I promise to publish part 2 of the substance of this multi-part thread soon, but I wanted to get this out there, as a general link to some good sources for more information on health care and the Affordable Care Act. I’m sure there are many more sources, but these are some I’ve found to be quite helpful. I’m including a short description to help you understand the source, so that you can consider the source’s bias as you’re reading. I encourage everyone to always read skeptically, and always to consider the source, so you can determine their bias and weigh their message accordingly.
So, in no particular order (man, it’s great to be out of Grad School! No rules!):
The Affordable Care Act of 2010. The whole thing (actually, this is a compilation of the ACE and the Patient Protection Act.).. All 900+ pages (don’t let it intimidate you, there’s lots of white space) in searchable PDF format. I have not read it all; I am somewhat skeptical of pundits who claim they have. I’ve had many years of practice at reading government regulations and laws, so I’m somewhat immune to the boredom they bring, and I couldn’t do it, and quite honestly didn’t find it fruitful to try. For those who are not in the business of health care who claim to have read the whole thing, I would love to test their comprehension of what they read. I found it much more productive to drill down into topics I was wanting more info on, either through the table of contents, or through PDF search functionality. Some search hints:
- If you look for “Death Panels” you’ll come up empty. What Sarah Palin refers to by that catchy moniker is titled the “Independent Payment Advisory Board.” Search the PDF by that term instead.
- Brown Shirts: Not there. There is a section on page 543 (Sec 203) titled “Commissioned Corps and Ready Reserve Corps” that modifies existing law authorizing the existing US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which has been around in current form since shortly after the Civil War. (If you think this is Obama’s secret army, akin to Hitler’s Brown Shirts, I wouldn’t worry too much. Their “commanding officer” is the US Surgeon General; and the few interactions I’ve had with these folks have clearly demonstrated that Bill Murray’s platoon in Stripes had more military discipline. These guys may be good doctors, nurses, and health care professionals, but I’m more intimidated by Girl Scouts selling cookies at my door than I am by the threat of any of these folks.). More recently, people are linking Obama’s Brown Shirts to FEMA, but that’s outside the scope of the ACA or this post.
The Kaiser Family Foundation: This is a great site with a ton of information, and their data is good enough that their pricing indexes are used in some places as an industry standard (this is from my personal experience in labor contract negotiations, where we needed a health insurance price index to include in contracts. I can’t comment as to how widely spread this usage is). They bill themselves as trying to be a trusted source of information in a space where most sources have a vested interest. They’re set up to try to minimize outside influence. I’m not going to claim they’re unbiased, but they seem to do a very good job of providing the facts, and presenting the data so one can analyze it for oneself. They certainly are thorough in their coverage and analysis; you could get lost for days on this site, and learn more than you ever wanted to know. They also keep it very fresh, with current insight and analysis. This page details their CEO’s perspective on KFF’s approach to the ACA–if you want to dig a little deeper.
- “Health Care Costs: A Primer. Key Information on Health Care Costs and Their Impact.” The Kaiser Family Foundation: May 2012. This page on the Kaiser Family Foundation website provides a PDF copy of the report titled above. It provides good data on health care costs, and is one of the primary sources I used in my research, and for the data I provide in my blog entries.
- “Summary of the Affordable Care Act.” The Kaiser Family Foundation: April 23, 2013. A 13 page document that does exactly what the title says: It summarizes the key elements of the law. A good read for most who want more info, but don’t want to read the entire law. I highly recommend it, versus reading the whole ACA.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website. This link actually takes you to their National Health Expenditure Data page, but this is a good site to get federal government “official” data on health care information. Yes, they’re the federal government. I’m not asking you to blindly trust the government, but I don’t recommend blindly dismissing them either. They’re a good source of data. If you’re convinced that their data is corrupt and deliberately skewed to deceive, I’m not sure what to tell you, other than you should be as skeptical of every other source.
Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Another federal government website, but a source for data on health care in the US. Some pretty detailed data here, and it’s not the easiest site to navigate, but if you want to find a particular nugget, it’s probably here somewhere.
Health Affairs (online journal): Quote from their “About” page:
Health Affairs is the leading journal of health policy thought and research. The peer-reviewed journal was founded in 1981 under the aegis of Project HOPE, a nonprofit international health education organization. Health Affairs explores health policy issues of current concern in domestic and international spheres. Its mission is to serve as a high-level, nonpartisan forum to promote analysis and discussion on improving health and health care, and to address such issues as cost, quality, and access.
Good info from a peer-reviewed journal; problem is that only the content from more than three years ago is free. Unfortunately, most of the pertinent info on health care reform and the ACA has been published in the past 3 years, and I didn’t want to pony up $144 to read it. However, you can get the key talking points of those more recent articles from the abstracts.
“The Clock is Ticking. More Americans Losing Health Coverage” Families USA: Washington DC, July 2009. I pulled some statistics from this report, that gives data on the status of private health insurance access prior to adoption of the ACA. This site is definitely supportive of the ACA.
I’ll probably embed more specific article links within the text of the posts, but this ought to get you started in your research. I’m not claiming all of these are perfect, and that you should trust them blindly, but instead that they are good starting points to inform yourself, rather than just believing sound bites, emails, and blog posts (even mine!).
Seek first to understand…