Saturday, June 06, 2009

In Search of Explanation & Complexity on Health Care Reform

President Obama spoke on health care reform in his weekly address. He stated:

“That means if you like the plan you have, you can keep it,” the president said. “If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold.”

Health care reform is nuanced and complex. The President believes the American people appreciate such talk.

"But one of the things I’ve actually been encouraged by—and I learned during the campaign—was the American people, I think, not only have a toleration but also a hunger for explanation and complexity, and a willingness to acknowledge hard problems. I think one of the biggest mistakes that is made in Washington is this notion you have to dumb things down for the public."

President Barack Obama in a Newsweek interview May 11, 2009.

So why didn't President Obama deliver? Falling costs as far as the eye can see? Hardly. Costs go up 4.5% a year under the President's plan. That's not falling.

Obama didn't speak to the significant number of employers who plan to pass higher premium costs to workers. Many businesses decrease benefits by raising deductibles and co-pays. The insured picks up those additional costs, which clearly are not falling. Those who can't shoulder the additional burden join the ranks of the uninsured.

What happens if employer health insurance is taxed to pay for covering many of the uninsured? Who pays that rising cost, the employer or the worker? What happens if nonprofit community hospitals lose their tax exempt status? Those costs will be passed on to patients. The only change you'll see are falling costs is patently false.

You can keep your doctor too. The Chief Executive doesn't decide which insurance plans your doctor accepts. He has no control over the bulge of physicians over age 55 and when they pare down their practice or retire. In West Texas many limit their practice, not accepting Medicaid or taking new Medicare patients.

Health care reform will impact doctors, who will respond accordingly. President Obama's promise is political blather, intended to counteract Rick Scott's Conservatives for Patients Rights campaign. Attorneys Scott & Obama, lie, distort, misrepresent. Behind their surface battle, the pair has much in common in management practice.

Obama's reform talk is not explanatory, nor does it address complexity. Only President Obama can say if he is dumbing things down for the public.

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