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Obama Speaks to Congress Tonight on Health Care

category_bug_politics.gif It has been a long, hot summer of wingnut conspiracy theories from deathers to birthers and a fat, loud, radio pundit crazed over his belief that the president wants to snip off his foreskin.

It culminated this week in screechings from the same far-right fringe groups that Obama, in his speech yesterday, was seeking to “indoctrinate” school kids with his nefarious scheme to turn them into miniature socialists and fascists (all the same thing, you know) and then, if you believe Representative Michelle Bachman, send them off to AmeriCorps “re-education camps.”

Tonight, presumably with a voice of reason, President Obama speaks to Congress about health care reform.

It's about time.

Apparently spooked by the Clinton health care debacle 16 years ago, Obama has remained mostly silent during the summer freak show allowing those opposed to reform to gain advantage. He made a couple of preposterous, back-door deals with hospitals and big pharma to chip in what amounts to less than one percent of their profits over ten years to help with costs, an agreement that has no enforcement mechanism. And he backed off his 2008 campaign rhetoric for a public option.

Then on Labor Day, in what was said to be a preview of his speech tonight, Obama again committed to the public option – sort of:

"I continue to believe that a public option within that basket of insurance choices would help improve quality and bring down costs," he said.

That's hardly a ringing endorsement or good use of the presidential bully pulpit.

Meanwhile, some Congress members are pushing for co-ops instead of a public option which would, essentially, leave reform to regions or individual states creating a mish-mash of bureaucracies each too small to have any leverage for lowering costs.

Others are pressing for subsidies for the poor and middle class to pay for private coverage. That changes nothing except that the government would pay unaffordable premiums further enriching private insurance companies. And my own Republican Senator, Olympia Snowe of Maine, has met with the president about what has been labeled the “trigger.”

In this latest scheme to maintain the status quo, a public option would be written into a reform bill, but it would go into effect – be triggered – only if, in five years or so, the insurance companies have not met certain goals in cutting costs and insuring a larger number of people.

If you believe you would ever hear of the public option again if the trigger idea is adopted, I know of a birther group you can join.

Every one of these proposals has only one purpose: to ensure continued excessive profits to insurance companies. What else can we expect when there are six health care industry lobbyists in Washington for each member of Congress whose election campaign coffers have been vastly enriched by the same corporations who hire the lobbyists.

Amidst all this, there is a real national health emergency in America. Forty-seven million of us have no coverage at all. The Census Bureau is set to release the newest uninsured number tomorrow, Thursday, and it is expected to have jumped by three or four million. Between 18,000 and 22,000 people die every year for lack of money for treatment. Medicare will run out of funds in eight years. Health care costs will double or, possibly, triple in ten years along with the costs of the private insurance people buy now.

This is our last chance at reform. It's not just about the public option – we need to cut the annual billions in Medicare fraud, the billions in overpayment to medical device manufacturers and retailers, and contain costs in other reasonable ways. There has, as yet, been no discussion about how we will accomplish this as we have wasted the summer on death panels, accusations of presidential racism, birth certificates and other bizarre attacks such as tea bag parties comparing the president to Dr. Mengele.

In a sane, responsible America, we would be debating the fine points of a single-payer system. With a single-payer system, every one of the 300 million-odd Americans would pay, enlarging the risk pool. This is why Medicare is in financial trouble; it covers only old people who have more health care needs than younger people. When everyone is covered, the 80/20 rule goes into effect – 20 percent of the people use 80 percent of the system - so the system is not strained as with Medicare.

But President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a single-payer system off the table from day one. (It is not possible for me to tell you here in polite company how I feel about that.) So the public option is the best we can hope for.

What the president must do tonight is use all those persuasive powers that got him elected last year over what at first appeared to be insurmountable odds. He must explain in clear, simple language that is an emergency; if we don't get health care reform now, we never will. He must draw a line in the sand tonight that there cannot be reform without a public option.

I will be glued to the screen this evening and I hope to hell the president heard what Bill Moyers said on his PBS program last week. [5:18 minutes]


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: A Mother's Wish

Comments

Americans wants better health care not a bigger government...give a quality not a quantity.

Ronni, all, tonight, a Marylander will be sitting with Ms Obama when the President speaks. She has a chronic condition that has caused her many hospitalizations. She is stuck with over tens of thousands in dollars in bills not covered by health insurance.

A friends daughter had ventricular fibrillation: a heart beat that is not conducive to living. Had emergency surgery to correct it (she was healthy prior and only in her early 40's). Bill over 100,000 dollars NOT covered by her nationally known health insurer becuz "not medically necessary". What? they prefer her dying? well it would be cheaper for them.

The TIME IS NOW. I urge all of your blogger readers to call CONGRESS TODAY or email them to support the public option plan.

Congressional Swithcboard: (202) 224-3121

CALL or email the White House also to support this. It's a matter of life and death: OURS!
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
for submitting comments

Whitehouse Switchboard: 202-456-1414. FAX: 202-456-2461
Do it NOW

Please find your spine Mr. President. We're at war both in and out of the country.
Leave "nice" for home and family!

Another blogger at the Mudflats blog (wonderful blog on Alaska politics)reminded us of something that Howard Dean keeps stating when the Republicans start shouting about how the Democrats won't compromise. Well, most of the progressive Democrats wanted universal health care. The public option IS the compromise.

I'm calling my congress people right now!!

I see nothing in the proposals right now, if they cut out the public option, that will lower costs and not end up bankrupting the country. With so many people out of work, we are already on a road to serious problems and what Obama is so determined to do without a single payer or public option will just make it worse. Without a public option they would have to put on strict price controls, roll them back to a reasonable profit level.

Franken talked about how in Minnesota with a requirement that insurance be non-profit, their expenses run 10%. Medicare's are like 5% or something like that. Regular insurance wanted some guarantees that they'd have 31% for their overhead. That's a ticket for their increased profits, and they already had high ones.

Obama seems to only want something to make himself look like he won. You can 'win' and lose. This idea that compromise is the ticket on everything has gotten us a lot of half-baked programs and contributed to us being where we are today. I hope I am wrong but it looks to me like this will be another.

With nearly 30% unemployment in young males if we add a requirement to buy insurance but they have no money, it will all be government premiums. It's a mess and this has been a disillusioning summer.

I still hope for the best but Americans need to really speak out if they want a public option because it won't happen any other way.

When Obama got elected, I said the work had just begun. Americans not paying enough attention, trusting somebody else, or demanding the right thing be done is part of what got us where we are today in a lot of areas.

We need health care reform so badly. I don't understand how anyone could oppose this change.

I heard NPR commentator TR Reid last night at Seattle Town Hall. His latest book is The Healing of America. He studies therein what every other advanced country in the world does about health care. Most of them -- Germany, France, Switzerland -- have private insurance companies, but they are non-profits; nowhere but here in the USA is it legal for them to be profit-making.
Reid says the big question is, Why does everybody else provide universal care, and why don't we? When we believe everyone deserves access to healthcare, he says, we'll design a system to accommodate that value.
Let it be now.

I hope he listened to Bill Moyers, too, and will fight for this.

Bill Moyers' programs have been excellent in showcasing the health care situation.

I've been watching the local media this summer to read what sort of communiques are being featured. We had a crazy town meeting our current Rep. wouldn't attend for debate because "Didn't I see who was on the podium -- it's a set up." an aide in his local office told me when I called. Then, at the meeting we had a crazy 20 yr old birther type who disrupted the meeting, thus briefly complicating sane issue discussion.

After agreeing to participate in our local Reps. phone conference town meetings and never being called upon, I declined to sit through an hour of his most recent health care one. Instead I took the option of phoning his office and leaving a message for him. I'm sick of being subjected to having to listen primarily to those who seem only to support his position. I hardly think those chosen to be allowed to speak to him possess opposing views, so I decided I was tired of this brain washing effort for any of us who might have different views or ask him hard questions. As might be expected his subsequent announcement to news media stated his constituents were opposed to the health care proposals based on his phone conference. There was no acknowledgment that any of his constituents disagreed.

I've been pleased our local bi-weekly paper has had some really excellent articles and letters written by local residents presenting the facts. Both sides had their say, but I must note the Rep. Chairman's article was pathetically inaccurate so could easily be refuted.

I've felt frustrated this whole summer with the manner in which this most important issue has been mishandled by those purporting most to support it, including our President. You've certainly pegged all the issues that have been the source of my irritation. I surely do hope this speech tonight has some clout.

I'm disgusted that health insurance companies are still being given free reign. I still remember early this year when they pledged to be able to save money and I gagged at their words. If those so-called savings were so easy, why hadn't they instituted them before? We'll have no real meaningful reduction in health care costs until health insurance ceases to be administered on a for profit basis.

You are absolutely correct about the cuts that will be attempted on Medicare. As a health professional I've been seeing that in incremental ways for some years, only it will be significantly increased just as you describe.

"Healthcare reform will cost less than the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the tax cuts for the wealthy that took place immediately after the start of the G.W. Bush administration!"
Quote from Speech 9-9-2009
President Barack Obama

That felt good to hear

This is the part of your post that needs to be driven home again and again:

With a single-payer system, every one of the 300 million-odd Americans would pay, enlarging the risk pool. This is why Medicare is in financial trouble; it covers only old people who have more health care needs than younger people. When everyone is covered, the 80/20 rule goes into effect – 20 percent of the people use 80 percent of the system - so the system is not strained as with Medicare.

As a nation, are we really that bad at math that we can't be convinced of this?

I'm disgusted that health insurance companies are still being given free reign. I still remember early this year when they pledged to be able to save money and I gagged at their words.

Great post about barak obama.But President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a single-payer system off the table from day one.

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