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Vidhya Alakeson

Vidhya Alakeson on US healthcare reform

27 Jan, 11 | by BMJ

The theatre of politics has been on full display in Washington of late. Last week, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in March last year that, among many other things, will ensure that more Americans have health insurance coverage. The vote was largely symbolic for the new Republican-controlled House. For the repeal to become law, it would have to be passed by the Senate, where Democrats have held onto a slim majority, and would finally have to be signed into law by the President. Even with a Republican controlled Senate, the repeal would stall at President Obama’s desk. more…

Vidhya Alakeson on US anti-abortion legislation

10 May, 10 | by BMJ Group

For most of last year, a van covered in anti-abortion slogans has been parked on the corner of Independence Avenue and 3rd Street in Washington DC. Directly in front of it was the US Capitol, home of Congress, and across the street was the main building of the Department of Health and Human Services. The reason for the van’s presence: health reform. In much of Europe, abortion is not even an election issue, let alone a healthcare issue. In the US, healthcare reform can easily get tangled up with abortion. more…

Vidhya Alakason scrutinises US healthcare legislation

19 Apr, 10 | by BMJ Group

The champagne glasses have been put away in Washington DC . It is now time for the hard work of implementing the pages of provisions included in the health reform bill that was passed by Congress last month.  While the media coverage has rightly focused on the historic extension of health insurance to cover most of the 47 million uninsured Americans, the legislation contains many other provisions that are worth a closer look, particularly in light of current priorities within the NHS. more…

Vidhya Alakeson on the snowstorm hitting US health reform

12 Feb, 10 | by julietwalker

Last weekend a huge snow storm brought Washington D.C. to a standstill. The federal government is closed, supermarket shelves stand empty waiting for new deliveries and most people are stuck inside, some without electricity. Suddenly the city and its politics seem to be equally frozen.
Since the election of the Republican candidate Scott Brown in Massachusetts on 19 January, health reform has been stuck. It is hard to overstate how much of a shock Brown’s election caused among Democrats. What is now Brown’s seat was Ted Kennedy’s seat until less than a year ago and Kennedy held the seat for over forty years. In his campaign, Brown recognised the general need to reform healthcare but spoke out against the current reform bill, calling for it to be scrapped and for the whole process to begin again from scratch. Unsurprisingly, Brown’s election has been taken as a warning by many Democrats to stop pushing so hard for health reform and to wrest back political momentum by focusing instead on the economy. President Obama’s State of the Union speech a week after the Massachusetts election was heavy on jobs and the economy and comparatively light on healthcare. more…

Vidhya Alakeson on the two US healthcare reform bills

18 Jan, 10 | by BMJ

As world events have come to dominate the news in America, health reform appears to have slipped from the front page. But in the backrooms of Capitol Hill and the White House, discussions are as furious as ever. On Christmas Eve, the Senate passed a healthcare reform bill, just as the House of Representatives had done in August. more…

Vidhya Alakeson on the US Finance Committee bill

15 Oct, 09 | by BMJ

Few people outside of Washington have heard of Olympia Snowe, the senator from Maine. But on Tuesday, she became the most important person in healthcare reform. Her vote in the Senate Finance Committee gave the Obama Administration its first bipartisan victory on healthcare. more…

Vidhya Alakeson on President Obama’s healthcare speech

11 Sep, 09 | by BMJ

It is a peculiar trait of American politics: long presidential speeches broadcast at prime time. Just as Bill Clinton did thirteen years ago, yesterday, for an hour, President Obama tried to convince the American people that they had more to gain from healthcare reform than they had to lose. After a summer in which the opponents of reform have dominated the debate and public support has waned, the president was under pressure to regain the upper hand. more…

Vidhya Alakeson on the CLASS Act

13 Jul, 09 | by BMJ

As disability and aging advocacy groups continue to wait for the publication of the UK Government’s social care green paper, advocates on the other side of the Atlantic have been celebrating Obama’s show of support for the inclusion of social care reform as part of healthcare reform. Social care, or long term care as it is called in the US, accounts for 36 percent or $110 billion (£68 billion) of the total costs of Medicaid, the public insurance programme for the poor and disabled. Medicaid is funded jointly by the federal government and by state governments and state leaders have long felt the weight of growing social care costs. But the issue had not reached the national debate until now. more…

Vidhya Alakeson on affordable health choices in the US

25 Jun, 09 | by BMJ Group

An audible gasp went around Washington last week when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its first estimate of the cost of healthcare reform: $1 trillion. The cost seemed all the more eye watering given that it would only cut the numbers of uninsured Americans by 16 million or around a third of the total uninsured population. more…

Vidhya Alakeson on the US stimulus bill

3 Feb, 09 | by BMJ Group

While Tom Daschle waits another week for his confirmation as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, health reform has got underway without him in the form of the stimulus bill. The bill that is currently working its way through Congress falls just short of $900 billion in tax cuts and spending. Principally, it is about kick starting the economy and healthcare has a major part to play in that. But within the 600 pages of the bill are also several provisions that have little to do with immediate economic recovery and more to do with longer term health reform goals. Overall, the stimulus bill includes an extra $120 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services.


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