Obama trying hard to get healthcare back on track

July 17, 2009

President Barack Obama is pushing hard to get health care reform back on track after it veered a bit off course while he was in Europe last week.

He has spent the better part of the week pushing the issue. First he went after “nay-sayers and cynics,” warning them “don’t bet against us.”

“I just want to put everybody on notice, because there was a lot of chatter during the week that I was gone: We are going to get this done,” he said. “Inaction is not an option.”
Then he stood with nursing leaders in the Rose Garden and tried to buck people up.

“It’s time for us to buck up Congress, this administration, the entire federal government to be clear that we’ve got to get this done,” Obama said. “Our nurses are on board. The American people are on board. It’s now up to us.”

The last couple of days he has been meeting with lawmakers, listening to their concerns about the legislation and prodding them to action — not always to good effect.

Maine Senator Olympia Snowe said she told the president Thursday his goal of passing a bill early August wasn’t realistic.

“It is important for us to take the time to work through these issues,” she said after a White House visit. “I thought it was overly ambitious to accomplish passing it on the Senate floor before the August recess.”

Obama would like the House and the Senate to pass their versions of the legislation before beginning a month-long break in early August.

That would put them on track to reconcile the two measures in September and send Obama a final bill by his target date of mid-October.

One big hitch is how to pay the $1 trillion 10-year price tag.

Obama wants to pay for it primarily by wringing savings out the current system, which costs $2.4 trillion annually, twice that of any other nation. He’s suggested hundreds of billions in cuts and savings.

If additional revenue is needed, he has proposed reducing itemized tax deductions for those earning over $250,000.

The House measure would impose a tax on families with incomes greater than $350,000. The tax begins at 1 percent and hits 5.4 percent for millionaires. It would raise $544 billion over 10 years.

Some senators favor taxing more lavish employer-paid health insurance benefits. Workers are not currently taxed on payments their employers make for health insurance, which makes it a popular benefit. Obama opposes taxing insurance benefits, so the Senate is not considering other tax measures.

What do you think? Are we moving too fast on health care reform, and what’s the best way to pay for it?

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama boards Marine One on Thursday)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

The President is moving too fast on health care. Nothing worth doing gets done in a rush. I would love to see the whole system left to private enterprise and charity.

Posted by smarty | Report as abusive

the Dems need to get it done. The Republicans are not interested in passing a healthcare plan. Just obstructionists. There is a related post at http://iamsoannoyed.com/?page_id=588

Posted by carly | Report as abusive

As we can see, the runaway premiums led to collapse in the middle class and housing market / financial market. In that case, top priority should be to restore the struggling middle class. Consumer confidence might be the most crucial element and boost in hiring process as we experienced in recent years.

Posted by hsr0601 | Report as abusive

The entire system HAS been and IS still up to private enterprise and charity. One can see the result. It would be a mistake to pass a bill that is a “band-aid.” That will make it even more difficult in the future.

Posted by michaelgerety | Report as abusive

Without real health care reform, including a public option, we will continue to have a failing health system with people uninsured and underinsured. Private enterprise has shown itself to be to greedy and reckless to be in full command of the health care sector. The republican’s arguments against reform are baseless. Many doctors are lining up against insurance companies because of their dictating of payments and/or non payments. Patients, on the whole, aren’t receiving the care that’s needed, many seeking emergency room care for all medical needs. Add to this the rash of hospitals closings effecting large swathes of the country and we, as a society, have a huge crisis on our hands. President Obama is not taking on too much by tackling this issue because it has been left to fester for far too long. It is a moral, societal and financial imperative to fix our ailing health care system now!

Posted by ryan | Report as abusive

In case the health care reform provides the general public with peace of mind, the rising mental stress or illness caused by financial instability may bend the curve surprisingly,
in combination with kicking out the ‘keep eating habit’ to forget the deep-seated instability and apprehension, I guess.
‘Work or Break’ health system with no brake or safety system might be one of the biggest hidden causes of mental stress, obesity or overweight threatening the overall economy, I cautiously suppose.

Posted by hsr0601 | Report as abusive

the government created this problem by denying benefits portability and free access to medical savings accounts; the government also proterced hmo’s by preventing people from suing them, and will not adress the tort crisis. until these areas are addressed in a satisfactory manner, any attempt at health care reform is nothing but a power-grab.

Posted by jd | Report as abusive

I feel that it’s about time that a president take the financial suffering of the american people seriously.. The extreme cost of premiums have more than doubled over the last decade but wages have declined. Finally a President is standing up to the special interest and resisting the republican banter, to accomplish real health reform.. The republicans want to put forth a token plan (that really don’t amount to much)just to say they had a plan. Their candidate John McCain didn’t have a plan during the entire presidential campaign. I guess when you have no ideas,.. you and maintain the republican mantra of criticizing those who are actually implement real ideas..

Posted by Jay | Report as abusive

A private enterprise with the sole goal of profit is going to protect my health interests? No.
Private enterprise health insurers will forever have little interest in any individual’s actual health care. Private insurers tell you which doctors to see, what treatments are allowed and how much they will pay if you get sick or injured…and all in the interest of their bottom line. Your wellness in the face of illness or injury matters not. What matters is how far they can push premiums, how little they can pay providers and at what point they can cut coverage when someone’s illness eats into profits. It is a perverse system that must be changed now. It is a 2.7 Trillion dollar industry that we pay for now. I am happy to shift my premium payments to an entitiy I know will cost less, not cut my treatments when I most need them and will not cause my family to go bankrupt. Stand for change now!

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

Sorry you don’t like your insurance provider. Maybe you should get a new one. If it so private why does it cost the gov so much? Do you really think the government will give you more freedom or better care? It is already coming out that this plan will cost more in the long run. Sorry I don’t like being forced to pay your medical insurance. Our system isn’t perfect but it’s the best in the world and surely better than any country with gov health care. You don’t even know the details of the plan but are still gung ho. Stop sipping the kool-aid.

Posted by delvin | Report as abusive

If a government run system is so desirable why do you suppose CON-gress exempted itself? It cannot save money given who wil be incharge. BO admits the debt we now have (thanks to government) is unsustainable which makes me believe something devious is affot. Perhaps this is not about health care, is it possible the whole array of “rushed” bills portends to precipitate FAILURE?

Thus it could be said “see capitalisim has failed”…

The democrat party has used government to grow itself with the object of making as many dependents as possible.
Which in turn GROWS GOVERNMENT!! This is about POWER.

Posted by Folklight | Report as abusive

So now President Obama resorts to high-pressure used-car sales tactics, claiming that an opportunity like this to ‘fix’ health care comes around only once in a generation.

Give us a break.

The macabre bizarro world ‘opportunity’ he is referring to is the current democrat majority in Congress, which so far has resulted in over $1 trillion in new debt this fiscal year alone — before even having addressed health-care insurance.

And once again the CBO goes Chuck Barris on Obama and hits the gong on whether Obama’s health-care plan will add federal debt. Obama says no, no, no. CBO says yes, yes, yes: $239 billion over ten years.

Look at Massachusetts and Worker’s Compensation to get an idea on how government-run health-care insurance plays out.

Through common sense alone we should first examine and see where we can reduce the COSTS of all medical/dental procedures before a grand reorientation of the entire health-care insurance system to spread the risk of those costs. That is the mistake Massachusetts already made. First in 2006 they passed a law mandating (with legal penalties) near-universal health-care insurance coverage. Now the underlying, unaddressed costs of that insurance scheme are fiscally hamstringing the state.

Ever file a Worker’s Comp claim? That’s a government-run health-care insurance plan. Employers are soaked for funding premiums, then if you are unfortunately injured on the job, Worker’s Comp will try to limit how much they will pay for it. And get this, private companies have sprung up to help those injured on the job navigate the maze to get their medical bills paid by Worker’s Comp — at additional cost to the employer of course. And google Worker’s Compensation (or whatever they call it in your state) to find royal cases of appointed Worker’s Comp officials that got caught with their hands in the embezzlement cookie jar and horror stories of people having to fight with Worker’s Comp to get their associated medical bills paid.

From personal experience, I know lawyers love Worker’s Comp claims. I bruised an elbow at work once. Went to a walk-in clinic for treatment and then back to work the same day. It was no big deal and required no medical follow-up. But over the next six months I received out-of-the-blue letters from law firms offering to represent me free on a contingency fee basis if Worker’ Comp wasn’t paying the full amount of medical costs associated with my on-the-job injury. Seems that law firms scan Worker’s Comp records to generate a marketing list of prospective new clients. That alone should tell you there’s something very fishy about government-run health-care insurance.

There’s some fairy-tale distinction in the minds of many that a government-run insurance plan lacks the for-profit motivation to deny or limit claims. But managers of such ostensibly non-profit schemes also have the goal of having more money left at the end of the year than paid out. They just don’t call it profit.

Posted by dom youngross | Report as abusive

Alongside a tax on the rich, alcohol tax can be considered, I guess.

Posted by hsr0601 | Report as abusive

hsr0601,there is always an element of consumer confidence involved in finances.people are not spending because they are scared to commit themselves because of soaring unemployment .there have been runs on banks in the past just because someone started a rumour.if you remember for 2 years, particularly when the iraq war started to improve,the democrats turned their election focus at the economy.there was a consistent chant from the democrats as to how bad the economy was,although unemployment was at 5% and the DOW was at 13,000,it was fair game to them,their election was all that mattered.this kind of irresponsibility tells me that with them agenda is before country.yes bush carries the blame for not stopping the premiums to rise unchecked but he tried to rein in fannie and freddy but the democratic congress stopped him.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

It is interesting how right-wingers believe that “Americans can do anything” except run an efficient government. Can’t Yankee ingenuity be applied to the problem of getting the government running properly, and in particular to the problem of getting a public health care system running properly?

Posted by cynic | Report as abusive

The House leaders reached a deal on Medicare payments: A “Pay for Value” reimbursement system that rewards doctors and hospitals that achieve the best outcomes at the lowest cost.

As a result, The House gained a lot of votes, a lot of people who were withholding support.

The federal Medicare program insures some 44 million elderly and disabled Americans at an annual cost of $450 billion, almost one-fifth of total U.S. health care spending.

Supporters of the agreement say it could save the Medicare System more than $100 billion a year and improve care, that means $1trillian over a decade.

No one can disagree with this best outcome / evidence-based system, and private insurance, too, will be greatly influenced by this change with the focus on value over volume.


Posted by HSR0601 | Report as abusive

HSR. What congress just did is meaningless. It is going to be studied and if it ever occurs, it won’t be implemented until this time in 2011. It is just smoke and mirrors to help the president look like he isn’t losing this battle.

It also strengthens the argument the government is trying to lead us to rationing of health care. That is not a good for America and it isn’t the American way.

As I have said before, nothing you say will change what Americans know about the health care schemes running through congress, they stink.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

The only thing Obama needs to fight hard for is to put Jesus Christ back in the country. EVERYWHERE in the country.

Posted by bellavita | Report as abusive

The very first thing Obama should do is put the Lord Jesus Christ everywhere in the country. Jesus knows exactly how to get America out of bankrupt and He knows how to fix all the problems in America.

Posted by bellavita | Report as abusive

Obama needs to read the Bible, and pray everyday. Not to mention, he needs to “love” everyone he sees; even those who persecute him.

Obama doesn’t need to get everyone under his thumb and fix it so America will be controlled by the government. That’s evil.

Obama needs to be an inspiration, so Americans will concentrate on putting the Lord Jesus Christ #1 in their lives.

Whoever came up with the idea to put God out of the country should be fired.

Posted by bellavita | Report as abusive