Monday, October 26, 2009
Marcus Mabry, international business editor for The New York Times, takes a look at the week ahead in the health care reform debate, handicaps the chances that the public option will make it through the Senate, and looks at the future of banks "too big to fail." We also talk with Charles Haviland, BBC correspondent in Kabul, to hear about a NATO helicopter collision in Afghanistan and how the latest suicide bombings in Iraq might affect U.S. troop withdrawal plans.
Friday, October 23, 2009
In this weak economy, more and more Americans are filing for bankruptcy. Contrary to what you might expect, the biggest reason people are doing so isn’t excessive spending or job losses. According to a recent study, 62 percent of the people who file for bankruptcy do so because of medical debt. After legislation in 2005 removed the distinction between bankruptcy caused by credit problems and medical expenses, many more people – even those with health insurance – found themselves losing their homes after catastrophic medical events wrecked their finances. We ask bankruptcy expert Henry Sommer and The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, to explain this phenomenon. We also speak with Kerry Burns, a social worker who is struggling to pay back medical debt.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
When President Obama made overhauling the U.S. health care system his top domestic priority, he supported the so-called public option to help cover some of the nation's uninsured. As the debate lumbered forward over the summer, many Democrats said they would oppose any health care reform bill without a robust public option. But when Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) drafted a health care bill in the influential Senate Finance Committee, there was no public option included, in part because Republicans stood united against a government-run health insurarnce agency, calling it the first step toward socialized medicine. As far as the Senate was concerned, the public option was dead. But in the House of Representatives, the public option is back in the center of the debate.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has pushed for health care reform legislation to include a public option from early on in the debate. Even though it didn't make it into the Senate Finance committee's health care bill, the public option is now gaining steam. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll says 57% of Americans actually support it.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Marcus Mabry, international business editor for our partner, The New York Times, and Jonathan Marcus, diplomatic correspondent for our partner, the BBC, look at the week ahead, primarily at the violence in central Asia. They will also peek ahead at what's going to happen with Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Eastern Europe, and examine the latest on Afghanistan's election controversy and how that will affect the White House's decision on troop levels there. All that and how the latest bombings in Iran affect ongoing meetings about their nuclear program.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
In the high-volume debate about heath care reform, one major player has been notably quiet: the health insurance industry. For the most part, the industry has given faint support to reform, but that changed this week. Health insurance companies are buying up ad time in a number of key states as part of a coordinated push to make sure their concerns remain part of the reform debate. We speak to Brad Fluegel, executive vice president and chief strategy and external affairs officer for the health insurer WellPoint. We hear also from Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a trade group for insurance companies; and Jon Gruber, a health care economist at MIT who helped Massachusetts develop its universal health insurance plan.
EDITOR'S NOTE: After our segment aired, Jon Gruber disclosed that he has been paid at least $297,600 by the Department of Health and Human Services to model costs and effects of health care reform for the Obama Administration. We did not discover or disclose that in our interview.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
- Washington Takeout: Julie Mason, White House correspondent for The Washington Examiner, looks at two groups that weren't happy with the Baucus health care bill that just passed the Senate Finance Committee: unions and Blue Dog Democrats.
- Business Takeout: The big banks release their earnings reports this week. What do the latest third-quarter earnings say about the state of the economy? New York Times finance reporter Louise Story gives us her take.
- Sports Takeout: The Takeaway's sports contributor Ibrahim Abdul-Matin takes a look ahead to the baseball playoff series.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The Senate Finance Committee finally approved their version of health care reform legislation yesterday. That’s only the next step in a long sequence aiming to pass just one of the five bills from various committees in Congress. We step back from the legislative process to look at what people want most out of an overhaul of the nation's health care system. We asked for questions from listeners, and this morning we try to get answers with Henry Aaron, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and David Herszenhorn, congressional correspondent for The New York Times.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The Congressional Budget Office signed off on the math in the Senate Finance Committee's health care overhaul bill, saying the legislation will reduce the deficit and save taxpayer money overall. But not so fast: The insurance industry did its own calculations and says consumers will be hit with a whopper of a pricetag. So who do consumers believe? And how do you figure out the cost of health care ten years from now? As the Senate Finance Committee prepares to vote on its bill today, we look at the science and politics of calculating the cost, with former CBO director Alice Rivlin and New York Times reporter David Herszenhorn.
Feeling wonky? Read the CBO's analysis of the Finance Committee's bill and compare it to the analysis from America's Health Insurance Plans, which says the Senate Finance bill will rack up extra costs for consumers. [PDF, 592k]
Monday, October 12, 2009
Marcus Mabry, international business editor of The New York Times, and Nick Childs, political correspondent for the BBC, help us take a look at what's coming up in the news this week. We talk about the president's decisions on Afghanistan, the ongoing health care debate, and President Obama's promise to the gay and lesbian community.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office delivered its final estimates on the Senate Finance Committee's proposed health care reform bill. The CBO estimates the bill will cost $829 billion over 10 years – way less than the expected $1 trillion price tag – and is considered deficit-neutral. For more on the dollars and sense behind health care reform, we talk to The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, Todd Zwilich.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
An ad from "Health Equity for All," a coalition of African-American and Latino organizations.
As the Senate Finance Committee moves toward a vote on the health care reform bill later in the week, African-American and Latino organizations have joined forces in a new ad campaign to make sure their voices are heard in the debate. We speak to Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, a grassroots organization dedicated to helping low-income people make an impact on public policy; and Dr. Herbert C. Smitherman Jr., assistant dean of Community and Urban Health at Wayne State University School of Medicine.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Yesterday we got a perspective on the health care debate from three Democratic lawmakers who are also health care professionals. Today we hear from three Republicans in Congress who are also doctors. We ask why they don’t want the government much involved in health care. We are joined by two Congressmen: Dr. Charles Boustany (R-La.), who has 20 years of experience as a cardiovascular surgeon; and Dr. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.), who practiced obstetrics and gynecology for over 20 years before running for office. We're also joined by Dr. John Barrasso, Republican senator from Wyoming; he has been an orthopedic surgeon for nearly 25 years...(click through for the full interview transcript)
REP. BURGESS (R-Tex.): Offering the insurance through the government is no solution because, let’s be honest, if that were the solution, it would have fixed the problem. We’ve already got 50 percent of health care expenditures right now coming through the government, and no one would pretend that there aren’t problems with the public sector today.
—Three Republican members of Congress, all of them health care practitioners, on the current state of health care reform
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Trust the doctor, we’re often told. But in the passage of a health care reform bill, it's the lawmakers we have to rely on. We’ve found three members of Congress who are also medical professionals to bring their medical perspective to the health care bill that's making its way through committee. (Today's roundtable is with Democrats; tomorrow we'll be talking with Republican members of Congress.)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) has worked as a nurse for 15 years. Dr. Vic Snyder represents Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional district and was a family practice physician for over 15 years. We also speak to Dr. Jim McDermott, Democratic representative from Washington; he's a trained psychiatrist and the longest-serving physician in Congress. (click through for the full interview transcript)
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Yesterday, both Sen. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) offered amendments that would have reintroduced a government-run insurance option to the health care reform bill under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee. Both amendments were rejected by the committee. The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, was there for the vote and he joins us to talk about yesterday's rejection by the Senate Finance Committee, the assertion by Sen. Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) that he can count to 60, and whether the public option has any future.
Monday, September 28, 2009
When unemployment rises, so do mortgage defaults. The Obama administration's plan to help borrowers modify mortgages has had mixed results, and lawmakers are calling for a second look. To explain, we speak to finance reporter Louise Story from our partner, The New York Times.
Friday, September 25, 2009
As the political parties (and lobbyists, natch) debate health reform, real people are stuck in the middle. Over the weeks (and months) that the health care debate has gone on (and on), we've heard from our listeners who have health insurance but don't have the actual care they need. What's the difference? We listen to their stories of what it means to be (sort of) covered.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, joins us with a look at a deal the White House reached earler this year with drug companies. The deal stipulated that pharmaceutical companies would cut name-brand drug prices by 50% for seniors who aren't covered under Medicare's drug plan. In exchange, the White House promised no further cuts to the pharmaceutical industry. While both the White House and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) want to honor the deal, some Democrats are appalled by the seeming kowtowing to special interests.
Monday, September 21, 2009
It's Monday and that means it's time to check what's on the agenda this week. Marcus Mabry, International Business Editor for our partner, The New York Times, and Andrew Walker from the BBC, both join us as we talk about what to look for in the news this week: health care reform, the G20 meeting's start in Pittsburgh and the UN General Assembly's kickoff. All that and the future of ACORN and New York Governor David Paterson.