Kaiser Health News Debuts Today and Features an Important Insight Into a Likely Health Care Bill


Kaiser Health News (KHN) debuted today and is a critically important addition to America's debate over health care reform.As the media has downsized in recent years, we have lost many reporters who were health care specialists. KHN
will provide news outlets across the country with an important
specialized source of solid reporting from an organization that has
come to be known as uniquely expert and unbiased.In their inaugural issue today, Julie Appleby has an interesting interview with Nancy Ann DeParle, the President's point person on reform.

I thought a couple of her answers to Appleby's questions were telling:

Congress is batting around cost-control measures as part of this
discussion but also is considering a number of other ways to pay for
health reform, including tax increases. Do you think the president
would sign a health reform bill if paying for it relied mainly on new

A: No.

Q: So what is he looking for?

I haven’t had that discussion with him. We proposed in our budget a
$634 billion reserve fund, which was divided about equally between
Medicare and Medicaid savings proposals and some new revenues. We’ve
been working with Congress to identify other sources of Medicare and
Medicaid savings and other sources of revenue. Again, I don’t believe a
bill like the one you described will be presented to the president. I
believe the bill will be fully financed, evenly divided between savings
in Medicare and Medicaid and some other sources of revenue, such as the
ones he’s identified.

The operative phrase here is "evenly
divided between savings in Medicare and Medicaid and some other sources
of revenue such as the ones he's identified." Those other sources, in his budget "down payment" for health care reform were taxes. Looks pretty clear the White House is expecting half of the cost for a health care bill to be paid for by taxes.

Industry groups are supposed to come back to you with plans on how they
promise to slow the growth of health spending by $2 trillion over 10
years. Are you still expecting to hear from them June 1 with some
A: I am. They were to update me in
early June. They’re working very hard. They’ve hired some outside
consultants to help them work through this and facilitate the process.

How confident are you that the proposals they present will be scorable
by the Congressional Budget Office or in some way measurable and

A: I know they will be measurable and
quantifiable and will provide tangible benefits to families and people
struggling to afford health care. I believe some will be able to be
scored by CBO.

Translated: There won't be a lot more than just empty boxes–"I believe some will be able to be scored by the CBO."

As I have been writing recently, I
expect the final health care reform bill to have some cost containment
window dressing, some modest provider cuts that don't hurt too much,
and lots of taxes.

Looks like the White House is expecting the same thing.

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9 replies »

  1. Two weeks ago, my son had surgery at Kaiser San Diego. And while I was impressed and pleased at the medical services, staff efficiency and friendliness, etc. I was HORRIFIED that – despite all of Kaiser’s advertisements to the contrary – there is no recycling program at the hospital. Paper, plastic, glass, metal, organics were all dumped in the trash basket in my son’s room. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on you!!!

  2. The name may not be an issue. The primary audience for Kaiser Health News appears to be news organizations, and those organizations already understand what the Kaiser Family Foundation is. Here’s a May 1 quotation from Drew Altman, announcing the service (http://www.kff.org/pullingittogether/050409_altman.cfm ):
    “We have no desire to supplant what news organizations do; our goal is to support them by producing high-quality, in-depth news reports about health issues that newspapers and other media organizations can use and often don’t have the resources now to produce themselves.”

  3. If there is no relation between kaiser news and kaiser permanente, they should have used a different name. it would have been less confusing.

  4. It appears that this site will provide an unbiased and broadly defined report on health care activities at the national level. A much needed information source.

  5. I too fear with that name, Kaiser Health News will have a tough job attracting readers. I heard it mentioned on NPR yesterday and was assuming it was funded by Kaiser Permanente and would have ignored it, assuming it was some lobbying effort. Nice to know it’s independent after all, but why dig yourself that kind of a hole out of the gate? Come up with a better name.

  6. They used to be related. The Foundation dates back to 1948. It separated itself from Kaiser Permanente and Kaiser Industries in 1985.

  7. Kaiser Family Foundation has no relationship with Kaiser Permanente or, for that matter, the Kaiser Cement Company. Other than a lineage to Henry Kaiser.
    The news service, by the way, is doing straight reporting with some top-notch journalists and is also featuring a number of regular and semi-regular columnists (I’m one of the latter) from a variety of viewpoints, including Genuinely Certified Conservatives and Liberals. (They come from Genuinely Certified Think Tanks.)

  8. Please reassure me that the Kaiser Family Foundation has no relationship at all with Kaiser the health care provider. I have always wondered about this. If they are related, of course the Foundation is not unbiased.