HEALTH REFORM -- December 25, 2009 at 4:09 PM ET
The NewsHour's Health Reform Coverage, From Policy to Profiles
Health care reform legislation has now passed both houses of Congress -- something proponents have been trying to achieve for decades. As Congress looks toward House-Senate negotiations on a final bill, here's a look back at some highlights of the NewsHour's recent coverage of the politics, policy and practical effects of health care reform.
First, one of the most basic questions --
How will health care reform affect you?
On our Web site, there's a series on how various real people -- including a retiree on Medicare, a young uninsured woman and many others -- might fare under reform. We also have a chart that compares the major provisions in the House and Senate bills, and an explainer piece on when many of those key provisions would take effect.
After the Senate's passage of its bill, Judy Woodruff talked to former NewsHour health correspondent Susan Dentzer, editor of the journal Health affairs, about how the House and Senate measures might affect people with and without insurance, as well as doctors, hospitals and others.
Moving on to some of the major story lines of health care reform --
Both reform bills aim to reduce the federal deficit while expanding health insurance coverage. They do that through a combination of new taxes, changes to Medicare, and crucially, bending the cost curve: making structural changes to the U.S. health care system that would reduce overall national spending.
The NewsHour health team of correspondent Betty Ann Bowser and producer Bridget DeSimone have travelled around the country to look at early adopters -- health systems that have already made some of the changes that legislators and health policy analysts are now advocating.
Geisinger Hospital System in Pennsylvania has created a "90-day warranty" program on some surgical procedures. The Billings Clinic in Montana is aiming to reduce costs and improve quality by integrating patients' care in doctor visits, surgery and hospital care. Judy Woodruff spoke with the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, one of the largest practitioners of that kind of integrated care, about his ideas for keeping costs down. And in Grand Junction, Colo., reforms implemented in the 1980s mean that the majority of doctors work together to offer coordinated care, resulting in some of the lowest medical costs in the country -- 30 percent below the national average for Medicare.
State and local efforts
Some states and cities have already been implementing aspects of health care reform on a local level. Spencer Michels reported from San Francisco on the city's initiative to extend coverage to its more than 60,000 uninsured residents.
And Betty Ann Bowser travelled to Massachusetts -- the only state that already has a universal coverage mandate, enacted in 2006 -- to report on how the coverage expansion means the demand for primary care doctors is outstripping the supply.
The public plan
The public plan now seems unlikely to move forward, but debate over a possible government-run public insurance option dominated health care reform headlines for months. Betty Ann Bowser examined the arguments in a tape piece this summer, then moderated an online discussion in which a proponent and opponent of the public plan answered viewer questions.
Betty Ann Bowser talked to reporter T.R. Reid about his book on what the U.S. might learn from other countries' health care systems. And the NewsHour's global health team travelled to the Netherlands to see how a massive health care overhaul that that country undertook four years ago has worked out.
The politics of reform
The NewsHour's health and political teams have also been following the ups, downs, twists and turns of the political debate over health care reform as the bills have wound their way through Congress. Those stories become out of date quickly amid a rapidly changing story, so we won't link to too many here.
But we will link to Jim Lehrer's Wednesday interview with president Obama. The president said that the current bills in the House and Senate achieved "95 percent" of what he was aiming for.
For a look at the immediate political situation, Judy Woodruff spoke Thursday to Wall Street Journal congressional correspondent Naftali Bendavid about the hurdles that still must be overcome in House-Senate negotiations. And earlier in the week, Gwen Ifill spoke to Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown to get their takes on the merits of the Senate bill.
We do also have a guide to the key players in the political debate -- politicians, lobbyists and others -- on our Web site.
And Betty Ann Bowser's interviews, taped this summer, with some of the major players involved in the Clinton administration's failed 1993 reform effort -- help put this year's legislative achievement in context.
And the rest
We've also covered the debate over evidence-based medicine, the health care cooperative model, the debate over the individual mandate, how a health exchange marketplace and high-risk insurance pools might work, and many other topics.
For the complete NewsHour coverage of health care reform, visit our Rx for Reform site.