President Obama Steers Healthcare Reform Back On Track

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[Black Star News Editorial]

Friends and opponents of President Barack Obama underestimate him at their own peril. The president has a golden tongue and he knows when and how to use it.

For weeks, the president had given elected representatives the opportunity --in the Senate and House of Representatives-- to negotiate a historic healthcare reform Bill among themselves.

The bickering and lack of direction instead allowed thugs to hijack the debate when they started storming Town hall meetings, with some openly bearing arms, holding signs calling for the death of the president, or denouncing him as a "socialist," a "Nazi," and the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler.

The healthcare reform debate had been temporarily hijacked by hate-broadcast media czars such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh who egged on the Town hall thugs; they are a poisonous duo of doom in the United States.

Remarkably, not a single major elected Republican official stepped forward to denounce the ugliness. The terroristic campaign by the Town hall thugs even persuaded Republicans such as Senator Charles Grassley, who had been involved in an attempt to devise a bi-partisan plan to begin singing apocalyptic tunes; as when he announced to a crowd that he too would never vote for a Bill that would "pull the plug on grandma."

This is the absurdly asinine nonsense and falsehood that was conjured up by Betsy McCaughey Ross --who once gained infamy by standing up for the entire delivery of a speech by Gov. George Pataki when she was Lt. governor in New York-- and Sarah Palin, who could not stand the heat and dropped out as Alaska's governor, abandoning the electorate there. The lunatic fringe of the Republican party was again on display last night when South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson embarrassed himself and his state by interrupting the president's speech with the shout: "You lie."

Yesterday the president took command of the healthcare reform debate, as rightly the commander in chief should. He reminded the joint session of Congress that when he last addressed the house the economy was sliding towards a Depression; with monthly job losses amounting to 700,000.

The economy has now pulled back from the edge --with rate of job losses declining to about 216,000 last month-- although the country is far from regaining a firm foothold.

The president's principal message was that he could deliver--then he made his presentation.  "The time for bickering is over--the time for games is over," President Obama said.

The president addressed many concerns and dismissed many falsehoods, lies, innuendos, and rumors. Competition will be at the essence of the reform that his Administration seeks, Obama said. He outlined the following:

-That there will be a system offering multiple options, including the so-called public option; an insurance purchasing exchange; and the private insurance companies. He thereby dared the private insurance industry to admit that they are afraid of competition; which would eat into profits.

-Americans who already have insurance coverage and are happy with them would get added security: they would not lose coverage when they switched jobs or lost jobs; they would not lose coverage for pre-existing conditions; they would not lose coverage for when they became sick; and insurance companies would pay for tests such as routine colonoscopies to pre-empt catastrophes.

-Undocumented immigrants would not be eligible for medical insurance coverage; they would be treated if they were brought into an emergency room with injuries.

-Americans that currently don't have coverage --roughly 30 million people-- would be eligible for coverage under one of the three options available. Those who could not afford coverage would receive subsidies.

-Some of the cost, amounting to about $900 billion over 10 years, which is also less than the cost of the Iraq/Afghanistan war or the amount of the tax cuts granted to the wealthy during the George W. Bush Administration would  be covered through savings and efficiencies in Medicare as well as Medicaid.

-Additional revenue to cover the cost would come from taxes on private insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and medical equipment providers, based on their share of their markets.

--The plan would not add to the national deficit

-The president, at last, also put medical insurance malpractice --"tort reform"-- on the table, which physicians across the country have been demanding for and a favorite item for Republicans.

-All Americans would also be required to carry some form of health coverage; much in the same manner in which states require drivers to have auto insurance. This would help lower the cost of the program and also provide a larger pool for private insurers from which to draw from.

--There would be penalties for those without coverage.

--Ninety five percent of small businesses, who have narrow profit margins, will be exempt from mandatory coverage

--The president contextualized the presentation by recalling how doomsday preachers warned of impending "socialism" in 1935 when the government introduced social insurance; and in 1965 when Medicare was introduced

The president said he wants a system which, at the end of the day, would offer stability and continuity for those currently with coverage; and affordable insurance coverage for those currently without.

Already, there has been an immediate swing in public support for the way the president is handling the healthcare reform debate.

Before his speech, support stood at 53% in one poll; after his presentation, the same poll showed support at 67%


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