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Health reform supporters plan $25 million promotion campaign

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Health care reform

Health reform supporters plan $25 million promotion campaign

The New York Times: "Close allies of the Obama administration, seeking to rally the public behind President Obama's landmark health care bill, are planning to spend $25 million over the next five years to promote the measure and beat back mischaracterizations of it that could harm Democratic candidates. Mr. Obama's former communications director, Anita Dunn, and longtime Democratic strategist Andrew Grossman, have teamed up to form two new tax-exempt groups. The first, already incorporated as a nonprofit organization under the 501 c(3) provision of the tax code, is called the Health Information Center, and will run an intense public information campaign around the new law. The second, still in the planning, will engage in political advocacy to 'protect the law – and those who supported it – against distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies,' according to a Democratic strategist familiar with the effort." Grossman hopes to raise money from Democrats, foundations and union for the the projects” (Stolberg, 6/4)

The Los Angeles Times: The "passage of healthcare reform — potentially funneling 30 million new people into an already-packed system — has some groups warning that the nation will soon see a shortage of doctors. The Assn. of American Medical Colleges has warned of a deficiency of up to 125,000 doctors by 2025. And it isn't the only group voicing concerns. The Health Resources and Services Administration, a federal agency that works to improve healthcare access for the uninsured, has projected that the supply of primary-care physicians will be adequate through 2020, at which point there will be a deficit of 65,560 physicians. … And the problem goes further than mere doctor counts. Among the other complicating factors: a misaligned distribution of physicians between disciplines (too many neonatal doctors, for example, and too few general surgeons); increased health needs of aging baby boomers; and disagreement over how much of the gap can be filled by physician's assistants and nurse practitioners, professions where there also are shortages. … Still, things may not be as dire as all these numbers suggest — at least, not across the board. This year, for example, saw a 10% increase in the number of U.S. medical students choosing to go into family medicine. … A lot of the current need is related to a dearth of physicians in certain locales, such as inner cities and rural areas. But merely counting doctors is a simplistic way to assess care quality, experts noted" (Worth, 6/6)

The Wall Street Journal: "Early retirement, a dream of many, can turn into a nightmare for those unable to secure health insurance. Now, two new federal programs may provide some relief. ... Under the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, the federal government will dole out $5 billion to employers -- public, private and nonprofit -- over the next four years to offset some of the costs of providing medical and prescription-drug coverage for retirees ages 55 to 64 and their families. … Under a second program, set to launch in July, the federal government has allocated $5 billion to create 'high-risk' insurance pools in each state and Washington D.C. To qualify for coverage, applicants must have a pre-existing health condition and have been uninsured for at least the past six months. There is no age requirement. Premiums are expected to be more affordable than those under previously established state 'high-risk' pools, says Wayne Nelson, president of Communicating for America, a nonprofit that tracks the older program" (Tergesen, 6/5).

The Washington Post looks at how some people are going overseas to get medical treatments that use stem cell technology, which are largely not available in the United States. "Western scientists worry that patients are being taken in by slick marketing campaigns, wasting time, money and hope on unproven therapies, and perhaps even putting themselves in danger. … Stem cell research is an area in which the United States faces new rivals -- and ones willing to move quickly from experimental research to treatment. A January report by the National Science Board warned that the U.S. position as the world's innovation leader is declining and China's influence is increasing. The report said that is the result of a surge in government investment in science and technology education, infrastructure and research. In the United States, the use of federal funding for new lines of embryonic stem cells was banned in George W. Bush's administration. President Obama reversed that decision when he took office, but China and other countries have had a years-long head start" (Cha, 6/6)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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