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3 posts from May 2014


Vermont's Move to Single Payer, Universal Health Care: A Conversation with Joshua Slen (May 29th)

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In May 2011 Vermont passed legislation signed by Governor Peter Shumlin creating a single-payer, publicly financed, universal health care system termed Green Mountain Care.  The law recognized health care as a public good much like electricity.  The program, not expected to go into effect until at least 2017, will be defined by an independent board, the Green Mountain Care Board, created to oversee all aspects of the program including rate setting, hospital budget authorization and the regulation of insurance carriers.  The single payer system is expected to increase insurance claims costs but the savings derived from lower administrative costs are expected to result in net savings.

During this 19 minute discussion Joshua discusses how politically Green Mountain Care came about, where presently the state is in rolling out the plan, how the state's insurance marketplace will enable the program, what role private insurance plans will play, how will the program be financed, what skeptics are saying and how Vermont's effors may inform the on-going natonal health care policy debate. 

Joshua Slen served as Vermont's Mediciad Director from 2004-2008.  Presently, or since 2011, SlenJoshua has been an Executive Account Director with Molina Healthcare.  He was a Senior Consultant to Bailit Health Purchasing from 2009-2011 and prior to serving as Medicaid Director he was a Deputy (Budget) Commissioner and a Budget and Management Analyst for the State of Vermont.  Joshua began his public service career working in several Ohio state budget offices from 1991-1999.  He earned his MPA at Ohio State University and his BA in political science at Wittenberg University.    

To learn more about Green Mountain Care go to: http://gmcboard.vermont.gov/



Enrollment Results Under the Affordable Care Act: A Conversation with Brian Webb (May 15th)

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 The ACA's open enrollment period ended this past March 31st. Over eight million Americans signed up for health care insurance.  Of these 2.2 million, or 28 percent, were young adults or between the ages of 18 and 34.  In 26 states and the District of Columbia approximately 15 million adults with income below 138 percent of the poverty level became eligible for Medicaid coverage.  (19 states are not participating in the ACA's Medicaid expansion program and five states remain undecided).  

During this 21 minute discussion Brian explains the National Association of Insurance Commissioner's (NAIC) work, what we know about the 8 million individuals that signed up for health care insurance under the ACA marketplaces, the most popular plan, what "effectuated enrollment" means, how many individuals already had insurance and prospects for 2015 enrollment.

Brian Webb is the Manager of Health Policy and Legislation for NAIC. The NAIC represents the Photoinsurance regulators in all 50 states, DC and the five U.S. territories.  Previously, Brian worked on Medicare and Medicaid policy for the BlueCross BlueShield Association and prior still was the Assistant VP for Legislation for the then-Federation of American Health Systems (FAHS).  Brian began working in DC in 1988 as a legislative aide for Congressman Bill Thomas.  After six years with Mr. Thomas, Brian worked for five years in California Governor Pete Wilson’s Washington office as health and welfare aide and Deputy Director.  Brian was graduated with a MPA from The George Washington University and his Bachelor's degree is from Biola University in California. 



The FDA's Proposal to Regulate E-Cigarettes: A Conversation with David Abrams (May 5th)

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This past April 24th the FDA announced a proposed rule to regulate e-cigarettes.  The FDA is, in part, proposing to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, require manufacturers to disclose e-cigarette ingredients and prohibit manufacturers to claim e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes without submitting scientific proof.  The proposed rule did not forbid TV advertising and does not ban flavorings such as cotton candy and Gummi Bear.   Are these regulations adequate, or alternatively, even necessary since some claim e-cigarettes are a lifesaver since they can prevent smokers from consuming harmful tobacco.  

During this 23 minute discussion Dr. Abrams, in part, provides a brief overview of the Schroeder Institute's work, evaluates the efficacy of e-cigarettes as an aid to smoking cessation (are they a lifesaver), assesses the FDA's proposed regulations and how they might be improved.   

David B. Abrams is the Executive Director of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Reseach and DBA_s.jpgPolicy Studies at the Legacy Foundation.  He is also a Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Univeristy Medical Center, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Previously, Dr. Abrams directed the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research at NIH.  He has published over 250 scholary articles and monographs, served as President of the Society for Behavioral Medicine and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award from  the American Society for Preventive Oncology.    He was graduated from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa with a BS in Computer Science and from Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

For more on the FDA's proposed rule, see: www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/default.htm