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The president's health-care plan

In easy-to-navigate Web site form! Is this another must-read for the educated observer of the political scene? If so, I hope you didn't plan to get much work done this week.I haven't done more than glance at it yet myself. I'm happy to see there's a section on how the Senate bill already includes many of the provisions the Republicans requested -- pace the enduring myth that Obama/the Democrats have been refusing to consider meaningful bipartisan compromise. (See Ezra Klein.) But what I like best is the Q&A format of "What Reform Means to You." Got a question about your health care? They've answered it. Are you cranky? They've built that right in. "Q: What are you going to do about all the confusing forms I have to fill out?" Yeah! And how come when I call my insurance company, I have to punch in my account number, and then they ask me for it anyway? And why is it so hard to get to a real person on the phone? And why is the print on the back of the medicine bottle so small?...

About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.



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I've got a question I don't think the White House has answered on their new website. A clear statement from the President about how his plan deals with the abortion issue would be especially useful. As the post above indicates, it's important to dispel myths.Is it possible to link to such a statement or is this a second-order issue to be settled by disinterested experts and administrators in the future?

Reihan Salam evaluates Ezra Klein's analysis here:

Quick question: who's Rehain Salam and is he objective? Or, for that matter, same questions for the gift of god (a self promoting title?)

Bob, Mrs. S might describe him as a far-right son of a...but I am assure you, as a far right cook myself, he is frustratingly centrist. If forced to describe him, I'd say he was a degree or two right of center.

OOOOOhhhA neato website! With easy to understand questions to all my questions! And look, it says I have nothing to worry about. Sign me up right away!hmmmm - what's that, a government agency will set prices? I understand that approach has worked . . . well . . . nowhere.Further evidence that the Obama administration doesn't get it. All they have done is take the Senate bill, tweak it, package it in a web site, and tell us its new and improved. Sooner or later he will have to stop treating the American people like fools and actually listen to them.

Bush got it so much he didn't even try it on health care. Obama is starting to realize that he has to communicate better and not let the Tea Party or others to define him. He is realizing that many in the opposition are looking to win elections and not do anything about health care. The fools are those who think the Tea Party and the like represent the American people.

Sooner or later he will have to stop treating the American people like fools and actually listen to them.Should he listen to the majority of Americans who want the public option?

DavidIs it really a majority of Americans who want the public option? I did not know that. What is your source?

Hopefuly, we'll get some informed discussion on this post 25th meeting. In the meantime, let the partisanship roll on here.

BillWhy is it that when people disagree with liberals the answer is always they are too stupid or too gullible to fully comprehend the wonderfulness of progressive ideas? This is more of the same. Isn't this the greatest communicator since Ronald Reagan? Isn't it just possible that this isn't about the form but the content of the message? And isn't it just as true that the Democrats will push for almost anything regardless of whether it is a good idea just to say they did "something" in time for the elections?

**Why is it that when people disagree with liberals the answer is always they are too stupid or too gullible to fully comprehend the wonderfulness of progressive ideas? **Sean, they don't think those who disagree are stupid or gullible. They think those who disagree are evil liars. EVERYONE knows that the liberal view is ALWAYS correct. Thus, to disagree is to lie.Just take a look at the "discussion" in these pages about enhanced interrogation and torture for proof of this.

Sean and Bender,Your thoughts reveal you. Or what you accuse is your own behavior. The health care battle is not about facts but politics. Obama is realizing that there is no reasoning with the opposition who just want to oppose. He really has been too nice. His opponents just want to oppose him and have no interest in covering the thirty million Americans who are not insured.Sean, my play on the word fool was in response to your use of the word. My point is that health care is necessary. Why negotiate with naysayers. Especially when you have the votes.

BillOf course my thoughts reveal me - don't yours? You say the problem is about letting others define him. Be serious. The Tea Party and the town hall meetings were completely ignored by the biggest media outlets in the country for months until it became too big a story to ignore. The president has been on Oprah, Leno, all the Sunday morning shows talking about his agenda. He has given more than twice as many media interviews as any of his predecessors in his first year, and almost all of those have been the softball variety. He has an independent PAC pushing his agenda using his millions of leftover campaign cash. He made an hour long address to a joint session of Congress that was carried by ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, PBS, CNBC, MSNBC, and C-SPAN. Almost every major newspaper in the country has editorialized in support of his agenda. He has super majorities in both houses of Congress. And we are supposed to believe he's having trouble getting his messsage accross because of the Tea Party? Yes, the mighty Tea Party, with all their money and all their influence in the halls of Congress, the media, and institutions of higher learning have prevented The One from communicating his message effectively. Yes, the health care debate is about politics, but it is also about facts.Fact - the president's proposal will allow an executive agency that he controls to effectively set health insurance prices.Fact - the president's proposal will create executive agencies appointed by and accountable to him to establish regulations setting out what is "qualified" insurance coverage, and what medical treatments and procedures are appropriate for which people based on a general assessment of "effectiveness."I am sure to hear that states already do this and insurance companies already do this, but you will have to excuse me when I am just a little concerned when the most powerful entitity in the world does it - and will likely do it badly.Of course the opposition wants to oppose - that doesn't mean they are wrong. The fundamental problem is that the president doesn't want to just cover the uninsured. In fact, his own proposal still leaves at least half of the uninsured in the same boat they are now. This proposal is about control and it is about an incremental approach to a nationalized system. This is something he has said he supports since well before he ever ran for president. If he wants to get his message accross, he ought to be honest about what the message is.

Sean,The fact remains that the insurance and drug companies drive this debate and have thwarted universal care up to now. No one has a bigger hammer than them. They are able to fund and support any opposition to health care no matter how shameful its composition; like the Tea Party which is a very, very small minority. This is the issue you have to address rather than mount the usual anti-Obama campaign.

BillThe insurance companies and drug companies haven't spent a dime in opposition to the president. You are thinking 1993 not 2010. What evidence do you have that the Tea Party is being funded by drug and insurance companies? They aren't. The insurance companies aren't spending money on opposing the plan, they are pouring money into lobbying congress to get a plan that will favor them.I am always baffled by liberals who rage against the power of corporations and then support giving the federal government the ability to dole out largesse to them and decide economic winners and losers. You don't help limit their power and influence this way, you just provide them with convenient one stop shopping. It's a lot easier for GM to convince 375 congressmen and senators to bail them out then to get 2 million people to buy a lousy car.Now the president, on the other hand has, the AARP, the AMA, the SEIU, the AFL-CIO, most large corporations like the auto industry, and the drug companies on his side. Not to mention the New York Times, the Washington Post, The LA times, ABC, CBS, NBC on his side.

"They arent. The insurance companies arent spending money on opposing the plan, they are pouring money into lobbying congress to get a plan that will favor them."Lobbying, opposing? Same difference. Like the guy who was fired by the drug companies because they felt he did not get them a favorable deal.

**His opponents just want to oppose him and have no interest in covering the thirty million Americans who are not insured.**Case in point. Those who say they oppose ObamaCare on the merits are lying -- they don't really have a good faith disagreement, rather, they "just want to oppose him" and want to make sure that people go without healthcare. That is, anyone who opposes this is an evil liar.Meanwhile, Obama's "plan" isn't a plan at all, it isn't actual legislative language, but is instead a campaign speech downloaded from his teleprompter. The Congressional Budget Office cannot even begin an analysis because it is so lacking in details.

Enough discussion about the discussion. If anyone has looked at the plan and would like to respond to it, go ahead.

I understand about the plan, Mollie. But politics is what will bring a health care bill or not. The merits of the plan has very little to do with it, unfortunately.

MollieWhy don't you tell us what this means. All I see in this web site is a sales pitch.Why doesn't it mention price controls? That's part of the plan, but it doesn't show up in the Q&A. The Revenue part talks about how it will save a fortune - but not how it will be paid for. The formal proposal includes several new agencies, but this web site doesn't mention one.

No, I think you're right, Bill -- at this point, the health-care-reform push is about politics. And yes, Sean, a sales pitch is precisely what the Web site is.

BillThere is a difference between lobbying and opposing since most of that lobbying money is being spent on Democrats who support the legislation. Look at any of the disclosure web sites - most of the campaign money from these evil industries you identify is going to Democrats, not Republicans.

No doubt money is going to Democrats also and they may be getting more because they have the votes. This does not absolve the drug and insurance industries. In many ways we are a one party system with Wall St., Drug and insurance companies, etc controlling both divides. We have to go where justice leads us and right now this democratic president has the edge. In health care, not in Afghanistan.

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