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The Obama Health Reform Strategy Meeting

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By Garance Franke-Ruta
President Obama's health care reform strategy meeting this morning has kicked off a wave of analysis among the growing ranks of health care bloggers -- ranks which were today joined by a new blog at The Washington Post, The Daily Dose. The blog is part of a Post special package dedicated to the upcoming battle over President Obama's efforts to overhaul America's $2.2 trillion health care system, and bringing each days' stories together with links from around the Web, analysis and news as it happens. Check it out -- and keep checking back as the story progresses.

So what does Obama's meeting this morning mean? The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn thinks the confab is a very big deal:

On Monday morning, representatives for the nation's major health care industry groups--doctors, hospitals, drugmakers, device makers, and insurers--will pay a personal visit to President Obama. But instead of pitching a fit about health care reform, as they have so many times in history, they will offer their assistance. They will pledge their support for Obama's goals and they'll offer to do their part--by taking steps that would reduce the growth in national health care spending by about one-fifth over the next decade.

No less important, after delivering this message to Obama, they'll deliver it to the rest of the country. And they'll do it right there, from the White House, standing with the president himself.

Skeptical about the groups' motives? Dubious that, left to their own devices, they'd reduce their own revenue streams just to make medical care more affordable for the rest of us? You should be.

But make no mistake: This is a big deal, if only for the clear political signal it sends.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman agrees:

Six major industry players -- including America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a descendant of the lobbying group that spawned Harry and Louise -- have sent a letter to President Obama sketching out a plan to control health care costs. What's more, the letter implicitly endorses much of what administration officials have been saying about health economics.

Are there reasons to be suspicious about this gift? You bet -- and I'll get to that in a bit. But first things first: on the face of it, this is tremendously good news.

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder gives the back story:

This convention has been in the works for a week, and its existence has been a secret of sorts even to many White House officials. The worry was that if news leaked that these groups were going to participate, they'd receive intense internal pressure -- or pressure from their ideological compatriots -- to withdraw their participation....

The White House favors some sort of public plan option, but it has not (as of yet) told members of Congress how big that plan should be, whether it should immediately complete with health insurers, and whether there should be more than one. This has pleasantly surprised the business community, mollified the insurance industry, and worried the unions, who want a public, competitive government health care option immediately, knowing that its leverage would essentially end the employer-based health care system within a decade.

And Ezra Klein adds a note of skepticism:

I can't shake my skepticism about today's big health care announcement.

First, the announcement: At about 12:30 today, representatives from the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, Advamed, the California Hospital Association, the Greater New York Hospital Association, and SEIU will present Barack Obama with a letter promising to aid his health care reform effort by cutting health care spending by 1.5 percentage points over the next 10 years. That sounds minimal. But it actually amounts to $2 trillion in savings.

The politics of this should surely cheer supporters of reform....

But it's not just the administration that benefits from the optics. It's the medical industry. The fact that the White House is making a big deal of their support means it would be a big deal if they lost it. And so it's worth asking what, exactly, the health care industry has committed itself to.

And the answer is: Not much. As one senior administration official said to me, "this is a commitment, not a plan."

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 11, 2009; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  The Debate Rages On...  
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Comments

PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTHCARE IS AN OXYMORON!

As congress debates fixing Americas current private for profit healthcare disaster, global embarrassment, and national disgrace. The question is not weather we will have a public option. But rather what kind of public option we will have.

America is the only country in the developed world that has a GREED DRIVEN! PROFIT DRIVEN! IMMORAL! UNETHICAL! PRIVATE FOR PROFIT! healthcare delivery system.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of you are needlessly killed by your healthcare delivery system in America every year. And millions of you are crippled and injured. America is the only country in the developed World that does not have a NOT FOR PROFIT, PATIENT PROTECTING, government managed healthcare delivery option for all it's people.

America currently has the most costly health care system in the developed world. And the lowest quality of healthcare in the developed world. And the most dangerous, deadly, and FEARED! healthcare delivery system in the developed world.

America is the only healthcare delivery system in the developed World that does not cover all it's people automatically. And America has the most difficult healthcare system to access in the developed World.

Contact your representative and tell then that a single payer, government managed healthcare option is a must for everyone that wants it. Tell them that you demand that the public option be the finest in the World.

Tell them it should be available to everyone that wants it as a HUMAN RIGHT! Tell them it should be the easiest to access in the entire world. Tell them it should have the highest quality, with the greatest patient protections in the entire world. Tell them coverage should be automatic for everyone that wants it unless they choose to opt out. Tell them it should be the most affordable in the World. And tell them that NO ONE in the public option is to be reported to a credit agency, or driven into bankruptcy for unpaid medical bills just because they got sick, for FREEK'EN SAKES!

Tell them, none of the requirements above are negotiable. Tell them, that we are prepared to remove them from office. Tell them, we will rain down the political FIRES OF HELL! on any of them that would betray the American people. Or continue to compromise the life, health, safety, and National security of the American people for the GREED DRIVEN, PROFIT DRIVEN! private for profit Healthcare Industry.

TELL THEM NOW! AND PASS THE WORD ON.

God Bless You

Jacksmith — WORKING CLASS

Posted by: JackSmith1 | May 11, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I think they will cut employee wages; at insurance companies, hospitals, etc. Not executive staff, mind you...

Posted by: prantha | May 11, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

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