Town hall meetings have proved powerful this summer and stirred conservative action. Town hall protestors are "part of a phenomenon enabling national conservative groups to galvanize grassroots anger about big government and reshape the debate over President Obama's health care plan. Suddenly, it's the conservatives' turn to be fired up, " USA Today reports. "National groups such as the newly formed Tea Party Patriots and the more established FreedomWorks, led by former House majority leader Dick Armey, say the anger is spontaneous, but acknowledge they're trying to channel it into a nationwide movement. The FreedomWorks website offers an August congressional recess kit complete with talking points, suggested questions for lawmakers and a draft letter to the editor.
Politico reports on the various paths the White House could take regarding strategy for passage of a health care reform bill. "No matter which way they go, the White House and congressional Democrats face long odds, and no guarantee of a bill at the end of the process. Obama could sidestep one problem -- a Republican filibuster in the Senate -- if he goes with a partisan bill and attempts to pass it through procedural maneuver known as reconciliation. But he may well find a long list of other challenges, both political and legislative." They include uniting Democrats, the labyrinth of the reconciliation process and a skeptical public. Democratic patience may have one more month before Democrats push ahead alone on reform: "The White House and congressional Democrats are expected to wait until at least mid-September before deciding to abandon the bipartisan Senate Finance Committee talks" (Brown, 8/20).
As the debate over health care reform continues to unfold in town hall meetings and on Capitol Hill, a new study by two Harvard researchers has found that taxing job-based health benefits would heavily penalize insured, working families. The study, titled "The regressivity of taxing employer-paid health insurance, " appears in the August 19 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. It was written by Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, professors at Harvard Medical School and primary care doctors at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts. The taxation of employer-sponsored health benefits has been advocated by many health economists and lawmakers, including some members of the influential Senate Finance Committee, which is now drafting health care reform legislation.
Family health care premiums rose an estimated 2.9 times faster than earnings for Nebraska's workers from 2000 through 2009, according to a report issued today by the consumer health organization Families USA. In that 10-year period, family health insurance premiums rose by 83.2 percent, while median earnings rose by only 28.3 percent. The Families USA report for Nebraska is an update of its original groundbreaking 2006 report, which was the first of its kind to document these changes on a state-specific basis. Among the new report's key findings are: - For family health coverage provided through the workplace in Nebraska, the average annual health insurance premium (employer and worker share of premiums combined) in the 2000-2009 period rose from $6, 760 to $12, 382-an increase of $5, 622, or 83.
Family health care premiums rose an estimated 3.2 times faster than earnings for Iowa's workers from 2000 through 2009, according to a report issued today by the consumer health organization Families USA. In that 10-year period, family health insurance premiums rose by 79.4 percent, while median earnings rose by only 24.5 percent. The Families USA report for Iowa is an update of its original groundbreaking 2006 report, which was the first of its kind to document these changes on a state-specific basis. Among the new report's key findings are: - For family health coverage provided through the workplace in Iowa, the average annual health insurance premium (employer and worker share of premiums combined) in the 2000-2009 period rose from $6, 487 to $11, 637-an increase of $5, 150, or 79.
Several newspapers report on influential lawmakers in the health care debate. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, "lashed out at protester who held a poster depicting President Obama with a Hitler-style mustache during a heated town hall meeting on federal health care reform, " The Associated Press reports. "'On what planet do you spend most of your time?' Frank asked the woman, who had stepped up to the podium at a southeastern Massachusetts seniors' center to ask why Frank supports what she called a Nazi policy. 'Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table.