Jordan Rau’s stories have been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, and on npr.org and nbcnews.com, among other media outlets. He came to KHN when it was started in 2009 from the Los Angeles Times, where he covered California government and health care politics in Sacramento. He previously reported for Newsday in New York, the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire and two newspapers in Vermont. | Contact: JordanR@kff.org | @JordanRau
"Ad Audit" is KHN's new feature examining advertising campaigns designed to influence the health reform debate. In this campaign, called "What If?", Health Care for America Now, an advocacy group funded by unions and other organizations favoring major health care changes, pushes one of the most controversial elements of the Democratic-backed legislation: a new government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.
As Congress searches for funds to pay for health legislation, flexible spending accounts, which allow consumers to use pre-tax dollars to pay for medical bills, emerge as a possible source. The result is a renewed debate over whether the accounts are a legitimate way to help people cover costs or are a tax shelter for the affluent.
Labor leaders are worried as congressional Democrats weigh various health care overhaul proposals. Unions oppose taxation of employee benefits and want a strong public insurance plan to compete with private insurers, but some Democrats say they're open to compromises on both issues to attract Republicans and fiscal conservatives in their own party. Unions have pledged to spend $80 million in their campaign to influence legislation.
A battle over whether to build a new hospital in northeastern New Jersey illustrates the formidable obstacles confronting President Obama and Congress as they try to mine savings from the $2.5 trillion health care system.