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Obama's Health Plan summarized - should you support it?

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After Obama's rousing speech tonight - during which at least one Republican Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C heckled the President by saying 'you lie' when Obama promissed his plan wouldn't cover illegal immigrants (though he later apologized, and the NY Times already says the plan will not cover illegal immigrants) - are we willing to get onboard and support his plan with our signature, as Obama requests?

Here, according to 'Organizing for America' are the main points:

The President's Plan for Health Reform
"It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance.
It will provide insurance to those who don't. And it will lower the cost of health care
for our families, our businesses, and our government."

If You Have Health Insurance,
the President's Plan:
  • Ends discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Limits premium discrimination based on gender and age.
  • Prevents insurance companies from dropping coverage when people are sick and need it most.
  • Caps out-of-pocket expenses so people don't go broke when they get sick.
  • Eliminates extra charges for preventive care like mammograms, flu shots and diabetes tests to improve health and save money.
  • Protects Medicare for seniors.
  • Eliminates the "donut-hole" gap in coverage for prescription drugs.
If You Don't Have Insurance,
the President's Plan:
  • Creates a new insurance marketplace -- the Exchange -- that allows people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices.
  • Provides new tax credits to help people buy insurance.
  • Provides small businesses tax credits and affordable options for covering employees.
  • Offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can't find affordable coverage with a real choice.
  • Immediately offers new, low-cost coverage through a national "high risk" pool to protect people with preexisting conditions from financial ruin until the new Exchange is created.
For All Americans,
the President's Plan:
  • Won't add a dime to the deficit and is paid for upfront.
  • Requires additional cuts if savings are not realized.
  • Implements a number of delivery system reforms that begin to rein in health care costs and align incentives for hospitals, physicians, and others to improve quality.
  • Creates an independent commission of doctors and medical experts to identify waste, fraud and abuse in the health care system.
  • Orders immediate medical malpractice reform projects that could help doctors focus on putting their patients first, not on practicing defensive medicine.
  • Requires large employers to cover their employees and individuals who can afford it to buy insurance so everyone shares in the responsibility of reform.

OK, the first thing I see is that there is no Public Option - just Public Exchanges. Will the national "high risk" pool truly be national, with the clout that comes from representing large numbers of people to negotiate lower prices from Big Pharma (and keeping in mind Obama's back room dea l not to demand too much from them - nothing beyond $80 Billion in future cuts)?

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Also, how "Won't (the plan) add a dime to the deficit and (it) is paid for upfront?" Supposedly through reform and the power of the non-profit Exchange.

Perhaps you want to read the speech yourself here. "...we will also create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead." I can hear even this sensible proposal being labeled Obama's Death Panels already, but it really does not deal with any specific patients, but just with how to rein in wasteful costs (are we not against waste?) in general - something that is long, long overdue and which the Conservatives claim they want. The Mayo Clinic and Geisinger does this routinely and save a tremendous amount of money, while improving care, so this is nothing new, just applied outside a particular hospital. This is called scientific analysis, not death panels, or rationing, so it looks good to me, but we will need to monitor it. We didn't really think ANY legislation would be signed and we'd be done, did we?

I find myself agreeing with the President's final statement:
"Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing," Mr. Obama said. "Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it most. And more will die as a result. We know these things to be true."

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And with his assertion, made more strongly than he has in the past that many of his critics simply want no reform at all, which is not an option, either for our uncovered, or undercovered citizens (more than 100 million), or for the fiscal reality of our country.
So, though I have reservations, and much more work needs to be done - much of it not even directly in the health field itself (support healthy school lunches, daily physical education, make a pound of apples cost less than a pound of potato chips etc.) , I am willing to sign my name in support of these steps. Are you?


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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is a former President of Common Ground-NYC (http://commongroundnyc.org/), a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of articles for (more...)

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