HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Senator Ron Wyden on Health Care in the Stimulus Bill

TalkingPointsMemo provides a brief piece concerning Senator Ron Wyden's thoughts on health care issues that might be addressed in the upcoming stimulus bill.   

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) knows how to build health care coalitions. From his seat on the Senate Finance Committee, he has watched the major health debates of the past decade -- from the 1994 Clinton flame-out onwards -- play out from the front row. . . .  So he's got a pretty authoritative take on the health care proposals that are headed for inclusion in the stimulus bill.

"If there can be two good wins on health care early," he told me during a sit-down interview in his office today, "on SCHIP and COBRA for the uninsured, it's a bit of a down payment in terms of broader reform. It can build on that -- on Democrats and Republicans finding common ground."

Wyden added that reforming health information technology, allowing all Americans to have an electronic medical record within five years, is also on track to be part of the stimulus, for one simple reason: "It's a job creator."

SCHIP, the children's health insurance program administered by the states with federal help, is moving forward separately from the stimulus, headed for a quick reauthorization (and expansion) on the House floor and in Senate Finance this month, ahead of the March 31 deadline for renewal.

Adding COBRA aid to the stimulus bill, however, thus helping laid-off workers afford to keep their health care, would be a key victory for Wyden. The idea has met with positive signals from Republicans, making COBRA aid a helpful first step towards amassing broad support for major health care reform later in the year. . . . .

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