President Obama’s Healthcare Plan… Too Good To Be True?
Surprisingly, President Obama explained his Healthcare Plan in a somewhat succinct, easy-to-understand, and impassioned fashion today at Arcadia University in Glenside Pennsylvania… leaving me to wonder why he had not done this, like this, before.
He broke it down into three sections, which I would summarize as Accountable Insurance Reform, Affordable Insurance Choices, and Reduced Costs for All.
The first part, insurance reform that aims to “end the worst practices of insurance companies” by holding insurance companies “accountable to the American people,” has many exciting elements that have the potential to truly make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Immediately this year, if it passes this year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions; they will be banned from dropping coverage when their customers get sick; they will be banned from “arbitrarily and massively” increasing premiums; they will be banned from placing lifetime or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care that their customers receive; and they will be required to offer free preventive care and check-ups to their customers.
Also, within the first year, “thousands of uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions” will be able to purchase health insurance, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan to the age of 26, and a “new, independent appeals process” will be implemented for those who feel they were unfairly denied a claim by their insurance company.
Hmm… so far, so good. What else?
The second part of President Obama’s Healthcare Plan is all about affordable choice, making available to “uninsured individuals and small business owners the same kind of choice of private health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves.” To achieve this, if an individual or a small business owner is not part of a big group or a big company, they can join a pool which gives them bargaining power over insurance companies to negotiate “lower rates and a better deal.” But for those in the middle-class who may still be unable to afford these “better deals,” the President is proposing a tax credit that will “add up to the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history.”
Tax cuts for the middle class? Hmm… Reaching across the aisle and helping the squeezed middle class… who could argue with that?!
What’s that? What about costs, you ask? How do we contain the rising cost of healthcare?
Well, funny you should ask, because that is part three of the President’s three-pronged healthcare plan, bringing down “the cost of health care for millions — families, businesses, and the federal government” by incorporating many of the cost-cutting ideas put forth by both parties, “ideas that go after waste and abuse in our system, including in programs like Medicare.” These measures should reduce most people’s premiums and reduce the deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next decade. “Those aren’t my numbers,” the President emphasized “they are the savings determined by the Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress for what things cost.”
“When’s the right time [for healthcare reform]? If not now, when? If not us, who?” –President Obama, March 8, 2010
It sounds great, doesn’t it? It really does. It has the potential to make a huge difference in millions of lives, but still, after listening to the President’s speech on C-Span today, I was left with a nagging feeling. Is it too good to be true? It occurred to me that I had not heard the downside. I need to hear the downside. I need to know that a plan has been assessed from all sides and the potentially good and bad outcomes have been identified. I need to know that contingency plans have been developed to deal with the bad, with all those things that can go wrong.
You know that when you buy a house or a used car, or give trillions of dollars to financial institutions, you want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. You want to know that the powers that be have intelligently weighed the pros and cons, have considered other alternatives, and have made the best decisions possible.
This is not to say that the President’s healthcare plan is not the best plan possible, perhaps it is. Perhaps the public option was a better idea, perhaps not. Perhaps allowing us to purchase pharmaceuticals from Canada was a good idea, perhaps not. Perhaps there will be fines and penalties imposed on people who are unable to get health insurance, perhaps not. Perhaps there will be a safety net set up for those who fall through the cracks, perhaps not.
This might be a great plan, but I don’t know, because I didn’t hear the other side, the downside. I didn’t hear a balanced presentation and assessment of the plan. And I don’t mean the childish, partisan diatribes lobbied across the aisle ad nauseum this past year, I mean a fair and honest assessment of this healthcare plan’s weaknesses, after all, nothing is perfect or without flaw. From my own experience, I know that every proposal I have presented over the years to the companies and universities for whom I’ve worked, every one, no matter how great, has come with an upside and a downside. This is true of any proposal. And if you are going to be successful, you need to be aware of and prepare for the downside.
Mr. President, trust your audience with the good news and the bad news. We can handle it. And please don’t over-promise and under-deliver, your credibility depends on it and we will have a hard time trusting you again if you do… we’ve been burned too many times before. We want you to succeed. We need you to succeed… our country’s future, our future, depends on it.
Martie Hevia (c) 2010 – All Rights Reserved
- Reuters, November 10, 2010: Nearly 59 Million Lack Health Insurance: CDC
- Healthcare IT News: U.S. Ranks Last Among Seven Countries on Healthcare Performance
- The Big Picture (Macro Perspective on the Capital Markets, Economy, Technology and Digital Media): U.S. Ranks Last in Healtcare vs Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom
- Whitehouse Transcript: Remarks by the President on Health Insurance Reform,
March 8, 2010, Arcadia University, Glenside, Pennsylvania
- C-Span Video: President Obama Stumps for Health Care in Pennsylvania
March 8, 2010, Arcadia University, Glenside, Pennsylvania