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, 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.


Consumer Kim said...

Well, Gary, you summed it up quite well. I don't invest much thought in the illegal alien accusations. No matter how you slice it, that is merely Republican rhetoric. I like that Obama wants to lift limits on caps, prevent insurers from disciminating based on pre-existing conditions and provide insurance for those who cannot afford it. But I think you are right in your arguments that it may not be enough. It is not strong enough. I don't believe what he outlined will fix the broken system, but it might be a change in the right direction. We need something. I hope he can get more. Nice blog. Very heartfelt.

Anonymous said...

Hello from Bullbreed

I have not heard the speech but i plan on listening to it later. There are two things I'd like to know. Why is it Americans think if you provide health care that America will morph into a state of socialism or communism? I would also like to know why people's partisanship is more important to them than the issues being solved through compromise and co - operation? Lastly I believe if companies and individuals are going to make their businesses and lives in a society they should be willing to pay a rate of tax according to their incomes. This helps set a standard for that society that provides things like basic health care without the fear of exhausting all of your wealth and going bankrupt. Sometimes i think the true parasites in society are the ones who want to make their living from it and enjoy all of its services but give nothing back to it.


GreyBear said...

Reaction to Obama’s speech Sept 9th 2009

Obama’s speech given before the joint session of Congress was so important that it required some deep thought before one could come to any conclusions or opinions.
It truly is the defining moment of the Obama administration; its impact will go far in determining the course of American politics. It will do so not only in regards to its main theme, which is the promotion of the administration’s health care policy, but of the continuing effectiveness of the administration itself.

There is no question that the Obama administration is on very shaky ground; some well-respected and informed people think it is imploding. The evidence of that cannot be just brushed aside. The increasing divisions within the country, the failure of the administration to win the hearts and minds of the electorate is obvious. The magnitude and multitude of promises made by Obama before and after the election, which raised expectations and hopes and resulted in his election, have clearly not been met, and now obviously will not be!

For Obama to re-energize his flagging situation demanded that his speech contain a recognition of the need for re-evaluation of his position. As some have said, he need to complete a “Hail Mary” pass, to blow the door off the room. Neither happened. The ball never left his could even say he fumbled!

Giving some thought as to what he actually said.

He emphasized his determination to put restrictions of the medical insurance industry.
Insurance companies would no longer be able to “cherry pick” their customers, no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, pay for “preventive” care. He proposed a “public option” of health, run by the government, which he estimated would not be needed by more than 5% of people. He flatly stated that under his overall plan illegal aliens would not be eligible to public health care.

Very nice words! What is the reality?

What would be the result of the restriction and conditions put in the insurance companies? Can anyone be so naïve as to think those companies would not react? React by drastically increasing their rates? Did Obama address that certainty? No!
The vast majority of insured Americans think the rates they are paying are already far too high, and this will only make matters worse. The inevitable result will be would be a huge shift towards the “public option”, making the promise/estimate of the only 5% people covered almost laughable. It will substantially increase, at the taxpayer’s expense.

Lets look at his statement of “no illegal alien would be eligible for public health care”.
While technically that is already the law of the land, it is also illegal for the health provider to demand identification from anyone who enters an Emergency Room for care. If the legality of the person demanding care cannot be determined, and the only way that could be done is to demand proof of legal residency, which is illegal, then that whole issue is just political rhetoric. The status quo remains.

This speech was the 29th speech the President has made in trying to promote his health agenda, and it seems that after every speech on the subject the poll numbers of the American electorate in opposition to this proposal keep climbing, and now are in the majority; substantial majority!

The President’s position seems to be, as he himself stated on TV; “if you oppose my plan, get out of the way and let me do this”. Not a way to make friends and influence people! Perhaps less “speechifying and more listening” would be appropriate.