Person to Read: Igor Volsky: Friday Focus

One of the people you definitely should be reading is Igor Volsky over at our sister organization, the Center for American Progress. Careful, thoughtful, and indefatigable, you can trust what he writes to have the story straight and in context. And I envy his tight, concise prose.

Below the fold is a sample: eight things from him that I noted at the time that made me sit up, and taught me important things, as health care reform has slouched toward whatever its destination will be:

(1) The Obamacare Cancellation Notices You Haven’t Heard About (November 18, 2013):

As lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are endorsing legislation to allow Americans purchasing health care coverage in the individual market to stay in their existing insurance plans, they’re ignoring a far more pressing coverage problem in the 26 states that have yet to expand their Medicaid programs. There, five million working poor Americans could be denied access to affordable insurance altogether. The stories of private market enrollees being forced to purchase more substantive insurance have animated politics for the last three weeks. But the failure of 25 states to expand Medicaid coverage to 133 percent of the federal poverty line, as envisioned by reform, is actually far more disastrous…

(2) Everything You Need To Know About Obama’s ‘Fix’ For Insurers Canceling Plans (November 14, 2013):

The White House announced an “administrative fix” on Thursday that will allow insurers to continue offering their 2013 individual health care plans in 2014 without complying with the Affordable Care Act’s minimum benefit standards. Issuers that choose to renew their existing or already-cancelled policies will also be required to send detailed notices to consumers informing them that they could receive more comprehensive plans and additional consumer protections through the law’s marketplaces…. “Basically, the Administration is expanding the early renewal option that insurers in most states had…” Edwin Park, Vice President for Health Policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, said…. AHIP, a group that represents insurers, on Obama’s proposal: “Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers…”

(3) Navy Yard Shooter Was Too Mentally Unstable for Navy, But Had No Problem Buying Guns (September 19, 2013):

Records indicate that Alexis had reported hearing “voices in his head”–but this didn’t stop him from legally buying a gun and a conceal carry weapon…

(4) Romney’s Transition Chief Is Encouraging States To Implement Obamacare (November 17, 2012:

A little more than a week after Mitt Romney lost his bid for the presidency, the prominent Republican tapped to head his transition…. Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt… is “working to get states to create their own exchanges” — the new marketplaces that will connect consumers with insurance coverage by 2014. States have the option of establishing and administrating their own systems or outsourcing the task to the federal government. “The former Utah governor’s outfit, Leavitt Partners, argues that it will be a ‘bureaucratic nightmare’ for states to deal with the federal government if they don’t have their own exchanges, that states would be giving up the power to design their own uniquely tailored systems if they default to the feds, and that they risk losing regulatory authority over insurers that operate in their states under the auspices of the federally designed exchange…”

(5) Pawlenty Was For Exchanges Before He Was Against Them (June 22, 2011):

Tim Pawlenty has long criticized the individual mandate provision…. Now, in an interview with Politico, Pawlenty is… speaking out against the exchanges…. Pawlenty actually advanced exchanges in Minnesota in 2007, arguing that the non-profit Minnesota Insurance Exchange could “connect employers and workers with more affordable health coverage options.” “If just two of your employees go out and buy insurance through the exchange, the benefits to the employer on a pre-tax basis — because of their payments to Social Security and otherwise into the 125 plan — more than cover the cost of setting up the plan,” Pawlenty explained at the time. The proposal was part of the governor’s “Healthy Connections” health care plan and he described the Exchange as a structure that “will create another option for employers who would like to provide health insurance as a benefit for their employees.” “All individual health insurance policies in Minnesota will be required to be purchased through the Exchange. Individuals will also be able to pay for coverage with pre-tax dollars. The products will continue to be regulated by the state,” a press release for the proposal read…

(6) TIMELINE: Mitt Romney’s Consistent And Repeated Support For A National Health Care Mandate (May 12, 2011):

During a speech on health policy later this afternoon, likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney is expected to say that while Massachusetts’ 2006 health care law has been successful in expanding coverage to most residents, it should not be duplicated on a national level. Romney will lay out a proposal to encourage states to deregulate insurance markets, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and develop their own unique health care policies. Until recently, Romney has advanced the belief that encouraging Americans to take responsibility for their health care costs, rather than passing the cost of coverage to society, is “the ultimate conservative idea” and “a Republican way.” “The Republican approach is to say, you know what? Everybody should have insurance. They should pay what they can afford to pay. If they need help, we will be there to help them, but no more free ride,” Romney told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on April 12, 2006 during a national media tour promoting his groundbreaking 2006 health care reform law…

(7) Orrin Hatch: I Supported The Unconstitutional Individual Mandate In 1993 To Derail HillaryCare (March 26, 2010):

Yesterday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) admitted that he supported the individual mandate before he realized it was unconstitutional and now, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has conceded that he too endorsed a policy that would have allowed the government “to tell you what you have to buy, even if you don’t want to buy it.”… What’s changed, CNN’s Campbell Brown and MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell both wanted to know. Like Grassley, Hatch couldn’t come up with a very good answer…. “We were fighting Hillarycare at that time. And I don’t think anyone centered on it, I certainly didn’t. That was 17 years ago. But since then, and with the advent of this particular bill, really seeing how much they’re depending on an unconstitutional approach to it, yea, naturally I got into it, got into it on this issue…”

(8) The Public Insurance Plan Is Not Responsible For High CBO Scores (June 29, 2009):

Since the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued very preliminary cost estimates of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee’s health bill and the Senate Finance Committee’s draft legislation, Republicans and some in the media have argued that the somewhat higher-than expected price tags undermine the President’s contention that a new public heath insurance plan would lower health care spending….But both estimates never scored the public option. The HELP Committee’s bill omitted any language about the public plan and, according to reporting by the Health Beat’s Maggie Mahar, the CBO couldn’t “mark up the Senate Finance Committee plan because the Senate Finance Committee plan doesn’t yet exist”…

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