Monday, June 15, 2009

Update: National Healthcare. Now or Never!

Monday, June 15, 2009
Obama Speech to the AMA - Case for National Healthcare... forces are engaged!

Let'em hear your position!
Click on the Barking Dog in left column of this blog!


.*** And We're Off: Over the past few weeks, Washington has been girding for a policy fight over health-care reform. And today -- with President Obama's speech to the American Medical Association in Chicago at 12:15 pm ET -- we can safely say that fight truly gets underway. In his address, per an administration official, Obama will say that reform can't wait; that fixing America's health system is the most important thing for the country's long-term fiscal health; that (as he mentioned in Green Bay) he wants to keep what works and fix what's broken; that while reforming health care will save the nation money in the long term, it will increase costs in the short run; and that he supports a public/government insurance option to keep costs low. Of course, that final point -- on the public/government option -- remains the most politically divisive part of the debate. Last week, the American Medical Association said it opposed such an approach, although it later backtracked somewhat, saying that a "government-run health care plan is certainly not the only option on the table, and there are alternatives we are actively considering." Also, with the president hinting at some support for curbing medical malpractice lawsuits, it'll be interesting to see if Obama makes any mention of this issue in the speech today.

*** Feels Like October 2008, Doesn't It? But the true reason why the fight over health-care reform begins today is all the other activity besides Obama's speech. Supporting the president, the liberal group Americans United for Change has a TV ad running on DC cable (read: a small buy) that cites a recent public poll showing that 62% support Obama's attempt to reform the nation's health-care system. "If the Republicans in Congress ignore what 62% of us support," the ad states, "you gotta wonder: Who are they listening to?" Yet pre-butting Obama's speech, the Republican National Committee holds a conference call at 11:15 am ET with Georgia Rep. Tom Price, who's a doctor. And the SEIU also is holding a conference call at 4:00 pm ET with physicians who support a public/government option. Be sure not to miss this piece from the AP, which looks at the buzzwords the GOP is using in this fight -- like "rationing" and "socialized medicine."

*** Lots Of Room To Compromise: Staying with health care, Vice President Biden appears to have made two bits of news on "Meet the Press" yesterday. First, he didn't rule out the president signing a bill that included some taxing of health-care benefits. Biden did say the administration disagreed with that approach, but he wouldn't draw a line in the sand about signing a "comprehensive" bill that included that option. Second, the public/government insurance option is a truly subjective measure. One person's public option is another person's "co-op" idea, which is another person's Medicare-plus. Anyway, there's clearly room to compromise on this issue, too. And given all the Sunday press the Kent Conrad "co-op" option got, it seems his method has the most momentum. But as one commentator asked yesterday: If it is such a good idea, why not go ahead and start the co-op idea now since it doesn't cost anything?

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