Some members of Congress are probably counting the days until the August recess is over. Given the turbulent and sometimes emotional nature of town hall meetings during the past week, many Congressional proponents for health reform are surely pleased that other stakeholders have actively entered the fray. Organizations ranging from AARP to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stepped up their involvement with broadcast and newsprint campaigns. Below are significant developments in health reform this week:
Senate Finance Committee
Focus has turned away from the intense negotiations in Congress to getting feedback from constituents at home. So with Senate Finance Committee members on recess, no new major issues arose this week with the exception of Senator Grassley addressing end-of-life concerns stemming from language in House Bill 3200. On August 12, Senator Grassley released a statement noting that the Senate Finance Committee will avoid legislating end-of-life issues altogether due to concerns that any end-of-life legislation could be misinterpreted. The debate arose over language in the House bill that would pay physicians to counsel patients on end-of-life issues. The new debate has fueled existing fears among Americans regarding "death panels." With Medicare spending 25% of its resources on health care for beneficiaries in the last year of life, the debate will likely continue as to what role government would play with respect to health care providers counseling patients on end-of-life issues.
The Obama Administration continues to ratchet up its campaign against what it calls "health reform misinformation" with a multi-pronged approach to winning over public opinion. The Administration developed a new website entitled Health Insurance Reform Reality Check. The site offers a series of videos by White House staffers designed to specifically address common myths of health insurance reform. Speaking from Belgrade, Montana on August 13, President Obama held a Town Hall on Health Insurance Reform. An audio recording of President Obama's remarks is available at www.healthreform.gov.
The Department of Health and Human Services released a state-by-state analysis of the effect of health reform on each state. The analysis addresses the pro-reform effect on such issues as premium increases, preventive health, small business access, and guarantee access. Click to view the site.
We're Here to Help!
A $12 million advertisement campaign designed to support health reform was launched by the newly organized group, Americans for Stable Quality Care. The group, largely funded by the pharmaceutical industry, is intended to serve as a counterweight to many of the critics at town hall meetings, as well as build support for the House Blue Dog Democrats. The first advertisement is titled "Mean for You" as in, "What Reform Means For You" and will run in the home state of key swing senators. Click to see the video.
Visit our Health Law Broadcast at hallrender/reform for a comprehensive listing of health care reform resources. Also sign up for health care reform alerts and periodic updates as we continue to monitor this important issue.