U.S. House to debate health reform this summer

The three committee chairmen who have jurisdiction over parts of the effort to overhaul the U.S. health system are in agreement on how to proceed.

George Miller (Education and Labor Committee), Henry Waxman (Energy and Commerce Committee), and Charles Rangel (Ways and Means Committee) are working out of the same playbook.  As reported March 18 by the New York Times, the three plan to work from a single bill and have that bill considered by the full House before the August recess.

21% of Americans struggle with medical bills

In December 2008, 21 percent of Americans reported having difficulty paying for necessary health care during the previous year, according to a poll of more than 355,000 people by Gallup and the disease management company Healthways, the largest poll ever conducted by Gallup, reports USA Today in a March 10 article.

More health care spending isn’t always better

Medicare spending in 2006 varied more than threefold across the U.S. hospital regions.  Some of this variation is due to differences in prices paid for similar services and some is due to differences in the illnesses people experience.  But even after accounting for such factors, a twofold difference exists. 

That difference is almost entirely explained by the volume of health care services received by similar patients. 

Will medical industry support health reform?

Speaking March 9 at PHAN's "Getting Everyone Covered" conference in Harrisburg, representatives of the insurance industry, the hospitals, and business/commerce each said in turn that the health care system must be reformed.  Our current system is much too expensive and is unsustainable, they said.

But the discussion was very general and the commitments rather vague.  Are the big players in the healthcare industry so committed to reform that they are prepared to give up some of the advantages they enjoy under the current arrangement?  It's too soon to say.

Baucus promises health legislation

Senator Max Baucus, the Montana senator who chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee in Washington, has promised to introduce comprehensive health care legislation in June, certainly before the August recess. 

Baucus' promise was reported in the March 4 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Enacting comprehensive health care reform is my top priority," said the Senator.  "I want to make sure it passes this year."