You don't need a pollster to tell you (although many have) that Americans are confused by the health reform law. It's big, bold, and different. And the debate surrounding it has produced myths and misinformation (both intentional and inadvertent). The big question, for many Americans, is "what's in it for me?"
The Washington Post just published "Landmark: The Inside Story of America's New Health Care Law and What It Means for Us All." It includes both a behind-the-scenes narrative of how the law was passed (and how it almost wasn't passed) as well as several chapters examining what the legislation means for Medicare, Medicaid, private coverage, medical practice, etc.
At a panel discussion at the Kaiser Family Foundation last night, most of the questions from the audience underscored the "what's in it for me" worries. A physician (who sounded sympathetic to the legislation) asked how it will change the practice of medicine, whether and how it will shift the incentives to quality over quantity. A man named Bobby asked a long list of questions including a good one about how it will affect people in different parts of the country -- in areas with a plentiful supply of doctors and areas that have a scarcity. Someone who makes his living selling insurance in northern Virginia asked what will happen if the individual mandate gets struck down by the courts, (panelists said most experts doubt it will). An older woman wanted to know who is paying -- will this expanded coverage come out of her pocket? A retired federal worker wondered about his Medicare.
The Obama administration, naturally, knows that people are still confused, still worried. That's why on an almost daily basis administration officials are showing the American people how health reform will help them, not hurt them. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to Congress yesterday to update leaders on the health reform implementation process. (We learned of it from Politico), Sebelius stated the administration "has worked expeditiously but carefully to implement the early insurance market reforms called for in the Affordable Care Act and to strengthen the system for all Americans." Sebelius outlined all the progress the HHS and the administration made since the reform law passed, touting provisions such as allowing young adults to stay on their parents insurance, providing rebates for Medicare Part D beneficiaries in the doughnut hole, working to launch new high risk pools, and ending rescissions.
I left my copy home (I'm about half way through it) and I apologize in advance in case I leave someone out -- but the contributors included Ceci Connolly, who wrote the narrative, Amy Goldstein, David Brown, Alex MacGillis, and David Hilzenrath, all of whom spoke during last night's panel discussion, as well as Dan Balz, Lori Montgomery, Shailagh Murray, and Howard Gleckman from Kaiser Health News.