Daily Pulse: Obama's Health Care Speech

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium Blogger

Last night, President Obama laid out his vision for health care reform before a special joint session of Congress. The pillars of his plan are: i) Curbing the worst abuses of private insurance, ii) Requiring everyone to have insurance, iii) Insurance exchanges, which are basically government websites where customers can order insurance off a "menu" of plans, the idea being that if tens of millions of people order the #2 Combo, everyone's lunch will be cheaper.

The president made it clear that the country can't afford to wait for reform. Last night, he took on the self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives who claim that they oppose reform because it would increase the deficit. "Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close," Obama said. The president reminded the audience that each of us pays a "hidden tax" of $1000 dollars a year to subsidize charity and emergency care for the uninsured.

It was an impressive performance, but as John Nichols of the Nation observes, it was hardly a rousing, "to-the-barricades" oration:

Obama still talked about "options" and "choices." But he suggested that they would be offered mainly by insurance companies that would be enjoy "incentives"--i.e., new streams of taxpayer dollars--if they agree to abide by consumer-friendly regulations and come up with strategies for covering more of the uninsured.

The president expressed support for a very limited public option, a kind of welfare program that only about 5% of Americans would choose to join. This is not the public option his liberal supporters had in mind. It's non-threatening to the insurance companies, though. Private insurers love the idea of the government low-grading the insurance pool and taking on the sickest people who can't get coverage anywhere else. That means private insurers can make even more money off the remaining healthy, paying customers.

James Ridgeway of Mother Jones is even less optimistic, "As for the public option, that's pretty clearly gone down the drain."

One GOP legislator decided that a joint session of Congress was basically a town hall with the president. Rep. Joe Wilson (SC) screamed "You lie!" when the president explained, for the umpteenth time that undocumented immigrants will not be covered. As with the town halls, Wilson's performance had a whiff astroturf about it. Sure enough, Sue Sturgis of Raw Story found that Wilson pocketed over $2 million in campaign contributions from the health care industry.

The president also reminded America that health care reform will not pay for abortions. (For more on myth-making around women's health, see Laurie Rubiner's excellent post at RH Reality.)

Instead of presenting a vision and asking Congress to line up behind him, the president stressed that he was synthesizing a compromise position incorporating ideas from the left and the right. Instead of a coherent vision, the president's scheme sounds more like a last-ditch compromise plan to enable him to declare victory. Like many Democrats, the president seems to be confusing the strategic with the expedient. If "reform" means saddling ordinary Americans with expensive mandatory insurance without a meaningful public option to keep costs in check he could doom the electoral fortunes of the Democrats for years to come.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care and is free to reprint. Visit  Healthcare.newsladder.net for a complete list of articles on health care affordability, health care laws, and health care controversy. For the best progressive reporting on the Economy, and Immigration, check out Economy.Newsladder.net and Immigration.Newsladder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

Tags: abortion, Congress, daily pulse, Health, Health care, Joe Wilson, Lindsay Beyerstein, Mother Jones, obama, PLAN, Public Option, reform, rh reality check, Speech, The Media Consortium, The Nation, TMC (all tags)

Comments

4 Comments

Oh, for Christ's sake.

Private insurers love the idea of the government low-grading the insurance pool and taking on the sickest people who can't get coverage anywhere else. That means private insurers can make even more money off the remaining healthy, paying customers.

Total bullshit and not at all what Obama said last night.  The proposed reform would prevent insurance companies from denying service to the sickest patients.  The public option is essentially the competitive price assurance in the national marketplace that they're setting up... designed to be an affordable option for the poorest folks who aren't getting insurance through their employment or elsewhere.

Seems like the Media Consortium should pay a little more attention to facts rather than mass media bloviating.

by Dracomicron 2009-09-10 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, for Christ's sake.

What Lindsey Beyerstein had to say on 09/09/2010 in Huffpo: (see if this reminds you of anyone)

The health care reform battled has created deep divisions within the Democratic Party. Tonight, the president will pick his side. Will he stand with the progressives for a public option, or will he back the Blue Dogs and their watered-down, politically risky compromise proposal? Keep your eyes on tomorrow's Pulse for the post-game breakdown.

"tomorrow's Pulse" is the content of this diary.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lindsay-be yerstein/daily-pulse-obama-to-outl_b_280 668.html

by QTG 2009-09-10 03:27PM | 0 recs
Facepalm

Just let me die in peace!

by Dracomicron 2009-09-10 04:06PM | 0 recs
Re: No Pulse

Tomorrow

by QTG 2009-09-10 04:25PM | 0 recs

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