dr. tim johnson

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Dr. Tim’s ‘Truth About Obamacare’ Podcast: Jan. 1 As Decisive Moment?

Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired Medical Editor for ABC News, in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired Medical Editor for ABC News, in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

What just happened? That is, Jan. 1. 2014, has long been the date most commonly mentioned as the moment when Obamacare really kicks in. So now that 2014 is launched, what has really changed?

Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired medical editor for ABC News and author of ”The Truth About Getting Sick in America,” focuses on that question in his latest ‘Truth About Obamacare’ podcast, above. He discusses it with his regular guests: John McDonough, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health; Dr. Gail Wilensky, a health official under the first President Bush; and Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Levitt offers a brief summary of where Obamacare now stands: the expected December surge in enrollment has yielded 2.1 million people who picked a private plan for health insurance coverage, and 3.9 million people who qualified for Medicaid, he said. And he expects to see a much bigger surge as time for sign-up runs out in March.

So did the world actually change as of Jan. 1? Dr. Johnson asks John McDonough.

I’d sum up McDonough’s answer as “Hell, yes.”  Most people aren’t aware of the significance of what happened, he says, but “I find it hard to compare another single date in terms of change to our health care system actually taking effect.” He highlights four major changes: Continue reading

Dr. Tim Johnson’s ‘Truth About Obamacare:’ Is The Law Doomed?

Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired Medical Editor for ABC News, in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired Medical Editor for ABC News, in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“Tumultuous,” is how Dr. Timothy Johnson describes the recent roll-out of Obamacare in his latest podcast. (Click on the “play” arrow above right to listen.) And that’s not nearly strong enough, he adds. “Many people are saying Obamacare is doomed,” in the wake of all the current Website and insurance problems, he says.

Is it? Dr. Johnson, retired medical editor for ABC News and author of ”The Truth About Getting Sick in America,” discusses the outlook with his regular podcast guests: John McDonough, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health; Dr. Gail Wilensky, a health official under the first President Bush and Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The first answer to the “Is it doomed?” question comes from McDonough, who offers a clear “no.”

“I’m just dumbfounded by the media’s unbelievable hyperventilation about every small detail and the implications it has for the law as a whole and Obama’s presidency and the fate of the republic,” he says. “This is on track to open up affordable coverage for tens of millions of Americans starting Jan. 1. Once we get past Jan 1, i don’t believe there’s any retreat…and I think we will get through this difficult patch.”

Wilensky agrees that the law is not doomed, but adds:

“There is a problem, and it’s not just that people are having great difficulty accessing the Website, some of whom are at risk of losing their individually purchased insurance by the end of the December….The most serious issue is that there has been a real loss in trust in the president, and that is way more of an issue than the hiccups that have gone on with regard to the Website. When people don’t feel like they can trust what their president says, it has ramifications far greater than the Affordable Care Act. And wait until people discover the second part of the president’s pledge — ‘And if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor’ — isn’t true either, not for a lot of people. That’s the next shoe that’s going to fall.”

Listen to the full podcast above, and check out Dr. Johnson’s previous Obamacare podcasts here, here and here.

 

Dr. Tim Johnson Battles Obamacare Confusion In Podcast

Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired Medical Editor for ABC News, in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired Medical Editor for ABC News, in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The political fight over Obamacare is heating up yet again, with House Republicans threatening a government shutdown if their efforts to defund the sweeping federal health overhaul fail. And more Obamacare rubber is about to hit the road on Oct. 1, when state health insurance exchanges — insurance shopping marketplaces, like The Connector in Massachusetts — roll out. All this against the backdrop of lingering mass confusion over what Obamacare entails; surveys find that some 40 percent of Americans aren’t even sure that the health overhaul is the law. (It is.)

So there couldn’t be a better time to pilot a new podcast on health reform, starring Dr. Timothy Johnson, long familiar to ABC viewers as a lively and trustworthy voice on medicine. He’s also the author of “The Truth About Getting Sick in America.” Listen to or download the 25-minute podcast above, and check out the start of the script below:

Hello. I’m Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired Medical Editor for ABC News and current Senior Medical Contributor for ABC. It is my privilege to moderate today’s first session in a series designed to discuss health care reform in a way that will bypass the clouds of confusion generated by politicians and partisans. In other words, we will attempt to go beyond and behind the headlines and determine what is really happening and how it will affect all of us as American health care consumers. I am delighted to welcome as our panel three longtime friends who, more importantly, are also three of the leading experts on health care reform in this country.

• Dr. John McDonough, who has a Ph.D in Public Health Policy, is currently a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. He worked for the late Senator Edward Kennedy on the writing and passage of the Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare – and was deeply involved in the creation of the Massachusetts health reform law in 2006 – aka Romneycare.

• Dr. Gail Wilensky, a Ph.D in Economics, has been a senior fellow at Project Hope since 1993. She has served in many capacities for Republican administrations, including as head of Medicare and Medicaid under the first President Bush. She was also Chair of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission from 1997 to 2001.

• Dr. Drew Altman, a Ph.D in Political Science, is the founder and longtime President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a highly regarded source of impartial information about health care reform issues. Prior to this, he served in many health care administrative positions including Head of Human Services for the state of New Jersey under Governor Tom Keane and as a Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson foundation.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill attempting to defund Obamacare by tying it to the continuation of the government spending budget due to run out within days. Continue reading