Medicare for all — the time has come

Bob Bickers

Bob Bickers

by Bob Bickers, Guest Column
July 29, 2014

Medicare — health insurance for Americans 65 and older as well as younger individuals with certain disabilities or health conditions — turns 49 today.

Since President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed this historic legislation in 1965, nearly 50 million Americans (15 percent of the nation’s population) depend on Medicare for their primary health care (www.aarp.org).

While Medicare is certainly not perfect, it has established baseline coverage for health services in hospitals, doctors’ offices and for other essential health care services.

In a June 16 report by the Commonwealth Fund, the United States ranks last overall among 11 industrialized countries on measures of health system quality, health efficiency, access to care, equity and healthy lives (www.commonwealthfund.org).


Good News For Boomers: Medicare’s Hospital Trust Fund Appears Flush Until 2030

by Julie Rovner, KHN Staff Writer
Kaiser Health News
Jul 28, 2014

Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which finances about half the health program for seniors and the disabled, won’t run out of money until 2030, the program’s trustees said Monday. That’s four years later than projected last year and 13 years later than projected the year before the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Unlike Medicare, however, the part of Social Security that pays for people getting disability benefits is in far more immediate danger. The Disability Insurance Trust Fund is projected to run out of money in 2016, just two years from now, unless Congress intervenes, the trustees said.


D.C. Appeals Court Overturns Subsidies For Fed Exchange; Fourth Circuit Takes Different View

Kaiser Health News
Jul 22, 2014

A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled Tuesday that subsidies may not be offered in the federal health exchange. The decision overturned a lower court ruling. Hours later the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals offered its own decision, which upholds the Obama administration's arguments that subsidies can be applied in the federal exchange.

You can read the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia's decision here, and the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit here.

Check back as we continue to update our summary of the day's coverage.


The Coming Democratic Schism

Thomas Edsall

Thomas Edsall

The Opinion Pages The New York Times, July 15, 2014
by Thomas B Edsall | Contributing Op-Ed Writer

There is a striking generational split in the Democratic electorate.

This deepening division is apparent in a June Pew Research Center survey of more than 10,000 people, “Beyond Red vs. Blue.” The Pew survey points up the emergence of a cohort of younger voters who are loyal to the Democratic Party, but much less focused on economic redistribution than on issues of personal and sexual autonomy.

Back in April, Pew researchers wrote that “huge generation gaps have opened up in our political and social values, our economic well-being, our family structure, our racial and ethnic identity, our gender norms, our religious affiliation, and our technology use.” These trends, Pew noted, point “toward a future marked by the most striking social, racial, and economic shifts the country has seen in a century.”


Upcoming Federal Court Decision Could Mean Premium Increases for Nearly 5 Million Americans

by Avalere Health
The Lund Report, July 17, 2014

The Halbig v. Burwell case before the U.S. District Court of Appeals could negatively impact millions of Americans who are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  A new analysis from Avalere Health finds that without action from the federal government nearly 5 million Americans would receive an average premium increase of 76 percent if the courts ultimately rule that consumers in the federal exchange cannot receive premium subsidies.

Halbig v. Burwell asserts that the Internal Revenue Service exceeded its authority in issuing a May 2012 rule that provides premium subsidies to individuals purchasing coverage through the federally facilitated exchange. While the ACA specifies that subsidies should be administered “through an exchange established by the state,” the law also gives the federal government the authority to establish an exchange on the state’s behalf. Only 14 states and the District of Columbia opted to create their own exchanges in time for the 2014 plan year.

“The court case has major implications for future insurance coverage and access to care for millions of Americans,” said Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health. “Depending on the ultimate decision by the courts and absent some other remedy, individuals in at least 25 states who remain in their current plans could see an average premium increase of over 70 percent.”


Healthcare: Let's Have People over Profits Once And For All

Submitted by Thom Hartmann A... on 16. June 2014

There are some things in this world that shouldn’t be turned into profit-making machines, and healthcare is definitely one of them. Believe it or not, there was a time in America when in almost every state health insurance companies and hospitals were required to be non-profits. Back then, Americans could actually get the healthcare and treatment they needed at affordable prices. But then Ronald Reagan came to Washington, and you guessed it, everything changed. 

Suddenly, there was money to be made off of healthcare in America, and a lot of it. Banksters realized that these once-nonprofit hospitals, health insurers, and nursing homes had the potential to become absolute gold mines. Former Senator Bill Frist's family, for example, made billions in the 1980s and 1990s privatizing formerly county and city hospitals, slashing salaries, busting unions, and raising prices. 

Slowly but surely, corporations and the wealthy elite took over our healthcare system, and have left us with a healthcare nightmare. That’s why according to a new study by a prominent think-tank, the United States ranks dead last in a review of healthcare in the industrialized world. For the fifth time in a row, the U.S. has been ranked last in the Commonwealth Fund’s annual review of healthcare in developed nations.


Coast-to-Coast Health Care Woe: Cost

by Jenny Gold
KHN Staff Writer Jun 09, 2014

Recently, I moved across the country, from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. I drove the Southern route and decided to conduct an informal survey, asking folks I met along the way a question relevant to the health care reporting I've been doing for the past five years.

The question: What bugs you most about your medical care?

Few people I talked with — at gas stations, coffee shops, grocery stores, parking lots, bars and everywhere in between — even mentioned the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare by name. But I heard again and again how health policy issues I've been reporting on in Washington are affecting their lives.

What did I find out?