Economy Expected To Trump Health Care Early in Obama Term
President-elect Barack Obama "promises to tackle health care reform" but has "reeled in expectations," and many analysts "expect any comprehensive health care initiative will take a back seat to improving the economy" and reworking the $700 billion economic rescue package, the Arizona Republic reports (Alltucker, Arizona Republic, 11/6).
"Overshadowing any effort to provide health insurance to millions of uninsured families is the yawning deficit in the big government-run health care programs, Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor," according to the Wall Street Journal (Zhang, Wall Street Journal, 11/6).
According to USA Today, although "larger reform efforts may come later, many expect only scaled-down versions of the proposals to be taken up by Congress during the first half of 2009."
Obama and Congress might seek an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which will expire on March 31, according to analysts.
Dan Mendelson of Avalere Health said that Democrats in Congress and Obama might look to provide additional federal Medicaid funds for states.
In addition, they might try to provide subsidies to help small businesses offer health insurance to employees, according to Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, said.
Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said Democratic lawmakers and Obama also might consider new regulations on health insurers and allow the Medicare program to negotiate drug prices (Appleby, USA Today, 11/6).
Analysts also "say the newly empowered Democrats are likely to abandon some of the health care positions staked out by the Bush administration, particularly when it comes to Medicare," the New York Times reports.Laszewski said that revisions to the role of private health insurers in Medicare are "target No. 1 for Democrats," adding that Obama and Congress might seek to reduce or end subsidies to health insurers that offer Medicare Advantage plans (Abelson, New York Times, 11/6). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.