Archive for October, 2009

The Road to Healthcare Reform

Healthcare reform continues to slowly move through Congress.  One of the main sticking points in both the House and Senate is over the issue of a national public health insurance option — or ‘public option.’  In the Senate, one possible solution to the controversy would be to provide a national public option with a state opt-out clause.  Today’s National Journal provided the following summary of the proposed solution:

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad and Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Thomas Carper, D-Del., said leaders were interested in getting support for a national option with a state opt-out clause. The idea is a twist by Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer of New York on a Carper plan.

Schumer said reaction has been good. “Liberals live with it. Moderates live with it. It’s in the middle.”

Carper said he is working on further modifying it to include a trigger clause and a nonprofit, provisions aimed at Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Conrad.

Snowe said Thursday it would be difficult for her to imagine voting for a motion to proceed to the bill unless the public option includes a trigger that determines when it would kick in. Conrad, who authored the co-op system in the Finance Committee bill as an alternative to a public option, said Thursday states should have the choice to participate in a nonprofit.

In the House, Politico is reporting that Speaker Pelosi lacks the votes to pass a “robust public option”— the most aggressive of the three forms of a public option House Democrats have been considering as part of a national overhaul of health care.  The complete story can be found here.

The Washington Post has been closely tracking reform in their Healthcare Reform 2009 section of the website. On October 9, they published a simple flow-chart to help explain the complicated process for bills to move through Congress. It’s available online here.

–Jon Terry, President, Capitol Youth Strategies LLC

Infant Mortality Resolution Passes Senate for First Time in Four Years

The National Healthy Start Association is pleased to report that the United States Senate passed a resolution last Thursday that highlights the tragedy of infant mortality in this country and expresses support for “efforts to reduce infant deaths, low-birth weight, pre-term births and disparities in perinatal outcomes.”  The resolution, S. Res. 299, passed the Senate by unanimous consent and represents the first time in four years that the U.S. Senate has passed a resolution specifically focused on infant mortality and the importance of community-based services such as outreach, home visitation, case management, health education and interconceptional care.    Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, was the lead sponsor of the resolution and Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina,  served as cosponsor.   Alma Roberts of Baltimore Healthy Start deserves great credit for educating Senator Cardin about the impact of Healthy Start in Baltimore and the need to strengthen and expand services to disadvantaged mothers and families.  In addition, Belinda Pettiford, NHSA board member from North Carolina, has worked closely with Senator Burr and his staff over the past several years and was essential in encouraging the Senator to serve as the lead cosponsor of the resolution.

Resolutions such as S. Res. 299 are non-binding and are used by Congress to bring attention to certain issues.  In September, the U.S. House passed a similar resolution (H.Res.260) expressing support for improved prenatal care and the need to improve birth outcomes in this country.  It had been three years since the House last passed a resolution specifically focused on infant mortality.   This year marks the first time ever that both the House and Senate have passed infant mortality resolutions in the same year.

Click here to read a copy of the S.Res. 299 and here to read a copy of H.Res.260.

–Jon Terry, President, Capitol Youth Strategies LLC