Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Detroit News, the Guardian, the American Prospect, and TomDispatch.com, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndrewKroll.

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The Forgotten Half of Healthcare Reform

| Tue Oct. 13, 2009 7:03 AM EDT

With the Senate Finance Committee set to vote today on its long-awaited health-care bill, a number of medical experts have criticized the legislation, as well as other committees' bills, for failing to seriously address the country's health delivery system. As I recently wrote, the pitched debate over reforming healthcare has largely focused on the sexier issue of reforming insurance, i.e., creating a public option, co-ops, fine-tuning the system in place, etc. Meanwhile, our broken delivery system—in which costs soar higher, preventive care is marginalized, and doctors get paid on fee-for-service basis—continues to crumble.

Over the past couple days, doctors and policy experts have come out to urge lawmakers to tackle delivery problems before it's too late. "The discussion has gone from health care reform to insurance and payment reform," Toby Cosgrove, president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, recently told a reporter for The New York Times's "Prescriptions" blog. Cosgrove added, "We're not really reforming the system. We are reforming how we pay for it. It's certainly all about politics right now." In addition, four former US surgeons general released a statement on Saturday saying our "unsustainable" health-care system is in need of "reform that prioritizes prevention, preventive care and health literacy to encourage healthier lifestyles and we must also lower costs in order to make quality health care affordable for every single person who needs it."

The Government's Next Housing Bubble

| Fri Oct. 9, 2009 7:37 AM EDT

Is the next housing bubble already on the horizon? And is the federal government the one inflating it?

That's what lawmakers in Washington fear, the Los Angeles Times reports. As private mortgage insurers fall by the wayside in this dismal, bottomed-out housing market, the Federal Housing Administration—the government's mortgage insurance company—has stepped in to maintain lending to homeowners. Reports the Times, the FHA insured 21.5 percent of all new mortgages in 2008, (up from less than 6 percent in 2007), including nearly 2 million mortgages worth at least $328 billion. This year, the agency essentially backstopped the housing market.

But is the FHA doing too much to prop up the market by lending to people who could be at risk for default and foreclosure? The catch with FHA loans is that little payment is required up front to get the loan—which means borrowers who face hardship, job losses, or a plunge in home values, are more likely to walk away from their homes. Then the FHA is stuck with worthless mortgages, eating millions in losses. (Sound familiar?)

Vote Taliban in 2010?

| Tue Oct. 6, 2009 7:44 PM EDT

Instead of fighting the Taliban, why not encourage them to run for office? Tell them to form their own political party, and they could officially govern many of the local Pashtun areas already under their control. Think of it: "Vote Taliban in 2010."

That’s one of the proposed solutions offered in a Financial Times op-ed on Tuesday with some fresh ideas on how the West can best exit Afghanistan. In a bloody conflict where tangible solutions are as rare as authentic election ballots, the op-ed’s authors—Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's former ambassador in Washington, and Anatol Lieven, a professor at King's College London—offer Western leaders some food for thought in avoiding a disastrous exit, and a framework for withdrawal that hasn't figured much into US debates on the issue.

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