Category Archives: Health Care Reform
This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is rolling out a new website that provides educational tools designed to help people understand their insurance choices and select coverage that best suits their needs when open enrollment begins on October 1st. With 99 days to go until then, the new effort includes a consumer call center that will offer help to consumers in more than 100 languages. It will eventually employ 9,000 people, who will answer questions from the public 24 hours a day.
HealthCare.gov is designed to be the destination for the new Health Insurance Marketplace, also called exchanges. The new website will add functionality over the next few months so that, by October, a consumer will be able to create an account, complete an online application, and actually shop for an insurance plan.
For Spanish speakers, CuidadoDeSalud.gov offers the same information and functionality in Spanish.
A doctor in the desert. A scientist in outer space. A dentist in the Arctic delivering care on cross-country skis. And a family doctor who's taken to city streets with a radical new way to help the sick get well and cut costs at the same time. These are among the inspiring women and men leading what Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., calls a “quiet revolution in health and health care.”
In her 2011 President’s Message, released late last week, Lavizzo-Mourey notes that “Americans are approaching what’s being called our ‘coming age of permanent austerity.’ Serious economies, some severe, are likely, triggering long-term and significant changes in our daily lives. At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the expectation and proactive design of change, powered by remarkable people and ideas, is the fundamental currency of our philanthropy…. It’s all about the power of people and ideas.”
In her message, available online, Lavizzo-Mourey shares stories from across the United States, including one about the work of Sanjeev Arora, M.D., a University of New Mexico specialist in liver diseases. Arora’s “Project ECHO” is changing the lives of residents of isolated, rural communities by linking local family physicians together with specialists in virtual “tele-clinics,” forming what Arora calls a “knowledge network.” Says Lavizzo-Mourey of the RWJF-funded effort: “ECHO is an extraordinarily potent global model for the delivery of better, cheaper care to vulnerable and underserved rural and urban populations.”
In a Perspective piece in the December 15, 2010 New England Journal of Medicine, RWJF Investigator Award winner (2004) Mark Hall, J.D., discusses recent lower court rulings on the Affordable Care Act – President Obama’s signature health care reform law. A federal judge in Virginia recently found unconstitutional the law’s requirement that Americans buy health insurance or face a fine. Two other lower courts had already found the provision constitutional. The case is widely expected to reach the Supreme Court.
Hall’s article, Health Care Reform: What Went Wrong on the Way to the Courthouse, is available online for free.