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Archive for February 10, 2009

Health Care Reform Update: Families USA Health Action 2009 Conference

Health Care Reform Update: Families USA Health Action 2009 Conference

Washington, D.C. – January 29-31, 2009

by Alta L. Price, M.D.

This is the year for major health care reform at the federal level. But it won’t happen without all of us in Iowa pushing for it hard! This article is the first of weekly Blog for Iowa Health Care Reform Updates, to keep you informed and engaged.

Today's report covers some of the material from the Families USA Health Action 2009 Conference that Karen Metcalf (facilitator of the Health Care Reform Issue Forum of Progressive Action for the Common Good) and I (member of same Issue Forum and DFA-QC Organizer) attended in Washington, D.C.  

Families USA is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high quality, affordable health care for all Americans. They have been in existence for more than twenty-five years. They have an excellent national reputation, even at bringing together interests that often clash on health care reform issues (as in their “strange bedfellows” group).  Speakers included Senators (Chuck Grassley, Debbie Stabenow), Representatives (Steny Hoyer, Henry Waxman), and their legislative staffs, plus a wide variety of other experts and activists in the field.

A major health care reform bill is likely to be passed quickly, according to multiple speakers from Congressional staffs and some representing the Administration. This is more likely because the House, Senate, and Administration are coalescing around the same basic plan. Also, there is a sense of urgency to get it done early, possibly this year. Components of the plan include:

 – Coverage for all using a combination of private and public plans (like the Massachusetts plan)

 – Employers to remain involved in providing health insurance

 – Reform of the individual/small business insurance market (ideas like guaranteed issue, setting standards, providing a “connector” to help find insurance plans)

 – A new public plan (in addition to Medicaid, Medicare, VA, etc.)

 – Subsidies for those who can’t afford premiums

 – Health I.T. funding

 – Other: emphasis on prevention and wellness, reinvigorating primary care, reducing disparity (racial, geographic, etc.), objective measures of quality

For more details on what type of legislation is being considered, read Senator Max Baucus’ White Paper. Senator Baucus is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, responsible for health care legislation in the Senate.

Dr. Atul Gawande was one of the speakers, and he presented his article from The New Yorker (Jan 26, 2009) “Getting There from Here: How should Obama reform health care?”  

He talks about the concept of “path dependence” – or why any new system will build on what we already have. He explained convincingly why a single payer system is not going to happen in this country, nor will a “free market” only system.

Alta Price is a physician practicing Pathology in Davenport, Iowa. One of the original Deaniacs, she stays involved with Democracy for America, Iowa, and the Quad Cities. She advocates for quality, affordable health care for all, primarily as a volunteer with Progressive Action for the Common Good (Health Care Reform Issue Forum).  Watch for Dr. Price's Health Care Reform Update every Tuesday here on Blog for Iowa.

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