Busy-ness


There’s more than a little chatter out there on the health care front today. Late last night, Sebelius for HHS popped up in a couple of spots. NYT:

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, an early Obama ally with a record of working across party lines, is emerging as the president’s top choice for secretary of health and human services, advisers said Wednesday.

From Greg Sargent on next week’s speech:

President Obama may make health care a theme of the big prime-time speech he’s making next Tuesday about the major challenges facing this country, Obama aides confirm to me.

This could be a big deal, particularly if Obama uses the high-visibility speech (which will be made before Congress) to press the case that health care reform is essential to righting our economy…

Ben Smith weighed in on OMB Director Peter Orszag and the budget:

Now Orszag is preparing for the biggest week of his career, with a “fiscal responsibility” summit Monday and the release of Obama’s first budget Thursday. He’s signaling that the moves in the stimulus package are just a hint of what’s to come in a budget that will begin in earnest the arduous process of health care reform.

CAPAF released a report showing 14,000 Americans are losing health coverage daily:

The unemployment rate grew by 0.8 percentage points in December and January alone, implying that nearly 900,000 people became uninsured in these two months. That’s about 100,000 people a week, or 14,000 people a day. The rapid growth in the number of uninsured Americans will continue as long as the job market remains in a free fall.

The Talk Radio News Service covered the CAPAF report release:

The Center for American Progress Action Fund and Health Care for
America Now, held a teleconference to release new reports which
stated that health care is the biggest component of our economy and
it is necessary to restore the nation’s prosperity. “About 14,000 people lose health insurance everyday, and this is what we can expect as long as the job market remains in crisis,” said Judy Feder with the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Richard Kirsch, National Campaign Director for Health Care for America Now, said that the public shouldn’t be scared by the fear-marketing which the insurance industry and drug companies are using to protect their profits. “We’re quiet[sic] sure that the public will understand that they can’t continue to rely on private health insurance’s ability to charge them whatever they want and to raise premiums four times as much as wages and that they need the government to be a rule maker and offer them a choice for a public plan as an alternative for private
insurance,” Kirsch said.

And finally, Richard’s got a new oped up on HuffPo. Here’s a snippet:

President Obama’s budget release will be the first formal step in the legislative dance that the President hopes will result in the passage of health care reform – including quality, affordable coverage for all – by the end of 2009. While opponents of reform will use every argument in their arsenal, one of the biggest obstacles will be Congressional reluctance to make any upfront investment that would add to the federal budget deficit in the short term.

However, leading economists and policy experts agree that the only way to bring health care costs under control is to make big, comprehensive changes. We need to shift the focus of our health care system from maximizing revenue for health care providers and insurers to maximizing the health status of Americans.

UPDATE: More CAPAF report coverage just popped up. From MSNBC:

STUDY: 14K LOSING H.C. INSURANCE A DAY
From NBC’s Jade Taenzler

According to a report released today by the liberal Center for American Progress and also the group Health Care for America Now, 14,000 Americans are losing health-care insurance every day during this economic crisis…

(…)

Michael J. Wilson, legislative director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, sees the rising number of uninsured Americans impact other parts of the economy. “With 14,000 people losing health care every day, even people who still have health care are affected,” said Wilson. “If people are desperately saving their money to pay for health care, they will not be able to spend money on food or other goods, which adds to the recent turmoil in the market.”


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