Obama election raises big questions for health finance

Well, the votes are in, and we have a new President-elect. Whether or not you supported the election of Barack Obama, few would disagree that we're likely to see some changes in the health finance environment once his administration hits full swing. The question is, what changes?

More importantly, perhaps, we're likely to see broader health insurance coverage for the uninsured, possibly along the Massachusetts model. Moody's is predicting that the expansion Obama proposes could add $100 billion to $200 billion to provider coffers, something that certainly won't be painful.

Possibly, Obama may back away some from the consumer-directed health plan model, which has been closely identified with the the Bush administration. Certainly, it's an idea that's still relatively new and has faced many attacks from the left.

Perhaps due to his history as a community organizer who's seen children in poverty and uninsured, my guess is that Obama will dig deeper to fund S-CHIP than the previous presidential administration.

One interesting question, meanwhile, is where he'll stand on the issue of what non-profit hospitals must do to justify their tax exemptions. His wife Michelle held a senior executive position at a Chicago non-profit that caught some heat on this issue, so it's likely he understands it well. My gut tells me that at minimum, he won't be trying to rein in non-profit hawks like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), whose pursuit of non-profits that he considers to be doing too little charitable work is still ferocious.

Readers, what other changes are you expecting from the Obama administration? Drop me a note and let me know--I'd love to hear your opinion. - Anne