Obama Pushes For Affordable Health Insurance Reform
Affordable health insurance has become the mantra echoing from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. President Obama has made health care reform his top priority this summer, pressing Congress to get a bill on his desk by the end of summer. A massive plan, and one with a massive price tag, with few details worked out are making doctors, insurers, and politicians alike nervous. Obama has claimed a bill for creating affordable health insurance must be passed this summer.
The American Medical Association released a statement earlier this week declaring their opposition the plan. A plan with few details as of now, is centered on creating a government-run public-option to offer affordable health insurance plans for those without coverage. The AMA expressed concern the plan will handcuff doctors in their practices and overwhelm resources.
Private insurance companies joined the AMA in expressing opposition to further government intervention in the industry. President Obama has stated a public-option is needed to create competition and offer more affordable health insurance policies for Americans. America's Health Insurance Plans, the nation's largest insurance-industry lobbying group, says it is worried a government-run option will set prices below market levels where private companies can compete, driving them out of business.
President Obama's plan is ambitious. With growing national deficits, the reform plan's price tag of $1.2 trillion will be a hard sale. The White House claims that despite the initial price tag, the plan to create affordable health insurance will save money in decades to come. These savings will come from focusing on prevention, increasing access to screenings, and health education, according to President Obama and authors of the legislation including Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA).
Determining how to fund the plan for affordable health insurance is still up in the air. As it stands, only half of the price tag is paid for by raising taxes on the nation's wealthy. It is yet to be determined at what income levels Americans would see their taxes raised to fund the plan.
Taxing health benefits is another idea being floated by Congress and the White House. President Obama sharply criticized Republican Presidential candidate John McCain for suggesting an idea during last fall's campaign. The President now appears to have done an about face on that criticism and is open to the idea to fund his plan for affordable health insurance. Additional taxes on tobacco and sugar are likely as well to be in any bill that makes it to the White House.
The battle this summer over a plan for affordable health insurance will be heated. The AMA and other health care-lobbying groups are getting out of the gates quickly to express their thoughts and concerns over such reform. It is important to note that the AMA and others are not saying nothing needs to be done. These groups representing physicians and other professionals are namely worried though that current plans will create government control over their decisions for patients. In efforts to create and sale a plan for affordable health insurance and health care reform, Democrats in Washington have their work cut out.