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Obama: This Reform Is About You

One of the problems the administration has had in selling health-care reform is that people with insurance have heard a lot about the uninsured, what it will cost to cover them, and what taxes might be raised to pay for this. The already insured have not heard as much about what’s in it for them.

So right off the bat, in the opening statement of his fourth prime-time press conference, President Obama zeroed in on this group. "This is not just about the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance," he said. "Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change their job."

And he listed some important specific benefits. Here is the key paragraph:

If you already have health insurance, the reform we’re proposing will provide you with more security and more stability. It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you’re happy with it. It will prevent insurance companies from dropping your coverage if you get too sick. It will give you the security of knowing that if you lose your job, move, or change your job, you will still be able to have coverage. It will limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay for your medical costs out of your own pocket. And it will cover preventive care like check-ups and mammograms that save lives and money.

The parts of the plan that involve insurance reform (preventing companies from "dropping your coverage if you get too sick" and limits on co-pays, for example) will be a big part of the administration’s marketing campaign from now on. "Most people have insurance right now," David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, told a group of columnists at the White House today, before the news conference. "How do we bring some stability and security for those folks?"

One of Obama’s central purposes tonight was to begin framing an answer to that question.

By E.J. Dionne  | July 22, 2009; 8:27 PM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Next: Obama Attacks Docs and Cops


Without tying cost to benefit, how will cost ever be contained. Taxing employee-provided health benefits would be a good start. Consumers need to have some inkling of the cost. Even though everybody would say their health is the priceless, rationing must be present. That already exist with the current system (with the uninsured as well as denying of benefits). But to truly contain costs, there must be MORE rationing.

Posted by: ryip | July 22, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

If you already have health insurance, the reform we’re proposing will provide you with more security and more stability. It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you’re happy with it.

Yes but, Obama is a liar.

From the Wall Street Journal

"So when Mr. Obama says that “If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what,” he’s wrong. Period. What he’s not telling the American people is that the government will so dramatically change the rules of the insurance market that employers will find it impossible to maintain their current coverage, and many will drop it altogether. THE MORE WE INSPECT THE HOUSE BILL, THE MORE IT LOOKS TO BE ONE OF THE WORST PIECES OF LEGISLATION EVER INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS."

Obama, go back and READ your 900 page bill with amendments and references and we will get back to YOU.

Posted by: ekim53 | July 22, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

The GOP, in the form of Republican Senator Jim Demint of South Carolina, showed it's hand with the following statement this week: "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."

Not a word about the need for improved health care, merely a negative political statement. I don't want to hear another word from the GOP, not another word.

Posted by: gsross | July 22, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

It makes 0 sense. Obama has NO experience AT ALL in business, economics, no governor, no mayor no executive in ANYTHING, no military NOTHING and in 2 weeks he wants to take over 1/6 of the economy with Obamacare
ARE YOU FRIGIN CRAZY...OUTRAGEOUS, the Democrats who signed this crap didn't even read it...OUTRAGEOUS.
It would be JUSTICE if Obama/Pelosi/Democrats were ALL bobbing in the Atlantic, the hell with Tea.

Posted by: ekim53 | July 22, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

obama doesnt understand that most americans like their health care and arent interested in buying what obama is selling.

Posted by: dummypants | July 22, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama has turned out to be a stinking disappointment as president

Posted by: georgejones5 | July 22, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

of all of the criticisms so far posted on this blog, all but one are nothing but partisan hectoring, and of the one the partisan hectoring was one step removed as the WSJ was cited.

how laughable.

keep it on topic. stop the mindless, hateful, personal attacks on our president.

as the president made clear REPEATEDLY, he has sought out and has incorporated republican ideas in this process all along. the fact of the republican politicians public posture is different has nothing to do with the number of amendments offered up by such. they are actually being constructive in the privacy of the committee rooms and they know that they can afford to vote against the final bill.

this is all just tired cynicism fueling the conspiracy fears of the republican base.

and honestly, they don't need much.

Posted by: mykulw | July 22, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Live! Presidency crashes and burns before America's very eyes!

Posted by: Beeper812 | July 22, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the wingnuts were quick off the block on this commentary. Obama is not going to do anything revolutionary here - Congress and the Lobbyists won't let him. We need to change our healthcare system. The status quo is not an option, because it won't stay the status quo - costs will go through the roof, more people will be uninsured, etc etc. So change is the only option - so the question is, do we manage that, or do we just let it spiral and head in directions that most of us won't like? I would prefer to try to have some control and intervention - by the government. Who else? Will the business community unite and come up with a plan that ensures better coverage, a fairer system, that children and poor families are not left in the hole, and that when my mom gets sick she isn't squeezed out of private coverage? Of course not - this will require healthcare reform and government intervention. And this is about all of us, not just the poor. Let's hope something results - or this situation will just get a lot worse.

Posted by: harkish | July 22, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

This will be the largest disaster in American history.

Let's get some facts straight - actual health CARE in this country is GREAT - it is the best CARE in the world. Whether you have insurance or not, whether you are black, white, asian, latino, gay, straight, transgender, whatever, you can go into an emergency room and they will SAVE YOUR LIFE. They won't ask any questions, and (under law) they cannot discharge you until you are good enough to walk on your own two feet.

It is the COST of health care that is an issue - and why? Because some people either choose to not carry insurance, or they cannot find a job. For those that simply cannot find a job, there is already Medicaid, isn't there? For the rest, guess who is already paying? It ain't the government - its the rest of us who pay insurance premiuims that go up year after year after year. Yes - that's right - we are ALREADY subsidizing your free healthcare - and now you want more? For free? Get real.

I have been working for ten years now (since graduating college). In that time, I have paid over $50,000 in medical insurance premiums - and in some cases, the amounts were matched by contributions by my employer. So let's say I have contributed $75,000 into the system already. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I haven't been sick, so I haven't been to the doctor, even once. But is it fair that you are going to go further into my pocket and make me pay even more?

This program is a complete disaster in the making. Think, people - do you really want a bill that will change 20% of the American economy, that was drafted in about two weeks, most of which is unread by members of Congress? That will create yet another entitlement program (because they are doing oh so well)?

Madness and stupidity has beset this once-great nation.

Posted by: PotomacJack | July 22, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I was watching Obama tonight and had to marvel at his ability to come across as in command, but after analysis anyone can realize that all he accomplished tonight was talk about generalities and he did not provide specifics, which is what the majority of the american public needs. He gives the impression that by his speech he will reassure everyone and we will take him at his word. Bottom line is we need the details on how much this plan will cost and from where it will be taken. We are not that naive to believe that this will be paid of by only taxing the rich. Nor we believe that those that want to stay with their plans will be able to do so once they introduce the public option.

Where are the FACTS? The time has come to start seeing the truth about this legislation proposal.

Several additional points:

1)Questions asked by the media were totally inane. Who is going to begin to have some guts and ask real questions?

2)Why a visit to the Cleveland Clinic and not the Mayo Clinic? Afraid and trying to discredit the Mayo Clinic? Seeing through his games.

3)What about his meeting with the CBO officer? Why wasn't a question directed at this?

One thing is so clear and that is that the Media is intimidated by Obama.

Posted by: Hispana | July 22, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

All of this is nothing but wasted breath. What America needs to solve its health care crisis is a true single-payer system that covers everyone for whatever. Until we have this we will continue to be second-rate compared to most of the industrialized world. It's amazing how badly playing politics can mess this up. Good luck to us all.

Posted by: zwordsmith | July 22, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama is in a hurry to pass this to pacify Ted Kennedy before he passes away.

Posted by: Georgiapeac21556 | July 22, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

This is not about us - it is about a control freak taking over another facet of our lives. Do some homework and you will find out that Ms. Obama, when her husband was a state senator, got a job at the U of C hospital at an inflated salary in excess of $300,000/year. She and the board emptied the ERs by doing what they want to do to us: Substandard care. The folks in the neighborhood were given shortshrift and had to seek care elsewhere. Now, is it not interesting that these socialists, who distain money (except their own) made sure that the grant given to this institution was especially "tagged" with Michelle Obama's name, with the help of Valerie Jarret. Yessiree - Change you can believe in if you like socialism. Say no to the boondoggle of a budget-busting scam - same as "Cap and Con", a program that will benefit the likes of Al Gore, GE, Goldman Sachs and members of Congress, like Pelosi, who has invested many, many dollars in soon-to-be recipients of our tax dollars, income, rationed electricity and who knows what else. They took the Enron playbook and hope to scam us. If you, like me, did not understand what exactly Enron was about, please, get a copy of "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room." It will blow your mind away.

Posted by: marine2211 | July 22, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

President Obama, I believe, has not read the bill eithr. Comments he has made like, "our team, etc" when refering to the bill leads me to believe this. I agree with the post that spoke to his experience, none! Why rush to fix the best healthcare in the world. Lets take a second and formulate a well thought out plan. Its hard to believe {MY REPRESENTATIVES} would vote on something without even reading it. Did they really do that????? Its go beyond belief. Can it possibly get worse, yea! much!!!!!!

Posted by: georgeerrn | July 22, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Please, lets vote all these folks out of office. Don't know who should lead us, Ron Paul is looking better every day

Posted by: georgeerrn | July 22, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Funny how Obama takes six months to pick out a dog, but demands an overhaul of one-fifth of our economy in three weeks! And anyone who questions this madness is evil and hates children.

Give me a break.

Posted by: rkinneypa | July 23, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

I "almost" hope that the bill fails, and the Republicans have to explain in 2010 exactly why even more of their constituents had to lose their health care insurance along with their jobs.

But I am not as cruel and insensitive as they are.

Posted by: OleLadySquawking | July 23, 2009 2:23 AM | Report abuse

Nearly all Republicans are unfairly critical of Obama, yet Dionne and most liberal pundits are too deferential, uncritical of him. There should be a more even balance, especially from journalists.

Obama is specific in some ways, such as the good ideas in the section Dionne quoted. Yet those are hardly controversial and would be approved by nearly all Democrats, as well as probably some moderate Republicans.

Obama has not been specific in what must be in a health care bill for him to sign, except for rather obsessively insisting it be deficit neutral and recently demanding any bill scale back rising future health care costs. He has not explained his reversal from campaign rhetoric opposing an individual mandate to being for this requirement. Obama has failed to explain how an individual mandate is fair and how it will not be a major financial burden for millions of middle class people.

Obama persuasively states the reasons why a public option is needed, yet has not insisted it be part of a bill. He has not addressed the question as to how his plan may ration health care and unfairly deny medical treatments for those who appear, but sometimes are not, to some doctors to be near the end of their lives.

Obama has not convincingly explained how significant reductions in Medicare spending and allowing a commission most of the legislative authority over Medicare reinbursements will maintain current levels of Medicare benefits. He said in his press conference no Medicare benefits would be reduced, yet his seems to stretch credulity, with the reductions sought in spending.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | July 23, 2009 3:23 AM | Report abuse

To those of you who think the current system works, I feel sorry for you. A large percentage will learn the hard way the real truth. Wait until you have children leaving home and with no healthcare. There are many other unfortunate facts for you to learn. Sorry.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | July 23, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

The biggest problem with rationing is who ethically gets to choose who is worthy of a certain treatment. It won't be doctors. Let me put it this way. If you are pro-choice and you have fundemental problem with congress legislating a women's uterus, what is the difference between that and getting involved with your health-care decisions.

I am a big believer in the law of unintended consequences. Eventhough it doesn't explicitly take choices away from you, the aftermath will.

Posted by: akmzrazor | July 23, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

In keeping his campaign promise to seek prompt reform of healthcare in America, President Obama summed it up well. Whether his efforts will beat insurance giants loobying dollars or their GOP lackies, remains to be seen. The President IS trying - and doing everything anyone could ask of him to make it work.

President Obama has seen both his Mother and his Grandmother die from cancer. He's not going to give up on this even if profiteers win this round. Progress has my support. We will remember who the obstructionists were - holding back America.

Posted by: free-donny | July 23, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone commenting actually KNOW whereof they speak? With 30+ years in health care, 17+ as a home health RN - yes I have seen the seniors who decide between meds and food. I've seen people who game the system. I know doctors who spend more on staff to file insurance than on rent. I've seen people lose health care just when they've needed it most. I've seen the kids in the emergency room who haven't seen a doctor before that mild bronchitis became crippling pneumonia that almost cost her life, and cost us many thousands times the cost of Amoxicillin. Play politics all you want - the bottom line is we have a broken "sick care system", with great care possible but given so disjointedly our infant mortality rate in some places exceeds third world countrie's. No guts now, no glory - and lots more cost - later.
-Shawn Clements

Posted by: shawncrnc | July 23, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

People like to say we have great healthcare but it is too expensive. That's like saying a Cadillac is a great car, but it's problem is that it costs more than a Chevy. You can't separate one from the other. We have a Cadillac, but we only want to pay for the Chevy. Most people don't know what their healthcare really costs because someone else pays the bill. President Obama rightfully states that he and other government employees have great coverage. That is because coverage for government employees is heavily subsidized by the employer - as is the case with the majority of coverage. The biggest mistake Obama is making is to take off the table the prospect that middle-class households will need to pay more. They need to raise the price for everyone, and then create mechanisms by which those who make healthy choices can earn savings or rebates. That way people will become more conscious of the way they use the healthcare service.

Posted by: newrussianguy | July 23, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

What Obama fails to address to the overwhelming number of Americans who have healthcare is how this will improve care or reduce costs. Most Americans have insurance and are less worried about security and stability and are genuinely concerned about raising costs and quality. Address those two issues, and the outcome will be better, more affordable healthcare that more people can afford. Fix what's broken first.

Posted by: rhino2 | July 23, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The President's failure to provide specifics in his speech showed the public this White House will not honor its vow of transparency. First, he said if passed more Americans will have health coverage - but he failed to tell the public it would come under the massive expansion of Medicaid. Yes, more people will be covered by Medicaid, because the government run plan is only expected to cover 16-20 million of the 46 million uninsured. He also failed to mention a provision in the House bill would force the public into the government run plan if they lose there current private insurance plan due to a change of jobs or other reasons. The speech also failed to address the $1 trillion plus cost, which many in Congress are hesitant to support after two failed stimulus bills and the controversial "Cap and Tax" energy bill recently passed in the House. Cost for private insurance will also go up because as more people are covered by Medicaid, doctors and hospitals increase the costs of care to the insured to make up for the low-reimbursements under Medicare and Medicaid. Then there is the whole idea of creating a new government committee to try and keep healthcare costs down by limiting coverage, much like the raitioning of healthcare in Britain and Canada. These are just a few of the provision included in this monstrous 1,000 page plus bill, that Congress will not read before voting. If you support this, then kiss your kids and there kids future good-bye as they face higher taxes to pay for socialized the way how many people are flocking to Canada to receive care or to wait 6 months to a year for specialized treatment!

Posted by: dodgerblue270 | July 23, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Let's be honest here. Mr. Dionne, like Obama (Kennedy, Pelosi, etc) and most members of Congress are wealthy and can afford to pay for the best health care regardless of any policies. The rest of us are doomed to support a health care boondoggle that is short on any constructive specifics for controlling costs. Let's talk tort reform first -- no lawyer should get rich off of the misfortunes of others. Let's talk about who will really pay for this plan and let's talk about who will sacrifice by having a reduced level of care....

Posted by: mom11 | July 23, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: ekim53 |

It makes 0 sense. Obama has NO experience AT ALL in business, economics, no governor, no mayor no executive in ANYTHING, no military NOTHING and in 2 weeks he wants to take over 1/6 of the economy with Obamacare
ARE YOU FRIGIN CRAZY...OUTRAGEOUS, the Democrats who signed this crap didn't even read it...OUTRAGEOUS.
It would be JUSTICE if Obama/Pelosi/Democrats were ALL bobbing in the Atlantic, the hell with Tea.
President Bush had most of what you consider "experience" and he f-up royally. So what is your point???

Posted by: SteelWheel25 | July 23, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: dummypants |
obama doesnt understand that most americans like their health care and arent interested in buying what obama is selling.
the President isn't trying to sell you anything and if he were you still have the choice not to buy! This isn't that difficult to figure out, dummypants. If you have insurance that you like KEEP IT!! For those people who don't have insurance the President is giving them a chance at getting some. It isn't that difficult to understand if your inclination is to understand but it is obvious that you are not. Your name says it all!!

I could understand your position a whole lot better if your concern was over how the President intends on paying for this insurance. That much is still unclear but then again you right-wingers are screaming so often about nonsense no else can hear anything of value. Maybe that is your intent but you hurt yourself in the end because the people who stand to gain the most if the President fails won't give a d@mn about you once they get it! A barking dog is only useful when he is protecting the owner's property in every other case the barking dog is a nuisance and needs to be shot. Once the GOP get the power they seek back they'll get rid of you barking talks because you will then be useless to them.

Posted by: SteelWheel25 | July 23, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: rhino2

What Obama fails to address to the overwhelming number of Americans who have healthcare is how this will improve care or reduce costs. Most Americans have insurance and are less worried about security and stability and are genuinely concerned about raising costs and quality. Address those two issues, and the outcome will be better, more affordable healthcare that more people can afford. Fix what's broken first.
rhino2 ,
you weren't listening at all and you are badly informed. First, the President isn't trying to "improve existing health care" arrangement people already have. The President has said numerous times "If you have health care insurance that you like KEEP IT. I you don't have health care consider his plan.

Secondly, you said "Most Americans have insurance and are less worried about security and stability and are genuinely concerned about raising costs and quality" this is not true quite the opposite. The majority are worried about not having or anticipate not having insurance (myself included) and for those who do have insurance most of them are concern over the rising cost and the limited about of care their insurance covers.

Posted by: SteelWheel25 | July 23, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

marine2211, are you accusing democrats of pulling a page out of the republican's playbook? After all, Enron is a republican team member. Your boy Kenneth Lay's first call was to President Bush when the fraud was about to be exposed. BTW, this is in the book you requested for all of us to read. Also, the same book you are recommending, spells out in detail how the republicans actually ripped off the American people and told us to stop whining about it! This is how you guys know what might be in store for the rest of us because you have already did it to us. I do appreciate you reminding the People how the republicans screwed America!! Keep up the good work!!

Posted by: SteelWheel25 | July 23, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Obama was far too civil and "bi-partisan" in pointedly avoiding the 155% increase in profits just announced by one HMO chain -- or not mentioning the the CEO of United Health who received as "reasonable compensation" ONE IN EVERY $700 OF TOTAL US HEALTH CARE EXPENDITURES a few years ago!

With regard to a public option being unfairly competitive - here are a few
questions to ponder:

1) EXACTLY how much client abuse, waste, fraud, greed, inefficacy and inefficiency should we build into a public option so that it will not be considered "unfairly competitive"?

2) And will public option administrators also somehow siphon off hundreds of $ millions for lobbying "expenditures"?

3) And then there's that thorny issue of "appropriate executive compensation"
(see $1 for every $700, above)

Posted by: jerswing | July 23, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

While President Obama's assertion that expansion of healthcare to the uninsured will be in the best interest of those who have insurance may be politically the right thing to say, it ignores the underlying fears of those who oppose it. The reality is that those who don't have it can't afford it, leaving the bill to those who can.

I agree in principle that is necessary to an extent. However, without serious measures to limit the cost of what will be provided at my expense to others I'm not buying it. Perhaps he make good on his statement that this isn't about politics and start with tort reform. That would get my attention.

Posted by: iago1 | July 23, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

It should be very obvious by now that the Radical in the White House Lies, Deceives and Head Fakes. His Socialized Health nonsense IS about him and his desire to control. He is a Zealot and has an overwhelming need to turn this Country inside out to CONTROL. He has a chip on his shoulder as does his angry bitter wife. There are those in this country that want to be controlled. The inept, needy, naive and insufficient. Most DO NOT, at least for now. Barry is going down with his Nationalization of Health Care and he is soon to become radioactive.

Posted by: FraudObama | July 23, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

1611 SYLVESTER 'Du Bartas' II. iv. III. 'Schisme' 1065 If thou their metall by that touch-stone try Which fearfull-sounding from thy mouth doth fly.

Posted by: edtroyhampton | July 23, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

What Obama did not mention is the cost savings from medicare. Like dropping a drug that cost $2000 a month that is needed for treatment. It may save cost to medicare but shaft the cost to the person who needs that drug. One can only hope that person has other insurance to cover that otherwise it will cost him $24,000 for the year. People have alot to worry about. I noted a doctor complain about this and wrote to member of congress. It is always these details that endup putting people into bankruptcy. We seem to have alot of them. Don't have this in most countries in Europe. Trust when it comes to healthcare is hard to come by maybe because of experience.

Posted by: artg | July 23, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The problem is, I can't escape the feeling I am being lied to by everyone involved. Since this reform is "historic" (what isn't these days?), and what might save us from the same abyss as the stimulus did, couldn't we just study it and get it right? Remember, it was an emergency for the stimulus, of which only 10-11% has been spent because it wasn't really a stimulus or an emergency.

Posted by: cathy810 | July 23, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I guess the posters who hit the cap lock think it's just emphasis. It's really shouting at us. Let's all make a vow to not read posts that contain inappropriate caps.

Posted by: sauerkraut | July 23, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The American taxpayers buy the most comprehensive insurance for the representatives in Congress. How many times have we heard them say, "I/we won't rest until every American has the same coverage as Congress." Did you believe them, do you still believe them? They don't care about the average people. I'd like it written into whatever law a proviso that they will accept whatever the least of us has. They are more deserving of superb care than their constituents.

Posted by: ywhynot | July 23, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Obama is a devious perveyor of half-truths, and just plain lies. A modest amount of critical thought on his "proposals" reveal that there is precious little benefit to his current proposition, except the opportunity to grow the Federal mandate over the Citizenry. Mr. Obama needs to do better...MUCH better...with the Economic crisis at hand before he wastes our time with his grand (and poorly-conceived) "reforms".

Posted by: wcmillionairre | July 23, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Obama is a devious perveyor of half-truths, and just plain lies. A modest amount of critical thought on his "proposals" reveal that there is precious little benefit to his current proposition, except the opportunity to grow the Federal mandate over the Citizenry. Mr. Obama needs to do better...MUCH better...with the Economic crisis at hand before he wastes our time with his grand (and poorly-conceived) "reforms".

Posted by: wcmillionairre | July 23, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Has Sen. Chrissy Dodd (D - CT) refinanced his Countrywide loan ?

Posted by: hclark1 | July 23, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Why do we continue to be led around by the nose by the President, the Congress, and water-carriers like Dionne? Example: 47 million people? This is the real "framing" they want you to accept.

Newsflash. Beyond the legitimate deconstruction that has already been done with this 47 million person assumption, the fundamental number to get to is: What is the number of people who draw on the medical system per year, who in the end don't pay or can't pay? It isn't 47 million.

So why build an argument, let alone the entire system around an absolutely inconsequential number?

Dionne is all too happy to second the 47-50 million person number.


Posted by: wehutson | July 23, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

how exactly does adding 40million+ people that are not paying as much as the remaining also ensure that everyone gets equal quality of health care? Aren't the latter going to subsidise care for former?

If there are ways to reduce cost in the system, why not just enforce those changes rather than trying to hit the goal of 100% insurance. Lets see how that works.

Posted by: ravir | July 23, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Nice job of providing absolutely no insight. The salivating over every word that comes out of Obama's mouth is palpable in your "columns." There is no analysis as to how all these great things come about without derailing the current system that provides health care for the vast majority of Americans. Even the CBO has finally figured out that there are no free lunches. At some point, you might wise up as well.

Posted by: Buzz5 | July 23, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

People who still have employer provided healthcare need to care because employer provided healthcare is a vanishing entity that is on the same track as employer pensions. Those who are complacent in the healthcare debate because they still have generous employer provided health insurance benefits need to recognize the changes in the job market that are already well underway. A comparison with the history of pensions is inorder. Up until the early 1980's most company pension plans were defined benefit plans which provided a monthly payment for life that was fixed at the time of retirement. Employees were not required to contribute toward the plan. Defined contribution plans began replacing the defined benefit plans in the 1980's. The defined contribution plans fixed the employers contribution to the pension but did not guarantee a monthly benefit. Some of the risk was shifted from the employer to the employee by such plans. Employees weren't required to contribute to the plans. 401(k) plans began replacing the defined contribution plans by about 1990. 401(k) plans shifted the financing of retirement from an employer managed plan to the employee. Employers matched a signifcant part of the employee's contribution to his or her plan under the 401(k) model. Over the last several years employers have stopped matching their employees' contributions. It took less than a generation for the social contract to be re-written. The same slope applies to employer provided healthcare. Up until about 1980 employers paid 100% of the cost of healthcare insurance for employees and their families. During the 1980's employers stopped providing healthcare insurance for family members of employees. Employees had to pay the additional costs of insurance for their family members via payroll deduction. By the 1990's employees had to start contributing toward their own health insurance. First it was only 2%; then 5%; then 10%; then 20% and now sometimes reaching 50%. We are a few years away from employees paying 100% of the cost of health care insurance with the benefit of buying it at the employer's group rate. When that happens there is a likelihood that the purchase will be made in post-tax dollars instead of pre-tax dollars. This disappearance of employer paid healthcare is as inevitable as the elimination of employer provided pensions. It's now more important than ever to establish a fall back option for employees - whether they are unionized, non-union, private sector or public sector - while employees have some voice in the debate. Legislation written without the voices of employees will favor the interests of those who write it.

Posted by: binckeslaw | July 23, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

What Obama says is spin and apparently much of the newspaper's reporting is based on this spin and how the spin can be improved to tell his story.
Let's all read the bill and listen to the CBO, for neither Congress or the Press does.

Posted by: flyover22 | July 24, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Obama wants to ration care and send the old to their demise and fund abortions paid for with taxpayers' money to exterminate the next generation. Is this the way he intends to cut costs?

Posted by: tsapp77 | July 24, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I read every political columist in the NY Times, Washington Post, Politico, and Drudge (many not all) every day. I can say without hesitation EJ Dionne is nothing more tha a tool for this adminstration. Not once (as far as I have read) have you ever asked a tough question for this adminsitration. You are so lock-step in line with this adminstration you have lost all credibility. Even when you appear on radio and TV you are nothing more than a spokesperson for the White House. Come on EJ get some back bone and find the gaps and push for real reform. Stop agreeing with ever single thing the administration says. And this is coming from a strong backer of Obama but also a person that believes Obama has given way too much policy making power to the extreme left at the expense of the middle. We need strong 4th estate members who are not obstructionist or idealogues to question what our government is doing. STOP! being such a tool.

Posted by: tomb5 | July 25, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Lobbyists own these politicians. They don't care a lick about their constituents. Whatever disaster they foist upon us will not touch them or their families. Does it not bother those of the liberal mindset that these people have exempted themselves from this monstrosity? Wake up, America!

Posted by: moveestimator | July 27, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Why on earth should we trust the gov't with healthcare?

How do we know they will do what they say they will?

I believe they should beta this program in a state like Rhode Island and then a state like Califorinia.

There is no way anyone should believe the promises of this health care plan unitl they've proven it on some level someplace.

Posted by: ravioliman6666 | July 27, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

We have a bill that is hundreds of pages long that apparently nobody understands in total. We cannot get a straight story on the details. We are being asked to blindly trust 1/6 of the economy and our future health to the "leadership" of the Congress, which has not since at least 1964 played the budget business straight (e.g. declaring this and that "off budget", using various trust funds to offset the size of deficits, etc.). How can any reasonable adult place their future and the future of their famiy in the hands of such an inept and corrupt institution? Yet we are asked to. Our only hope is to (a) insist that the bill be posted in total both now and as it is modified (fat chance, but we can ask), and (b) remind those Congressmen that they will own ALL repeat ALL of the consequences of this bill, and that we will absolutely hold them personally accountable, and that "I didn't read it" won't pass as an excuse.

As to Mr. Dionne, he's like all too many of his generation (and mine as well)--still so caught up in the culture wars of the 1960s that he can't see beyond "Left is good--right is bad" and realize that (a) neither left nor right has any hint of a claim to superiority, and both left and right have a LOT to answer for, (b) government is neither the source of problems nor the source of's just government, and (c) concentration of power in government is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, as concentration of power in the private sector. It's a huge problem for the Baby Boomers...they are trapped in a time warp and view everything through the lens of the late 1960s. Another way of saying this is that while all of them are growing old, not many have grown up.

Posted by: dsmaples | July 28, 2009 5:40 AM | Report abuse

I get the impression that many want no change to health care. No change?...even though our citizens die younger than citizens in other developed nations. No change?...even though a higher percent of our babies die than in 39 other countries. No change?...even though cancer patients have better outcomes in Germany, France, Japan, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark (and in other countries, too). If health and longevity is our goal, we for SURE would not keep the current system. If cost of health care is an issue, we would dump our approach in a heartbeat!! For we pay more per person than citizens pay in any other country. So to anyone who wants to keep what we currently have, I ask: WHY??

Posted by: mkittels | July 28, 2009 5:48 AM | Report abuse

I think many people would welcome a change in the American health care system. The problem is the system is very complex and any change will have far reaching consequences. I don't think the answer is a single payer system. The U.S. is larger and more diverse than most of the other countries in Europe that have a single-payer system. Having lived in England for a year and been covered by said single-payer system I doubt the claims made here that such systems are superior. In England most of the doctors in my area (Northwest) were foreigners from India and the Middle East. They were poorly compensated and the care was mediocre. The rich were opting for private insurance similar to the U.S. system with private hospitals. The hospitals there had wards of beds separated by curtains (think 1950s style). Rationing was also the norm. We had a friend who waited 18 months for a hernia operation and another friend who was severely depressed but couldn't get in to see a doctor for over a week.
For this standard of care the working class paid more that 50% of their income to support health care and the dole.

No thank you. I don't think this is what we want in the U.S. Why not increase the competitiong by eliminating the prohibitions of out of state insurers for a start and remember nothing is truly free, someone has to pay for it even if it isn't you.

Posted by: cg13 | July 28, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse


Obama Care will squeeze out private companies.

Why do you pretend you don't know that?

Posted by: hoplite2010 | July 28, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

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