Healthcare summit’s openness, inclusiveness, good sign that we may get real change
By Consumers Union on Thursday, March 5th, 2009
Today’s healthcare summit at the White House was unique for what it wasn’t – it wasn’t a closed-door, back-room meeting between wheelers and dealers plotting out what Americans are going to get when it comes to their healthcare. It was an inclusive, open-door exchange of ideas where folks from across the health spectrum – doctors to insurance companies to politicians to patients – got a chance to talk about what they hope our healthcare system will become.
And it appeared from President Obama’s comments at the end of the session that no one is looking at healthcare reform through rose-colored glasses. The President said the challenges will be tough, and that he is prepared to deal with it in the long-term as he looks at a combination of cost-cutting, and new revenue sources by reducing certain tax deductions, to get Americans more affordable choices in health coverage.
“Every single family is paying an extra $900 in premiums to pay for people in ER rooms (who don’t have coverage). We’re all paying for it (healthcare), but it’s hidden,” Obama said. “What we constantly have to think about is short term costs versus even higher long term costs. What I’m trying to do in this debate is make sure we’re not focused on just year one or two, but year ten, twenty and thirty…and to make sure our children aren’t bankrupted.”
In addition to being clear and direct about the economic challenges of improving healthcare, the President was even more direct about why it’s so important to do now.
“There has been some talk about the notion that maybe we’re taking on too much. That were in the midst of an economic crisis, and that the system is overloaded, and we should put this off for another day. Let’s just be clear, when times were good, we didn’t get it done. When we had mild recessions, we didn’t get it done. When we were at peace time, we didn’t get it done. There’s always a reason not to get it done.
“It strikes me now is the time to get it done. People are looking for solutions, businesses are looking for solutions….so those of you who are elected, what better time than now? Imagine the pride to go back to our constituencies that we finally got something done on healthcare. That’s worth fighting for, and I hope you all fight for it.”
The White House has launched a new Website on healthcare to keep Americans updated on the progress. And the President said next steps will include a report on the ideas generated from today’s session, and to work with Congress and all the groups to keep moving forward – inclusively.
“I want to make sure I don’t get in the way of moving aggressively and rapidly,” Obama said. “I’ve got some very strong ideas, the White House will be providing guidelines on what we can afford to do, and what we think we should do. But we don’t have a monopoly on ideas.”
And that willingness to listen – and to consider all views – is what gives this health reform movement a real chance.