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Drew Harris

POSTED: Monday, February 3, 2014, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Drew Harris

Not everyone is cheering when more people have health care coverage. Some pundits are making dire predictions of long waits and overworked doctors when people newly insured under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare") seek care for long-ignored ailments.

Opponents of the ACA have even argued that we should continue to deny coverage to the uninsured because it will encumber the care of those fortunate enough to have insurance. This is like saying we should close food banks and cut food stamps for hungry people because the increased demand means less food for everyone else.

Despite these concerns, things may not be as bad as predicted. In the short term, waits for care may increase but in the mid to long term, I believe the system will adjust. Here are a dozen reasons why:

POSTED: Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Drew Harris
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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) rollout continues and every few weeks another problem arises seemingly without warning. However, those who follow health policy closely aren’t too surprised because every system is perfectly designed for the result you get. Unfortunately, it’s not always the result you want. The glitches and gotchas are largely the foreseeable result of the convoluted process that created the ACA in the first place.

The ACA (aka Obamacare) builds on the existing private health insurance system but bans egregious practices such as charging more or denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and risks; canceling policies just as the bills add up; and capping lifetime payouts. The goal is to let people keep policies that meet acceptable minimum standards and give those who want or need new insurance affordable options. In practice, this hybrid amalgam needs complicated rules to ensure people don’t game the system or get taken advantage of. The simpler alternative of just canceling all health policies and enrolling everyone in standardized plans (single payer) was never given serious consideration.

So far, two inevitable complications have come to light, and a third’s about to.

POSTED: Monday, September 30, 2013, 8:00 AM
Filed Under: Drew Harris

Medicare Part D, a key component of the bill, provided prescription drug benefits to seniors for the first time. The bill was opposed by virtually all Democrats over concerns that its more than $400 billion price tag wasn’t paid for and over restrictions that prohibited the government from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical companies that could reap a huge windfalls from newly insured seniors.

In the battle over the Medicare prescription drug benefit, one party used its majority to run roughshod over its opposition. Sound familiar? What’s different is what happened after the law went into effect in 2006. Former foes worked to support the law however grudgingly. There were no efforts to “kill the bill.” No threats to shut the government down unless the law was gutted.

Even after the Bush administration botched the rollout, Democrats didn't demand the president repeal the law and start over. In fact, Democrat-led states like New Jersey spent millions to cover the prescription costs for needy people while the federal government got its act together. Organizations that had opposed the bill counseled seniors on how to enroll and navigate the difficult application process and its infamous “doughnut hole,” and they advocated for improvements to the law. 

POSTED: Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 12:09 PM
Filed Under: Drew Harris

The Field Clinic is pleased to welcome two new guest bloggers who will be contributing on a regular basis, Dr. Drew Harris and Dr. David Nash of the Jefferson School of Population Health. Both are renowned experts on health policy and the American health care system. This is Dr. Harris’s inaugural entry.

Governor Christie must soon decide whether New Jersey will expand its Medicaid program under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). Now that Governor Corbett has moved to turn it down in Pennsylvania, at least for now, the pressure is on him to act.  Will he follow Corbett’s lead or chart a separate course?

Expansion is a good deal for the state. At first, the federal government will pay all of the additional costs, with the state’s share rising to 10% after three years. For some of the estimated 177,000 uninsured citizens who will receive health coverage, this could mean the difference between life and death.

About this blog

The Field Clinic reports and analyzes health care laws, government policies, and political trends that are transforming the care we receive and the way we pay for it. Read more about our panel of bloggers here.

This blog is produced in partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health-policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Portions of this blog may also be found on and in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section.

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Robert I. Field, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H. Professor, School of Law & Drexel School of Public Health
Jeffrey Brenner, MD Founder of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Medical Director of the Urban Health Institute at Cooper University Healthcare
Andy Carter President & CEO, The Hospital & Healthsystem Assoc. of Pa.
Robert B. Doherty Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs & Public Policy American College of Physicians
Neil I. Goldfarb President & CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health
David Grande, MD, MPA Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Tine Hansen-Turton Chief Strategy Officer of Public Health Management Corporation
Drew A. Harris, DPM, MPH Director of Health Policy Program at the Jefferson School of Population Health
Antoinette Kraus Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network
Laval Miller-Wilson Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project
David B. Nash, MD, MBA Founding Dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health
Howard J. Peterson, MHA Managing Partner of TRG Healthcare, a national healthcare consulting firm
Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH Deputy Mayor for Health & Opportunity and Health Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia
Paula L. Stillman, MD, MBA Healthcare consultant with special expertise in population health and disease management
Elizabeth A. W. Williams Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer for Independence Blue Cross
Krystyna Dereszowska A third-year law student concentrating in health at Drexel
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