Let the games begin. Health care reform will be front and center this week and the Obama administration is stepping up their game by taking it to the people.
The president held a health care town-hall meeting in Wisconsin to push his massive overhaul plan and sell it to the American public. Obama said, “If private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it will keep them honest and it will help keep their prices down.”
However, there are currently more than 1,000 insurance companies for consumers to choose from.
While in Green Bay, the president couldn’t help but take a shot at Republicans by stating that they couldn’t support any policy that included a public option. What the Obama didn’t mention is that many blue-dog Democrats wouldn’t support such a bill either.
Senator Max Baucus of Montana and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said he was in favor of a co-op style alternative. This insurance cooperative would be owned and operated for the benefit of its members, but the government would not run it.
It seems this option is gaining traction.
This weekend the public finally heard from the American Medical Association, AMA, the largest association of doctors; “We will oppose the creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan.”
The AMA is worried that private insurance companies may be pushed out of the system by the government price fixing. “The corresponding surge in public plan participation would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers,” the group said.
The Obama team claims the new health care program will be paid for through cost savings in Medicare. However, the Congressional Budget Office, CBO, says there is no way to prove any of the Obama numbers.
This is leads into the numbers game. According to the government Census Bureau, there are approximately 47 million uninsured people in this country. Of those, one third or 17 million are here illegally in this country.
The Census Bureau also reports that 8.3 million without care make between $50-75 thousand per year and another 8.75 million make more than $75 thousand per year. The Census Bureau points out that these 16 million Americans could afford to pay for health insurance if they chose to.
This leaves about 15 million or about 7 percent of the population who are uninsured. These numbers aren’t nearly as catastrophic as the Obama administration leads the public to believe.
The health care plans coming out of Washington right now are curiously short on details on whom and how the estimated $1.2 trillion program will be paid for. It will be interesting to see how the week unfolds and the health care story is told.