Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thoughts on Obama's Health Care Speech

I watched the rerun of President Obama's health care speech tonight.

When the President says his plan will cost $900 billion without adding a dime to the deficit he is basically telling us we can all go to heaven without dying. Let us remember that it was only a couple of weeks ago the White House revised its long term deficit projections by more than $2 billion. If Obama can't get deficit projections right why should I believe he can properly project health care spending? The notion that health care costs can be contained and savings can be achieved by eliminating fraud and waste in Medicare and Medicaid is, to quote Hillary Clinton, a willing suspension of disbelief.

What I was looking for from Obama tonight was how the new system would be an improvement over the present one. Well, I'm still waiting. He blasted health insurance companies for cherry picking by insuring healthy consumers while rejecting or dropping sick policy holders. That's all well and good yet the same sort of thing happens under public health care systems that when they ration care. The patient is denied coverage for health care just the same.

President Obama repeated the claim that if you like your present health insurance you can keep it. But how can he make such a promise? Private companies change insurance providers all the time. There's nothing to prevent companies from opting to change insurance providers nor should there be if a company is better served by a competitor.

It's a little ripe for the President to lack of civility in the health care debate at the conclusion of his remarks when during the body of his remarks he accused those who disagreed with him of using scare tactics and telling tall tales. He all but called Sarah Palin a liar (but at least she's getting under his thin skin.) Yet it is not helpful when Obama says, "If you misrepresent what is in this plan we will call you out." In other words it is a sin to disagree with The Anointed One. It is also not constructive to bring the War in Iraq or President Bush's tax cuts into the mix. If I were a Republican lawmaker statements like that would not lead me to believe that he is open to suggestion notwithstanding the bone he threw them on tort reform.

My reservations notwithstanding I understand the appeal of a public option to some. It does to some extent alleviate the anxiety involved in the high costs of health care. The fact is few people could afford to pay for most medical procedures out of their own pocket. If President Obama convinces people his plan will prevent them from going bankrupt when a catastrophic health problem arises then he will have turned the corner. However, President Obama insults our intelligence if he seriously believes his plans for health care will not add a dime to the deficit. So at the moment the jury is still out.

Of course, if the American public still doesn't buy into Obamacare we might end up getting it whether we want it or not. In which case, voters will likely turn on Democrats en masse in November 2010. Yet that might be precisely what Obama wants. Obama would love to run against a Republican controlled Congress in 2012. It worked for Bill Clinton. Hillarycare failed. The GOP gains control of both Houses in midterm elections and two years later Clinton is re-elected in a landslide.

But what good does it do our health care system if the President is in while the doctor is out.

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