ObamaHealth Starts in January

December 19th, 2008 | Sources: Washington Post


President-elect Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are planning to beef up health care reform provisions in January’s economic stimulus package in order to jump-start the reform process and boost the economy in one fell swoop.

As part of his $600 billion New Year’s treat, the Big O already said he’d bump up Medicaid spending –$40 billion or so over two years — and invest in health IT.

Under consideration are expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, COBRA—the law that allows unemployed people to purchase health insurance through a previous employer’s plan, and some worker retraining programs.

Obama reasoned at a press conference that health system reform “has to be intimately woven into our overall economic recovery plan. It’s not something that we can sort of put off because we’re in an emergency…this is part of the emergency.”

Plus Obama learned from Hil-93 that he’s got to come out swinging. “Get a running start,” is the way Nancy LeaMond described it to the Post. LeaMond is executive vice president at AARP.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus added that whipping health system reform into the recovery package is a time-saver because it bypasses Congressional debates and budget-wrangling exercises.

(For better or worse, we add.)

Other than that, Baucus’ big thing is health IT, especially the mass implementation of electronic medical records.

“It’s very important that health IT be part of the economic recovery,” Baucus told the Post. “It represents the beginning of health care reform.”

During the campaign, the Big O promised $50 billion to get providers with computers. Sources told the Post $10 billion of that might be wrapped into the New Year’s treat with a real nice bow on top.


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