The February Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds the public still split on health care reform legislation, with 43 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed. However, the poll also finds that majorities of Americans of all political leanings support several provisions in the health reform proposals in Congress and most attribute delays in passing the legislation to political gamesmanship rather than policy disagreements. The poll finds that at least six of every ten Republicans, Democrats and independents back at least some of the key provisions in the reform bills that have passed the House and Senate. They include measures that would: reform the way health insurance works, such as preventing insurers from excluding people because of pre-existing conditions; offer tax credits to small businesses to help their workers get coverage; create a new health insurance marketplace; help close the Medicare "doughnut hole" so that seniors would no longer face a period of having to pay the full cost of their medicines; and expand high-risk insurance pools for individuals who cannot get coverage elsewhere. Providing subsidies to lower and middle income people also receives strong support from Democrats and independents and near majority support from Republicans. The February poll is the 11th in a series designed and analyzed by the Foundation's public opinion survey research team. It is available online.
Updated Health Reform Comparison Resources
The Foundation updated its interactive side-by-side health reform comparison tool to reflect provisions included in President Obama's health reform proposal released this week. The online tool now allows users to quickly compare the new proposals with the House and Senate bills approved separately in each chamber last year and 12 other comprehensive reform proposals put forward by various members of Congress, committees and other leaders during the ongoing debate. In addition, the Foundation has updated its interactive calculator to reflect the subsidies proposed in the President's reform proposal and added it to its summary of proposed Medicare changes. These resources are all available through the Foundation's health reform gateway.
Kaiser's February Update on Health Disparities
The first issue of Kaiser's Monthly Update on Health Disparities was published this week. The new monthly report features syntheses of news coverage from hundreds of print and broadcast news sources related to health and health care issues that affect underserved and racial and ethnic communities. This month's report includes news about a non-profit health care organization owned and managed by Alaska Natives that is outperforming many better known health plans, how Mississippi is looking to Iran for ideas on improving rural medical outposts and a story about using race information to customize cancer care. Each month, the report will also include summaries of recent journal articles and other research developments in the field. You can sign up to receive the free report via email by visiting Kaiser's online subscription site and selecting the "Minority Health" topic within the kff.org Kaiser Update section.
The Foundation has updated its Medicare primer that explains key elements of the program that provides health coverage to 47 million people, including 39 million seniors and another 8 million younger adults with permanent disabilities. The primer describes the characteristics of the Medicare population and explains what benefitsthe program covers and how much people with Medicare pay out-of-pocket for their medical care. The primer includes detailed tables showing the number of Medicare beneficiaries in each state, broken out by age, income level, source of drug coverage, and enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare: A Primer is available online.
An issue brief from the Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured examines the key characteristics of the 17.1 million low-income uninsured adults who might gain health coverage through an expansion of the Medicaid program under health reform. These adults compromise 37 percent of all the uninsured in the United States. The majority of them do not have dependent children and about half have family incomes below 50 percent of the federal poverty level. The proposed expansion of Medicaid to all individuals with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level would establish a national foundation of coverage based on income and end the historical exclusion of individuals from Medicaid coverage based on family status. It also would reduce long-standing disparities across the states in the reach of public coverage, build Medicaid's role as a cost-effective source of health coverage for those with low incomes who cannot afford or obtain private coverage, and facilitate access to preventive and coordinated care for millions of uninsured Americans. The issue brief is available online.
Examining Medicaid Eligibility for the Elderly and People With Disabilities
A brief from the Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured details the various eligibility pathways by which individuals with disabilities and the elderly can qualify for Medicaid coverage. The program, which serves as a safety net for many of the nation's poorest and sickest individuals, provides health coverage to nearly 60 million Americans, including 8.5 million with disabilities and 8.8 million low-income frail, elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries who rely on Medicaid to fill Medicare's gaps. The brief is available online.
Fact Sheet on Health in Haiti and U.S. Government Involvement
The Foundation issued a fact sheet profiling the health status of Haiti prior to the devastating earthquake that hit the island nation last month. It reviews the major U.S. government global health and development programs operating in Haiti and examines the U.S. response to the quake and the future health challenges as the nation rebuilds. The fact sheet is available online.