October 2008 MedBytes: Presidential Health Care Policy

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Tex Med . 2008;104(10):64.

Health care is one of the most hotly debated issues surrounding the presidential election this year. Some physician groups and health care organizations have set up sites online to house comprehensive campaign information, including policy comparisons, commentaries, and in-depth examinations of topics relevant to organized medicine.

American Academy of Family Physicians
Striving to bring family medicine perspective to health policy in the 2008 presidential campaigns, the American Academy of Family Physicians has created a section on its Web site,  www.aafp.org , to help members become informed and active. From the home page, click on the Members tab and choose the Policy & Advocacy tab. Select the  2008 Presidential Campaign  link. Helpful resources include information on the candidates' health care policies, a side-by-side comparison of the candidates' positions, a link to the state governors' endorsements, and a list of questions to ask candidates at campaign events. Questions cover the following topics: seniors and Medicare; health care reform; health care coverage; electronic health records; workforce development; and medical liability. The PresidentialRX link will direct you to an initiative of the Health Care Solutions Group, a nonpartisan health policy institute affiliated with Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The group aims to show voters how the presidential candidates' proposals on health care will affect them.

American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians (ACP) has developed several tools to help you examine the presidential candidates' health care plans and to show you how to get involved in this election. Click on the Advocacy link at the top of the home page,  www.acponline.org , and select Where We Stand. Choose Election 2008. This  section  houses a comparison of the candidates' health care policies, information on the internist's professional responsibility to advocate in the public policy arena, and an analysis of issues important to ACP in evaluating the candidates' health care plans. From the ACP's election site, you can learn how to get involved with the  Key Contact Program , a grassroots effort that furthers communication with congressional members on subjects of importance to medical students, internists, and their patients.

The Commonwealth Fund
The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that promotes a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults. On the foundation's Web site,  www.commonwealthfund.org , you can view videos of Commonwealth Fund leaders discussing the candidates' plans for health care reform. The foundation has also created a number of reports and publications that examine the candidates' health care reform proposals, the public's view on health care reform, the candidates' stance on promoting a high-performance health system, principles for achieving health care reform, and health care opinion leaders' views on the presidential candidates' health care reform plans.

Kaiser Family Foundation
The Kaiser Family Foundation has launched a new Web site,  www.health08.org , to collect and analyze all the relevant information on health care proposals of the 2008 presidential candidates. At this one-stop-shop, you can access comprehensive, up-to-date news coverage on the campaign and read detailed information on health care positions and proposals of the presidential candidates. The site also features the foundation's surveys on the public's perception of the health care issues and links to studies and resources from other research organizations. Webcasts and podcasts highlight the health care debate, feature an ask-the-experts program on health care reform, and include a policy adviser and issue panel. Click on the  Analysis tab  for Kaiser election resources and information on the uninsured, Medicaid and SCHIP, state health reform, and health care costs and trends in private coverage. The  Resources tab  will point you toward policy tools; campaigns, initiatives, and proposals; state health reform; and calendars and events.

Elsewhere on the Web
For additional information on health care proposals in the 2008 election and what they mean, check out these links:

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest to Texas physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. If you know of some interesting medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, e-mail  Crystal Conde . Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the Texas Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.


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