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Newsletter, What's Going On, September 21,2010

September 21, 2010

HEALTH CARE CONFERENCE CALL WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA Linking Community and Faith Leaders to Information about New Benefits 

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2010.  Time:  3 PM Central. 

Dial in information: 
For those with internet access, please join the call online at: 
http://hhs.granicus.com/live For those without internet access, please dial: 1-888-455-6860  or 1-866-844-9416.  From Gloria Laster.

Matthew Holt, at The Health Care Blog, has a superb interview with Victor Fuchs, Henry J. Kaiser Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, and best known as the "Father of Health Economics".  Maggie Mahar has an extended commentary about the interview.  Ever wonder about about longevity vs. the Quality of Life?  Or things that can’t happen that do happen?  It’s just fun to run across some original thought, not just a rehash or refinement of what everyone else is writing.  And maybe…single payer might be one of the things that can’t happen that do happen…someday.  Jwr.

  “Liberating the NHS” — Another Attempt to Implement Market Forces in English Health Care is the title of an article in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.  In it, Dr. Nick Black discusses the most recent proposal of the Conservative Government to restructure Britain’s National Health Service.  Dr Black concluded: “In the view of critics, it is the latest attempt to impose an inappropriate and flawed policy. Critics’ greater fear, however, is that the government shares that view and would be happy to see the NHS buckle under the strain, thereby justifying the need for really radical change to health care in England, including changes to its mode of financing.”   It’s a bit as if Republicans regained control of American government and proceeded to privatize Medicare.  Jwr.

 DEMS PLAN TO RALLY AROUND SEPT. 23 PROVISIONS- The Obama administration and its allies are crafting plans to publicly mark a series of tough insurance restrictions due to go into effect on Sept. 23, with hopes that it will provide Democrats some campaign-ready ammo six weeks ahead of the midterm elections. The effort will include hundreds of events across the country. The administration is currently planning multiple efforts, involving senior officials, to communicate the Sept. 23 insurance reforms both in person and online, a White House aide tells POLITICO. The aide stresses that the events will be a “continuation of a long process that started when the bill was signed into law of working to educate and inform the American people.” The POLITICO story from your PULSE co-authors http://politi.co/cHpg9u

It’s not surprising, then, that “Democrats Look To Strike Back With Health Care Campaigns Touting New Law,” building on the administration’s campaign.

There ARE viable political candidates campaigning on a single-payer platform.  See this report and this brief YouTube video of the Democratic Candidate for Governor in Vermont.  His Facebook page is worth looking at, too.

This week saw the annual release of census bureau figures on the number of uninsured in the country.  The new number is 50.7 million of us.  Karen Davis of the Commonwealth Fund has a decent analysis of the report.

New Issue Brief on Patient-Centered Medical Homes. Medical Homes are receiving a great deal of attention.  The respected journal, Health Affairs, has an issue brief describing exactly what’s meant by the term, and some of the problems in implementing the concept.  I don’t believe you’ll find a better discussion.  jwr 

California OneCare’s 30 second video: Lainie Kazan was amazed when she found out that we're paying twice as much for our health care than any other developed nation. And what do we get? Deductibles, denials, exclusions, and confusion about what's covered.

Consumers Union has revamped the content on their Consumer Reports Health page and it now includes a downloadable guide called “Health Reform: The First Six Months”.  CU’s advocacy team created this guide and they are pushing it out around the country over the next couple weeks.  http://consumerreports.org/health/insurance/health-insurance.htm

Henry Stern at Insurblog reminds that employers don’t actually pay insurance premiums for employees.  Employers collect the premiums from the silent portion of employee paychecks and pass them on to the insurance companies.  When employers provide ‘fringe benefits’, they’re actually providing them from the money they could/would theoretically pay you if they didn’t provide the fringe. 

Speaking at the Value Voters summit this past week, former Governor (and now Presidential hopeful) Mike Huckabee declared himself opposed to insuring individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. 

Ezra Klein: Jon Cohn updates us on the state of health-care reform's polling:  The last few polls on health care reform have been discouraging. Public support for the Affordable Care Act does not seem to be rising. If anything, it seems to be falling, as a quick glance at Pollster.com will confirm.  The decline is relatively modest and you could plausibly explain it away as a reflection of views on other issues. (I.e., if people weren't so down on the economy, they wouldn't be so down on health care reform.) But you certainly can't argue that people are enthusiastic about reform these days, since the numbers were tepid even before the decline. In the latest CBS/New York Times poll, published on Wednesday, just 37 percent of respondents said they approved of the law, while 49 percent said they disapproved.  Still, if you dig deeper into the same poll, you'll find that public sentiment on health care reform is more complicated than those figures suggest. While 40 percent of respondents said they supported repealing the Affordable Care Act, more than half changed their minds (leaving just 19 percent in favor of repeal) when pollsters mentioned that it'd mean letting insurance companies exclude people with pre-existing conditions. ...Unrelated, the Kaiser Family Foundation has released a glut of polls on the role of health care in the upcoming election.

 This week, President Obama had a few words of reproof for liberals.  “Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get — to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed — oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. [...] And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and — (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.)”  Firedoglake responded: “Obama’s chosen poor issues to flog liberals with. He’s unfortunately highlighted areas where the administration has lost the center.  The health care bill is unpopular. And it’s not unpopular because of the “professional left.” It’s unpopular because people really hate insurance companies and they’re now being forced to buy their shitty product, which they can’t afford. The public option, which was a workaround that problem, had broad, popular support – not just among glass-half-empty liberals. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened. ……..  Americans simply don’t like health care reform and they don’t like the war. By using these two to chastise liberals, the President is also wagging his finger at the majority of the country.”

Maggie Maher writes, thoughtfully and at some length, “The Next Priority for Health Care: Federalize Medicaid”

Coming on line 9/23: The new Getting Covered site is designed to educate young adults and parents about dependent coverage. By taking a short quiz, you can get your "prescription" to find out if dependent coverage is right for you.  www.GettingCovered.org.  The site also has links to useful info like FAQ's on dependent coverage,  profiles of real stories getting coverage, listings of upcoming events, and state fact sheets on the impact of dependent coverage by state.   From Peter VanVranken.

MACPAC - The new advisory group, which will serve a similar purpose for Medicaid and CHIP as MedPac does for Medicare, is now live with a website. Site www.macpac.gov.  From POLITICO Pulse.

 The Hill reports, “Healthcare reform fight brewing over family planning.”  Contraception coverage…or lack thereof…as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act.

Government shutdown over healthcare reform?  Maybe.  Discussion of the possibility.  Or just nibble it to death

The Kaiser Family Foundation has launched a new web site, HEALTH REFORM SOURCE  to explain, analyze and track the new law’s implementation. 

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Thursday, September 23, 8 PM CDT.  PNHP’s monthly activist phone call.  Please call me for the phone number and access code. 

Saturday, October 2.  Peace, Jobs, Justice Labor rally in Washington D.C.  About 500 nurses from National Nurses United and an unknown number of Physicians for a National Health Program will march.  In some states there are AFL-CIO busses carrying participants to and from the event…stay tuned for what we can make happen here.

Sunday, October 3,  7PM CDT.  Healthcare-NOW monthly activist phone call. Please use this Dial-in Number 1-218-862-1300 and Conference Code 441086. To mute and unmute the line, please hit *4.

Monday, October 4. 2010  @ 5:30 PM.  North Alabama Healthcare for All Monthly Meeting —Huntsville/Madison County Public Library, 901 Monroe Street  (downtown).  The meeting is in Room AB, on the first floor. After you enter the library’s front door, turn right towards the auditorium.

Please join PNHP in Denver for our Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 6, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. The Annual Meeting is PNHP's most important, energizing and inspiring gathering of the year. This year's theme is "From PPACA to Single Payer: Next Steps for Single-Payer Activists in the Wake of the Obama Health Plan." Speakers will include Amy Goodman, PNHP co-founders Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, and more. A limited number of travel scholarships are available for medical students.

Are you ready for Leadership Training? New PNHP members - and longtime members who want to take the next step and get active - are invited to come to Denver the day before the Annual Meeting to participate in PNHP's popular crash course in health policy and politics starting on Friday, November 5, at 1:00 p.m. We look forward to working with you! Contact Matt Petty at matt@pnhp.org or 312-782-6006 to register.

Healthcare-NOW National Strategy Conference.  When: Saturday, November 13th and Sunday, November 14th
Where: William Way Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA Time: Sat, 4pm to 9pm; 
Sun, 8am to 4pm
 Fee: $30 for Healthcare-NOW! Members and $50 for Healthcare-NOW! Non- Members  Go to our National Strategy Conference page to register and more information.

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