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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

In the last few days there have been a few decent Q&A’s from the various news outlets to put healthcare reform into practical terms.

Here’s one from CNN today that was particularly good.

Question: Is there anything in the bill about rationing health care?
Answer: No one is using the term “rationing” as part of the bill. But there is a term called comparative effectiveness. And that’s this idea that we figure out what works in medicine and make sure to pay for those things. This also means that there are a lot of things being done right now where there’s not scientific proof that it works and maybe those things won’t get paid any more. Some people call that rationing. Other people say, look, rationing exists under the current system. It’s just that the insurance companies are essentially rationing by denying payment or dropping people off their coverage.

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Now that the bill has actually passed it’s worth each of us taking more time to understand what specifically is in it and how it affects you and your family. Hopefully the testosterone levels and political grand standing will subside long enough to get a real handle on the details.

Our friend Jim has a great synopsis over at Bargaineering explaining what will change and when now that the bill has passed. The full article is worth a read but here are a few of my favorite parts, all of which go into effect in 2010 or 2011.

  • Insurance companies will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be restricted.
  • Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
  • Young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26.
  • A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.
  • Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get a free annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan service. New health plans will be required to cover preventive services with little or no cost to patients.

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Healthcare Reform

If you’ve had a hard time keeping up with all the Healthcare debate or have lost interest along the way like I have, here is a nice quick summary from BusinessWeek on what is currently being proposed:

Insurers would no longer be able to reject new customers with pre-existing medical conditions; new restrictions would be placed on their ability to set premiums. Patients would have greater access to preventive care and young adults would be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.

See the full article for details on how the bill addresses individual mandates, expanding coverage, coverage for seniors, taxes, industry fees, employer mandates, abortion, and even a revamp to student loans.

Also, here’s Ezra Klein commenting on the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s review which found the bill will actually save money:

You also get the single most ambitious effort the government has ever made to control costs in the health-care sector. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill cuts deficits by $130 billion in the first 10 years.

This was a hard bill to write. Pairing the largest coverage increase since the Great Society with the most aggressive cost-control effort isn’t easy. And since the cost controls are complicated, while the coverage increase is straightforward, many people don’t believe that the Democrats have done it. But to a degree unmatched in recent legislative history, they have.

Coverage for 32 million that don’t currently have it plus better protections for those of us that already do while saving $130 billion in the process sounds like a win-win-win to me.

Let’s get this done people.

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The New York Times had an excellent feature story a few days ago:
How Obama Came to Plan for ‘Surge’ in Afghanistan

The three-month review that led to the escalate-then-exit strategy is a case study in decision making in the Obama White House — intense, methodical, rigorous, earnest and at times deeply frustrating for nearly all involved. It was a virtual seminar in Afghanistan and Pakistan, led by a president described by one participant as something “between a college professor and a gentle cross-examiner.”

Mr. Obama peppered advisers with questions and showed an insatiable demand for information, taxing analysts who prepared three dozen intelligence reports for him and Pentagon staff members who churned out thousands of pages of documents.

The story features a carefully constructed recount of the deliberations that went into the final decision and strategy to surge in Afghanistan. Regardless of where you stand on the final decision, it’s a fascinating look into the intense debate that went on behind the scenes to make the most of a shitty situation.

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Does anyone really believe that sitting around and arguing over this [via AP] is the most helpful use of time at the moment? Is threatening to ‘tattle’ on how your congressman votes what we need? Seriously people this is pissing me off.

I’m not too jazzed about the government continuing to increase the deficit but if that’s not the solution, I want to hear some other options and RIGHT FREAKING NOW! Just giving people a few hundred bucks or even a couple thousand isn’t going to solve this for the millions that are losing their jobs, or for the crumbling infrastructure, or for becoming less dependent on oil from the middle east. We need to invest in America, and we need to do it soon.

Sort it out and stop the kindergarten name calling. Let’s get this done!

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That didn’t take long!

The White House website has been updated and includes a lot of great resources about the Obama agenda, his Administration, and general fun facts about the White House itself.

In the Briefing Room you’ll find a blog, as well as a place for press releases, executive orders, and proclamations.

[Seen on Daring Fireball]

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Yes We Did!

It’s been nearly a week now and I’m still not sure I can believe it. I’m mostly at a loss for words but what an amazing time to be an American! There is much work to be done, but in an instance, many have taken pause to wonder what the US, and what we as a people, are capable of. Remarkable.

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