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How Wide Has the Window Opened for Health Reform?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Now that we know the next occupants of the White House and the composition of the next Congress, many Americans expect to see an effort to enact significant reform of America’s health system. Congress isn't waiting for the White House green light. Sens. Ron Wyden and Bob Bennett, as well as Sen. Max Baucus have already released health reform plans. Sen. Edward Kennedy is poised to do so.

What are the prospects for expanding health coverage to the uninsured, given the recession? Will we see workable approaches to constraining health care costs and improving quality? Could the tax treatment of employer-sponsored health benefits change? Who will be the key players in health reform – in the Senate, the House and the Obama Administration? Can we avoid the hurdles encountered during previous efforts at significant health reform?

To address these and related questions, and help reporters prepare for the upcoming debate on national health reform, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored a December 11 briefing. Our speakers included some of the key congressional staff members who will be writing reform legislation. They were joined by keen observers of national health policy whose opinions count on Capitol Hill and across the nation.


 Ed Howard, Alliance for Health Reform, Moderator
 Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Speaker
 John McDonough, Sen. Edward Kennedy, Speaker
 Chuck Clapton, Senate HELP Committee, Speaker
 Jocelyn Moore, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Speaker
 Mark Hayes, Senate Finance Committee, Speaker
 Julie Rovner, National Public Radio, Speaker
(Click on the camera icon to see a video of the speaker's presentation.)

Transcript, Event Summary and/or Webcast and Podcast

Transcript: How Wide Has the Window Opened? (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/11/2008
Event Summary: How Wide Has the Window Opened for Health Reform? (Word Document), 12/11/2008
Full Webcast/Podcast: How Wide Has the Window Opened for Health Reform?

The transcript, full webcast and podcast for this briefing, as well as videos of individual speakers' presentations, are provided by Kaiser Family Foundation.

Source Materials

How Wide Has the Window Opened for Health Reform? (Word Document), , 12/11/2008

Offsite Materials (briefing documents saved on other websites)

2008 Presidential Candidate Health Care Proposals: Side-by-Side Summary, Kaiser Family Foundation, 11/6/2008
An Examination of the Wyden-Bennett Health Reform Plan, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 9/24/2008
Background Questions and Answers on Health Care Plan (Adobe Acrobat PDF),, 10/6/2008
Building Blocks for Reform: Achieving Universal Coverage with Private and Public Group Health, Health Affairs, 6/10/2008
Businesses Wary of Details in Obama Health Plan, New York Times, 10/27/2008
Chairman Baucus Unveils Major Health Care Reform Blueprint, Office of Senator Max Baucus, 11/12/2008
Consensus Emerging on Universal Healthcare, Los Angeles Times, 12/1/2008
Health Reform in New Era: Options for the Obama Administration, The Commonwealth Fund, 11/7/2008
Kennedy Secretly Crafts Health Care Plan, Washington Times, 10/24/2008
Letter to President-Elect Obama, Office of Senator Ron Wyden, 11/21/2008
Lobbies Backing Health Reforms, Boston Globe, 3/13/2008
Massachusetts Health Reform Implementation: Major Progress and Future Challenges, Health Affairs, 6/3/2008
The Obama Health Care Plan: More Power to Washington, The Heritage Foundation, 10/15/2008
The Obama Plan: More Regulation, Unsustainable Spending, Health Affairs, 9/16/2008
The Real Issues in Health-Care Reform: Beyond the Rhetoric, Stanford University School of Medicine, 10/7/2008
Think Small, The Heritage Foundation, 11/18/2008
Crisis of the Uninsured: 2008, National Center for Policy Analysis, 8/28/2008
The Decline in the Uninsured in 2007: Why Did It Happen and Can It Last?, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, 10/14/2008
Health Insurance Coverage: 2007, U.S. Census Bureau, 8/26/2008
Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2008 (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Employee Benefit Research Institute, 9/8/2008
The Uninsured and the Difference Health Insurance Makes, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, 9/17/2008
Uninsured Discover They Had Coverage, Washington Post, 11/28/2008
Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Plan to Lower Health Care Costs and Ensure Affordable, Accessible (Adobe Acrobat PDF),, 8/26/2008
Health of the Nation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 7/19/2008
Myths and Misconceptions about U.S. Health Insurance, Health Affairs, 10/21/2008
The Politics of Paying for Health Reform: Zombies, Payroll Taxes, and the Holy Grail, Health Affairs, 10/21/2008
The Healthy Americans Act (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Office of Senator Ron Wyden, 9/17/2008
Report from Massachusetts: Employers Largely Support Health Care Reform, and Few Signs of Crowd, Health Affairs, 11/14/2008
Small Business Owners Say Cutting Health Care Costs, Need for Reform are Top Concerns, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 12/3/2008
U.S. ‘Not Getting What We Pay For’, Washington Post, 11/30/2008
What Price Universal Health Coverage? For Many Small Employers, Any Price is Too High, Mercer Consulting, U.S., 10/21/2008


Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, explains why the stage is now set for significant health reform. (11 min.) From the Dec. 11 briefing cosponsored by the foundation.

Jocelyn Moore, health legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, explains why health care reform is needed to help put the economy back on track. (4 min.) From the Dec. 11 briefing cosponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Mark Hayes, Republican health policy advisor to the Senate Finance Committee, explains why not acting on national health reform would carry an unacceptably high price. (7 min.) From the Dec. 11 briefing co-sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


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