A glossary of words, phrases, and slogans to be uttered at the televised White House health summit.

How to fix health policy.
Feb. 26 2010 3:40 PM

Health Summit Cheat Sheet

A glossary of health reform words, phrases, and slogans.

Click here for a guide to following the health care reform story online.

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Medicare Part A. The hospital-insurance part of Medicare.

Medicare Part B. The doctor-insurance part of Medicare.

Medicare Part C. See "Medicare Advantage."

Medicare Part D. The drug-insurance part of Medicare.


Medicare surtax. Under the Obama plan, a surtax of 0.9 percent would be added to the existing 1.45 percent Medicare tax for families with income above $250,000. It would also add a corresponding 2.9 percent tax on investments for families in the same income bracket.

Moral hazard. In health reform, the idea that if I give you health insurance you'll go to the doctor too much. Undermined by the reality that if I don't give you health insurance you won't go to the doctor enough, with the result that you'll get sicker and your medical treatment will become very expensive.


Nelson, Ben. Dithering final Senate Democrat to come out in favor of health care reform. Pleasant surprise: He is not invited to the Blair House meeting.

Nuclear option (constitutional option). A way to get around the Senate rule that says you can't change the rules governing filibusters unless you have 67 votes, which is more than you need to filibuster. The vice president declares that Senate rules cannot be imposed from one Congress to another (each one runs two years), and then calls for a simple majority vote to change the rules, invoking usual parliamentary practice and the U.S. Constitution. Sen. Harry Reid won't go near it, alas. The Republicans seriously considered using the nuclear option five years ago to end judicial filibusters, and the Republican Policy Committe produced a document (still online!) saying the option was perfectly legitimate. Now that they're in the minority, they say the nuclear option is a thing of the devil.