Sunday, August 16, 2009

Obama's Priorities for Reform

The intensifying debate over healthcare reform is forcing Barack Obama to reshape his arguments for reform. Why We Need Health Care Reform reflects Obama's latest talking points with an eye to capturing the support of mainstream voters, focusing on four key messages including 1) access to insurance, 2) cost savings, 3) efficiency and sustainability for Medicare and 4) consumer protections for health insurance:
  • "First, if you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of high-quality, affordable coverage for yourself and your family — coverage that will stay with you whether you move, change your job or lose your job.
  • Second, reform will finally bring skyrocketing health care costs under control, which will mean real savings for families, businesses and our government. We’ll cut hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid and in unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies that do nothing to improve care and everything to improve their profits.
  • Third, by making Medicare more efficient, we’ll be able to ensure that more tax dollars go directly to caring for seniors instead of enriching insurance companies. This will not only help provide today’s seniors with the benefits they’ve been promised; it will also ensure the long-term health of Medicare for tomorrow’s seniors. And our reforms will also reduce the amount our seniors pay for their prescription drugs.
  • Lastly, reform will provide every American with some basic consumer protections that will finally hold insurance companies accountable. A 2007 national survey actually shows that insurance companies discriminated against more than 12 million Americans in the previous three years because they had a pre-existing illness or condition. The companies either refused to cover the person, refused to cover a specific illness or condition or charged a higher premium."
Gone from the pitch? The public option and investment in health care information technology.

The public option is no longer included in the bill being negotiated by the Senate Finance committee. In his Friday Town Hall meeting in Montana, Obama mentioned Committee Chair Max Baucus by name some 8 times, - saying Baucus is "working tirelessly to make sure the American people get a fair deal" and is "committed to getting this done." The bi-partisan negotiators are getting heat from progressives, so "Obama’s embrace seemed designed to provide him some political cover to keep those bipartisan negotiations going in September."

And Health Information Technology? It's already funded through ARRA and incidental to the current debate.

No comments: