The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

Health Care Reform From One Person's Perspective

Posts Tagged ‘Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll 2008’

Health Care Reform 2010: Required Reading Part I

Posted by Alan on March 24, 2010

Complex legislation is, well, complex, and the health care reform recently signed into law by President Barack Obama is no exception. Complicating the complexity is that the Senate is still considering clean-up legislation that will modify the existing health care reform law. And the Senate could wind up amending that clean-up bill before passing it (if the Senate does pass it) sending the sidecar legislation back to the House for their approval. and could change some of its provisions. (This circumstance is looking increasingly unlikely. The clean-up bill will go back to the House to correct some technical problems, but it is unlikely to contain substantive changes. But then, nothing is certain when it comes to health care reform).

So to paraphrase Winston Churchill’s famous “”a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” what we have here is uncertainty, wrapped in complications, inside complexity. There are many layers to this onion and it will take time to get through them all. Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start trying to figure out what’s what. It just means we should recognize understanding what the new world of health care in America will be like is far less certain than the critics and proponents would have us believe.

What follows then are links to articles, sites and the like you may find useful as you begin your marathon onion peeling process:

  1. Health care reform implementation will arrive slowly at first growing to a torrent by 2018. Keeping track of what happens when can be tricky. Enter the National Association of Health Underwriters and their excellent health care reform timeline.  A superb starting point for understanding what’s ahead.
  2. Legislative intent and legislative language often conflict. For example, Democrats in Congress and the Administration want health insurance carriers to accept children applying for coverage regardless of their pre-existing conditions. They intended to have this requirement implemented within 90-days of enacting health care reform. But the language in the bill apparently does something slightly different. According to the Associated Press, while carriers cannot exclude a child’s pre-existing condition once that child is enrolled, insurers are not required to guarantee acceptance of children applying for coverage who have pre-existing conditions. The Administration will try to rectify this situation through regulation, but it’s not yet clear what they can do.
  3. Professional brokers do much more than simply sell health insurance policies. They educate and counsel their clients over the long-term. Those clients are already calling brokers asking for a quick summary of what health care reform means to them. NAHU comes to the rescue again with their “How the Health Care Reform Legislation Will Impact Your Employer Clients” document. Don’t leave the office without one. (Note: If you’re a professional broker and not a member of NAHU, you need to sign up right away. NAHU has fought vigorously on your behalf. They provide terrific material — such as this document and the timeline, above — on a host of topics. They deserve your support.)
  4. Regular reader Alison sent me a link to an excellent review of the health care reform legislation from the Wall Street Journal.
  5. The Senate is debating HR 4872, the so-called sidecar legislation aimed at improving the legislation signed into law by President Obama. Want to know what it does? Go to the source, which in this case is the House Committee on Rules web site. Here you’ll find the text and summaries of this clean-up health care reform bill.
  6. People’s feelings about the importance of polls tend to wax and wane with whether the poll results coincide with their own opinions. Democrats in Congress who once urged the previous Administration to listen to the polls concerning the war in Iraq are now enamored with the concept of being true to one’s convictions. Republicans who stood firm against public opinion on the issue are now condemning Democrats for ignoring the will of the people. Polls,in other words, are of limited value. But if we’re going to read them, let’s read good ones. The Kaiser Family Foundation has done a series of health care reform related polls over the years. The Foundation’s tracking survey on health , conducted before the current bill passed, reveals some interesting trends concerning the public’s feelings about health care reform.
  7. I’m one of those who believe health care reform will do less than supporters promise and is not nearly as dangerous as critics claim. One reason is that, well, this is always the case with legislation. People have a tendency to assume the best or worst. Reality has a way of settling in somewhere in between. The other reason is that participants in the debate often overstated or misstated facts. A reality check is useful now and then. The Associated Press recently offered a fact check that advocates on both sides of the debate should read.

I’ll publish more required reading material in the days ahead. Meanwhile, if you’ve come across a useful article or site on the subject of health care reform, please send me the link. If it sheds light on the subject (as opposed to merely more heat) I’ll try to include it.

Posted in Barack Obama, Health Care Reform, Healthcare Reform, Insurance Agents | Tagged: , , , , | 55 Comments »

Health Care and Economy Top Domestic Issues in 2008 Presidential Election

Posted by Alan on December 20, 2007

Iraq remains the single most important issue for voters in deciding whom to back for president in 2008, but close behind is health care reform and the economy. This according to the just released Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008.

When asked, “What is the single most important issue in your choice for president?” and pushed to give two answers, 29 percent of the respondents said Iraq, but health care and the economy were close behind, each mentioned 21 percent of the time. There were modest differences based on party affiliation. Republicans ranked the economy slightly ahead of health care (18 percent to 16 percent). So did Independents (22 percent versus 20 percent). Democratic voters, however, indicated health care was a more important issue for them than the economy in general (28 percent to 23 percent).

The survey approached the question in two ways. Half of those surveyed by the Kaiser Foundation were asked the “single most important issue” question in the previous paragraph. The other half were asked, “What do you think is the most important problem for the President and Congress to address?” Again, respondents were pushed for two answers. The top six responses for all respondents were:

  1. Iraq (46%)
  2. Health Care (24%)
  3. Economic Issues (22%)
  4. Immigration (15%)
  5. Gas Prices/Energy (8%)
  6. Terrorism/National Security (7%)

Iraq was the top response for respondents of all parties. When phrased this way, however, Immigration was the second highest ranking issue for Republicans with 23 percent followed by health care with 21 percent. Independents put health care second with 23 percent, followed by immigration at 19 percent. For Democrats health care was the number two issue (30 percent) followed by economic issues(26 percent).

Interestingly, Iraq and health care as an issue lost some ground to economic concerns since the Kaiser Foundation’s October survey. Then, the top six issues to the “what do you think is the most important problem for the President and Congress to address” question were:

  1. Iraq (54%)
  2. Health Care (29%)
  3. Economic Issues (16%)
  4. Immigration (12%)
  5. Frustration with government (6%)
  6. Terrorism/National Security (5%)

While the number of respondents mentioning health care declined somewhat, voters remain interested in hearing presidential candidates talk about the issue. Not surprisingly, the specific health care reform issues they want to hear about vary by party affiliation.  The Kaiser survey found that Republican and Independent respondents wanted to hear the candidates speak about reducing the costs of health care and health insurance (47 percent of Republicans; 43 percent of Independents). 35 percent of the Democrats said this was an important topic for conversation, but more wanted to hear candidates discuss expanding health insurance coverage for the uninsured (42 percent).  Expansion of coverage was the second most mentioned issue by Republicans and independents (19 percent and 29 percent, respectively).

In considering these survey results, it’s important to keep in mind that voters don’t always make their decision based on the issues. In fact, the Kaiser survey found that only 46 percent of the voters would decide who to vote for based on the candidates’ stands on the issues. An equal number (45 percent) say they’ll base their vote on their perception of the candidats’ leadership abilities, character, values and experience. Ten percent aren’t sure how they’ll base their voting decision.

So health care reform will be an important issue in the 2008 presidential primaries, but the specific positions taken by the candidates won’t be the whole story. What also matters is what their positions say about the candidates character, values and leadership.

Polls are fun to look at, but they have limited value. The true test comes when people actually cast ballots. With the Iowa caucuses less than two weeks away and the New Hampshire primary less than a week after that, the first test results are near at hand.

Posted in Health Care Reform, Healthcare Reform, Politics, Presidential Election | Tagged: | 1 Comment »