Health Summit Cheat Sheet
A glossary of health reform words, phrases, and slogans.
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Benefit tiers. The different levels of health benefits to be offered, under health reform, to purchasers through a government-regulated exchange. (See "Exchanges.") In the Senate bill and the Obama proposal, these range from a "Bronze plan" (minimal), to a "Silver plan" (basic), to a "Gold plan" (better), to a "Platinum plan" (best). There is also a catastrophic plan for young people (see "Young invincibles").
Best practices. The health reform bill mandates the collection of national data on which medical procedures have been shown statistically to work best. Eventually, it's assumed, cost savings will be achieved by encouraging doctors to follow these "best practices," but the bill doesn't venture very far into this controversial territory, and there are sound clinical reasons to tread lightly.
Bipartisanship. When used by Republicans, a synonym for "Democratic surrender." When used by Democrats, a synonym for "incorporating into the health reform bill ideas previously favored by Republicans but failing to win Republican votes."
Bishops. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It won't support any health reform bill that lacks its favored language on denying unsubsidized abortions to people who purchase private health insurance through a new government-regulated exchange. The Obama proposal lacks that language. (See "Stupak amendment.")
Blue dogs. Conservative Democrats. They either oppose health reform or support it only reluctantly. If health reform fails, it will largely be their fault.
Boehner, John. House Republican leader from Ohio and author of the only official GOP health care plan, which would extend health coverage to only 3 million people (as against 31 million in the Obama proposal).
British model. The socialized health care system in the United Kingdom. Often cited by opponents of health reform, because of its middling track record. Seldom cited by proponents for the same reason.
Brown, Scott. The reason this health care summit is taking place. A Massachusetts Republican, he captured Sen. Ted Kennedy's former seat, denying Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate majority. Brown opposes Obamacare, even though as recently as last summer he seemed to support it, comparing it favorably to the Massachusetts health reform on which it's modeled (which Brown still supports). He is not invited to the Blair House meeting.
Bundled payment. Sending the patient or insurer a single bill for a given procedure rather than sending multiple bills from one or more doctors and the hospital. The goal is to simplify billing and to make a procedure's actual cost more transparent. The health reform bill would create pilot programs aimed at eventually moving taxpayer-funded Medicare and Medicaid toward a bundled payment system.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.
Photograph of President Obama by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.