Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do-or-Die - Obama "Will Not Walk Away from: Health Care"

What He Said

In his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama addressed the state of health care. He touted the advantages of his plan and urged Congress to pass it.

Here are the 515 words he devoted to health care.

"And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform.

Now let's be clear - I did not choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics.

I took on health care because of the stories I've heard from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who've been denied coverage; and families - even those with insurance - who are just one illness away from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of trying, we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care. And by the way, I want to acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make our kids healthier.

Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses. And according to the Congressional Budget Office - the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress - our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering what's in it for them.

But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I'm finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.

As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed. There's a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Here's what I ask of Congress, though: Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people."

What The Polls Say

Here is what three major polls said on the day of President Obama’s address on Obama’s health plan:

• NBC/WSJ, For/Against, 31%/45%, Against/Oppose +15%

• CNN Opinion Research, For/Against, 38%, 58%, Against/Oppose, +20%

• NPR-ROS/GQR, For/Against, 39%/55%, Against/Oppose, +16%

Taken together, these polls say 17% more Americans oppose Obamacare than favor it. In another poll, 55% of Americans said he should start all over again.

In his 71 minute address, President Obama rebutted this opposition. He said, in essence, I have been right all along, I will stay the course, and once people understand what I am trying to do, the bill will pass, and you will be grateful forever more.

Will His Words Change Minds?

Will his words cause the people, the middle class, and independent voters to change their mind about health care?

I do not know. But I do know Obama does not truly understand the complexity of the American health care system and why the middle class resists sweeping change.

In Obama, Doctors, and Health Reform, I described this complexity as a whirling Rubik’s Cube with thousands of moving interrelated parts, each with an agenda, an ax to grind, and an ox to gore.

What President Obama did not say was, he was foolish to think he could reform 16% of the nation’s economy, particularly when the health care sector remains a vibrant job-producer in a down economy, and everybody knows it.

Besides, as Daniel Henninger puts in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Why Obamacare Isn’t Flying,”

"American health care, whatever its defects, is today unimaginably complex. What the Democrats are trying to do isn't just difficult. It's impossible.

Why would anyone think it possible in 2010—as politics, economics or mere practical feasibility—to reorder 16% of a $14 trillion economy of 300 million people living in 50 separate states whose geography is 16 times larger than France?"

Henninger goes on,

:According to data compiled by Hoover's business research from the U.S. Census, the health-care industry consists of 340,650 separate establishments employing 5,508,926 people. I leave it to a mathematician to calculate the number of possible economic relationships this would produce every day, much less annually .

We have 512,000 physicians and surgeons, 2.2 million registered nurses and a galaxy of different jobs orbiting around them. Some 36% of these are in individual physicians' offices."

The American people are a skeptical bunch. They know Obamacare would effect each and every American. In the main, they do not see how Obamacare would help them personally by expanding access, improving quality, or lowering costs. And they still trust their doctors more than they trust Big Government. They know the local medical industrial complex – hospitals, doctors, and related health care facilities, - are often the biggest employer in town.

President Obama has a lot of persuading to do.

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