Obama News Conference Thoughts

I missed the first 15 minutes or so because of dinner. It wouldn’t have been a problem except for the fact that some kitchen construction is ongoing at home, so I don’t have access to a TV while I eat like I have had in the past.

And it doesn’t really seem like I missed that much either before or after I tuned in. President Obama said some interesting things about paying for healthcare reform, as well as his belief that deficit reduction is contingent on healthcare reform, and even that a millionaire’s tax might be help pay the freight. What I wish I heard was something about what exactly he envisions in health reform. About all I think we got was a sense that he wants a system where doctors and people make decisions- not insurance companies or government bureaucrats- and that’s really not something anyone debates. Also, he likes the idea of healthcare mirroring noted hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic, which apparently have policies in place to provide top-notch care for less cost than you might expect. Plus, he’s for a public option because he believes it would keep private ensurers honest (as do quite a few Democrats in Congress). Not much on how it would achieve that goal though, although we did get a hint that it might legitimately offer similar benefits to what federal government employees can receive (including the President and members of Congress). Could the federal government really deliver on that? Could subsidies be restricted so that private competitors aren’t driven out of business?

Even without much of his own vision, I think the President would have been more effective if he’d commented on some of the things which are actually going through Congress right now. In fact, so does at least one Democratic aide in Congress. He could still say that he is open-minded on what’s out there, but we’d all have a better sense of parameters.

Just my take. But the exceptionally perceptive Chris Cillizza couldn’t find much to draw from the President’s remarks besides the idea that “The country has major problems that everyone has a stake in.” It’s also clear that it’s not going to happen before the August recess. Fellow WaPo reporter Alec MacGillis finds that despite pledges that no sacrifices would be needed in President Obama’s remarks, many healthcare experts say that reform will require some very tough decisions even after implementation.

Here are the President’s words in full.

Michael Maslansky, a noted communications/research strategist, says his friend sees an interesting comparison between Obama with healthcare and Bush with Iraq. Decide for yourself.

Three Fish Limit finds a piece from Forbes by Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution and Stanford University Medical Center which claims rationing is among the only ways for a government to cut healthcare costs. Plus, innovation would ultimately be stifled. Instead, he suggests empowering the consumer with money and choice- which he really should have fleshed out a bit more. Another blogger also thinks some unsavory elements of reform aren’t being discussed.

On the other hand, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub finds a piece defending the value of universal coverage- including the public option- namely, when you actually need it.

Plenty of other stuff out there in the blogosphere on this hot button issue.

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4 Responses to “Obama News Conference Thoughts”

  1. andrea Says:

    On the subject of health care: what would be so wrong with driving the private insurers out of the business? Aren’t they just middle men?
    Insurance companies simply collect premiums and pay to providers while keeping a hefty share for themselves.
    How about if that share were employed to insure Americans with no insurance?
    34000 uinsured Americans could be insured with the salary of 122.700,000 of the CEO of United Health Group

  2. GoUSA! Says:

    YES support Healthcare reform, Obama is so… Sharp! A government plan that’s 40 percent cheaper would cost around $286 per month — a $190 discoun from the private Health Ins. The government plan, though, wouldn’t exclude us for preexisting conditions. It wouldn’t randomly deny us coverage. It wouldn’t conspire to cancel our coverage as soon as we got sick. It wouldn’t jack up our premium for no reason. And we could take it with us wherever we go.

    However, the public option would function similarly to Medicare which carries a $96 monthly premium per person for a married couple making less than $170,000 a year. There’s a $135 deductible and a 20 percent co-insurance. (Incidentally, the absolute most expensive Medicare premium is $308 per person — paid by couples earning a massive $500,000 a year.)

    But the public option isn’t just about the low premium, it’s about the security. It’s about knowing that you’re paying into a system that will always be there.

    No matter how the Republicans, Blue Dogs and the establishment media try to come at this thing, they’re only really left with arguments that are easily shot down, arguments that inadvertently endorse the most positive aspects of healthcare reform, or arguments that are just insane.

  3. Danimal Says:

    I don’t think just having government-run insurance would work well. Why wouldn’t it eventually have issues with waste or price increases that seem indefensible to the public (with Congress unlikely to intervene so much as grandstand)? Amtrak, like Medicare and Medicaid, has government backing and isn’t really known for being well-run (plus the aforementioned healthcare programs will need refinements no matter how this debate ends in order to deal with projected future growth). That said, I’ve heard the idea of expanding/reforming Medicare as part of a few different types of solutions.

    On the other hand, could a public option that runs a bit more like the US Postal Service, which currently loses money but gets no subsidy and clearly does have competition for non-letter shipments, perhaps be less of a risk to taxpayers? Assuming, of course, that the government would learn from the USPS’ foibles and make this service far better. Hmm…

    Anyway, there’s also news this afternoon that the Senate won’t vote on a bill until after the August recess, though the Finance Committee may complete its work before then. Link follows: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSTRE56M52G20090723

  4. andrea Says:

    The USPS has been deeply affected by the internet as its primary line of business (first class mail) has lost a lot of flow. So they are coping with that. Amtrak as low ridership l too (except for some corridors) because most people are still enamoured with their autos. So, those two comparisons may not be valid.
    Medicare has the potential to be the model for a national health system, with all the money now going into premiums paid to private carriers going into that national fund. Most people don’t seem to realize that they are already paying dearly for their health insurance and that going into a national public pool can only mean savings, even when EVERYONE is covered. That is a principle of insurance “science” if it can be called that: the larger the pool the lower the risk.


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