Obama presses lawmakers on health reform

In President Obama's push for health reform, "new fault lines are opening up everywhere you look. Liberals are worried that Obama is going squishy on including a strong, government-run 'public option' among the health-care choices available to Americans.

Conservatives are warning that the legislation won't do enough to control health costs. Rural lawmakers are complaining that proposed Medicare cuts will fall too hard on their states," TIME reports. "And those are just the arguments going on among the Democrats. It's all a sign that the season for hard decisions has arrived. Obama continues to project an air of confidence about the most audacious undertaking of his presidency" (Tumulty, 7/16).

Bloomberg: "President Barack Obama may rely only on Democrats to push health-care legislation through the U.S. Congress if Republican resistance doesn't eventually give way, two of the president's top advisers said. 'Ultimately, this is not about a process, it's about results,' David Axelrod, Obama's senior political strategist, said during an interview yesterday in his White House office. 'If we're going to get this thing done, obviously time is a-wasting'"  (Chen, 7/15).

The administration is "striking back" with "a double-barreled message for its critics and skeptics," Politico reports, lashing out at critics of the stimulus and running ads in conservative Democrats' home districts pushing health reform. "Organizing for America, President Barack Obama's campaign-in-waiting, launched ads in a handful of states aimed at pushing centrist Senate Democrats to get behind health care reform," Politico reports. On Wednesday, Obama also urged lawmakers to move quickly, saying the Senate HELP committee bill passage "provide(s) the urgency for both the House and the Senate to finish their critical work" (Martin, 7/16).

"But the president is still waiting on [Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.,] to coax a bipartisan agreement out of his committee," Politico reports in a separate story. "Baucus, meanwhile, is taking a strict no-bill-before-its-time approach, locked in negotiations over how to piece together a politically palatable menu of tax increases to pay for a $1 trillion overhaul… [But] It doesn't mean he has to do it patiently." President Obama "summoned an unlikely group of GOP senators to the White House on Wednesday for a sit-down on health care. Bob Corker of Tennessee, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia were not on any list of potential Republican votes ... But Obama appeared to be laying the groundwork for future deal-making" (Brown and O'Connor, 7/15).

Houston Chronicle: "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged Wednesday that the health care reform process has been "a little messy," but she predicted that both the House and Senate will approve comprehensive reform proposals within a month" (Dunham, 7/15).

NPR: The White House's advertising effort includes "30-second ads featuring private citizens describing problems they've had with the medical system…" But, the Republican National Committee "has fought back with a fundraising appeal titled 'Hillarycare revisited'" (7/15).

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


  1. Dan Dan United States says:

    What follows are believed to be facts that are believed to exist regarding the present U.S. Health Care System. This may be why about 80 percent of U.S. citizens understandably want our health care system overhauled desperately due to the inadequate health care they receive and access:

    The U.S. is ranked rather low in regards to life expectancy and infant mortality, compared with the Western world.

    However, the U.S. is ranked number one in the world for spending the most for health care- as well as being number one for those with chronic diseases. About 125 million people have such diseases. This is about 70 percent of the Medicare budget that is spent treating these terrible illnesses.

    Health Care costs are now well over 2 trillion dollars of our gross domestic product.  This is three times the amount nearly 20 years ago- and 8 times the amount it was about 30 years ago.  Most is spent with medical institutions, as far as health expenditures are concerned.   Some believe that perhaps one third of these costs are for care given to patients by health care providers that is not necessary.

    About another third of that amount is nothing more than administrative toxic waste that does not involve the restoration of the health of others. This illustrates how absurd the U.S. Health Care System is presently.  Nearly 7000 dollars is spent on every citizen for health care every year, and that, too, is more than anyone else in the world.

    We have around 50 million citizens without any health insurance, which may cause about 20 thousand deaths per year.  This includes millions of children without health care, which is added to the planned or implemented cuts in the government SCHIP program for children, which alone covers about 7 million kids.  

    Our children.

    Nearly half of the states in the U.S. are planning on or have made cuts to Medicaid, which covers about 60 million people, and those on Medicaid are in need of this coverage is largely due to unemployment.  With these Medicaid cuts, over a million people will lose their health care coverage and benefits to a damaging degree.

    About 70 percent of citizens have some form of health insurance, and the premiums for their insurance have increased nearly 90 percent in the past 8 years.  About 45 percent of health care is provided by our government- which is predicted to experience a severe financial crisis in the near future with some government health care programs, it has been reported.  

    Half of all patients do not receive proper treatment to restore their health, it has been stated.  Medical errors desperately need to be reduced as well, it has been reported, which should be addressed as well.

    Most doctors want a single payer health care system, which would save about 400 billion dollars a year- about 20 percent less than what we are paying now.  The American College of Physicians, second in size only to the American Medical Association, supports a single payer health care system.  

    The AMA, historically opposed to a single payer health care system, has close to half of its members in favor of this system.  Less than 20 percent of all practicing physicians in the United States are members of the AMA, according to others.   The membership of the AMA has progressively declined over the years for a variety of authentic reasons.

    Our health care we offer citizens is the present system is sort of a hybrid of a national and private health care system that has obviously mutated to a degree that is incapable of being fully functional due to perhaps copious amounts and levels of individual and legal entities.

    Health Care must be the priority immediately by the new administration and congress.  Challenges include the 700 billion dollars that have been pledged with the financial bailout that will occur, since the proposed health care plan of the next administration is projected to cost over a trillion dollars within the first year or so of the proposed plan to recalibrate health care for all of us in the U.S.

    Likely, hundreds of billions of dollars that are speculated to be saved with a reform of the country’s health care system.  Health policy analysts should not be greatly concerned on the health care corporate shareholders who may be affected by this reform of our health care system that is desperately needed.  

    It is estimated that the U.S. needs presently tens of thousands more primary care physicians to fully satisfy the necessities of those members of the public health.  This specialty makes possibly less than 100 thousand dollars annually in income, compared with other physician specialties, yet they are and have been the backbone of the U.S. health care system.  

    The American College of Physicians believes that a patient centered national health care workforce policy is needed to address these issues that would ideally restructure the payment policies that exist presently with primary care physicians.

    Further vexing is that it is quite apparent that we have some greedy health care corporations that take advantage of our health care system.  Over a billion dollars was recovered for Medicare and Medicaid fraud last year through settlements paid to the department of Justice because some organizations who deliberately ripped off taxpayers.  

    These are the taxpayers in the U.S. who have a fragmented health care system with substantial components and different levels of government- composed of several legal entities and individuals, which has resulted in medical anarchy, so it seems.

    Thanks to various corporations infecting our Health Care System in the United States, the following variables sum up this system as it exists today.  Perhaps the United States National Health Insurance Act (H.R. 676) is the best solution to meet our health care needs as citizens, it appears.

    We would finally have, as with most other countries, a Universal Health Care system that will allow free choice of doctors and hospitals, potentially, and health care for all completely.  It should and likely will be funded by a combination of payroll taxes and general tax revenue which is realistically possible.  Because the following seems to be in need of repair regarding the U.S. Health Care System:

    Access- citizens do not have the right or ability to make use of this system as we should.

    Efficiency- this system strives on creating much waste and expense as it possibly can.

    Quality- the standard of excellence we deserve as citizens with our health care is missing in action.

    Sustainability- We as citizens cannot continue to keep our health care system in as it is designed at this time- as it exists today.

    Dan Abshear

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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