Finally, the occupant of the bully pulpit decided to write an editorial for the New York Times, simply titled, Why We Need Health Care Reform. 'Bout time. It's actually mealy-mouthed (written by committee) for him, but at least he laid out a clear case:
- Preamble of individual sob stories and the 46 million uninsured. Unfortunately, the people that are against any reform value the status quo far more than the unwashed. In any case, everybody has heard this umpteen times, it's pro forma.
- Reform #1: If you don't have health insurance, you can use the health exchange to purchase decent coverage. See above.
- Reform #2: Controls costs. Cites billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid, then criticizes subsidies to insurance companies' profits. Who approved the first part? Medicare is the good guy, remember? Skip the first part (I hope at least he means pay-for-service, which is not explicitly mentioned at all) and hammer the second.
- Reform #3: Makes Medicare more efficient, more tax dollars to caring for seniors instead of enriching insurance companies. (Again, the framing is terrible. Medicare is inefficient is the take away) And cheaper drugs for seniors. The AARP is already behind you, Mr. President (as he acknowledges later on). Unfortunately, he has to spend time on this because of the rubes who tell the government to keep their hands off of Medicare. Oh, the stupid, it burns!
- Reform #4: Consumer protections: No more denying, dropping or even watering down coverage. No yearly or lifetime caps. Limit on out-of-pocket expenses. End medical bankruptcies. Home run here, it really should be the focus of the entire message. This is the only way to personalize the crappy system we have for those with insurance, which is still a large majority of Americans. Unfortunately, Obama ends this point by saying that preventive care is the the most important aspect of consumer protection. Boring!
- Reiterates the obvious point that is outright lied about by the opposition: No government bureaucrat or insurance company will be between you and your doctor. Nice to equate public and private, but why the respect for insurance companies? They have bureaucrats, too, don't they?
- Praises the "long and vigorous debate" (called it "great" in the first sentence), but manages to call out the "wild misrepresentations."
- States the status quo is truly scary and risky. Good, but it gets lost in the mix here.
- Closes with "let's do it for the children."
Maybe it's prudent to back off the public option right now. But without it, there is a chance that the insurance companies will find a way to continue business as usual and health insurance reform will end up providing coverage for everybody (which is a great thing), but at a much higher cost than was promised. Which will require more taxes. Which will show Obama is a tax and spend liberal, not a bad thing in my book, but he will be punished for it.
For all the issues I have with Obama (I realize that I'm to the left of anyone who could ever be president), it is still sweet to read the descriptor line at the bottom of the article:
Barack Obama is the president of the United States.
UPDATE: Yes, the public option really is that important.
UPDATE II: Dean's plan from 2004 wasn't as good as the worst result in 2009. Good perspective.
UPDATE III: The public option might not be such a "sliver" that can be separated from all other reform choices, such as the individual mandate. Man, this is complicated, but we're lucky to live in the internet age. Can you imagine how knowledgeable the average person would be without the Interwebs?
UPDATE IV: Paul Krugman and I think alike! He says that Obama's "speeches and op-eds still read as if they were written by a committee." Not bad, eh? BTW, Obama has completely lost my trust. Can't pinpoint an exact time, but not even putting up a fight to Nelson and Snowe over the immediate stimulus money to local governments was the start I think.