Stumping for His Health Care Overhaul

By Dan Froomkin
10:54 AM ET, 06/11/2009

President Obama today launches the outside-the-Beltway part of his campaign to overhaul the American health-care system.

Philip Elliott writes for the Associated Press:

Administration officials said the president's speech in Green Bay would contain no new policies, but would instead put Obama — and the traveling White House press corps — in position to hear directly from people who are affected in the existing system. Those stories, Obama's political aides said, would be key to selling the final product....

Green Bay resident Laura Klitzka, a 35-year-old, married mother of two, was set to introduce Obama at a town hall-style meeting. Klitzka has metastatic breast cancer and carries about $12,000 in unpaid medical bills.

Before leaving Washington, the White House released a biography on Klitzka, saying "she doesn't want to lose their house over her illness and while she knows she won't be able to see her children grow up, she wants to be sure the time she has left with them is quality and not spent worrying about health care bills."

Ceci Connolly writes in The Washington Post:

When President Obama touches down today in Green Bay, Wis., he will be landing in one of the highest-value health communities in the nation, a city that by numerous measures has managed to control medical spending while steadily improving health outcomes.

"If we could make the rest of the nation practice medicine the way that Green Bay does, we would have higher quality and significantly lower costs," said Peter Orszag, the Obama administration budget chief who has emerged as a key player on health-care reform.

In his drive to rein in skyrocketing health-care costs, Obama is increasingly focused on wasteful medical care that does not extend life and may actually be harmful. Today's town-hall-style meeting, his first as president to promote health reform, is intended to spotlight one city's strategy for squeezing out waste without hurting quality.

Next stop on the health-care tour: Chicago. Bruce Japsen writes for the Chicago Tribune:

President Barack Obama on Monday will address delegates to an American Medical Association meeting in Chicago.

The AMA's 543-member policy-making House of Delegates meets this weekend through next Wednesday, setting its advocacy agenda for the coming year.

This will not be an entirely welcoming crowd. Robert Pear writes in the New York Times:

As the health care debate heats up, the American Medical Association is letting Congress know that it will oppose creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan, which President Obama and many other Democrats see as an essential element of legislation to remake the health care system.

But as Sam Stein reports for Huffingtonpost.com:

Historically and philosophically, however, AMA's opposition is hardly newsworthy. Despite a lofty reputation and purported commitment to universal coverage, AMA has fought almost every major effort at health care reform of the past 70 years. The group's reputation on this matter is so notorious that historians pinpoint it with creating the ominous sounding phrase "socialized medicine" in the early decades of the 1900s.

Carrie Budoff Brown writes for Politico:

President Barack Obama's plan for a government health insurance program has touched off an increasingly fierce Democratic civil war on Capitol Hill, as liberals fearful about squandering the chance to achieve that goal are taking aggressive steps to keep moderates in line....

"It is all about Democrats," said Adam Green, chief executive officer of Change Congress.... "We only need 50 votes. We could conceivably have 60 votes on our own if we keep Democrats unified. It is a matter of convincing Democrats whose conventional wisdom is based on the old political order. This is an extremely popular proposal spearheaded by an extremely popular president, and it is OK to support it."

Laura Litvan writes for Bloomberg:

Senators drafting health-care overhaul legislation, seeking to win Republican support, are weighing whether to create nonprofit cooperatives to expand insurance coverage.

Republican criticism of a government-managed insurance program, the so-called public option, looms as a major obstacle to efforts to craft health-care legislation. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said the alternative idea of the cooperatives was broached yesterday when four senators from both parties met with President Barack Obama to discuss the drive to curb health-care costs and extend coverage to most of the nation's 46 million uninsured.

Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said Obama was "interested," and later senators in both parties met throughout the day to discuss the concept.

On the op-ed pages, David S. Broder writes in The Washington Post:

The time may come -- either before or after the House votes on its bill -- when Obama may have to demonstrate his flexibility on the issue of a government-run option.

Former Bush guru Karl Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal:

If Democrats enact a public-option health-insurance program, America is on the way to becoming a European-style welfare state. To prevent this from happening, there are five arguments Republicans must make.....

[T]he public option is just phony. It's a bait-and-switch tactic meant to reassure people that the president's goals are less radical than they are. Mr. Obama's real aim, as some candid Democrats admit, is a single-payer, government-run health-care system.

Responding to Rove's piece, Daniel J. Mitchell blogs for the libertarian Cato Institute:

Karl Rove should have been named Man of the Year at some point by the Democratic National Committee. The political consultant/Bush adviser played a big role in expanding the burden of government....He also helped ruin the GOP image with his inside-the-beltway version of "compassionate conservatism," thus paving the way for big Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008....

I'm baffled why Republicans or conservatives would give him the time of day.

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