prescription drugs

health care reform 2009

After ten plus years of sitting on the sidelines of political debate, health care reform is back on center court.

Obama made health care one of his key campaign issues and top administration priorties. True to the president's style, he's pushing his dual goals - reining in health care costs and extending coverage to all Americans - without prescribing the details of how to pull them off. Those details he's leaving to lawmakers at the same time as pressuring Congress to have a final bill passed by the end of the year. The president's stance of keeping an open mind on the details notwithstanding, Obama has made many of his views known through speeches; those view are outlined below.

Congressional committees have okayed no less than three comprehensive health care reform bills (with a fourth still in the drafting) which they will certainly struggle to knit together in the fall. All of the bills are outlined below, although congress watchers have voted the drafts coming out of the Senate Finance and House Energy committees to be "most likely to be our next Health Care law."

health action 2009

Bills in Brief

It took over a decade for health care reform to lose its Clinton-era-induced taboo status - but 2009 could be the year Congress approves sweeping changes to health care.

While lawmakers rev up for large-scale reform, though, some smaller health bills seeing action include:

SCHIP. Congress head butted with Bush the past two years over expanding State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which covers low income children who aren't low income enough to qualify for Medicaid. Having lost the battle in '07 and '08, lawmakers put SCHIP at the top of their agenda in '09, passing an expansion of coverage to 4 million additional children (up from 7 million) at an additional cost of $32 billion. (WP)

health action 2008

Bills in Brief

It took over a decade for health care reform to lose its Clinton-era-induced taboo status - but while health care policy is coming back in vogue, America will have to wait until 2009 before any major reforms become ripe for passage.

In the meantime, in 2007 Congress set out to pass a series of mini health care initiatives - which it may follow up on in 2008:

SCHIP. Congress head butted with Bush last year over expanding State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which covers low income children who aren't low income enough to qualify for Medicaid. Congress, which wanted to double the scope of the act, lost. It considered a second go in '08, but now SCHIP has officially been punted to '09 (NYT). Meanwhile, the administration sent states a letter saying they had to tighten eligibility for SCHIP, only to have the GAO weigh in that the administration overstepped its legal boungs (GAO).

health bills 2007

Bills in Brief

It took over a decade for health care reform to lose its Clinton-era-induced taboo status - but while health care policy is coming back in vogue, America will likely have to wait until 2009 before any major reforms become ripe for passage.

In the meantime, in 2007 Congress set out to pass a series of mini health care inititiatives - which citizenJoe kept track of here:

SCHIP. The State Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers low income children who aren't low income enough to qualify for Medicaid, was up for renewal this year - and Dems (with the help of moderate Republicans) locked horns with president to try to double the scope of the act. In late September, the House and Senate passed a bill that would increase spending on SCHIP to $60b over five years (up from $25b), paid for by a 61cent tax on ciggies.

prescription drugs

Facts

Policy talk on prescription drugs centers around rising drug costs and what people are doing to bring those costs down – either as individuals, by buying foreign drugs on line, or in Congress, with passage of the Medicare prescription drug act and possible plans to re-import inexpensive drugs.

How much we use

Percent of population that takes at least one prescription drug per month by age (2000) NCHS -PDF:

  • Under 18 years old: 24.1%

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    issue guide: Medicare Prescription Drug Act

    Pro & Con

    see also the skinny, background & facts, links

    What the Supporters
    are Saying

    The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act is a necessary first step toward alleviating rising costs of health care and prescription drugs in particular, especially for the nation's seniors. By re-establishing prescription drug coverage and opening Medicare to competition from private health insurers, this act became the most extensive revision to the program since Medicare was enacted in 1965.

    Posted In

    issue guide: Medicare Prescription Drug Act

    The Skinny

    see also background & facts, pro & con, links

    What's Up

    To ease the pain of surging prescription drugs costs for seniors, Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act in 2003, giving aid to millions of elderly who previously had no prescription drug coverage. The act went into effect in two stages, with the most seniors getting the benefit of the plan starting in 2006. Although the act passed with the support of AARP, the country’s largest seniors organization, and was at first seen as a victory for a Republican controlled Congress, it’s come under criticism by those who say that it’s confusing, too expensive and doesn’t go far enough to bring down drug costs for seniors.

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