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IN THE STATES: Colorado Expands Coverage and Hospital Care

April 23, 2009

In what's been hailed as the most significant health legislation in Colorado in some 40 years, Colorado has a new law that will help cover up to 100,000 uninsured people and reduce some of the uncompensated care and cost-shifting that hurts the state's health care system and raises costs for people who are insured. It's an impressive achievement in a time of great economic pressure—one that we hope the folks here in Washington notice.

QUALITY: Community Health Centers Fill Unmet Needs -- Better Than You Might Think

March 6, 2009

Community health centers (Federally Qualified Health Centers) are an aspect of the recently enacted fiscal stimulus package that hasn't gotten much attention. Perhaps that's because they mostly serve a population we often overlook. Perhaps that's because they are misunderstood—and underestimated.

COVERAGE: 14,000 Americans Losing Insurance Each Day, CAP Action Fund Finds

February 19, 2009

The Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) has done some math and reports that 14,000 Americans are losing their health insurance each day. More evidence, as if we needed it, that the recession is exacerbating what was already a crisis of the uninsured. CAPAF estimates that about 48 million Americans lack insurance now, with the number going up as the economy goes down.

IN THE STATES: In Baltimore, Primary Care Shortages Send More to Hospital

December 19, 2008

Baltimore may be the home to some of the country's finest hospitals, but the rate at which they are providing routine medical care that could (and should) be treated in a doctor's office or clinic shows "a fundamental failure" of the city's health system. That blunt assessment, in the Baltimore Sun, comes from the city's health commissioner himself, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.

Data from a RAND Corp. study shows Baltimore residents are being hospitalized or treated in emergency rooms for conditions like asthma and high blood pressure at rates that are roughly twice those in surrounding counties and statewide. Nearby Washington, D.C., which has a similar proportion of uninsured, low-income residents, has lower rates. (Baltimore: 42 avoidable hospitalizations per 1000 residents, Washington 28 per 1000)

Sharfstein says the problem stems from clinics that are stretched to capacity and a shortage of primary care doctors who serve poor people.

COVERAGE: More Bleak News on the Job -- and Health Benefits -- Front

December 5, 2008

You've probably seen the latest US jobless numbers—533,000 jobs lost in November.

HEALTH REFORM: Wake Up and Smell The Stimulus

December 4, 2008

Nothing like waking up to a voice on the radio asking, "Can we really afford something like universal health care with everything else that's going on in the economy?" Particularly when the answer is a resounding "Yes!"

Marketplace's economics correspondent Chris Farrell said spending on health coverage is a stimulus for the economy, particularly as people lose their insurance along with their jobs. He helpfully noted that it's also the "right" thing to do to help "Main Street," which is apparently what we now call the American public.


As a stimulus package for the economy, partly, it's the right thing to do. Rather than this notion that we can't do it, we can't afford it, an economic crisis provides the opportunity for two real benefits. It will be part of the fiscal stimulus, and it will help out those families. Think about families when they lose their job. You know what? You can't time when your kids get sick. And there's all kinds of costs. And what is it—half of all bankruptcies revolve around medical illness? We have lots of uninsured as it is already. So this would really help people out. But it's not one of these notions that, well, we need people to shop more. No, we don't need people to shop more. But people need economic security, they need to feel better, they need to not have to worry about their children getting sick. This is a good fiscal stimulus package—embrace it and go big.

COST: It Isn't Always Better to Give (Organs) Than Receive

November 18, 2008

We write a lot about the economic case for health care, but this WSJ Health Blog post brought us back with a vengeance to the moral case...A Harvard research team found that the uninsured are about 20 times more likely to donate a liver or kidney than to receive one.

HEALTH POLITICS: Frist Urges GOP to Work with Obama, Says Uninsured are "Immediate" Priority

November 10, 2008

<!--[if gte vml 1]> <![endif]-->Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist added his voice to those in the Republican camp expressing admiration for President-elect Barack Obama. He urged Republicans to work with Obama, and called on Obama to make helping the uninsured an "immediate" priority.

CULTURE BEAT: "Critical Condition" Airing This Weekend

September 26, 2008

Back in March we told you about the preview of Critical Condition, a documentary that shows that for the uninsured, health care is too little, too late.

COST: Why the Wall Street Meltdown Means Fix Health Care Before It Gets Worse

September 23, 2008

We see a lot of gloom and doom out there about how the Wall Street bailout won't leave any money left over for health reform (or anything else for that matter).

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