President Obama Aims To Resolve Public Concerns About Reform
At a White House town hall meeting on Wednesday, President Obama sought to convince middle-class voters that his health reform plan would not result in them losing coverage they enjoy, The Hill reports.
The meeting was televised exclusively by ABC News.
During the nearly 90 minutes of audience questions, Obama received just one question about expanding coverage to the uninsured, "underscoring the political reality that the key to Obama securing a victory on health care reform is to convince middle-class workers with health insurance the reform is needed and will benefit them," according to The Hill.
Obama repeatedly said, "If you are happy with your plan and you are happy with your doctor, then we don't want to you to have to change." However, he noted that the coverage people currently have could be in jeopardy unless the system is reformed.
"The problem is, 10 years from now you're not going to be happy because it's going to cost twice as much or three times as much as it does right now," Obama said, adding, "If we don't do anything, if there's inaction, I think that's where the great danger that you lose your health care exists because (of) the cost problems."
Obama also said, "In terms of cost, understand that the system is already out of whack in terms of costs as it is," so "if we do nothing, costs are going to keep on going up 6%, 7%, 8% per year, and government, businesses and families are all going to find themselves either losing their health care or paying a lot more out of pocket" (Young, The Hill, 6/25).
The president "for the second consecutive day â¦ gave a forceful defense" of the need to establish a public insurance option to compete with insurers, Politico reports. He said that Republicans are "wrong" to say that such a plan would lead to a government takeover of health care because a government plan would be "one option among multiple options" (Budoff Brown, Politico, 6/25).
Obama also said, "We can set up a public option in which they're collecting premiums, just like any private insurer, that doctors are reimbursed at a fair rate, but, because administrative costs are lower, we are able to keep private insurers honest in terms of the growth of costs of premiums and deductibles and so forth."
According to Obama, "Now, you'll always hear folks say that the free market can do it better, government can't run anything," and "I say, well, if that's the case, nobody is going to choose the public option." He noted, "I think that the insurance companies will still thrive" (The Hill, 6/25).
On the issue of taxing employer-provided coverage to fund reform plans, Obama said he has not ruled out the possibility, although he said that he "continue[s] to believe that's the wrong way to do it" and that he is waiting for Congress to develop proposals. He added that he would consider taxing the most comprehensive policies in order to reach a compromise with Congress (Talev/Lightman, McClatchy/Detroit Free Press, 6/25).
Of Congress's work on developing such proposals, he said, "I don't want to prejudge what they're doing" (Espo/Elliott, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/25). However, Obama also said, "I suspect that when [lawmakers] start seeing what the options are, they might end up concluding that the options we're presenting are the best ones."
In a statement responding to Obama's comments on a public option, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele said, "Obama says public option, he means government-run health care," adding, "Without question, the government takeover of health care will diminish individual freedom and quality in our health care system" (Alexander/Smith, Reuters, 6/24).
End-of-Life CareIn addition, Obama said that families need better information so that they do not approve "additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care" for people with terminal illnesses (Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 6/25). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.