Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Health Care Intent

A Gallup survey taken August 6-9, 2009 indicates that 25% of respondents believe "poor healthcare/hospitals; high cost of health care" is the biggest issue facing the country, significantly higher than the 16% who said the same in its survey only four weeks earlier, on July 10-12, 2009.

That's the good news. The bad news comes by way of statements by top Democrats on Sunday's interview programs about the public option. Health and Human Sevices Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on CNN's State of the Union remarked "I think what's important is choice and competition, and I'm convinced that at the end of the day the plan will have both of those -- but that is not the essential element." Presidential Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained "the president believes the option of a government plan is the best way to provide competition. The bottom line again is do individuals looking for health insurance in the private market have choice and competition? If we have that the president will be satisfied.

On Monday, Gibbs tried to (cliche alert) dial back on his remarks and quiet the storm he helped to create by letting the cat out of the bag, claiming

I got to tell you, this is one of the more curious things I've ever seen in my life.... I was on a Sunday show; I said the same thing about a public option that I've said for I don't know how many weeks....[Sebelius] reiterated what the president said the day before, and you'd think there was some new policy.

A sheltered life that Mr. Gibbs has lived, that reaction to his explanation of the president's thinking is "one of the more curious things I've ever seen in my life." He really has to get out a little more. After all, the Big Guy himself, President Obama, had stated at a town hall meeting on Saturday in Grand Junction, California

All I'm saying is, though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it.

Not a surprise, really. The suspicion all along was that President Obama (unlike, say, Senator and candidate Obama) wants something to call "health care reform." The Politico's Roger Simon, generally an admirer of Obama, notes today that the President really does prefer a health care option and is hopeful he ultimately will insist on it. However, he asks whether presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, criticizing the eventual nominee, "could"

have been right when she said that he was the candidate of lofty promises —“the skies will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect” — and not the candidate of real leadership?

In her former life as a presidential candidate, Clinton warned voters that Obama would let them down. She warned them that when the going got tough, he would fold up.

She said it was not just a matter of Obama lacking experience — that was the least of it — but that he lacked the strength, the toughness, the will to get the job done.

Simon concludes "Sometimes it is not enough to have just your heart and your head in the right place. You have to have your guts there, too." And with a substantial majority of the President's party in the U.S. House of Representatives, 60 of his party in the United States Senate, and a progressive blogosphere aggressively promoting meaningful change, an issue considered most important by fully one-quarter of the American people in the midst of a severe economic turndown is the perfect place to demonstrate backbone.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I am enjoying this whole health care debate play out. I'm very interested to see whether Obama will follow his strong liberal beliefs or whether his desire to look and be bipartisan will rule the day.

It's interesting how things are shifting as Americans are apparently surprised by Obama's quick moves to enact his sweeping agenda. I suppose it's because the majority of Americans are moderate and believed him to be moderate. Isn't it ironic that during the campaign people generally ignored Obama's liberal record and past statements in favor of his bipartisan and moderate campaign rhetoric, while people generally ignored McCain's bipartisan and moderate record and instead judged him based on his poor campaign of strong conservative rhetoric? It's the same mistake voters have made before.

While I despise the untruths that some Republicans like Palin are spouting out about death panels and the like, I'm glad the momentum has been slowed and some actual questions will be discussed. The biggest is how can the final plan, as Obama and the Dems claim, supposedly extend coverage, lower costs, improve healthcare quality, and cause no harm to the private sector. What a magical plan!

It seems obvious that a government option will undercut the private companies because the government doesn't have the same financial incentives and restraints as businesses. It seems obvious that employing "best practices" to cut costs really means rationing or limiting options. It seems obvious that this plan will add significantly to the deficit at a time when it already has grown too rapidly and needs to be scaled down.

But I suppose I'm just an obstructionist who hates reform, doesn't care about the suffering of those who don't have insurance, and I just love high costs.


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