Universal Healthcare, Explained

I don’t know about you, but after living in the UK, where healthcare is free until a certain fee (like really intensive surgery, etc), I am definitely supporting US President Obama’s run on Healthcare. Of course it’s going to cost more, but, to me, the benefits are clear. Everyone can afford to get sick, which I think is a big deal. Anyway, NYMag broke down the Healthcare debate, just in case you’re confused about why Washington is going in circles like me…

Who: President Barack Obama
What He Wants: Substantively, to dramatically expand coverage while reducing long-term costs. Politically, to deliver a national health plan, succeeding where all other presidents going back to Teddy Roosevelt have failed. That’s all.

What He’s Done: As a candidate in 2008, his basic goals were to expand access to care, without requiring everyone to buy insurance, and to make the health-care delivery system more efficient. As late as mid-June, he also seemed agnostic about public insurance options to compete with private plans. As president, however, Obama realized how strongly many Washington liberals are wedded to universal coverage and a public option. So he signed on for both — and let congressional committee chairs, most of them old-line libs, put together the first reform bills. Critics derided this as the same approach that loaded the stimulus package with pork. But the president is hoping that he has corralled his left flank.

What He’ll Do Next: Obama is already deploying his political organization to drum up grassroots support. He also wants to reframe the current debate to focus more on consumer issues, thereby appealing to insured Americans who worry they might get dropped, face gaps, or exhaust their coverage. And eventually, he will have to weigh in on whether there should be a public option and how to raise the $540 billion or so in revenues that reform will require over the next ten years.

What He’ll Get: Some kind of bill — but unless he has a breakthrough while Congress is away, it’s hard to know whether that bill will be worth signing. Obama’s entire reason for pursuing reform comprehensively is to change the way money flows through the system: If patients see doctors more consistently and doctors reduce wasteful spending and insurance companies have incentives to keep patients out of hospitals, rates could go down while overall health improves. That whole construct will be put at risk if Obama is forced to make serious reductions in up-front spending to get a bill passed. If subsidies are cut, Medicare is blocked from using research on the effectiveness of treatments, or employer mandates are relaxed, costs could keep zooming while millions stay uninsured.

Read the rest at here…

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