Healthcare

Sad McCain

Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) rather embarrassing conversation onboard a bus recently, in which he was left speechless when asked whether insurance companies’ coverage of Viagra and not of birth control constituted gender discrimination, revealed a surprisingly timid and indecisive side of the prospective president.

McCain’s inability to stand up for his belief is a disturbing flaw that is hard to reconcile with real leadership. The simple answer to the question should have been “absolutely not.” Insurance companies should be in the business of protecting people’s health, not enabling people’s lifestyle choices.
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Personal Responsibility and Healthcare

Although clinical preventive health is equally important to personal health, just 14 percent of voters identified physicals and screenings as the most important preventive healthcare practice.  “We know that preventive services such as mammograms, colonoscopies and simple dental exams are vital tools in the fight against serious disease,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) recently stated. “We now have to act on this knowledge; procrastination costs lives and fuels the high cost of healthcare.”

If Congress wants to help on the issue, they need to shift themes in the ongoing debate. Recently, prominent healthcare professionals and senior congressional staff from both sides of the aisle were brought together to discuss current preventive health legislation. The Politics of Prevention forum hosted folks such as renowned chronic disease expert Dr. Ken Thorpe, along with a bipartisan, pioneering group of senators and House members leading the charge on this effort.  Those are the steps Washington should now be taking to build the bridges for action.
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Personal Responsibility and Healthcare

Although clinical preventive health is equally important to personal health, just 14 percent of voters identified physicals and screenings as the most important preventive healthcare practice. “We know that preventive services such as mammograms, colonoscopies and simple dental exams are vital tools in the fight against serious disease,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) recently stated. “We now have to act on this knowledge; procrastination costs lives and fuels the high cost of healthcare.”

If Congress wants to help the issue, they need to shift themes in the ongoing debate. Recently, prominent healthcare professionals and senior congressional staff from both sides of the aisle were brought together to discuss current preventive health legislation. The Politics of Prevention forum hosted folks such as renowned chronic disease expert Dr. Ken Thorpe, along with a bipartisan, pioneering group of senators and House members leading the charge on this effort. Those are the steps Washington should now be taking to build the bridges for action.
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Hillarycare Goes Broke?

There’s truth in the adage “Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk.” This week, the Clinton campaign continues to talk the talk, but has somehow tripped (OK, fell on its face) over Hillarycare … I mean, healthcare. Although HRC pronounces it as her passion, news reports out this week indicate she has left $292,000 worth of her own employees’ health insurance premiums unpaid.

What Hillary seems to have forgotten was that “free” healthcare isn’t really free — someone has to pay for it, and in this case, it’s her. If her presidential campaign budget can’t handle the cost of healthcare on this small scale, how does she expect taxpayers to manage that same health program for all Americans? When you stop and look at the litany of domestic programs she’s proposing and the billion-dollar price tags that come with them, I suspect she’s not too worried about paying the bills.
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Taking a Break from Politics

Taking a break from politics for a moment, earlier this week, the Ways and Means Committee (Republican side) put out a statement regarding the startling success of the Medicare reform/prescription drug legislation passed by the Republican Congress and signed by the president in 2003.

“According to the CMS actuaries, the cost of the Medicare drug benefit (known as Part D) will be $117 billion lower over the next 10 years, compared to the estimate that was prepared just last summer. This is the third year in a row where Part D cost projections have decreased. Compared to its initial estimate in 2003, the next ten year cost of the Medicare drug benefit is nearly $250 billion (almost 40%) lower than originally estimated. The success of Part D stands in stark contrast to the dramatic increases in overall healthcare spending during the same time period.”
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On Children's Health, An All-Around Depressing Account

Thanks to Robert Pear of The New York Times, a tireless reporter who knows healthcare better than most of us know anything, for exposing the real story behind the political battle over children's health insurance. It is depressing.

In his account Monday, Pear explained that a group of Republican and Democratic senators lead by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and his GOP Vice Chairman Chuck Grassley (Iowa) embarked last spring on what can only be described as a mission these days on Capitol Hill to forge a compromise on an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Meeting nearly every day into the summer months, often for up to two hours, the senators defied the culture of partisan gridlock that has chilled progress in Congress for years.
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Hoyer's Fairy Tale

There they go again …

With all the wailing and gnashing of teeth these days surrounding the State Children's Health Insurance Program maelstrom, a few nuggets of legitimate concern are worthy of attention.

One of those concerns, raised constantly by Republicans, deals with a provision that would provide coverage to children of high-income families. In a rare glimpse of candor, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Wednesday acknowledged that oversight, stating in his weekly pen and pad, “That was a somewhat Alice-in-Wonderland approach to it, but we are willing to address that, because that was not our intent.” Go ahead and pick yourself up off the floor, because that doesn’t happen every day!
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SCHIP Veto

Now that the president has vetoed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), what is the next step for Republicans?

We know what the Democrats are going to do.

First, they are going to wait a couple of weeks, because while SCHIP is important, it is really not that important.

They are going to run thousands of ads aimed at those who voted to sustain the president’s veto.
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On SCHIP

Reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has proven more complicated than it should have been. Started by a Republican Congress more than a decade ago, Congressional Democrats have made the program their own with a plan to rapidly expand its size and scope.

The first battle in the war over fiscal responsibility this fall will be fought over SCHIP terrain, a battlefield not particularly friendly to the Republican position. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has already taken to calling the president and his allies anti-children, demagoguery that is completely effective in the short term. Bush’s retort that this expansion is the first step to government-run healthcare appeals to a small band of ideological purists, but largely fails to convince the public at large.
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