Thursday, August 20, 2009

Via web conference, Obama inspires activists to keep fighting.

by Loretta Long

At today’s web wide forum on healthcare reform Presdent Barack Obama, in his usual relaxed, self-confident manner, gave hard-working social activists key points to offer fellow neighbors, friends, and business associates when they hit the streets to fight for fairly-priced health coverage for all Americans. With a room full of his loyal staff, well-known supporters of healthcare reform, and 280,000 web viewers, President Obama offered praise for all that has been accomplished, and inspiration for the fight ahead.

“This has never been easy,” President Obama said. “When FDR proposed social security, he was accused of being a socialist. When JFK proposed Medicare, everyone suggested this will be a government take over . The same arguments have been made over and over when we made changes that ultimately improved everyone’s quality of life.”

With wry humor and irony, Obama pointed out the malicious lies and rumors being spread by corporations who stand to lose billions of dollars in profits if healthcare reform legislation is passed. He also explained how these lies were propagated in a media culture that so often values “objective reporting” over the truth. “A reporter will call the White House,” President Obama said, ”and say such and such accused Obama of creating death panels.” The reporter will then write that the White House responded by saying this isn’t true, but will never make a clear point that in fact it isn’t true.

"It’s fine to have a debate," President Obama added, "but when something isn’t even remotely true, than you should say it isn’t true.”

President Obama said that those without insurance are already in favor of insurance reform, but in order to convince the majority of Americans who do have insurance that health care reform is essential, activists must explain that the status quo-- the insurance benefits enjoyed today--will soon become much more expensive. And if reform bills aren't passed, many insurance benefits enjoyed by Americans today will disappear. He reminded web viewers and members of the on-site audience that unless insurance companies are better regulated, millions more Americans will join the ranks of the un-insured within a few years.

President Obama reminded listeners that the most worried population are senior citizens who have been confronted with death panel propaganda and lies saying they will lose their coverage. But he also said that unless changes are made, the Medicare program will run out of money within eight years. But by simply eliminating subsidies, Obama explained, subsidies given to insurance companies through “Medicare Advantage”, and by also making insurance companies compete to provide extra care, the Medicare program will save a trillion dollars over the next decade.

“We don’t want government in all our business,” President Obama said, “but there are certain consumer protections we can pass so that insurance companies can’t play the dirty tricks they have been playing. We don’t want to eliminate insurance companies; we simply want to create rules and regulations to keep insurance companies from profiting in ridiculously unfair ways.”

President Obama said healthcare reform will strengthen Medicare by extending the life of the trust fund. He advised activists hitting the streets to fight for reform by reminding seniors that “nobody is messing with your benefits , and you’ve got kids and grandkids, and we’ve got to make sure they have benefits too,” adding, “Medicare is already a government program. We need to strengthen the program so it will be better over the long haul.”

President Obama said that the recent controversy over his seeming to no longer back a “public option” was a contrived controversy. He said that he has been working hard with diligent Republicans fighting for a bipartisan plan but, “but his obligation to the American people is to get this done one way or the other.”

Although many opponents have criticized President Obama for not clearly stating his plan to pay for healthcare reform, President Obama offered key ways healthcare changes will be funded:

Two thirds of the cost will be paid for with taxpayer money that is currently going to waste through insurance subsidies and other wasteful practices. “We don’t incentivize hospitals to get patients well the first time out,” Obama said, “because if they are re-admitted, we just pay them the same rate. If you fix your car and it isn’t right the first time, you would want the mechanic to give you a discount the second time in.”

President Obama said much savings will come from the preventative and wellness plans written into the healthcare reform bills, “but no one gives us credit because it isn’t provable,” he said.

Another way the plan will be funded is by making Americans with incomes over $250,000 per year pay their fair share of taxes. “If we just went back to deductions that existed under Ronald Reagan, we could pay for health care,” he added.