Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Features Recent Developments Related to Health Care in Presidential Election

by Lesley Politi on November 5, 2008


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election 2008

    Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Features Recent Developments Related to Health Care in Presidential Election

      Summaries of several recent developments related to health care issues in the presidential election appear below.

  • Center for American Progress: The center has released a 110-page report that includes recommendations on health care reform for the next president, CQ HealthBeat reports. Among other recommendations, the report, published in conjunction with the Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University, calls for changes in the health care reimbursement system to encourage more physicians to study primary care and to promote increased care coordination (Nylen, CQ HealthBeat, 11/3).

    Online The report is available online.

  • Examination of health care proposals: The Minneapolis Star Tribune on Monday compared the proposals announced by Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) on health care, embryonic stem cell research and other issues (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/3).
  • Next administration: A number of observers have begun to make predictions about whom the next president will appoint to Cabinet and other positions in his administration, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. According to individuals close to Obama, he might appoint Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) as HHS secretary and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) as USDA secretary (Babington, Associated Press, 11/3). The Politico reports that other names mentioned for HHS Secretary include Tom Daschle, Howard Dean, and former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber. For McCain, economics adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin would likely be offered a top domestic policy post (Allen, The Politico, 11/3).
  • Stock market: Pharmaceutical and other companies “could … be under pressure if the Democrats win an overwhelming victory” on Election Day, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. According to Brad Sorensen, director of sector research at Charles Schwab, pharmaceutical companies that manufacture brand-name medications likely would face increased competition from generic and imported treatments under an Obama administration, and Democrats likely would seek to pass legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate directly with companies on prices. In addition, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and health insurers could face price controls, as “Obama wants to bring 46 million uninsured under some sort of nationalized health care umbrella,” according to Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist with Federated Investors (Pender, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/4).

Opinion Pieces

  • Derrick Jackson, Boston Globe: “If Barack Obama or John McCain wants to bring Americans together after the presidential election, there is one proposal that could unite voters across the country” and that is to “pledge to end gender discrimination in health insurance for women,” Globe columnist Jackson writes, citing a recent report that found women generally pay higher premiums than men for the same individual health insurance policies. He continues, “Ending gender discrimination would be crucial to making … a tax credit,” such as the one proposed by McCain, “fair.” Jackson writes, “For Obama, who said he will require insurers to cover pre-existing conditions, the report represents an immediate opportunity to show supporters of Hillary Clinton, who many specialists said had the best health care plan of all the candidates, that he takes them and women’s issues in general seriously.” Jackson concludes, “Regardless of who wins [the election], unfair health insurance costs should be one of the first burdens the new president lifts off women’s shoulders” (Jackson, Boston Globe, 11/4).
  • Sally Richardson, Charleston Gazette: “If you think the Bush trickle-down economic theories have been good for the economy in West Virginia and the rest of the country, then you may think that John McCain’s health care plan for America is OK, too” but “for my money, I’d like to have a little healthier approach that serves everyone equal to their needs,” Richardson — executive director of the Institute for Health Policy Research, associate vice president of the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center and a former senior executive at CMS — writes in a Gazette opinion piece. She continues, “Obama has a much different approach” from McCain — “one that will make the health care system work for American families and workers.” According to Richardson, “the Obama plan will bring down costs for average consumers, strengthen the employer-based coverage that most Americans have come to rely upon, and ensure that every American — low-income to the wealthiest — has access to the doctors and other providers they need.” She continues, “I suggest asking” whether people can “trust the risky McCain privatization approach” or “the more balanced Obama approach that focuses on universal access to health care through a sensible public-private partnership” (Richardson, Charleston Gazette, 11/4).
  • Robert Rubin/Jared Bernstein, New York Times: The U.S.’ “economic future … requires public investment in critical areas like education, health care, energy, worker training and much else,” which is why “the next president needs to proceed on multiple tracks, with both the restoration of a sound fiscal regime and critical public investment,” former Treasury Secretary Rubin and Bernstein, an author and senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, write in a Times opinion piece. They continue that “the single largest factor in our projected fiscal imbalances are the health care entitlements Medicare and Medicaid, underscoring the fundamental importance of health care reform that expands coverage to more Americans yet constrains costs.” They add, “While plans that would accomplish these goals have some cost, by pooling risk and stressing cost effectiveness, they could more than pay for themselves by reducing the growth trajectory of our health care spending, in both the private and public spheres” (Rubin/Bernstein, New York Times, 11/3).
  • Marsha Mercer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “The rough-and-tumble of the campaign may look like a cakewalk compared with the thorny challenges ahead,” because either Obama or McCain “will need to satisfy the people’s pent-up demand for change that he and his opponent stoked during the long campaign,” syndicated columnist Mercer writes in the Post-Intelligencer. According to Mercer, “Calling for sacrifice is hardly a way to win votes, so the candidates have been vague about where they’ll cut the budget to make up lost revenue.” Obama or McCain “will … need to level with people and explain that the change promised so heartily and for so long won’t happen overnight,” Mercer concludes, adding, “We can only hope it happens in the next four or eight years” (Mercer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/3).
  • Steve Coll, The New Yorker: “The accumulating failures in the country’s health care system are a cause of profound weakness in the American economy,” Coll writes. According to Coll, if left “unaddressed, this weakness will exacerbate the coming recession and crimp its aftermath.” Coll writes, “Presidents who help right a wrong of this character are generally immortalized in granite, but to succeed they require a transformation-minded Congress, too.” He continues, “The next Congress will likely be without the active leadership of its great lion of social reform,” Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). But there is “only one senator with the wonky expertise, work habits and political stature to fill Kennedy’s place”: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), he adds. Coll writes, “The psychology she would bring to this inheritance would surely be complex, but no health care reform bill will pass without her” (Coll, The New Yorker, 11/10).


Source: Kaiser.com

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