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POLICY/POLITICS: Health Reform may be back on the national agenda

Here’s my editorial from FierceHealthcare this morning.

This week may or may not have been a political harbinger for the coming years. Following a disastrous year for the Administration, Democrats have been claiming victory following wins in Virginia, New Jersey and California. Meanwhile, voters in California and Washington rejected measures that would have limited the activities (and incomes) of drug companies and trial lawyers. In Massachusetts, there may be the start of a compromise designed to get universal insurance (of a sort) for the state, and several other states are looking at the issue. Of course, nationally this will only mean something if the Democrats really carry their (so far modest) victories into the Congress next year and the White House in three years. That of course is a long time away. But health care is fast becoming the number one domestic issue and a Democratic majority will feel compelled to have another crack at it.

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The Massachusetts debate is getting very interesting. The Republican Governor Romney is proposing an individual mandate, along with sliding scales subsidies up to 300% fpl for high-deductible plans. Each house in the totally-Democratic legislature has passed their plan. The House passed a big Medicaid expansion, individual mandate and assessment on firms that don’t cover their workers. The Senate version allows mandate-lite plans, charges companies if workers use hospital charity care, and improves public health. Between the two one could come up with a historic state health reform. The House-Senate compromise might be released in January. Best coverage if you’re interested… Read more »