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Newsletter, What's Going On, May 17, 2011

Last week there was news of single-payer legislation passed in Vermont.  Or at least passage of a large step toward single-payer.  This week there’s news from the Vermont Democratic Party of a well-financed, intense campaign of misinformation and scare tactics intended to defeat the legislators who supported the bill.   

Ezra Klein with a nice, brief description of what’s in the Vermont bill.  The Incidental Economist has a more detailed examination of it.  Including its remarkable cost-controlling mechanisms.

Healthcare Now: The California Universal Healthcare Act has passed that state’s Senate Health Committee on a 5-3 vote.   Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Hawaii has implemented a medical home model for Medicaid patients.  Detroit has a new, innovative program for its poor.

Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "Florida wants to be the first state in the nation to charge most of its Medicaid recipients a monthly premium as well as $100 for using the ER for routine care." (Galewitz, 5/15).

Mother Jones: Democrats have been gleefully attacking Republicans on Rep. Ryan’s proposal to gut Medicare.  Republicans have found a few tools for counterattack.   New York Times: Newt Gingrich called the Ryan proposal “right-wing social engineering” and opposed it.

CNN Money: Your Family's Health Care Costs $19,393 Health care costs for a family of four rose again in 2011, with employees paying a much larger share of the rising expenses, according to a new industry report Wednesday. American families who are insured through their jobs average health care costs of $19,393 this year, up 7.3 percent, or $1,319 from last year. (Kavilanz, 5/11).  Costs have doubled since 2001. Kaiser Health News.  Uwe Reinhardt’s discussion of the cost rise.

Commonwealth Fund: The nation's highest-profile health care centers—think of the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare or the Geisinger Health System—are the models for the Obama administration's accountable care organization (ACO) proposal. But officials at those tightly organized institutions have so many concerns with the proposed rule to create ACOs that they doubt that they will participate. [Read more]    And: Startup and first-year costs of building an accountable care organization will run from $11.6 million to $26.1 million, significantly higher than the $1.8 million figure offered by the CMS, according to a study funded by the American Hospital Association.  Health Data Management, cited by AP Smart Briefs. 

The Hill: Sanders To Introduce Single-Payer Bill The new system would replace Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and insurance exchanges established under the Obama administration's health care reform law (Baker, 5/9). Kaiser Health News.  The bill itself:

Common Dreams: Almost 44 million fewer Americans would be eligible for Medicaid in 2021 if House Republicans' budget blueprint becomes law under the most dire scenario projected by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation.  A new report tallies the deep cuts that states would make if the program was replaced with block grants.  The worst scenario would leave 32.1 million people eligible for Medicaid, versus 75.9 million under current law.

Not Running a Hospital: Nursing homes want to be exempt from the employer requirement to provide health care benefits to their staff because the payments nursing homes get from Medicare and Medicaid to deliver care to patients are too low to provide enough cash to those institutions to offer those benefits.

Wonkbook: Partisan spats are keeping a panel dedicated to expanding primary care from getting to work, reports Amy Goldstein: Page 519 of the 2010 law to overhaul the health-care system creates an influential commission to guide the country in matching the supply of health-care workers with the need. In the eight months since its members were named, the commission has been unable to start any work. The group cannot convene, converse or hire staff because $3 million that it needs for its initial year has been blocked by two partisan wars on Capitol Hill.

Wonkline: “A group of leading Catholics today assailed House Speaker John Boehner for backing a budget plan that is “particularly cruel to pregnant women and children,” while “radically” cutting Medicaid and “effectively” ending Medicare.”

Facing South: Why don’t corporations support single-payer health care?   Mark Almberg at PNHP via Katie Robbins.  Thoughtful exploration of the question, though critics call the paper only a first step in looking at the issue. 

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Thursday, May 19, 2011.  @5:30 PM.  Third Thursday happy hour (social gathering), at the Preve lounge, upstairs at Monaco, 370 The Bridge Street (6782 Old Madison Pike), Huntsville.  Rob Kilpatrick would appreciate knowing you’re coming.  rob2020@mac.com

Thursday, May 26, 2011. 8 PM. CST   PNHP Leader/Activist Conference Call.  Call me for the number and access code.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011. Please join NAHA (North Alabama Healthcare for All), for a fun lunch with no agenda, just some good discussion.
 Jamos Café, 413 Jordan Lane NW, Huntsville, AL..  Wednesday before each monthly meeting.

Monday, June 6, 2011  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.   

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