordable. He blames the over-regulation of health insurance at the state level as one of the primary reasons health insurance costs so much.Of course the reason that health insurance costs so much is that health care costs so much, but we’ve discussed that one

Mitt Romney's Health Plan--A Foot in Each Canoe

Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Up in Wisconsin's Northwoods, camp counselors play a game with the kids in which they put two canoes together in the lake and have the kids try to stand up with one foot in each canoe. As you can imagine it's an almost impossible balancing act.I was reminded of that last week sitting by our lake reading reports of Mitt Romney’s health plan proposals.Romney has two canoes to deal with:He signed,

"Don't Pit Children Against Seniors"--The AHIP Takes the Medicare Advantage Debate to Another Low

Tuesday, September 4, 2007
When the health insurance industry trade association, AHIP, tried to employ the NAACP in their battle to protect Medicare Advantage (MA) payments last May by arguing higher payments to the industry are good for poor people, I asked, could they have sunk any lower?From the looks of a letter to the editor in Sunday’s Washington Post, the answer is yes.The title of AHIP CEO Karen Ignagni’s letter is