Thursday, June 11, 2009

Notable and Quotable - Two Major Reform Issues

The health care debate is boiling down to two major issues.

One, paying for a public plan, and selling it in the face of mind-boggling federal deficits, this year alone a record $1.75 trillion, and a projected health cost of $1.75 trillion over the next ten years.

Two, convincing the public, 70% of whom have private plans, that a public plan is necessary and will not interfere with their private plan and choice of doctors.

The stakes are enormous. Domestically, Obama has staked his presidency on the health care issue. And in the foreign affairs arena, he argues America’s ability to compete globally depends on bringing down health costs.

Here are notable quotes, drawn from June 10 and 11 press commentary, on health care debate, to show the magnitude of the issues.

The great unknown of the health care debate as if unfolds in the months ahead is whether the current political landscape will prove more hospitable to mandates, cost controls, and tax increases – all measures that helped doom the Clinton plan.

Shaligah Murray, “On Health Care, Congress Must Navigate Tricky Political Terrain,” Washington Post, June 10, 2009

The blunt fact is that most Americans are satisfied with their health insurance and don’t believe major legislation will improve things for them.

Michael Barone, “Qualms and Questions about Obama’s Health Plan,” Real Clear Politics, June 11, 2009

The goal of the Obama White House is to come up with a health plan that can attract bipartisan support...There is good reason for that preference. When you are changing the way over one-sixth of the American economy is organized and altering life for patients, doctors, hospitals, and insurers, you need that kind of strong launch if the result is to survive the inevitable vagaries of the shakedown plan.

David Broder, “The ‘Rock’ in Health Reform,” Washington Post, June 11, 2009

If Democrats enact a public-options health insurance program, America is on the way to becoming a European-style welfare state. To prevent this from happening, there are five arguments Republicans must make.

The first is, it’s unnecessary.

Second, a public option will undercut private insurers and pass the tab to taxpayers and health providers. Medicare pays hospitals 71% and doctors 81% of what private payers pay. Who pays the rest?

Third, government-run health insurance would crater the private insurance market, forcing Americans into the government plan.

Fourth, the public option is far too expensive... as much as $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.

Fifth, the public options put the government firmly in the middle of the relationship between patients and their doctors

Karl Rove, “How to Stop Socialized Medicine,” Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2009

As the health care debate heats up, the American Medical Association is letting Congress know it will oppose the creation of government-sponsored insurance plan. The A.M.A. says, “The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict public chaise by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans.

The medical association said, “It cannot support any plan design that mandates physician participation…Many physicians may not have the capability to accept the influx of new patients that would result from such a mandate. Federal programs have never required physicians or other providers to partiticapte but rather such participation has been on a voluntary basis.”

Robert Pear, “Doctors Group Opposes Public Insurance Plan,” New York Times, June 10, 2009

When President Obama touches down today in Green Bay, Wisc., he will be landings in one of the highest-value health communities in the nation, a city that by numerous measures has managed to control costs while steadily improving health outcomes…

Richard Cooper, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, says he thinks variations identified by Dartmouth Research - a discrepancy due to enormous hospitals expenses – are often related to patients’ economic status. States such as Wisconsin have fewer medical expenses because they are predominantly white and middle class.”

Cici Connolly, “Obama Administration Finds Health-Care Model in Green Bay,” Washington Post, June 11, 2009

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