Thursday, September 10, 2009
Little New From Obama
Obama speaking to a joint session of Congress last night
This morning, as I read the reports on President Obama's address to the nation, I see some who are saying he gave the speech of his life - the one the country has been waiting for.
Sadly, I respectfully disagree.
I heard very little new from the president last night. And, because of that, I'm concerned that we're back to square one with regard to health reform.
I really hope that those who are giving an optimistic spin to his speech are right and I am wrong. I really hope that the president has found a way to bring health insurance to 30 million Americans who are not so impoverished so as to qualify for care on the public dole, but who still can't afford health insurance.
He is trying to better regulate the insurance companies so that they must provide funding for health care for their customers. The regulations would, however, place such a burden on the insurance companies that - I fear - the opposition we've seen up 'til now will seem mild in comparison to what we're about to experience.
Again, I really hope I'm wrong.
There was so much in his speech that I'm not going to try to analyze it step by step. Feel free to add your comments to help move the discussion along. But there are a couple of things that I want to highlight.
Obama said that those who claim that the law would allow illegal aliens to receive health care are lying. Well, unless this new version (presuming that the previous bills are scrapped entirely for a new one) is different, that's not exactly true.
While the current bill does say that only U.S. citizens would qualify for coverage, there is no verification process to ensure that each person who opts in actually is a citizen. So his protests on that point are a bit disingenuous.
I'm also disappointed that he wasn't more aggressive when it comes to tort reform. Trying tort reform in several sections of the country to see what may or may not work doesn't address the issue of the high added cost of medical care due to lawsuits. Now, I'm not saying that people who have been harmed by poor medical care should have no legal recourse. I'm just saying there should be reasonable limits put on how much a jury can award.
Obama talked about bipartisanship. I'm happy for that. But I don't believe we'd be in this political mess over health reform today had he really insisted on bipartisanship early on. He talked about Ted Kennedy's passion for health reform last night. If he really had wanted to honor the late senator, he would have followed his example of reaching across the aisle.
And had he brought in all the constituencies who have a stake in this issue - the doctors, the lawyers, the health insurance companies, patient advocates, etc - the opposition today, in my opinion, wouldn't have been so stark and - as he correctly pointed out - in some cases - unfair.
During the discussion following his speech on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com, some people said Obama showed, once again, that he's a socialist. I said, I kind of wish he really was a socialist. Because then he'd not have bailed out the banks but would have worked to bail out the victims of their predatory lending practices instead. But I will say this: if fighting for health insurance for our fellow Americans who are not covered makes one a socialist, then label me one as well. And while you're at it, stick the label to John McCain's forehead too.
Just remember that the American people - one way or the other - are already paying for the coverage of those who are uninsured. That, by the way, includes illegal aliens. When people walk, or are carried into an emergency room on a stretcher, they are never denied assistance. To those who oppose health reform I ask, who do you think pays for that care? Ultimately, it is the rest of us.
Let's hope, if nothing else, Obama's speech changes the tone of the discourse and a bipartisan effort emerges so that we see some kind of reform. But I, for one, am not holding my breath.