Several things crossed my mind while I was listening to President Obamas press conference. Here we go.
1) More people could afford health care if they had jobs. Thats where the Presidents focus should be right now, rather than on national / universal (whatever the term we are using this week is) health care or on sweeping new climate change legislation. Obama is right when he says that the American people dont care about the political games from both parties, and that they just want solutions to their economic problems. I hope hes wrong in assuming that Americans really want to become wards of the state by allowing the government to pay for more and more of the care and maintenance of their lives.
2) The President isnt above picking petty fights with his political adversaries. That should be left to his pit bulls Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. Its hard to believe theres much change in the partisan climate thats always existed in DC when every week we hear about the evil Republicans who dare to oppose Obamas agenda. The WH never fails to create various bogeymen for the American people to fear – the Rush Limbaugh controversy for example.
3) You cant expand coverage AND reduce costs. Thats never happened in any country that has government-funded health care, and it wont happen here either. Someone will have to make tough choices about what kinds of treatment will be paid for, and which treatments will not be covered by your plan. Right now, if you have private insurance, the private insurance company makes those decisions. If you have an employer-based plan, you generally know right up-front what is covered in the various plans and what is not. As others have pointed out, private insurers / hospitals / medical personnel can be shamed into doing the right thing when there is negligence on their part by the threat of bad PR. What kind of similar negative incentive exists for a government bureaucrat? I would suggest that there isnt one.
4) The members of Congress and the President must commit to ditching their own private health care plan they receive through the federal government. If they expect us to buy into the idea of the public option, they must be willing to switch to the same plan for themselves and for their families.
5) There must be more accountability for government spending. This is true no matter which party holds the reins of political power. Doesnt it make sense to find out where all the Bush / Obama bailout money went before we start spending all this money on national health care and climate change legislation? Maybe Im suggesting something way too radical here.