Health Summit Cheat Sheet
A glossary of health reform words, phrases, and slogans.
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Malpractice reform. The rallying cry of Republican opponents of Obamacare. It's true that the Democrats, hemmed in by their dependence on campaign contributions from trial lawyers, have been reluctant to include much relief from malpractice suits in the health reform bill. It's also true that premiums for malpractice insurance aren't a major driver of health care costs. But malpractice lawsuits drive doctors crazy and probably cause them to practice defensive (i.e. unnecessary) medicine, which imposes costs of its own.
Massachusetts Connector. The precursor of health reform's insurance exchanges under the pioneering Massachusetts health reform that Republicans are loath to call Romneycare because they don't want to admit a leading conservative GOP presidential contender created Obamacare's blueprint.
McCaughey, Betsy. Former lieutenant governor of New York and health policy wonk who played a major role in sinking Hillarycare in 1994 and is trying to do the same for Obamacare. Famously sloppy with facts but still published with some regularity on the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
McConnell, Mitch. Senate Republican leader. He has not put forth any health reform bill, preferring not to pretend he wants any bill at all.
Medical loss ratio. The percentage of the premium dollar that health insurers, under health care reform, are required to spend on health care. In the Obama plan and the Senate bill, it's 85 percent for large group policies and 80 percent for nongroup individual policies.
Medicaid. A state-federal program providing health insurance to the indigent. To be expanded significantly under health care reform.
Medical inflation. The rate of inflation in medicine. Much greater than the general rate of inflation.
Medicare. A federal program providing health insurance to the elderly.
Medicare Advantage. A 2003 experiment allowing private management of Medicare. The theory was that it would be cheaper than government-managed Medicare. The opposite proved to be true, and private companies ended up lavishing extra benefits on customers at taxpayers' expense. These will be pared back under health care reform.
Medicare buy-in. A proposal briefly offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allowing people too young to be eligible for Medicare to purchase health insurance through the program. Shot down by Sen. Joe Lieberman.
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.