In just a few moments, President-elect Barack Obama will announce that another one of our friends and former colleagues, Jeanne Lambrew, will be named deputy director of the White House Office of Health Reform. In that position, she will work with HHS Secretary Tom Daschle to achieve “significant changes” in health care reform. Jeanne co-authored a book with Daschle entitled, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.”
Jeanne recently wrote, “Reforming the health system requires leadership and commitment that can come only from the White House.” In the Clinton administration, she helped lead the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Over on the Wonk Room, Igor Volsky takes a look at Jeanne’s philosophy on health care reform. Building on the two major existing sources of health coverage — the employer based system and Medicaid – Lambrew has advocated plans that allow Americans to keep their existing coverage, while offering affordable options to those who need them:
- Americans lacking job-based insurance, for instance, could purchase affordable coverage through a new national insurance pool that would offer “the same private health plans offered to federal employees and members of Congress.”
- While the plan does not include an employer mandate, “employers would have access to the Healthy America insurance pool.” Individuals offered coverage through an employer would be free to decline that coverage and enroll in a plan through the pool instead.
- The plan would simplify and extend Medicaid to cover all below a certain income level (for example, 100–150 percent of the federal poverty level).
While she was here at CAP, Jeanne also developed the idea of a Wellness Trust to “carve prevention out of health insurance and take responsibility for a new, outcomes-oriented system.” Writing on ThinkProgress, she explained:
The premise of the Wellness Trust is that disease prevention is more like homeland security than health insurance: everyone needs it, no one notices if it works, and it depends on persistent, strong leadership and systems. While change will come at a cost, this cost would be dwarfed by the lost lives, productivity, and public resources that will result from a failure to act.
The Wonk Room has more.