Political Diagnosis: Health Czar Discusses Public Insurance Option; What Meaningful Health Care Reform Looks Like for Women; EPA Gets Real on Greenhouse Gases ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — April 19, 2009

Nancy Ann Min DeParle

White House Health Czar Discusses Health Reform: Nancy-Ann Min DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said on Wednesday that that she believes a health care overhaul bill will include a public insurance option.

“It’s been interesting to talk to people who say, ‘Oh, I don’t like a public plan.’ When you actually start talking to them about what it might look like, you realize you’re talking about two different things,” said DeParle. Read her definition of a public plan here.

DeParle appeared at a reporters-only Health Care Reform Newsmaker briefing sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Families USA and the National Federation of Independent Business. View the webcast is available online.


Also from Kaiser: In his latest column, Kaiser Foundation’s President and CEO Drew Altman offers a brief history of health reform efforts since World War Two. There’s a magic number involved, too: “19.7. That’s the average number of years between major attempts at health reform since Harry Truman made health reform a top priority and his plan was branded a socialist plot and soundly defeated in 1950.”


Comparative Effectiveness Research Funding: The Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research on Tuesday held the first of at least three listening sessions on how the $1.1 billion from the stimulus package for comparative effectiveness research should be spent. The public as well as interest groups are invited to weigh in.

Better Care, Lower Costs: Peter Orszag, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, predicts that in one year the country will be on its way to a more efficient health care system. Orszag tells NPR:

When you go to see your doctor, that doctor will have much more information about what specifically is likely to work for your diagnosis, and will have better incentives to be providing high-quality care to you, rather than just more care. And, in addition to that, the number of uninsured people in the United States will be dramatically lower than it is today. […]

Estimates suggest that as much as $700 billion a year in health care costs do not improve health outcomes. It occurs because we pay for more care rather than better care … We need to be moving towards a system in which doctors and hospitals have incentives to provide the care that makes you better, rather than the care that just results in more tests and more days in [the] hospital.

Plus: Previously at NPR — Orszag is President Obama’s “super nerd” who specializes in the economics of health care.

Meaningful Reform: Writing at Huffington Post, National Women’s Law Center Co-president Marcia Greenberger outlines what’s at stake for women:

Health care reform that results in accessible care for women means making sure that everyone has access to affordable coverage and health care, and ending unfair insurance practices — such as rejecting applicants based on health history, pre-existing condition exclusions, or setting insurance rates based on gender, health status, or age. It also means providing access to affordable health coverage regardless of employment or family status.

To meet the needs of women, health care reform must result in coverage that is affordable — meaning that it must include income based subsidies for health care premiums and all out-of-pocket expenses; elimination of annual or lifetime caps on services and prescriptions; and a strengthened and expanded Medicaid program.

Finally, reform must provide comprehensive health and prescription drug benefits with coverage for a full range of health services, including wellness, prevention, and reproductive health services.

Better Late Than Never: “In a landmark move that countered eight years of inaction by the Bush administration, the Environmental Protection Agency determined yesterday that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare because they contribute to climate change,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

So what does that mean? The pieces are now in place for the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide and other emissions caused by automobiles, ships, airplanes, power plants, oil refineries, steel mills and more. The EPA must hold a public comment period before finalizing any regulations. Visit the EPA website on greenhouse gas emissions.

How to Fuel an Anti-Abortion Movement: “Obama’s first 84 days in office have been like an extended recruiting drive for the anti-abortion movement, reinvigorating a constituency he sought to neutralize during the campaign,” reports Politico. “Activists report a noticeable spike in activity as Obama moves to defend and expand a woman’s right to choose an abortion – causing anti-abortion voters to mobilize in ways never needed during the Bush administration.”

Take Action

Progressive Democrats of America: The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee is partnering with PDA to c0-sponsor a series of “Healthcare NOT Warfare” events in California next week, leading up to the state’s annual Democratic Party convention starting April 25. The effort will highlight and build grassroots support for HR 676 by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), which would set up a single-payer health care system in the U.S. Contact your representative about supporting HR 676.

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