Life is a Mystery

11 June 2009

Obama in the house

President Obama visited my niece’s high school in Green Bay today, rolled out his health care plan and took questions at a town hall meeting. My sister-in-love Holly was hoping to get in the door, she lives only a few blocks from the school. She asked for ideas of questions to ask in case she was able to attend. This is the question I sent her:

Mr. President, I am so pleased that you have made health care a top priority this year. When I look at the endless bills we get for health care and the fights I have with my insurance company to even get the coverage we paid for, it seems obvious that one of the biggest costs in health care is the cost of maintaining this supposedly “market-based” system. Most of us in the real world don’t really have a choice about insurance, our choices are made by our employers. How does the plan moving forward right now address the huge costs of the redundant billing and decision making infrastructures that our commercial insurance industry represents? And why have single-payer plans, which directly address this shortcoming in our bewildering health care system, been left off the table in your planning?

I don’t know if Holly got in or asked any question, much less mine. But from reports it sounds like someone brought up the issue:

President Barack Obama took questions from audience members after his speech on health care reform at today’s town-hall meeting at Southwest High School.

After a member of the audience asked him if he supported a single-payer health plan, Obama said he does not support what is being called “socialized medicine.”

“The majority of people still get their insurance through their employer, Obama said. “Rather than disrupt things, let them keep the health insurance they’ve got. There still is a role for private insurance.”

For others, however, who can’t get insurance privately should have an option for a public plan.

It is disappointing to hear Obama use codewords like “socialized medicine” to tar single payer. I’m not surprised, single payer was never even part of his campaign platform, but I am sad that he does not leave the door open at least a little bit. Employer-based insurance is part of what is dragging our economy into the mud, but I don’t expect the light to dawn on the mainstream in this regard for at least another two years. It’s failure will be plenty disruptive. I certainly hope that what the president and congress is working on succeeds, but that is not my expectation. I think we’ll be back here before his term is up.

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UPDATE: Holly did not get in after all. But she did see the motorcade! Here is my favorite moment from YouTube

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Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 / efc@clst.org