Obama doesn't plan on having the health care program apply to himself and his family

ABC has this on Obama's presentation last night from the so-called "news" special.

President Obama struggled to explain today whether his health care reform proposals would force normal Americans to make sacrifices that wealthier, more powerful people -- like the president himself -- wouldn't face.

The probing questions came from two skeptical neurologists during ABC News' special on health care reform, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America," anchored from the White House by Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson.

Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick, they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it's not provided by insurance.

Devinsky asked the president pointedly if he would be willing to promise that he wouldn't seek such extraordinary help for his wife or daughters if they became sick and the public plan he's proposing limited the tests or treatment they can get.

The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if "it's my family member, if it's my wife, if it's my children, if it's my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care. . . . .

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Blogger Big Dog said...

Great piece. I wrote about it as well. Big Dog's Weblog

Did you find somewhere that Congress is exempted from the Obama/Kennedy health plan?

6/25/2009 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just one more reminder that the private sector and competitive market forces, not the federal government, are the best means to meeting our country's rapidly expanding health care needs.

I was looking for a way to try and do something positive about it, and just signed a petition with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here to help emphasize that. We need to get involved!

6/26/2009 6:53 AM  
Blogger Pundit said...

Obama has been perfectly clear that his proposal would continue to allow people to choose among available coverage plans. This "probing" question illustrates what he has said has been a priority in his proposal all along: choice.

Yes, politicians of all stripes create laws that they exempt themselves from all the time (see George W. Bush on signing statements), whether it is healthcare, labor laws, or flat-out law-breaking by themselves or their staff. Sadly, it's not news. But Devinsky's question is hardly probing or even relevant.

More than anything, this "exclusive" does nothing more than illustrate the ridiculously superficial and ignorant factoids that pass for "news" in our mainstream media.

6/26/2009 10:16 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Pundit:

As the Lewin Group study has shown, the problem is that the vast majority of private companies will switch their workers over to the government plan. The reason is that if the government reimburses doctors and hospitals at the same below cost rate that it does for Medicaid and Medicare, it will have a "lower cost" than private policies. Private insurance can't force doctors and hospitals to work below cost and they will actually end up paying even more from cost shifting. Obama will let people choose, but the rules will leave very few private companies still using private insurance companies. Obama will be one of the relatively few who can still do it.

6/26/2009 11:33 AM  
Blogger Pundit said...

The private sector is why we are in this mess in the first place. The private sector has shown that it is completely incapable of managing cost, supply, utilization, or quality in healthcare. The history of healthcare and healthcare economics is rife with examples of the private sector's failure and the need for government to step in and regulate. From Certificate of Need laws to value-based purchasing, the government has had to implement standards that the private sector recklessly refused to do.

I haven't seen anything that indicates that Obama's proposed plan would require doctors or hospitals to participate. They are not required to participate now in Medicare and, although the majority do, many don't.

If the Obama plan reimburses at a rate far below cost, then the private plans will be necessary to sustain the industry and there will have to restrictions on eligibility. Obama and others have talked quite extensively about limitations on eligibility. There's no reason to fixate on some slippery slope doomsday scenario where everybody jumps to this plan and all private insurance vanishes and then all hospitals and doctors quit working because the low reimbursement has forced them to shut down.

We've talked about cost-shifting before, but it just doesn't happen the way you are implying. Private insurers always negotiate rates down too. Getting reimbursed below "cost" has forced hospitals and doctors to start practicing medicine and operating their businesses in a way that is driven by clinical efficiency, not by profitability.

If plan does not have limitations on scope or eligibility, I'll be out there too, protesting loudly that it won't work. But there's no reason to believe that a sensible plan can't be built.

6/26/2009 12:55 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

There are many reasons to oppose Obama's healthcare plan, but this isn't one of them. Other things Obama is unlikely to do include: moving out of the Whitehouse into public housing, eating only food that can be bought with foodstamps, and sending his kids to public schools. The idea was never (thankfully) to force all people to have the same crappy government medical plan, but to give those without any at least some baseline.

I wonder, though, if the Obama plan will allow you to take the government plan, and purchase an "add on" plan from a private insurer. So if your government plan will pay a doc, say, $3000 for some surgery, but the doc you want charges $6000, your add on plan could pay part or all of the difference. I believe I've seen such plans offered on TV for Medicare (Medicaid?). If so, we might end up seeing most everyone on the public plan, and a majority with some add on plan.

6/26/2009 4:16 PM  

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