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White House missed semantic key to reform battle
Submitted by Kevin Wuzzardo on Wed, 08/19/2009 - 7:35am.
Over the weekend President Barack Obama started doing something I've been saying for a couple of weeks he should have done in the first place. He began touting not his health care reform plan, but his health insurance reform plan. Had the White House started with health insurance reform, I told colleagues during a discussion on the latest cantankerous town hall meetings around the country, people would have lined up around the block to support it. Instead, the push for health care reform frightened people and opened the door for both sides of the debate to provide plenty of misinformation and straight-up lies.
You see, the phrase health care reform makes some people think you are going to change the way they are treated in hospitals and doctor's offices. It has them worried the government will decide what care and treatment they receive and from what doctor. But the president's plan was never about that. I realized this just a few minutes into his town hall meeting in Raleigh last month. What I heard Mr. Obama discuss was not changes in the care you'll receive but how to pay for it and how to get as many Americans as possible covered. But as has happened so many times since he took office, the Obama administration had a good idea, but poor execution.
Look, if you don't think the health insurance industry in this country needs to change, then you're either crazy or really, really rich. Admit it: You've decided against going to the doctor on multiple occassions because of how much it's gonna cost. I certainly have. In fact, I've done it regularly. Unless it's something extremely painful or something I don't think I can manage on my own, I'll just suffer. It may not be the best idea, but it's a necessity for so many of us just trying to make ends meet.
Perhaps this change in title will make the whole debate more constructive. The yelling, screaming, protesting and general stupidity on all sides certainly has been anything but constructive. Unfortunately, that taint of animosity has imbued itself so deeply into the discussion that there may be no going back. So let's try to stick to the facts.
1. More Americans need better and cheaper health care coverage. This goes beyond the 46-million people without insurance in this coverage. As I said, many of us who have insurance still can't afford to use it as we should.
2. The system needs to be more efficient. The president says the money in the exisiting system will pay for about two-thirds of the more than $1 trillion price tag over ten years that's been projected. I don't completely buy that, because I doubt if the inefficiencies and abuses of any system can be weeded out to make the most of that money.
3. The so-called public option can help if it can truly promote more competition. Obviously, you'd prefer it to happen without government intervention. Regardless, none of the proposed public option plans are anywhere near what is truly socialized medicine.
So let's stop the screaming, but let's continue to the discourse. Let's agree that change needs to happen and work together to find it. It doesn't matter if your liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. This is a people issue. We spend too much on health care in a country where we should be smart enough to find a better way to do it. So let's find that better way instead of just laying blame.
By: Kevin Wuzzardo