Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Obama's Health Reform Steep Hill Reclimbed

Back in April, 2009, when I was writing Obama, Doctors, and Health Reform, I predicted Obama’s plan would fail to bring about universal coverage.

Here is what I said,

“Debts incurred by the economic stimuli package and staggering federal deficits ($1.75 trillion for 2010 alone) may be too steep a hill to climb for Obama and those who crave universal coverage or single-payer in the near term. Whether the Obama administration will be an epiphany or a Sisyphus in health care is unknown.”

“In any event, under any circumstances, I don’t foresee how Obama in the next few years can create 3.5 million jobs, redesign the health system, save the auto industry, reinvent the energy sector, revitalize the banks, and reform education with one swipe of his magic wand.”

Well, I’m here to report I may have been right, at least if you believe the polls and Susan Page’s USA Today piece today, September 15, , which goes, in part, as follows,

Health care bill has steep hill to climb

By Susan Page, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — President Obama's long, hot summer is about to turn into a chilly fall.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken after the president's dramatic address to a joint session of Congress last week shows Americans almost evenly divided over passing a health care bill and inclined to think it would make some of the system's vexing problems worse, not better.

The findings underscore the steep climb ahead for the White House in trying to push a health care plan through the House and Senate during the next few weeks. Some major provisions, including how to pay for it and whether to include a government-run plan as an option, haven't been settled.

The president's speech apparently failed to galvanize public opinion in the way the White House had hoped. While it drew a national television audience estimated by Nielsen at more than 32 million people, there's little evidence in the survey that it changed minds.

The USA Today/Gallup Poll of 1003 adults indicated 50% of adults were for Obama’s health care bill and 47% against. In answer to the question, will it accomplish his goals, that is, expanding coverage to nearly all Americans without raising taxes on the middle class or lowering the quality of care to those who have coverage, 38% said “Yes,” and 60% said “No.”

Obama’s problem depends on whom you ask.

• If you ask T.R. Reid, author of Healing of America, Obama's problem is the failure of Americans to make the right moral choice, and we ought to be ashamed of ourselves (“Universal Health Care is a Moral Choice,” Newsweek, September 15, 2009).

• If you ask George Will. It’s because , after 233 days of his presidency and 122 public statements on health care with countless contradictory shifts in position, no one believes him anymore *”Why We Don’t Believe Obama,” Newsweek, September 13, 2009).

As for me, I believe the health care hill is too steep to climb in light of unemployment, economic, and debt obstacles at the top of the hill.


steve said...

So if the bill was passed with a delay in implementation you would agree with it or at least be willing to accept it as an imperfect solution to a difficult problem? What happens if no bill passes and costs maintain there current course?

My prediction has been that no bill will pass. Many attempts have been made, but the money resides with those who oppose reform. No one really wants to take the risks for such a big program without political cover.


Richard L. Reece, MD said...

Steve: I would accept an imperfect bill with incremental reforms. Sometimes progress must come with small steps. I don't agree no bill will pass. Some bill has to pass to save Obama from political extinction. He has staked his presidency on passing a bill. In my book Obama, Doctors, and Health Reform I predict Obama will get 1/3 of what he wants, which 1/3 I don't know, but enough to brag about and to declare victory.