Health Reform Watch: Insurer Rate Review; Debate Over ‘Lie of the Year’

BY Lea Winerman  December 24, 2010 at 2:50 PM EST

New Scrutiny for Insurers

The big news of the week was rate review: Beginning next year, insurers who want to raise their rates more than 10 percent will face new government scrutiny, according to regulations the Obama administration released this week. Read the NewsHour’s coverage here.

“A Government Takeover ” — Lie of the Year, or Not?

When it comes to the debate over health care reform, word choice matters. Last week, the website PolitiFact declared the phrase “government takeover of health care” its 2010 ‘Lie of the Year.’ PolitiFact is run by the St. Petersburg Times and has won a Pulitzer Prize for its fact-checking — it scores the truthfulness of statements by politicians, lobbyists and others across the political spectrum.

PolitiFact’s editors wrote:

“‘Government takeover’ conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market.”

But conservative commentators and editorial boards took umbrage with Politifact’s judgment. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board wrote:

“The regulations that PolitiFact waves off are designed to convert insurers into government contractors in the business of fulfilling political demands [...] All citizens will be required to pay into this system, regardless of their individual needs or preferences. Sounds like a government takeover to us.”

And so the debate continues.

Congress OKs Temporary Spending Bill That Won’t Fund Reform

Congress approved a temporary spending bill Tuesday that will keep the government running until March 4. CNN Reports:

The measure will leave key Democratic legislative victories — like health care and financial reform — with less funding than if the massive $1.1 trillion “omnibus” extension killed by Republicans last week had passed.

Medicaid Cuts Loom as States Face Budget Crisis

Governors are “taking a scalpel” to Medicaid as they face a massive budget crunch, Bloomberg reports. Medicaid enrollment has jumped almost 13.6 percent since 2007, and federal stimulus funding to pay for some of that expansion will run out June 30.

“We’re heading for a cliff in July,” said Brian Sigritz, director of state fiscal studies at the National Association of State Budget Officers, told Bloomberg.

A Christmas-eve Anniversary for Reform

It’s been exactly one year since the Senate voted to enact health care reform in a down-to-the-wire Christmas Eve session — setting the stage for three more months of debate (and reconciliation) until the bill was finally signed in March. Take a look back at the NewsHour’s coverage that day.