Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quick Note on Obama's Healthcare Speech Last Night

President Obama, in a prime-time address last night before a joint session of Congress, had this to say about the prospect of "radically" reforming the American healthcare system as proposed by those on "the left" and "the right":

There are those on the left who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canada's where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everybody. On the right, there are those who argue that we should end employer-based systems and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.

I've said- I have to say that there are arguments to be made for both these approaches. But either one would represent a radical shift that would disrupt the healthcare most people currently have. Since healthcare represents one-sixth of our economy, I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn't, rather than try to build a new system from scratch. And that is precisely what those of you in Congress have tried to do over the past several months.

Well, we know what doesn't work, at least for the vast majority of Americans: the private health insurance market. The private health insurance industry's primary concern is making money first and foremost, not providing adequate health insurance to their clients. Just ask Hilda Sarkisyan, whose daughter died at the age of 17 after CIGNA, a private health insurance company, denied her claim for a liver transplant. Or Wendell Potter, the former head of corporate communications for CIGNA, who had this to say about why he decided to leave the health insurance industry:

Well, I was beginning to question what I was doing as the industry shifted from selling primary managed care plans, to what they refer to as consumer-driven plans. And they're really plans that have very high deductibles, meaning that they're shifting a lot of the cost off healthcare from employers and insurers, insurance companies, to individuals. And a lot of people can't even afford to make their co-payments when they go get care, as a result of this.

I thought the whole argument for a public option was because the private health insurance industry in this country does not work and continues to devastate the lives of millions of people across this country? President Obama, what we need most is radical reform, not an approach that continues to placate the very industry that needs reforming.

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