Tales from the Trail

Did health insurance industry report backfire?

Support for a “strong public option” appears to be growing in the House of Representatives.

One of the reasons is that a health insurance industry report predicting higher premiums if Congress fails to enact a healthcare overhaul without a strong mandate for individuals to purchase coverage appears to have backfired.

Democratic aides say support for a strong public health plan to compete with insurers is gaining strength in the House which is weighing three versions of the public option. USA/

The White House and congressional leaders blasted the report, written for America’s Health Insurance Plans, calling it misleading and flawed.

The report’s author, PricewaterhouseCoopers, acknowledged that it only took into account certain aspects of the bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee and omitted analyses of provisions, including government subsidies, that would lower premium costs.

The First Draft: Let it Snowe, Let it Snowe, Let it Snowe

Republican Senator Olympia Snowe is having her day in the sun.

Snowe blanketed morning TV talk shows. The main question posed to the Maine moderate: How does it feel to be all alone? GERMANY/

“I have to focus on what I think is right. My constituents expect that in Maine, they want me to do what I think is right for the country, for the state,” she said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“And so I decided to set aside my own differences and try to see what was right for the country and moving forward.”

Unions oppose Baucus healthcare bill

Twenty-seven U.S. labor unions warn that the healthcare bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee is deeply flawed and they want to see some changes — or else they will oppose it.

baucusbil2 The coalition of major unions, who support healthcare reform, issued its warning in a full-page ad in Wednesday’s Washington Post.
“Unless the bill that goes to the floor of the U.S. Senate makes substantial progress to address the concerns of working men and women,  we will oppose it,” the ad says.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus’ healthcare plan does not include a government-run “public” insurance option backed by President Barack Obama.

Snowe jumps ship in attempt to turn healthcare “Titanic”

Well, she did it.

IRAQ-USA/CONGRESSRepublican Senator Olympia Snowe, a moderate from Maine, jumped off the Republican steamer to vote yes on the Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare reform bill.

In explaining why she was voting against the Republican line, Snowe likened changing the healthcare status quo to “turning the Titanic around” before it hit the iceberg.

She became the first Republican to vote for changing the healthcare system, which has become President Barack Obama’s signature domestic issue.

The First Draft: H-Day

CHINADrum roll please…

Will Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, a moderate from Maine, become the first Republican in Congress to back a healthcare reform bill?

Will one or more Democrats defect from President Barack Obama’s signature issue?

The suspense is almost too much to bear… USA-HEALTHCARE

The Senate Finance Committee meets at 10 a.m. to vote on its version of sweeping healthcare reform.

Dust-up over healthcare reform ahead of Senate panel’s vote

The fragile consensus in favor of healthcare reform may be coming apart.

With the Senate Finance Committee due to vote on its reform bill Tuesday, the insurance industry’s trade group released an analysis saying the measure would drive up costs by thousands of dollars over the next decade.

The White House quickly fired back.

“This is a self-serving analysis from the insurance industry, one of the major opponents of health insurance reform,” spokesman Reid Cherlin said.SENATE/HEALTHCARE

“It comes on the eve of a vote that will reduce the industry’s profits. It is hard to take it seriously,” he said.

The First Draft: Achoo

The U.S. government wants you to know the H1N1 swine flu vaccine is safe. FLU/VACCINE-USA

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blanketed morning television talk shows with basically the one message. “This definitely is a safe vaccine for people to get,” she said on NBC’s “Today” show, urging the public to visit flu.gov.

People are worried, but how much depends on which poll you look at.

A Consumer Reports survey last month found that nearly two-thirds of American parents said they would hold off having their children vaccinated against the H1N1 swine flu or wouldn’t get them immunized at all, expressing wariness about whether the new vaccine had been tested enough.

A Harvard School of Public Health survey earlier this month found that 75 percent of parents would get the swine flu vaccine for their children.

Is there a doctor in the (White) House?

Doctors do make house calls after all.

OK so it helps if you’re the president of the United States and your house is on Washington postcards.

OBAMA/The White House Rose Garden was a sea of white lab coats as doctors from around the country were the latest audience for President Barack Obama’s pitch on healthcare reform.

“I am thrilled to have all of you here today. And you look very spiffy in your coats,” Obama said.

Healthcare, unplugged

It’s never going to top any charts, but the folks who put a recording of HR3200 online for your listening pleasure are back.

INDIA-RD/This time, they’re offering a digital recording of the Senate Finance Committee version of healthcare reform offered by chairman Max Baucus. And they keep the site updated with all modifications to the bill as it moves through the committee.

The voice actors doing the reading see their performances as a public service. “We read, you listen, we ALL decide,” is the slogan atop their Web site.

Healthcare public option on life support, will it be revived?

The healthcare “public option” was dealt a blow by the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, so now the question is whether it can be resuscitated when the legislation hits the Senate floor.

The Senate Finance Committee was always going to be the hardest sell. OBAMA/

The government insurance option will get another shot when the healthcare overhaul bill goes to the Senate floor, and let’s not forget the House of Representatives which is likely to pass a public option in its version of the legislation.

A Thomson Reuters poll found that 63 percent of Americans surveyed were willing to pay for healthcare reform. But only 35 percent of them said President Barack Obama’s reform agenda and the debate in Congress would lead to better health service.