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President Obamas Healthcare Reform: A Slam Dunk: No Defense

Posted May 20 2009 10:15am

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

 

After a White House meeting with healthcare leaders, President Obama pronounced that is was “a historic day, a watershed event,”. He brought doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies voluntarily together and they offered $2 trillion in cost reductions over 10 years.

“The savings, he said, “will help us take the next and most important step — comprehensivehealth care reform.” The meeting’s results were announced as ifPresident Obamaengineering a political coup bringing leaders of the health care industry to the White House and built momentum for his ambitious health care agenda.”

All the proposals from the meeting are vague and unenforceable. None of the proposals guarantee cost savings to the healthcare system. It is another trick play to break down the defense of the major stakeholders in the healthcare system. It represents an attempt at consensus building.

Mr. Obama had told the health care executives, you’ve made a commitment; we expect you to keep it.”

The healthcare insurance executives and the hospital system did not realize what the President was doing. The healthcare insurance industry says nice things in order to have a seat at the table. It knows it is the real villain. The President is saying nice things in order to avoid confrontation, “build consensus ” and impress the media with a sense of agreement among stakeholders for his healthcare reform package.

“The consensus-building approach has already yielded some results. Insurance executives have offered to end certain underwriting practices, like refusing to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions or charging women higher rates than men, and they have invited Congress to impose stringent, uniform federal regulation on their industry.”

The healthcare insurance industry has made promises without realizing what it has done.

“ But even as insurers and health care providers stand shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Obama in vowing to slow the growth of health spending, they oppose him on other fronts.”

“For example, insurance companies are opposed to a new government-sponsored health plan, which Mr. Obama supports but insurers fear could drive them out of business.”

 

The next day the healthcare insurance industry and the hospital systems realized the impact of the President’s coup. They realized he was wooing them but not talking about the same thing they were. President Obama’s noose is tightening around the healthcare insurance industry’s neck.

Health care leaders who attended the meeting have a different interpretation. They say they agreed to slow health spending in a more gradual way and did not pledge specific year-by-year cuts.”

In separate press releases the American Hospital Association and the American Association of Healthcare Insurers clarified their positions. The American Medical Association seems to have bitten President Obama’s hook. It has not protested President Obama’s healthcare plan nor has it offered effective executable reform measures. It has offered high level goal without a path to achieving the goals.

“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding that has caused a lot of consternation among our members,” said Richard J. Umbdenstock, the president of the American Hospital Association. ”

“The A.H.A. did not commit to support the ‘Obama health plan’ or budget. No such reform plan exists at this time.”

It sounded like President Obama faked out the AHA. They came back strong and denied agreement with the form that was presented by the President.

“Moreover, Mr. Pollack EVP of AHA wrote, “The groups did not support reducing the rate of health spending by 1.5 percentage points annually.” They had agreed to squeeze health spending so the annual rate of growth would eventually be 1.5 percentage points lower.”

The America’s Health Insurance Plans had the same reaction.

“Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, said the savings would “ramp up” gradually as the growth of health spending slowed.”

Nancy-Ann DeParle reply tried to appease these two powerful vested interests. Her reply and correction of her reply made things worse.

Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said “the president misspoke”. After providing that account, Ms. DeParle called back about an hour later on Thursday and said: “I don’t think the president misspoke. His remarks correctly and accurately described the industry’s commitment.”

Few speak of the details of President Obama’s healthcare reform plan. President Obama is going to slam dunk his healthcare reform. Congress and the stakeholders will be defenseless. Everyone will be caught flat footed.

Congressional Democrats are starting to complain about the process being secretive. Only a select group is writing the legislation. Republicans are lost. They are not offering insight or executable alternatives. If they have alternatives have not told stakeholders or the public. Before Americans know it a disastrous healthcare reform plan will pass by 51 votes in the senate.

Americans: Please wake up.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

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