Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health Reform: Obama's Op-Ed In The New York Times

President Obama has an op-ed in this morning's Times (here) in which he defends his plan for health insurance reform. He specifically focuses on the insurance industry (not on health care generally).

He appears to be trying to reframe the debate by focusing on problems with the insurance industry (and by citing to abuses/misdeeds which will be prevented by new regulations).

Obama focuses on four reforms:

(1) All Americans will have choices for "high-quality, affordable coverage" which you'll be able to transfer from job to job and retain in the event you are laid off.

286. How is this degree of portability going to work? Does this mean COBRA will last indefinitely if you lose your job?

(2) The reforms will cut out waste and inefficiencies in health care costs, Medicare and Medicaid.

287. Details? What's a specific example of a widely-used procedure for which costs will be modified?

(3) "By making Medicare more efficient, we’ll be able to ensure that more tax dollars go directly to caring for seniors instead of enriching insurance companies."

This language sounds like an attempt to mollify AARP and seniors who are worried about losing coverage. What does it actually mean?

(4) Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions.

This sounds like a legitimate reform; my understanding is that the insurance companies have agreed to not protest against stricter regulations on this point in exchange for Obama's including a requirement (?) that everyone obtains health insurance.

288. This raises the important question of whether there will be an individual mandate in the Obama plan. In the past week or so I've gotten the impression that an individual mandate is likely to be included (whereas whether the plan will include a public option is still completely up in the air).


Obama says that 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day. By my calculation that means more than 5 million per year lose their insurance. Is that accurate?

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