Robert Reich: ObamaCare Won't Cut Costs OR Improve Health Care
Former Clinton Labor Secretary and current Obama economic adviser Robert Reich believes healthcare legislation currently being debated on Capitol Hill "won't offer most Americans any appreciable decline in the cost of their health insurance nor clear improvement in the efficiency or quality of the health care they receive."
Contrary to what President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and their media minions are shamefully telling the public, the current bill results in "extra costs [that] will be borne by those Americans who will be required to buy insurance but won't qualify for federal assistance, along with Medicare beneficiaries who will be paying more and receiving less."
Maybe more importantly given Friday's announcement that the nation's unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent in October, Reich believe's President Obama is doing America a disservice by focusing all his attention on healthcare reform instead of trying to create jobs.
I sincerely hope America gets genuine health reform and I hope it's stronger than what's emerging in the Senate...I worry, though, that Obama's strategy may turn out to be a mistake comparable to Clinton's overemphasis on deficit reduction. Obama's focus on health care rather than jobs, when the economy is still so fragile and unemployment moving toward double digits, could make it appear that the administration has its priorities confused. While affordable health care is critically important to Americans, making a living is more urgent. Yet the administration's efforts to date on this more basic concern have been neither particularly visible nor coherent.
The current rate of unemployment would have been even higher were it not for the federal stimulus package, but the stimulus should have been much larger. Especially with the states still cutting back on spending and raising taxes, the federal stimulus will be barely enough to keep unemployment from hitting 11 percent by the middle of 2010. Yet as the rate of unemployment continued to rise faster and higher than the White House anticipated, Obama could not return to Congress to seek a larger stimulus. He was spending political capital on health care. [...]
While health care reform, if done right, can help American families stay afloat in the economy, the current bills won't offer most Americans any appreciable decline in the cost of their health insurance nor clear improvement in the efficiency or quality of the health care they receive, and those who will benefit won't see the benefits until 2014 at the earliest. [...]
That and other deals cut with industry -- including promises to Big Pharma that Medicare wouldn't use its bargaining clout to reduce drug prices, to the AMA that doctors wouldn't have to face larger cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates, and to private insurers that the White House wouldn't fight hard for a public insurance option -- are likely to make the resulting reform far more costly than it would be otherwise. These extra costs will be borne by those Americans who will be required to buy insurance but won't qualify for federal assistance, along with Medicare beneficiaries who will be paying more and receiving less. These people may not know they're indirectly paying the costs of buying off these industries, but they'll know they're getting shafted (Republicans will be sure to make them aware, even though the GOP has a much longer record of shafting the middle class for the benefit of big business). [...]
If Obama and the Democrats lose one or both houses of Congress in the midterms, it will be because the president learned only the most superficial lesson of the Clinton years. Health-care reform is critically important. But when one out of six Americans is unemployed or underemployed, getting the nation back to work is more so.
Although I don't agree with Reich's stimulus ideas, his point about job creation being far more important than healthcare reform at this time in history is spot on.
That ObamaCare-loving media choose to ignore such logic is totally mind-boggling.