The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, an outgrowth of Oregon's 2008 lottery to allocate Medicaid slots to eligible residents, has released their second year of results (Previous discussions on the lottery and the experiment). The gist of the results are that they found statisitically significant reductions in catastrophic health care expenditures, improvements in the incidences of depression, and increased use of health care services. They found minimal (and not statistically significant) improvements in the rates of physical health indicators (diabetes and hypertension) they tracked. Because of ethical concerns, there are no other randomized controlled tests on this scale that study the effects of Medicaid and few on the effects of health insurance in general (the only significant one being a RAND study released 30 years ago). Because of the small amount of information available on the topic and the impending Medicaid expansion offered by Affordable Care Act, this study has drawn a lot of attention from political commentators. This will presumably be the last year these results will be published, as the state of Oregon was able to find extra money in 2010 in order cover the rest of its Medicaid-eligible population. [more inside]
What's Obamacare? A studious Reddit user has read the mammoth 955-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and outlined the important points of what the new law actually does, with specific citations. While the recently-upheld law itself remains unpopular, most individual components of the bill enjoy widespread popularity among republican politicians and the public, despite the fact that both groups remain largely unaware of the bill's actual provisions. [more inside]
In less than an hour, the Supreme Court will hand down its final judgment in what has become one of the most crucial legal battles of our time: the constitutionality of President Obama's landmark health care reform law. The product of a strict party line vote following a
year century of debate, disinformation, and tense legislative wrangling, the Affordable Care Act would (among other popular reforms) require all Americans to buy insurance coverage by 2014, broadening the risk pool for the benefit of those with pre-existing conditions.
The fate of this "individual mandate," bitterly opposed by Republicans despite its similarity to past plans touted by conservatives (including presidential contender Mitt Romney) is the central question facing the justices today. If the conservative majority takes the dramatic step of striking down the mandate, the law will be toothless, and in danger of wholesale reversal, rendering millions uninsured, dealing a crippling blow to the president's re-election hopes, and possibly endangering the federal regulatory state.
But despite the pessimism of bettors, some believe the Court will demur, wary of damaging its already-fragile reputation with another partisan 5-4 decision. But those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know. Watch the SCOTUSblog liveblog for updates, Q&A, and analysis as the truth finally comes out shortly after 10 a.m. EST.
This morning marked day two of marathon proceedings in what's likely the most momentous and politically-charged Supreme Court case since Bush v. Gore: the effort to strike down President Obama's landmark health care reform law. While yesterday was a sleepy affair of obscure technical debate, today's hearings targeted the heart of the law -- the individual mandate that requires most Americans to purchase insurance by 2014. With lower courts delivering a split decision before today, administration lawyers held some hope that at least one conservative justice could be persuaded to uphold the provision, which amortizes the risk that makes universal coverage possible. But after a day of deeply skeptical questioning by swing justice Anthony Kennedy and his fellow conservatives [transcript - audio], the mandate looks to be in grave trouble, with CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin going as far as calling the day "a train wreck" for the administration. But it's far from a done deal, with a third day of hearings tomorrow and a final decision not expected until June.
Public support for the new healthcare law has dropped significantly, with just 34% of Americans viewing the law favorably, the lowest level of support since the president signed the law in March 2010. A new survey by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, deals a blow to the Obama administration as Republican presidential candidates keep up their pledges to repeal the president’s signature domestic legislative achievement. 'Much of the decline appears to have been driven by faltering support among Democrats, just 52% of whom said they view the law favorably, down from 65% a month earlier. Support among independents dropped from 36% to 32%. And support from Republicans fell from 14% to 11%.' [more inside]
A Federal Judge in Virginia has ruled the mandate in the recently passed Affordable Health Care Act unconstitutional. This unlikely result means that the Supreme Court will be in the position to decide whether or not all or part of the health care reform remains intact. Some argue this development may reflect the success of broad-reaching Republican efforts in recent years to tilt the political alignment of the Federal judiciary. Others, naturally, disagree.
Earlier this week GOP Senate candidate Sue Lowden -- who wants to replace Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) -- "made the case for paying doctors with chickens, rather than checks from the insurance company." When questioned if Lowden really advocates 'barter' as a viable solution for health care reform, her communications director, Chrystal Feldman, confirmed that it is indeed her position." Curious as to how many chickens you'll need to receive care from your primary care physician? Use the Lowden Medical Procedure to Chicken Converter to find out. [more inside]
Tonight on Frontline, Obama's Deal, about how the insurance lobby shaped healthcare legislation. [more inside]
House passes Healthcare reform. All that's left is voting on a reconciliation package for the senate to sign. But the house has passed the senate bill, which means this is basically a done deal. [more inside]
"In May, 2002, Jerome Mitchell, a 17-year old college freshman from rural South Carolina, learned he had contracted HIV. The news, of course, was devastating, but Mitchell believed that he had one thing going for him: On his own initiative, in anticipation of his first year in college, he had purchased his own health insurance. Shortly after his diagnosis, however, his insurance company, Fortis [now Assurant Health], revoked his policy. Mitchell was told that without further treatment his HIV would become full-blown AIDS within a year or two and he would most likely die within two years after that." [more inside]
How to Smoke a Fatty is a helpful tutorial that does what it says. Here is a thread full of fatty experimentation, including epic Taco Bell fatty. Fatty inside a fatty inside a fatty inside a fatty. Maybe you'd prefer a fatty with venison and mushrooms + bacon weave. For the gourmand: vegetable-stuffed fatty with rosemary potatoes. [via]
Landmark health care reform legislation passes senate on a Christmas-eve party line vote. So after a turbulent and contentious legislative process with many sudden reversals and last minute surprises, what's actually in the bill? NPR offers a "Consumer's Guide" to the form the final, reconciled legislation now seems likeliest to take. [more inside]
The Senate votes to bring health care bill (text in an amendment) to floor, 60-39. Major concessions extracted by holdout senators. Other analysis here and here. Differences between this and the House bill.
State of the debate filter: Harry Reid is looking like a giant waffle iron. Congress is getting crushed with phone calls. A G.E. healthcare exec, says "Shit or get off the pot already." The insurance industry says, "Back up off a deez!" And people aren't wavering in their support of a public option. [more inside]
Health Insurance Reform Reality Check. The White House has just launched a new site to attempt to counter concerns arising from the various factual distortions, misrepresentations and wild-eyed fears that some participants in the ongoing health care reform debate have loudly been voicing lately. [more inside]
Three committees of the United States House of Representatives have released the House's version of healthcare reform--the America's Affordable Health Choices Act. The bill [1000 page pdf] [summary] introduces a Health Insurance Exchange, minimum standards for benefit packages, protections for consumers, and a "level playing field" public insurance option with the right to use Medicare rates for the first three years. Initial reactions are positive.
The state of Oregon is holding a health insurance lottery where 91,000 hopeful enrollees will be competing for a couple thousand spots under the Oregon Health Plan, the state's Medicaid program. OHP was created to cover those who made too much to enroll in traditional Medicaid but too little to afford market healthcare, and this development comes as a result of budget cuts and a subsequent enrollment closure in July of 2004. It's a far cry from the universal health care coverage that the plan was suppose to lead to, and marks a dramatic turn for the state's once-ambitious health care reforms.
(Previously in dystopic health care developments)
(Previously in dystopic health care developments)