It's not exactly major health reform, not universal health insurance, not even anything on the scale of the 2003 Medicare bill, but Congress is starting to put some legislation together on health reform. The new patient safety bill sets up a system for error reporting. It may be voluntary and underfunded, but at least it's a response to something healthcare policy wonks know has been a problem for decades. Ditto with the forthcoming legislation on data interoperability. Love it or hate it, the Senate is clearly going to take another run at malpractice, and there's also "reform" of the laws around state mandates for health insurance in the Associate Health Plan legislation that's coming out of the House.
In addition, Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) is proposing to mainstream pay-for-performance as the way Medicare pays physicians. None of this is too significant for the overall health system, although individual laws will have an impact on different players in the system. But the activity signals that Congress realizes that there are fundamental problems in our healthcare system, even though we are an election or two away from having the real stomach to do anything about it. - Matthew