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Obama's Health Speech
cap, captain miss america
I never though I would say this about a political speech, but .

This speech is probably the most brilliant speech I have heard...well, since the President's speech about race during the election. I spent the first half of the speech going HOLY FUCK IS THERE A PUBLIC OPTION? IS THERE? THERE ISN'T. NO WAIT. And about almost halfway into it I realized that no, wait, he IS TOTALLY BEING CHEEKY AND KEEPING US GUESSING HOLY CRAP WILL HE OR WON'T HE.

This is genius. Our President? Is a fucking genius. He is the Hitchcock of speechgiving. He knows exactly what we are waiting to hear and he just dangles it in front of us until we are on the edges of our respective seats.

You know, even if this plan wasn't what I wanted, I would have to respect his ability as an orator. There were more points in this speech where he got both sides of Congress on their feet than just the Democrats-- and one where the Republicans got up and the Democrats didn't. For every major criticism he had of opponents in the room, he also criticized his own party and his own allies. Holy crap.

And that is also the definition of compromise. While I would really like to see a public option that is an option-- that is, that anyone can choose-- I can buy the idea of a public option as an option for people who aren't already covered as a good compromise. It limits the burden or the potential of glutting the system which are some of the things less progressive Democrats and more progressive Republicans are worried about.

But seriously, Barack? Come on. It took you this long to get around to doing this? You need to be doing this every fucking day. Like Rachel Maddow is saying right now, you need to be in the fucking trenches. And you need to fucking be out there saying this all the fucking time.

Which you claim you're going to do. Do it. This is where you shine. This is why I elected you President. Come the hell on.

Seriously, watch the speech. It is actually a spoil-able political speech. Holy fuck this man is brilliant and I want to listen to him talk all day.

If you need it, there is an online fact sheet with a very simple explanation of the key points of the plan. This is a good thing to send to anyone who has questions.

There is also a quickie link to write a form letter to your Senators. Seriously, it takes two seconds to do. Do it. If you have ever had a problem with your health insurance, if you have ever known anyone who has had a problem with their health insurance, if you have ever known an elderly person who can't pay for all their prescriptions with the Medicare prescription allowance, do it.

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So you know how some of the Repugs were waving pieces of paper at a few points?


He even beats paper.

Look, Nate Silver thought it was great and accomplished everything he needed to do. Therefore, it is Obama for the motherfucking WIN.

Anyone know what those papers they were waving were? I kept wondering but couldn't figure it out, and nobody seemed to talk about it even in the commentary afterwards.

Yeah, those are copies of a completely Republican-authored bill.

It was awesome.

My favorite bit was him looking a Joe Wilson and being like "I keep it cool."

Well Obama is going to be speaking in MN this weekend, how much more traveling he will be doing is a mystery.

I learned the other day that Amy Klobuchar was supposed to come to my office and speak with a co-worker in a different department about our company (I work for a Pharmaceutical Benefits Management company) and what we do, etc... but she got stuck at the state fair so one of her senior staffers came instead.

Aww man. I was totally down with the fact sheet, until I got to this:

Requires large employers to cover their employees and individuals who can afford it to buy insurance so everyone shares in the responsibility of reform. (emphasis mine)

Requiring individuals to buy insurance from the government? That, I have a problem with, especially since thus far I've heard the idea presented as merely a government-sponsored *option* that would compete with private insurance companies. Granted, I'm incredibly drunk right now,so might very well be missing something, but I have a huge problem with the government telling me I'm *required* to buy something from them. And what does "people who can afford it" mean, anyways? I mean, what's the threshold, and who decides? My definition of "can't afford it" might be different than the government's, which might be different than someone else's interpretation, which might be different from yet annother person's from a different walk of life. IDK. It just sends up a ton of "higher taxes and government meddling in extremely personal affairs of private citizens" red flags, which always makes me squirm. Like I said, I could v well be missing something, but I'd love to see some clarification on this particular bullet point.

Too bad, too. It sounded great up until then. :\

Okay, this is in greater detail in the bill and I am on my way to bed, but as long as there is a public option, this is actually a good thing. I've talked to several doctors about this part of the bill in particular.

Right now, there is a HUGE tax burden on American citizens and a huge cost burden on people who pay for their own insurance whenever someone who doesn't have insurance gets sick or injured and can't pay for it, because hospitals can't turn someone away. My cousin goes to the emergency room whenever he is sick because he can't afford health care and doesn't qualify for medical assistance. Whenever that happens, the entire burden of the cost of his health care comes out of tax money and hospital funds. When hospitals swallow the cost of care for someone who doesn't have insurance, then that cost gets passed on to those of us who can pay and to our insurance providers in the form of price hikes.

So the thought on this is that if we require insurance of everyone, then people who are paying for insurance (also everyone) would end up paying less because this would significantly lower both medical costs currently passed on to consumers and taxpayers.

There are also provisions in this bill for a hardship exemption, as well as for a sliding scale so that if you can't afford the insurance, your insurance will be cheaper. The health insurance "exchange" premise is in place to help lower costs for everyone buying their own insurance by creating a large pool of buyers to compete with, say, big businesses that get significant price reductions, and the public option is there to set a baseline price to compete so that people can always afford that (again, with a hardship exemption and assistance to pay).

The schedule for requiring insurance for everyone has been set up to be rolled out in such a way that insurance companies would have to do some of these things they're being asked to do to lower costs before it goes into effect.

HOWEVER, if the public option isn't included, it removes the competitive element and doesn't give private insurers an incentive to lower their premiums, so the public option is pretty necessary to making this requirement work. If the public option goes and no significant plan to replace it is added, it's completely destructive and will make the system worse and not better.

To add to what Tea just said, the requirement isn't that you buy your insurance from the government, just that you buy insurance at all, for the reasons that Tea pointed out. For people who can't afford other options, the government option would be available, but according to Obama, only about 5% of Americans would use the public option.

Also, the bill that Obama's proposing wouldn't operate off of tax dollars -- it's a non-profit insurance company backed by the government but running off of premiums like any other insurance company, as I understand it. I think. It's cheaper because there's not the administrative and executive structure to support. But I could be wrong -- it's very late!

Yeah, the part that kills me about the "individuals who can afford it" bit is: Don't you think that most of these individuals *would* buy it if they could afford it? Well, except for the individuals who can afford it, but get rejected because they aren't the ideal customer for insurance companies.

Eh. Tired of watered down compromises. HR 676 all the way!

They would under the current structure if they could. Some of the things that aren't getting enough press are things like the fact that people who make under $88,000 a year will all be eligible for various forms of assistance to pay for insurance, and the fact that big employers who don't currently buy insurance for their employees will be required to do so. The assumption given the scope of the bill is that the bill will be able to lower the cost of insurance enough that it will no longer be a significant burden for most Americans who don't currently have insurance, and the ones for whom it will be will be covered by federal assistance.

On the other hand, if the public option is not part of the final bill, this doesn't work.

Definitely agree, Pika. I for one could not afford insurance on my salary before I started grad school (state schools are required provide it here), so I purposely chose to not have insurance, even if I was technically making money. Given cost of living changes depending on where one lives, the term "afford" is extremely subjective and likely going to be irrelevant as soon as any number is set.

I refuse to be told that I must have insurance. I refuse to accept a government option. I make the choice to have or go without insurance and I accept the consequences of that choice.

Except that you don't accept the consequences of this choice. This choice affects the millions of Americans who do pay for health insurance because their premiums go up every year based on the number of people who choose not to have insurance who the hospitals have to cover on their own.

If you choose not to get insurance you will still get treatment. Taxpayers will pay for it. If you want to suggest a bill where we let people die if they choose not to have health insurance, you are more than welcome to, but I am not okay with that.

If someone else wants the government option, fine by me. I don't want it, I won't take it if it's offered to me, and I fight against taking it if I'm forced. I don't want to be forced to take a government option. IIRC, the president campaigned on providing an option of having the government plan, not forcing people to take it if they didn't want to. It was that distinction in policy that convinced me to vote for him in the first place.

I think it safe to say we are going to have to agree to disagree.

So, let's say that you have no health insurance and you get into an accident. How would you like that scenario to play out ideally?

It would fall to me with the assistance of my parents. I knew from the day I turned 18 that I would lose coverage when I graduated from college at 23, so with that in mind I saved money from my job. I'm not going to second guess that decision now because I made that choice with the best information I had at the time.

Frankly, I distrust the government, so my particular viewpoint is to keep it out of my life as much as possible. I can only count on one hand the number of things that intervention by the modern-day government has not either screwed up or made impossibly complex. I cannot say with any honesty whatsoever that my experiences working with the VA for my father or Medicare/Medicaid for my grandmother have given me the impression that the government is going to be capable of presenting a health care system that will not be as equally complex and impossible to maneuver within, nor do I think legally requiring people to purchase insurance or use the government plan is the best way to convince people they need insurance.

This is why I said we would end up having to agree to disagree, as it appears we have very different viewpoints on the subject that I do not think any amount of discussion is going to resolve.

Frankly, I find the phrase "agree to disagree" to be patently offensive and I would appreciate it if you do not use it in conversations with me because I feel like people only use it to curtail debate. And I think debate is important and healthy.

I want to understand your perspective because I believe that if there is another option, we should consider it and look at it from all angles. I am actively involved with groups working with Congress on this-- I wrote part of a presentation that the President gave on this topic. So I am not just debating for the sake of debate-- if you have ideas I would be happy to pass them on. What would you do if the hospital bills you incurred cost more than the money you saved? How would you suggest paying the hospital bills of someone who chose not to take out insurance but who does not have any money saved--whether or not they can "afford it"? Would you be more willing to pay money into an "accident pool" than a traditional health care plan? These are all things that need to be considered. This is the reason I am in favor of this part of Obama's plan: if we had a national health care plan like the one proposed in 676, everyone's taxes would go up. I see the payments into the public option as being equivalent to what people who want national health care would pay in taxes. It is just that Obama's plan allows people who like the idea of national health care to try it and allows people who want to support a free market with significant reform to try that. To me, it's a fair middle ground that gives everyone a little bit of what they want. I see the requirement that we all pay into one plan or another as our responsibility to make sure the plan works and does not put an unfair burden on anyone else. I am pretty confident that a lot of the reforms in the bill will significantly reduce the costs for most Americans, enough so that if the public option is in place, it will certainly not put more of a burden on Americans than the tax burden paid into health care in countries like Denmark or Sweden. However, I also strongly believe that the public option is necessary to make that work and that if the public option is gutted from the plan, that the plan is otherwise untenable and we can't have that required health care.

I didn't get to watch it, but I did read it online. Fucking amazing. His speeches will be taught in rhetoric classes for decades to come.

I wish that we could have a more progressive plan. But we need something that will WORK for now, and once the basics are in place, we can tweak them later. I have to say that I'm a fan of the compromise plan for now.

Thanks for the fact sheet link. Posted on facebook to remind all of the slacktivists on my friends list to DO something.


Time to find a youtube link to watch the speech!

thanks so much for this post, Tea. awesome as always. I'm just repeating "what she said" in my head... awesome.

hugs, anna

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