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How Obama Can Win on Health Care

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Posted on Aug 30, 2009
White House / Pete Souza

President Obama stares into the void of the Grand Canyon.

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

    President Obama can still secure major health care legislation this year if he learns from his mistakes in recent months and spends more time reminding Americans why they were once eager for fundamental change.

    His White House lost sight of the need to make a strong case that reform would deliver specific benefits to the insured as well as the uninsured. Absent a consistent set of arguments from reformers, advocates of the status quo filled the vacuum—often with outright lies.

    The administration also sent mixed and confusing signals about its position on a public insurance option. This set off a liberal firestorm and increased the role that the public option played in the public debate—which, paradoxically, is exactly the opposite of what Obama’s lieutenants intended.

    And his aides did not foresee just how fraught the situation would become in the Senate, where Max Baucus, the Democratic chairman of the Finance Committee, allowed Charles Grassley, the committee’s ranking Republican, to string negotiations along indefinitely without making any commitment to voting for a bill.

    Senate leaders signaled Obama as early as June that they wanted him to intervene more actively to push Baucus along. The administration held back, hoping it could postpone its most forceful involvement until after both the Senate and the House had passed bills. But Baucus’ failure to produce a proposal before the summer recess added to the sense of legislative chaos and bred uncertainty as to what reformers are seeking.

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    Despite health care’s summer of discontent, supporters of change are in better shape than the accounts of recent weeks would suggest. The House is poised to pass a bill in early fall that would achieve most of Obama’s major goals. And Obama is a full year ahead of the schedule on which the Clinton administration found itself in the 1990s.

    The health battle did not reach its legislative climax until the autumn of Clinton’s second year in office. Obama, by contrast, has forced a showdown with plenty of time left before the midterm elections, giving him more maneuvering room.

    But backers of reform say that if Obama is to prevail, he will have to be much clearer about what he is fighting for.

    Democratic strategists as well as members of Congress argue that for middle-of-the-road voters, the issues that matter are the high cost of insurance, their fears of losing coverage if they have pre-existing conditions, and the fact that policies often fail to cover necessary procedures and sometimes cut off benefits.

    “They pay their premiums, they pay their co-pays, and then a doctor tells them they need a test and they discover their insurance company won’t pay for it,” said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster. “That’s the kind of thing that people are upset about.”

    John Marttila, another top Democratic adviser, argued in a memo to party leaders that “medical bankruptcies evoke profound empathy, fear and moral outrage” and that reformers should highlight as a central goal “that no American family should be bankrupted by catastrophic health care bills.”

    In the meantime, by failing to make a strong and comprehensible case for the public insurance option, the administration has left many confused about exactly what it is.

    Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., argues that the administration should use a simple analogy to drive home the idea that government has the capacity to expand the choices people have. “In my state and every state, we have excellent private universities and excellent public universities,” he said. “People have a choice.”

    Marttila broadly agrees with Schumer’s analysis, but he adds that it is a mistake for reformers to lay too much emphasis on the public option. Doing so, he says, leads many to believe that it is the entirety of health reform rather than “only one element” and distracts attention from the most popular ideas Obama is pushing.

    In the end, the administration would sacrifice the public option if that were necessary to win major expansions in heath coverage and tough new rules on insurance companies. But the public option’s most passionate supporters will not accept such a deal unless the administration first fights hard to get it enacted.

    The road to compromise is not paved by offering premature concessions and vagueness. Having held back, the administration now needs to lay out clear and understandable goals, so it can bargain from a position of strength. Dare one say it? That was Ted Kennedy’s way.

    E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.

    © 2009, Washington Post Writers Group


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amunaor's avatar

By amunaor, September 7, 2009 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

WildBilly, you hit the nail square on the head!

Not only have these folks enlisted the computer as a tool to screw John Q. Public, but what does this say about the legion of artful mathematicians who willingly sit at the same table; who dream up fraudulent algorithms to squeeze the last once of blood out of everyone.

I’ve noticed similar strategies utilized by the Auto Insurance Industry. They lure you in with low rates, then with every renewal, begin to write in exclusions while jacking up the premiums on other items. Before you know it you need to raise your deductibles into the stratosphere in order to afford carrying any semblance of coverage, that is if you want to continue calling it coverage.

These folks are not interested in the state of anyone’s health. These blood-sucking bottom-liners would steal a dollar from they’re own granny to make their wallets thicker.

The term ‘Insurance’ is a misnomer! Let’s call it what is: Legalized Thievery!

The public already has an option: en-masse, stop buying insurance. Just slam the door shut on these ‘Insurance’ scammers and leaches and write laws to keep them away from the table. It’s all a con!

Peace, Best Wishes and Hope

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By WildBilly, September 6, 2009 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

Everyone knows Health Insurance Companies take advantage of imprecise language in their policies to deny coverage, increase profits, and screw consumers.

But their latest weapon is a computer net that delays billing and payment to ensure people do not meet their deductible until their bills reach astronomic levels, thereby increasing cash flow.

      I have seen my MD three times this year. I have yet to receive a bill. I have therefore not met my deductible, which means I am responsible for the entire balance.

I saw the MD in February, May, and August. Why I have not been billed is a mystery. But the entire bill will now be charged at a 90% rate. I may have to pay over $2000 out of pocket,

      Can computers be programmed to maximize profits?  Of course they can!  It shows how confident Big Health Insurance is in their ability to continually operate in a manner no other business could tolerate.

It shows their inability to cooperate with consumers and also shows how people lose their homes.  Instead of billing in a rational and timely manner, Blue Cross wants to hammer people with the largest possible bill.

      What’s interesting is I can’t even find what state is responsible for Blue Cross\Blue Shield |Anthem Insurance. The card says Wisconsin, but the phones says the office is in Ohio.  The obvious reaoning for this administrative maze is to confuse consumers, make complaints impossible, and obfuscate criminal conduct. Not since the putative “California Energy Crisis” has computer crime been committed on so large a scale.


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By KDelphi, September 3, 2009 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

The public has a right (an obligation) to intervene in behaviors that can effect all of us.

The bad motorcycle wreck I was in, I had BC/BS and they subrogated and took almost all that the rich drunk basterd had to pay me for being at fault. So it really did me alot of good.

Didnt have a helmut on—young and dumb—but I didnt really hurt my head that much.

People MUST realize by now, that, driving a motorcycle around in cities is a risky behavior with al the big Hummers and trucksa (vs trains and rails in most major world cities) in the US. Shouldnt be, but it is. If you havent riddin motorcycles alot, you just dont pay as much attention to it.

Something I hsve been paying attention to lately, is the system they have in the Netherlands—insurance is regulated, much as a utility. (Insurance industry would certainly fight this one—almost as much as singley payer)

We have a right to insist that people keep plumbing, in the city, dont ride around without seatbelts (if you hit something and lose the wheel, you may hit me) not drive drunk, etc.

Your freedoms end where my nose begins.

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By StuartH, September 3, 2009 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

Inherit the Wind:

The motorcycle helmet issue was very contentious (at least in the Texas Legislature in the early ‘90s)  and the arguments were not
easy.  The question you ask about government intervening in individual
behavior was constantly raised.  The enactment of helmet laws and seat belt
laws were not decided on the basis of curtailing freedom, but on the basis of
tax dollars.  The amount per year per ER is a staggering figure, so taxpayers
have an interest.  It isn’t really the ubiquitous, Oz-like image-with-no-face
that tends to be referred to as “government” but people like you or your
neighbors who assert taxpaying or other interests at large where the correlation is clear.

Since I was diagnosed coming up on three years ago with Diabetes, I have been
more conscious of the whole issue of the food industry and consumers and
how various forms of cardio vascular and digestive tract diseases have come to
burden the health care system. 

Interesting issue.  In the form of the overall subject “preventive medicine” it is
really a goal in the health care reform process, but mostly it seems beyond the
scope.  The most legislation could do would be to not penalize prevention, the
way the current system does, although laying a basis for a more encouraging environment at the doctor’s office would be nice.

The government role in the prevention/food consumer paradigm is a somewhat indirect one, compared to the motorcycle helmet issue.  The FDA, along with other agencies have been affected by a general supression of science under the Bush administration, so their role has been pretty well screwed up, just like the SEC. 

Congress has been, over many decades, talked into subsidizing the sugar industry and thus, the amount of sugar and refined products like High Fructose Corn Syrup have really moved into a lot of products on the grocery store shelves.  The bar charts on this comparing production from the 1940s, through the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s to today are amazing. 

The problem there is being addressed by a lot of people who are now writing books about healthy eating and how to deal with the epidemic increase in Diabetes.  It is alarming that Type II Diabetes, which used to be referred to as Adult Onset Diabetes, is now seen in a lot of children. 

Looking back at the history of this disease, it is interesting to note that once upon a time it was thought to be something that was found mainly in rich people who developed too much “fondness for being at table.” 

If there is some inclusion of preventive medicine in whatever reform passes Congress, these things might get more attention.  Then, more public discussion about over eating, sustainable agriculture, local food, and all the rest might become more pronounced.  I like Michelle Obama for entertaining a discussion about food choices for her children around the kitchen garden she started at the White House.  There is no law involved, just a kitchen table discussion. 

I happen to think that somewhere there are insurance executives and hospital executives and other financially interested parties in a position to run these large systems who see the correlation between increased profits for processed food products and health care costs and see that as a good thing, from a profit perspective.  Consumers are turned into patients and really are, from that perspective, cash cows. 

I doubt that anyone is smart enough to have created such a system on purpose, but I hope we are all smart enough to work from as many angles as possible in creating better ways of doing things all up and down the line.

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amunaor's avatar

By amunaor, September 2, 2009 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment

Your health is not a ‘Comodity’ to be offered up; to be gamed by self-serving speculators within the gambling casinos on Wall-Street.

The Insurance ‘Industry’ is only concerned about its bottom-line, certainly not your health! It’s the nature of the corporate beast!

Let the doctors become doctors once again, not just pimps for the pharmacuitical industry.

Peace, Best Wishes and Hope

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By Inherit The Wind, September 2, 2009 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment

A motorcyclist coming through on the interstate gets into an accident and then
taken to the ER.  He has a head injury.  This costs the budget a minimum of
about $40,000.  Probably, it goes a lot higher.

Then, you see people at the podium arguing against having their freedom
taken away by the requirement to wear a helmet.

Who pays for this type of freedom when the gurney is being rushed into
surgery?

************************************************

Damn motorcyclists! They’re the REAL cause of the rising health care costs!  Especially the ones that don’t want to wear helmets!

I’ve ridden for well over 30 years. I’ve never ridden without a helmet, even when I rode every day in Maryland when helmets weren’t required.  I know every twist and turn of the helmet (and mandatory seat belt) arguments.  Long before seat-belt wearing was mandatory I wouldn’t drive without them nor let my passengers ride without them. 

I just don’t need laws telling me I have to. But, if we let them, other people will ALWAYS restrict our freedom, not for our best interest, but for theirs. 

I’ve met lawyers, who, as a condition of their contract, weren’t allowed to ride motorcycles, sky-dive, bungie-jump or even ski. They were forbidden to engage in any “risky” activity.

Apple has a problem with exploding iPods.  It’s bought the victims off but as a condition, they forced them to sign a life-time agreement never to speak of their accident or their settlement.

I realize that many riders don’t have the brains our creator gave a flea to realize that helmets save lives.  Even more car drivers and riders are just as dumb about seatbelts.

Lots of people overeat—and clog hospitals with heart-attacks, diabetes or weight-based injuries.  Shall we make overeating a crime?

Where does limiting other peoples’ risky behavior end?

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By dihey, September 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment

I don’t care a fig whether “Obama can win on Health Care”. Only one thing counts for me and that is whether our nation will “win” (= be not marginally but substantially better off) on Health Care and how “to win” is defined. If “losing an ill-defined Byzantine bill” is better for the nation, so be it. Right now there are so many definitions of “winning”, both public and hidden, that I get dizzy trying to understand their differences.

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By altara, September 2, 2009 at 9:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

HEALTH CARE REFORM - THE PUBLIC OPTION

Reports that President Obama will not insist that reform include the public option is really distressing. Most experts consider this an integral part of meaningful reform. Without it the insurance companies benefit from all the influx of the previously uninsured and do not face strong competition.

From a public relations point of view, perhaps it should have been called the public insurance option.  This would have mitigated but not prevented the misleading claims that government is taking over health care.

But I do agree with Republicans when they say that the Democrats control the White House and Congress and can pass health care reform legislation.  Those Democrats that have not been supporting their president on this issueshould be threatened with loss of perks, primary fights, and long sessions with Rahm Emmanuel.

homer   http://www.altara.blogspot.com

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By StuartH, September 2, 2009 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

The argument against health care reform towards a universal coverage is
similar to the one I remember from a long time ago in a municipal setting
where the city owned the hospital with a trauma center that could not turn
people away.

A motorcyclist coming through on the interstate gets into an accident and then
taken to the ER.  He has a head injury.  This costs the budget a minimum of
about $40,000.  Probably, it goes a lot higher. 

Then, you see people at the podium arguing against having their freedom
taken away by the requirement to wear a helmet. 

Who pays for this type of freedom when the gurney is being rushed into
surgery?

Never ask for whom the bell tolls
It tolls for thee
No man is an island, entire of the main

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By tdbach, September 2, 2009 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

I’m no fan of Ronald Reagan, but he did get one thing right: when you want to persuade the public to get behind your position, you break out the Powerpoint slide show. Reagan was great with graphs and charts.

If Obama wants real reform with a strong public option, he should take to his bully pulpit and pitch his case with all the tools an entreprenuer uses in front of venture capitalists. Sell it. Show why the ROI is compelling.

We advocates of universal HC (mostly single-payer) believe that the economics are on our side. Let’s use the numbers, portray them in pretty, easy-to-understand graphs, and get this thing done.

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By ChaoticGood, September 2, 2009 at 1:33 am Link to this comment

To the Tenth:

I am very curious about your post, and I have pasted it here:
—————————————————————————
Ask random people you come in contact with if they know that the Vampires in DC want to Require every single US Citizen to purchase health insurance.

Can anyone think of anything the Feds have ever *required* citizens to purchase (auto insurance is a state thing)

This is precedent setting. If they can get away with requiring mandatory purchase of insurance they won’t stop there.

There seems to be a media blackout on this aspect of this. Why is that?
—————————————————————————-

I assume from this post that you are opposed to someone having to buy health insurance even if they don’t want to.
If you are opposed then I really don’t understand your thinking at all.

If you don’t want health insurance and then you get sick or hurt, do you expect to have your illness or injury treated by a doctor in a hospital?

If you do, then I presume that you advocating that you will pay for it out of your own funds and not expect me to pay for you. 

So far, so good, but now, lets assume that you have a serious injury or a terrible disease and you don’t have enough money to pay for your care, then what?

Do I now have to start paying for you?  Or are you just going to go into the woods and die?  Or are you going to walk the streets with your terrible disease and transmit it to others because you cannot pay for isolation.

I’m sorry, but you seem to think that you live in a world in which other people are not affected by your actions. 

If you never get sick and are immortal, then I suppose you are wasting money if you are forced to pay for health insurance.  If you are human and mortal, then you have a problem.

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By The Tenth Amendment, September 1, 2009 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Not a peep about the Mandatory Purchase of Insurance that is contained in EVERY bill up for consideration.

Try this informal poll:

Ask random people you come in contact with if they know that the Vampires in DC want to Require every single US Citizen to purchase health insurance.

Can anyone think of anything the Feds have ever *required* citizens to purchase (auto insurance is a state thing)

This is precedent setting. If they can get away with requiring mandatory purchase of insurance they won’t stop there.

There seems to be a media blackout on this aspect of this. Why is that?

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By StuartH, September 1, 2009 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

Rodger:

I remember.  It has been a very long time.  I hope they discover a 21st century
constructive, forward looking sort of sanity.  Don’t know what that would look
like.

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By Rodger Lemonde, September 1, 2009 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

Wrong question. The right question is:
Why do the Republicans want Americans to lose?
Suspected answer, so no one will notice what losers
they are.
Remember the respect of the world they lost us?
Remember the freedoms they lost us?
Remember the respect for the constitution they lost?
Remember when Americans were free and the market was
restrained?
Remember when we had a surplus instead of a deficit?
Remember when the Republicans had something to offer
even to those who disagreed with them?

Report this

By StuartH, September 1, 2009 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

Now you have Republicans threatening to stall forever the reconciliation option
with bullshit point of order questions. 

On the other hand, Democratic members seem to be moving away from the
idea of bipartisanship since it turned out to be a cynical ploy to waste time. 

This is setting up to be interesting football. 

Grass roots groups, with online presence such as a Firedoglake and Blue
Majority are doing a pretty good job of setting up an opposition to the
influence of the insurance companies, given their relative lack of resources. 

The stakes are high for both sides.  If the Republicans effectively block reform,
and the blame clearly belongs to them in the eyes of the voting public, they
could wind up with fewer votes in Congress. 

If the Democrats fail to stand up to the Republicans and at least try to pass the
Public Option, their own constituents could be disappointed enough to reduce
the contributions, volunteers and voters in the next election.  That could mean
fewer Democratic votes in Congress.

For those who want this to be about the issue of health care reform with a
minimum of political calculation getting into the mix, this will be highly
frustrating.  The battle will be intense. 

My personal prediction is that the public option has more public support going
for it and will go through, but not without some damage by the Republicans.

Then, I think after the next election, we’ll see what the conditions are for
further reform.  If the Democrats get more seats, reform can go forward.  If
they lose seats, it will have to wait until the next time an election brings more
Democrats in. 

My sense is that the younger voters, who are trending Democratic, will be
more effective in organizing to elect more progressives over time.  The
Republicans are making themselves look ridiculous with candidates like Rick
Perry out there pandering shamelessly to secessionists and creationists, and
Huckabee still trying to sell “Death Panels” and Michelle Bachmann advocating
that everyone slit their wrists and declare a blood oath.

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By BlueEagle, September 1, 2009 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

There are still people that actually believe this. Fortunately, most are still under the age of 18.

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Aarby's avatar

By Aarby, August 31, 2009 at 11:56 pm Link to this comment

Barack Obama can still win if he does a Manuel Zelaya and uses his power and position to help the people. That would be nice. What indication is there that that’s going to happen? I’d say none.

Therefore you might just as well speculate on how much good the local chamber of commerce will do for good paying jobs and youth looking for work. Or how much assistance it would be to Michael Moore if the National Rifle Association would just contribute thousands to his next anticapitalist movie.

Obama is a corporacrat. And a hawk. He may a diminutive hawk, but he’s still growing.

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By yours truly, August 31, 2009 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When Congress passes and then President Obama signs a Medicare for all bill, it’ll be like in the movie “Reds” - those scenes where John Reed (played by Warren Beatty) enters the Winter Palace, what to him, based on the movie, must have been a truly surreal experience, with its effect on him partly the joy that one derives from a job well done and partly a profound sense of humility for having been lucky enough to be a witness to and participant in one of history’s most momentous turnabouts.  It’s reasonable to believe that he also may have had a daydream or two on the subject of what lies ahead.  Mostly though, the incredulity. and, yes, the serenity of it all.

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By coloradokarl, August 31, 2009 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment

It has become a scam for The Corporation, by The Corporations and Obama is into them up to his neck. I need health care but would gladly continue taking chances of not getting really sick with YOUR tax dollars if we could leave Afghanistan tomorrow. Obama has lost me…......

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By Terry, August 31, 2009 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My husband and I lost our insurance when a large corporation bought his small tech company and sent all its jobs to Canada under NAFTA.  Most of the employees were middle-aged and will never recover.  Afer 2 years, my husband found work that provides some health coverage under an HSA, but we would still probably go bankrupt if we faced a major illness for him.

I have no insurance and at first I would wake up with panic attacks in the middle of the night.  Now I am resigned to my own mortality.  I would welcome an affordable government plan with cost controls and limitations.  But I will not accept corporate fascism forcing me to support insurance industry profits and stockholders.

You can kiss the Democratic Party goodbye if that happens.  Let’s hope they have a good understanding of the needs and mindsets of the swing voters who gave them one more chance.

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By ardee, August 31, 2009 at 4:33 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi, August 31 at 3:22 pm #

The truth is that, withoput the Blue Dogs the Democrats cant pass gas…....OK that they can and do rather frequently, but they cant pass health care legislation.

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By KDelphi, August 31, 2009 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

Chaotic Good- I wouldnt disagree, that tht might be one way to do things..although, if he risks failure, it would be with his own party since they are in the majority.

But this idea fails to address the rot at the core of the system, which is pay or die.

There has grown up an attitude towards the medical industrial complex in the US that is not repeated anywhere else in the civilized world. We need to find out why that is and figure out how to change it before much else will change.

The entire “socialized risk, privitized profit” system of rationing out food, shelter, medical care and housing, which are basic human needs, needs to be addressed, or we will become Third World.

But, compared to the bill we are looking at now, including the sick and poor in Medicare would be a huge improvement.

There is something to be said for everyone getting the same health care, etc, in that, if it sucks, people used to middle class treatment wil not long put up with it.

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By MThomasNC, August 31, 2009 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I give more credit to Obama’s tactics and strategies than 90% of the MSM opinion makers, esp. the DC crowd.  Had Obama listened to them he would have lost the election, or the dems would not have won congress in 06 or 08.  I know Obama got this HCR in the bag.  It’s going to happen this year.

All the corporate media does is slamm him based on what repubs are saying.  Why should Obama get down and dirty w the likes of ‘tea baggers’ who want to turn america back to before WWII.  Why is a minority party getting so much airtime - because the media loves puffery, lies, distortions because it’s about ratings.

To keep saying Obama or the dems is not presenting the facts about HCR or the public option is further perpetuating the repub’s talking point of the day.  What the media is looking for is the down and dirty fight so they report ‘he said, she said’.  Obama is too clever to fall for these media tricks. It’s time for honest, open debates on HCR - not the repubs lies and misinformation.

I say, Mr. Dionne, I love you dearly but report on what Obama has consistently said about HCR and public option.  Do your part in reporting the truth not some fairy tale manufactured by the opposition.

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By KDelphi, August 31, 2009 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

In answer to the question, Obama could win on health care reform by saying, “Ok, We started out wanting a plan to provide coverage for all. So, Baucass, you step down, Blue Dogs, get with the Dems or the gOP and, GOP—you lost. We’re going to do HR 676”

One can dream

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By ChaoticGood, August 31, 2009 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

It is very difficult to convince a person that a change in the healthcare system is a good thing to do, when their entire livlihood and career is based on the current healthcare system.  I believe that Obama needs to “piecemeal” the changes to the healthcare system.

The first thing he should do is fix Medicare and remove the donut hole in coverage. 

Next he should allow anyone who cannot get insurance in the public market at a reasonable price, to enroll in Medicare at any age.

Once Medicare is secure, then most of the fear and outrage expressed by seniors will dissapate and he can continue on with the next phase reform.

If he tries to get a massive complex bill passed, he runs a high risk of failure.  Fix 80% of the problems first, then take time with the controversial 20%.

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By StuartH, August 31, 2009 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

I thought it was interesting that Ted Kennedy’s family (possibly at the
suggestion of the Senator himself before he passed) had the letter to the Pope
read aloud in which Kennedy reiterated his strong, lifelong dedication to
healthcare accessible to all the American people. 

He was pounding the podium literally from the grave.  To those Republicans
trying to muffle his legacy and promote the meme that Kennedy would have
compromised away the core value of at least the public option at full strength,
this was a powerful refutation. 

I hope that this, together with the revelation that Sen Enzi and others were only
pretending to negotiate just to draw the process out, causes the Democrats in
the Senate to take a resolute stand with the House members. 

I suspect that the ultimate political calculations well reveal to the more astute
players that there is really no choice except to do the right thing.  The
consequences of not having the courage are really pretty awful.

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By Big Wes, August 31, 2009 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

If health care reform looks anything like the options currently on the table, I hope it fails miserably. There is simply too much profiteering in the current system, and none of the current reform plans do anything to address that flaw.  Instead, poor Americans will be forced to buy crappy coverage from big insurance companies and have a portion of the cost subsidized by the taxpayers.  That “reform” benefits the insurance companies, who will sell tons of policies, and the hospitals that often get stiffed when the poorest patients are driven into bankruptcy. 

Affordable and quality health care must be made a right. A healthier workforce is more productive. A few hundred dollars invested in preventative care now will save thousands of dollars in future costs.  If a rich person wants to go to Dr. 90210 for liposuction and they can pay for it, then more power to them.  No person should die a painful death from cancer because they can’t afford medication or quality care.  We shouldn’t be losing our homes because our children get sick and the treatments cost more than 99% of us could ever afford.  Take the greed out of medicine, and you will fix the problems with the health care system.

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By Mary Ann McNeely, August 31, 2009 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

Obama, the prevaricating shill of every corporation in the United States, doesn’t want anything resembling actual health insurance reform.  He wants the poisoned Blue Dog sham currently wending its way through the whorehouse called Congress.  Obama is the very definition of the word “deceitful”.

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By rbrooks, August 31, 2009 at 9:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama is winning the battles he agreed to win. He’s winning for the health industry; it’s what he is in the White House to do.

Obama isn’t a bad negotiator. He just plays one on TV. Obama and his “pit bull,” Rahm, work for the same people. They are not in disagreement on any point, or Rahm would not be running the West Wing. Obama knew who he is and who he works for when he appointed him. We need to let go of the dream that Obama would work for “change.” We were had, we have been screwed, again, and our president and his third-Clinton-administration cabinet and his third-Bush-administration policies have now emerged from the smoke and mirrors that defined his campaign - as business as usual, more of the same, government of, by, and for the corporations.

It’s not about keeping industry money away from the Republicans, it’s about doing the work he has agreed to do; for the corporate establishment that put him in the White House - but not in power.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, August 31, 2009 at 9:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Isn’t Obama himself the mistake?  Can we learn from our
mistake?

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By KDelphi, August 31, 2009 at 8:33 am Link to this comment

thebeerdr—Its true. The 50 million uninsured seem not to exist anymore.One man’s ‘affordable” is everyone else’e giant subsidy to the medical idustrial complex. “Affordable” and “quality” cannot be quantified or measured, so the elites will get to define it as they choose.

BaucASS should have stepped down as soon as it came out how much money he got from the insurance industry. I dont understand why, after the break , any Dems would talk to Grassley at all!

Thanks for links, ardee. People shuld be aware of who this guy is.

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By herewegoagain, August 31, 2009 at 6:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And another thing: from the very beginning, Obama and the Democrats should have gone straight to the people to rally opposition AGAINST the insurance companies, instead of letting these corrupt corporations write reform legislation! It’s not too late to rectify this colossal stupidity, but it’s going to take twice as much work in half the amount of time. 

I want to see Obama and the Democrats barnstorm the country this fall, and nothing less than preaching fire and brimstone against the bloodsucking insurance companies will do. I want them to haul up to the microphone hundreds of people who dutifully paid their premiums, then got SCREWED when it was time for their insurance companies to pay up.

We’ve let the other side take their shots. Now it’s our turn. And I repeat: with Democrats holding majorities in the House and Senate, it damn sure better result in a strong public option.

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By Jim Yell, August 31, 2009 at 6:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We already have rationed healthcare. We also have huge insurance premiums, which leave the victim, ah, patient to pay a huge balance of the inflated cost of care. Not surprisingly many go bankrupt from the effort to pay for care.

There is plenty of evidence that the private insurance companies use every opportunity to increase profits at the expense of their supposed responsibilities to provide care to their subscribers.

So question is why does anyone want to continue private coverage? Only a small minority profit from the private insurance profits. The rest must deal with the real stress of never knowing when the private insurance company is going to pull their coverage.

A National Health Service would keep people covered no matter how many times they change jobs and would have standards of coverage. Let Private Insurance cover the chronic conditions and ego driven care of the wealthy. What is really the issue is why limit care to create profit for people who are not doing the work of healthcare? Why let people suffer conditions that are easily treatable and continuing will cause greater health problems, all to create huge wealth for the investment industry?

Some things are too important to society as a whole to be left in the hands of greedy, arrogant and aggressive, heedless people.

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By herewegoagain, August 31, 2009 at 6:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“In the end, the administration would sacrifice the public option if that were necessary to win major expansions in heath coverage and tough new rules on insurance companies. But the public option’s most passionate supporters will not accept such a deal unless the administration first fights hard to get it enacted.”

We won’t accept such a deal, period. Not with Democrats supposedly having majority power of the House, Senate, AND the White House. There are simply no more excuses. Further, I will not forgive, i.e, vote for Obama again if this doesn’t pass. He had ample time to come out swinging, and missed a critical opportunity to do so when his approval ratings were so high.

Just like with FISA. Credit Card Reform. Torture. I could go on and on.

He has chosen instead to devote his political capital to rescuing corrupt banks.

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By ardee, August 31, 2009 at 5:55 am Link to this comment

I post this here as I am unable to find the thread in which OzarkMichael and I discussed the question of which side distorts the health care reform issue the most, left or right.

In that debate I stated that the right was spending more, much more , money than was the left. As I try to do with every issue I continued to dig at it, unsatisfied with my knowledge on the subject.

If one links to this article it implies that the left has, indeed, spent a bit more than has the right. In the interest of fairness ( an all too lacking trait here and elsewhere), I post this article. Of course it also upholds several other of my points…“Men are no Angels, after all”.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/08/31/MNFT19FC7K.DTL&type=politics&tsp=1

(08-30) 18:42 PDT—People relying on TV advertising or partisan sources for information about health care legislation in Congress have heard that it will “ration” care to the nation’s oldest citizens and hike premiums “95 percent.”

or that Republican voters “might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system.” President Obama, meanwhile, has said don’t worry, the plan “will be paid for.”

Such statements, made in what analysts say is likely to be one of the most expensive issue-oriented campaigns ever, are misleading - if not flat-out wrong.

More than $67 million has been spent on TV advertising on the health care debate so far this year, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group, which analyzes TV political advertising, and more misinformation and nastiness is expected when Congress returns next week.

“Definitely, the debate is going to ratchet up,” said Keith Appell, a spokesman for the group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, which plans to spend $20 million against the Democrats’ health care plans.

Appell works at the public relations agency that represented Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group of Navy veterans whose attacks on the war record of 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., helped doom his campaign.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/08/31/MNFT19FC7K.DTL&type=politics&tsp=1#ixzz0PlKRYdHv

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, August 31, 2009 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

I am troubled by the thought that “winning” has anything to do with creating a national health care service. Between the oily statements about “affordable” health insurance from the politicians, and the distortions touted by the pharmacological shills said to be doctors… there is no longer even recognition of what is actually the problem.

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By Amos Moses, August 31, 2009 at 5:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“This White House makes a serial vacillator like Bill Clinton look like Patton crossing the Rhine” - Matt Taibbi

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By wanked, August 31, 2009 at 5:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oh… we were eager for change alright, until uncle barack smashed every opportunity for fundamental progressive change that came his way so far, be it a war issue, an economic issue, a workers rights issue, an accountability issue(torture). etc…He not only looks the other way regarding Bush crimes, but continues many of the rancid policies. If he wanted real health care reform, don’t you think he would have hired Howard Dean to be part of the reform team? I’ll tell you what obama wants…he wants mandatory health insurance for all…where middle class americans are required to buy a bogus policy that covers Jack $hit, and makes his pals and doners in the insurance racket even richer. Three and a half years cant go by fast enough for me.

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By dihey, August 31, 2009 at 4:50 am Link to this comment

A nation which overwhelmingly believes that “socialism” is terrible deserves every president we had since FDR and every president after Obama as long as this induced fear endures. Nothing fundamental has changed yet since Mr. Obama became president and nothing will change soon. Our US-style “change” always amounts to changing one dirty underpants for another, hopefully less dirty underpants.
When will you know that real change has happened? When we elect a president who dares to say (adapted from JFK’s Ich bin ein Berliner): “if socialism is good for the country I am a socialist”. Maybe, maybe we will then get real health care legislation.

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By ardee, August 31, 2009 at 3:30 am Link to this comment

I agree with the substance of the first post here. Surely Obama and his raft of advisers were intelligent enough to understand the need for a take charge President on an issue he had made the cornerstone of his first term?

If one were serious about real health care reform one might consider going to the people incessantly, using the legacy of Edward Kennedy to rally folks under your banner, making clear and truthful statements about what real reform entails and insisting that the Democratic Congress act as one, threats when necessary are fine!

If one were not so serious about reforming the Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industry one might make flowery speeches about the necessity of reform, then leave all the details to the Congress and refuse to engage the lunatic fringe on “death panels and “socialized medicine”.......

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, August 31, 2009 at 12:09 am Link to this comment

Wow ... I get to go first this time.  Where do I start?  A good negotiator knows, before the first word is spoken, where to compromise and where to stand fast.  A bad negotiator gives up all his “give away” positions early and faces the tough negotiations with only his non-negotiable positions left to bargain with.  Guess which one Obama is?  And, unfortunately, his pit bull, Emanuel, has shown that the only thing he is concerned about is keeping health industry money away from the Republicans.  Not a very strong position if your intent is to rein in those special interests.

It is sad that Teddy is gone at such a critical moment.  He would have shown Obama how it is done.  But now we are left with an incoherent and ineffective group of senators who are easy prey for the Repubs.  I don’t hold out much hope that anything really radical will emerge from this group.  They are too wimpy and to beholden to corporate contributors.

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