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Friday, January 31, 2014

Health Care

Kaiser Health News reports:
Uninsured Americans — the people that the Affordable Care Act was designed to most aid — are increasingly critical of the law as its key provisions kick in, a poll released Thursday finds.
This month’s tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 47 percent of the uninsured said they hold unfavorable views of the law while 24 percent said they liked it. These negative views have increased since December, when 43 percent of the uninsured panned the law and 36 percent liked it. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the Foundation.)
The poll did not pinpoint clear reasons for this drop, which comes in the first month that people could start using insurance purchased through the online marketplaces that are at the heart of the law. It did point out that more than half of people without insurance said the law hasn’t made a difference to them or their families. In addition, the pollsters noted that almost half of people without coverage were unaware the law includes subsidies to offset premium costs for people of low and moderate incomes.
Among all Americans, the sentiment was also negative, with 50 percent holding unfavorable views of the law and 34 percent supporting it. Views on the law have not been even since the end of 2012. Despite this, just 38 percent of the public wants the law to be repealed.
Most Americans say they have not been personally affected by the law. However, 27 percent say they have had a negative experience, while 15 percent say they’ve had a positive one. People with negative views chalked it up most often to the high costs of health care and insurance.
At National Journal, Sam Baker reports on a Democratic congressional brain drain on health issues:
SENATE
  • Edward Kennedy (chaired the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; died)
  • Chris Dodd (ran the HELP Committee while Kennedy was sick, retired)
  • Tom Harkin (chairs the HELP Committee now; retiring in 2014)
  • Max Baucus (chaired the Finance Committee during Obamacare markup; principal author of Obamacare; retired to be ambassador to China)
  • Jay Rockefeller (No. 2 on Finance Committee; advocate for Medicaid; retiring in 2014)
HOUSE
  • Pete Stark (senior member of Ways and Means Committee; career-long interest in health care; lost reelection in 2012)
  • George Miller (Pelosi lieutenant; chaired Education and Labor Committee during Obamacare markup; retiring in 2014)
  • Henry Waxman (chaired Energy and Commerce during Obamacare markup; long career in health issues; retiring in 2014)
  • Allyson Schwartz (active on Medicare and the health care delivery system; retiring to run for governor of Pennsylvania)
And while Democrats' ranks have diminished, Republicans' have swelled.
There are now 21 members of the House GOP Doctors' Caucus (not all of them are doctors, but they're all health care professionals), and some still practice. Rep. Bill Cassidy, who's challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu, still sees patients—many of them on Medicaid—when he's back in his district, a fact he has emphasized while attacking Landrieu for supporting Obamacare.
The exodus of experienced Democratic lawmakers also means a loss of experienced staffers, health care lobbyists noted. Some experienced health care aides cashed out after Obamacare passed, heading for lucrative lobbying and consulting jobs, and some of those who remained will likely follow suit next year.

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