I highly recommend the video available here and here from the July 1 health care forum led by Barack Obama at the NOVA Annandale main campus. Of note, was the very first question fielded by Obama:

VIDEO Q Hi, my name is Steve White. I’m in Spring Valley, New York. And my question for the President is: Why are we considering a health care plan which maintains the private insurance companies with their high overhead costs, instead of a single-payer plan, which would eliminate the high overhead costs, saving the American taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars, while covering everyone in our country? Thank you.

And the president responded, thusly:

THE PRESIDENT: Sure. Well, it’s a terrific question. I’m not sure if everybody could hear it, but the gist of the question is, why have we not been looking at a single-payer plan as the way to go?

As many of you know, in many countries, most industrialized advanced countries, they have some version of what’s called a single-payer plan. [He means, what Americans call single-payer.] And what that means is essentially that the government is the insurer. The government may not necessarily hire the doctors or the hospitals — a lot of those may still be privately operated — but the government is the insurer for everybody. And Medicare is actually a single-payer plan that we have in place, but we only have it in place for our older Americans. [It is not true medicare is a single-payer plan, as medicare is only for older people, as he points out. It is not universal. Also, people on medicare still have to buy supplemental insurance. More than one payer is involved. Obama used a bad example and basically a strawman, at that.]

Now, in a lot of those countries, a single-payer plan works pretty well and you eliminate, as Scott [he means Steve], I think it was, said, you eliminate private insurers, you don’t have the administrative costs and the bureaucracy and so forth. [Of course, you would have a bureaucracy with a single-payer system, but everyone would be covered. That’s the important difference.]

Here’s the problem, is that the way our health care system evolved in the United States, it evolved based on employers providing health insurance to their employees through private insurers. [Without realizing it, Obama pinpointed the problem that single-payer universal coverage would resolve.] And so that’s still the way that the vast majority of you get your insurance. And for us to transition completely from an employer-based system of private insurance to a single-payer system could be hugely disruptive. [Hugely disruptive to the robber barons in the biomedical establishment, for sure.] And my attitude has been that we should be able to find a way to create a uniquely American solution to this problem that controls costs but preserves the innovation that is introduced in part with a free market system. [Why this uniquely American solution if it has already proven to be an utter failure?]

I think that we can regulate the insurance companies effectively; make sure that they’re not playing games with people because of preexisting conditions; that they’re not charging wildly different rates to people based on where they live or what their age is; that they’re not dropping people for coverage unnecessarily; that we have a public option [I believe this is the only time Obama mentions this] that’s available to provide competition and choice to the American people, and to keep the insurers honest; and that we can provide a system in which we are, over the long term, driving down administrative costs, and making sure that people are getting the best possible care at a lower price. [Remember, Obama is answering a question about single-payer universal health care. He points out that a strictly private system is so expensive that it is only affordable to those who are part of a company plan. A lower price would mean a break for the company, not necessarily the insured employees. Everyone else effectively remains uncovered. Now imagine what a break everyone would get with a single-payer system where the pool consisted of everyone from prenatal to their dying days. Obama is so plugged into the current broken system, he just can’t see this logical next step.]

But I recognize that there are lot of people who are passionate — they look at France or some of these other systems and they say, well, why can’t we just do that? Well, the answer is, is that this is one-sixth of our economy, and we’re not suddenly just going to completely upend the system. [By system, he means the scam that is health care in America today.] We want to build on what works about the system and fix what’s broken about the system. And that’s what I think Congress is committed to doing, and I’m committed to working with them to make it happen. Okay?

I gather that Steve White did not mind what the president said:

White said he didn’t mind that the president indicated that he did not want to pursue a single-payer option.

"Just the fact that he took the question shows that he’s interested in hearing other people’s opinion," White said.

Nor was White upset by the fact that Obama called him "Scott."

"I worked on his campaign. I went to Pennsylvania to campaign for him, and I was a member of a Rockland grass-roots group," White said.

The town hall meeting showed that Obama was keeping his campaign promise to listen to the opinions of ordinary Americans, he said.

"With Obama, the American people can hope again," White said.

I found Obama’s response to Steve’s question very troubling, but not as much as what I heard after that. By the end of the 70+ minute event, after having stated all the important goals needed to be reached, Obama had convinced me he had no intention of attaining any of those goals in any meaningful way. Hear for yourself and see if you don’t reach the similar conclusion.

alank

alank

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