Sunday, August 16, 2009

At the Precipice? What Happened to 'Comprehensive Health Care Reform'?

I'm intrigued by the increasing emphasis of the president and top members of his administration on "health insurance reform." Robert Gibbs, at the video, in an interview with Harry Smith on Face the Nation, concedes that Democrats are backing away from the "public option." Meanwhile, he hammers the point about passing "health insurance reform":

Yet, a look back at the administration's earlier language finds a much more sweeping agenda for "comprehensive reform." Here's the president, in his first speech to a joint session of Congress on February 24th, announcing the need to move this country forward:

None of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy. But this is America. We don’t do what’s easy. We do what is necessary to move this country forward.

For that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care.

This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, one million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it’s one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.

Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold.

Already, we have done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last thirty days than we have in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for eleven million American children whose parents work full-time. Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time. And it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that is one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.

This budget builds on these reforms. It includes an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform – a down-payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. It’s a commitment that’s paid for in part by efficiencies in our system that are long overdue. And it’s a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come.

Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that is why I’m bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.

I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.
The president speaks of "health care reform" and "comprehensive health care reform." The message isn't just reforming insurance markets; it's to "conquer disease" and find "a cure for cancer," to make the "largest investment in preventive care" and to bring "costs under control."

In June, in
an address to the American Medical Association, the president announced his broad ambition that "health care reform is the single most important thing we can do for America's long-term fiscal health." The AMA speech marked the administration launch of the major legislative push for comprehensive reform.

By July, though, during his
weekly radio address on health care, the president had begun to shift toward the "insurance reform" angle (after months of grass roots tea party activism). But he still implies grand designs in denouncing those attacking his program as socialist:
Those who oppose reform will also tell you that under our plan, you won’t get to choose your doctor – that some bureaucrat will choose for you. That’s also not true. Michelle and I don’t want anyone telling us who our family’s doctor should be – and no one should decide that for you either. Under our proposals, if you like your doctor, you keep your doctor. If you like your current insurance, you keep that insurance. Period, end of story.

Finally, opponents of health reform warn that this is all some big plot for socialized medicine or government-run health care with long lines and rationed care. That’s not true either. I don’t believe that government can or should run health care. But I also don’t think insurance companies should have free reign to do as they please."
Yet, by yesterday, in Grand Junction, Obama was shifting gears, attacking insurance firms and markets. The president argued that Americans were being "held hostage by health insurance companies that deny them coverage, or drop their coverage, or charge fees that they can't afford for care that they desperately need."

also backed away from the "robust public option" that's been a centerpiece of the plan:

The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of healthcare reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it ... And by the way, it's both the right and the left that have become so fixated on this that they forget everything else.
As we've seen all this weekend, now the administration's all about "health insurance reforms" that will provide "consumer choices" and "competition."

It's quite a dramatic change, rhetorically, and it shows the huge public scale of resistance to Obama's policy hubris. But I'm still not convinced the administration is defeated. Rick Moran argues that ObamaCare is on the "
precipice of failure." But now with the new Democratic meme converging on "insurance co-ops," which will include "nonprofit insurance cooperatives," I'm again confident the left is practicing the classic Leninist strategy of one step backwards and two steps forward.

See also, Fox News, "Public Option Losing Steam? White House Open to Health Care Reform Without Government Plan." Also, check Memeorandum.


MarySue said...

I think the change from health care reform to health insurance reform came as a result of polling like this from Gallup that showed broad barriers to health care reform. I am sure there is internal polling the WH had to suggest they were going to have a difficult time making what could be perceived as "massive changes" to health care when the public was already screaming "slow down." I read also the WH believed they had internal polling to suggest that public opinion could be swayed with a focus on health insurance, hence the demonize the insurers strategy.

The polling since has shown the public more leery of government than insurers which certainly must have been a shock to the WH. Though I think the public option has been on the chopping block for quite a while, the WH may have defended in part to energize their base and a somewhat arrogant belief they might persuade the middle a public option is nothing to be frightened of. I still believe the President would fall back in that direction in a heartbeat given the opening.

They can certainly do plenty of damage without a public option and all pushback they receive from the right, but more importantly the middle will lead to either a much more watered-down reform or legislation that leans further to the right than our votes in Congress could otherwise leverage.

Brittanicus said...

The Special Interest lobbyists are spending $millions, spilling their lies to the American people. So many lies that they have likely disrupted any chance of Universal health care. They have lied so much about the Canada system, and paid off so many people to give birth to their lies, that the gullible population believes them. The wealthy insurers want no change, so they can ring every dollar out of a system.wrought with fraud and corruption In the long run cost will explode and only the upper class will have the money to buy care. Lose your job and even those people will join the millions out of work unable to pay for medical care for their family.
The Status Quo are selling propaganda and downright lies, across the TV, radio bandwidths. LIES! Lies and more lies about both Health care and illegal immigration. The facts are that President Obama has an objective of introducing a Canadian and European type single payer system.

In truth it's like a nationwide--MEDICARE--like all senior citizens receive now. It's only difference their will be--NO CO-PAYS, DEDUCTIONS, NO PREMIUMS AND NO PRE -EXISTING CONDITIONS. The Special interest lobbyists, who work for the wealthy health care industry, are using every means possible to derail any kind of Universal health care. We must remember the British/English, French, German, Danish and other have been well accepted by their population for decades, with no worries about bankruptcy or Debt collectors calling. My health care in England, was first class when I lived in there, without financial worries and no distractions from profiteering insurance companies.As a child and a young man I choose my doctor and received eye and dentistry visits free of charges.

I NEVER HAD TO WAIT FOR A SURGERY FOR MONTHS, AS THE SPECIAL INTEREST LOBBY TRIES TO IMPLY? EMERGENCY PROCEDURES WERE DEALT WITH IMMEDIATELY. One should remember that there a large majority of nefarious special interest groups, who enjoy the status quo and will fight with propaganda and lies against their profiteering. Another place where I lived was Australia, where the health care system is equally as great as England. One year I was employed by Australian Main Roads as a junior surveyor and stepped into a fire ants nest, ending up in hospital. Once again my cost was--ZERO--because I paid into the system. There is something very calming, without the worry of billing statements pouring through the mailbox demanding money and threatening you with an attorney.

Brittanicus said...

Since the inception of the European common market and the directive of open borders for cheap labor pouring into the industrialized nations, they have been overwhelmed by the impoverished needing health care. Such conditions didn't exist before the 1960's, as the their was no mass immigration and waiting periods. In America today and since the newest waves of legal and illegal immigration, costs to medicate these people have sky rocketed who have never paid one penny into the system. Each previous government never have restricted immigration, but allowed taxpayers to pay for their health care and welfare benefits. Each year approximately 1.5 million new immigrants are granted work visas and many become public charges.

Now Obama is insisting on yet another AMNESTY, which will be even costlier to the American taxpayers, so says the Heritage foundation. American taxpayers should not have to subsidize US businesses, which has been happening for years? A large majority of pariah corporate executives, do not want any restrictions on foreign national workers, that is why they have tried to kill a mandated E-Verify identity data base, to extract all illegal immigrants from the working environment.

That SANCTUARY STATES like California must rescind illegal immigrant refuge policies. That President Obama's health care renewal plan—WILL--attract millions more impoverished people from around the world. That they can join with the 20 plus million already here, to get free medical care under the Democrats law now passing through Congress.

Observe this PETITION to STOP any health care to illegal immigrants at:

Dave said...

This has not, is not now, nor ever will be about health care "reform" in any way.

If any of you out there actually believe that Pelosi, Reid, Obama, Waxman, or any other member of government actually gives a flying fornication about your health care, then you are a government-educated idiot, and will rightly deserve to have your freedoms and liberties trampled all over by the imposition of any federal government "reform" plan that is passed, as no matter what version makes it into law, the ultimate result will be nothing short of the total Nazification of this once great (and free) nation.

If you do not understand that, then you have not read any part of the proposed bills floating around.

This is the same federal government that has driven Medicare, Medicaid, SS, and (insert your favorite entitlement program here________) into the ground, and is damn close to pushing this country into a total, devastating financial collapse.

Hell, this is the EXACT same federal government that couldn't even run a f'ing whorehouse in Nevada.

How could any sane American actually believe, even for a second, that these exact same incompetent boobs are going to be able to run Medicare's ugly sister any better?

The only reform that has any chance of success is to get the illegals the hell out of this country, and get the federal government the hell out of health care completely.

Should that fail to happen, kiss your freedoms and liberties, as well as this country, good-bye forever.


Unknown said...

health benefits offered by morning walk
The secret of longevity for a major section of people who are ‘ octogenarians ‘ – That is People who are in their eighties would be morning walk which was done for decades. People have nowadays gradually started realizing the importance of morning walk in shaping the health of human body. But still there are umpteen number of people who do not unwind themselves from their mechanical lives. Technological advancements have made life more simpler in all respects but we humans must also pay the price for it if we do not allocate time in our hectic schedule for some physical work like walking or visiting Gym’s. Around fifteen years ago, TV remotes were rarely found in houses and hence we used to walk at least for changing channels. But now ? Sitting hours together in front of the idiot box, continuously feeding the stomach with snacks or sweets, leading to obesity. If you question a doctor on the health benefits offered by walking he would give you a long lecture. Let us see some of the benefits.
1) It is a stress buster which instills a feeling of freshness to the body as well as mind.
2) blood circulation is promoted, reducing greatly the chances of high blood pressure.
3) Checks obesity by burning unnecessary calories of fat in the body.
4) It makes the joints more strong and hence people would be less susceptible to Orthopedic troubles associated with old age.
5) Chases away neck pain and back pains.
6) If you go walk in a park surrounded by trees, you will inhale more fresh air, containing higher concentration of oxygen, thereby bringing down breathing problems too.
7) Keeps sugar levels under control.

Dennis said...

If one is really serious about dealing with the insurance companies then one should attack where the biggest costs are: filling out the large numbers of forms needed and the attendant cost associated with that.
Most healthcare insurers ask the same questions so why not have one form that covers all of the requisite information. It could be digitized, as most records are now, and much of the needed data could be done automatically added to the forms.
The same could be said for federal government forms.
Cut down on the paperwork and the people required to fill out this mostly unnecessary paperwork and doctors have more time for patients, less of their time and money is wasted on things that are peripheral, and you can really lower costs.
Then do tort reform. No other country allows this kind of legal parasitical actions that occur in this country.
Just those two things would make healthcare in this country affordable to the vast majority of people because you have removed the two most costly items. A very large cost component of any healthcare is the insurance cost doctors have to have in order to protect themselves from lawyers.
The solutions to fixing what is one of the best healthcare systems in the world does not need any added federal government involvement at all. It fact removing much of its onerous regulations would leave healthcare where it belongs, between the doctor and the patient.

Jerry the medical sales recruiter said...

Obama shifts gears anytime he feels the public opinion going against his latest rhetoric. What is very obvious is that he has not really reserached the issue to the point necessary to move forward. His "throw it on the wall and hope it sticks" approach to reform is dangerous.

And, what about all of the jobs which will be lost to Obamacare? In my industry, medical sales, we have already lost 20,000 medical device sales jobs in preparation for "reform". Learn more at