I received this email from WhiteHouse.gov today:

Dear Friend,

As you read this, we are closer than ever to passing comprehensive health insurance reform that benefits American families and small businesses. Despite all the back and forth in the news right now, it is important to understand just how far we've come in this challenging process.

That's why I'm holding a press conference tonight at 8pm ET, and writing to let everyone know where we are, what's ahead, and why health insurance reform is so important.

Let me be clear: although Congress is still debating parts of the legislation we have achieved critical consensus on several key areas:

If you already have health insurance: reform will provide you with more security and stability. It will limit your own out of pocket costs and prevent your insurance company from dropping your coverage if you get too sick. You'll also have affordable insurance options if you lose or change your job. And it will cover preventive care like check-ups and mammograms that save lives and money.

If you don't have health insurance: you will finally have guaranteed access to quality, affordable health care, and you can choose the plan that best suits your family's needs. And no insurance company will be allowed to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.

Now, I realize that the last few miles of any race are the hardest to run, but we can't stop now. There's no dispute about it: we cannot control our long-term fiscal health as a nation without health insurance reform. American families and small businesses understand that the health insurance status quo is taking away those things that they value most about health care. The stability and security that comes with knowing that you can get the treatment you need, when you need it. Without reform, we are consigning our children to a future of skyrocketing premiums and crushing deficits.

We have to seize this opportunity and pass health insurance reform this year. You can help by forwarding this email to your family and friends and letting them know what's at stake in this debate.

Thank you,
Barack Obama

P.S. Tune in to tonight's press conference on health insurance reform at 8pm ET on WhiteHouse.gov.

Tags: health-care, health-care-reform, obama, president obama, president-obama

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I'm not 100% sure of what reform is right; but I'm 100% sure that some reform is needed. No matter where you stand on the issue, I'd recommend watching, so that at the very least you are informed. The coverage should be available at WhiteHouse.gov/LIVE if you don't have access to a TV; and I'm sure it will be on YouTube after the fact.
In related news...

Obama Fights Back Against Critics of Health Care Reform
By Opposing Views Editorial Staff - July 20, 2009

President Barack Obama is not taking criticism of his health care reform plans lying down. Today he fought back against Republicans who are trying to derail reform, saying he will push ahead. But at the same time, he pushed back his timetable for passage of the bill.

Speaking at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. after meeting with doctors, nurses and other health care workers, he said, "We can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time. Not now. There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake."

He criticized those "fighting reform on behalf of powerful special interests" and others out to put off action for "another day, another year, another decade." And the President complained that "health insurance companies and their executives have reaped windfall profits from a broken system."

His vow to "pass reform by the end of this year" was something of a surprise. All along, President Obama was demanding that Congress vote on legislation before their August recess, with a comprehensive bill for him to sign in October. That likely will not happen.

Obama did not mention comments made today by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who called the President's push for health care reform "socialism." Speaking at the National Press Club, Steele said, "Obama-(House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi want to start building a colossal, closed health care system where Washington decides. Republicans want and support an open health care system where patients and doctors make the decisions." Asked if Obama's health care plan represented socialism, Steele responded, "Yes. Next question."

Obama has repeatedly said he does not want a government-run health care system.

Watch more of President Obama's remarks:

i get that things need to be done in baby steps but what the system really needs isn't reform but rather radical overhaul. unfortunately, there's no political will for that. the very companies that profit from the way things are right now are those companies that bankroll the politicians that have the power to change things.
That sums up my line of thinking nicely.

Thanks for the link to the study Nelson.
but if we are not careful it will turn into the same problem as Canada's socialized healthcare, there is a reason they come to the US for health conditions when they could get it in Canada for free.
What reasons do they come to the US for?
You cite one example. It is always possible to find and "exception to the rule."

The fact of the matter is that every county that provides a more socialized-style health care system, has better overall health care than the US.

No system is perfect, but our current system is one of the least perfect in the world. Too many in power gain from the current system though, so those most influential resist the change.
I went to school with lots of Canadians and they all waited for semester break to do any of their medical stuff. They would make fun of us for our screwed up health-care system and brag about their own. I've recently been in contact with a couple of them, and they were laughing at the horrible depiction of their system in the US media (especially by Republicans). In their (and their families'/friends') experience, the wait times don't exist, the slow return of results is false, and the quality was excellent.

So while I don't doubt your example, I think it may not be representative. Of course, my example may not be either. Just my two cents.
My only question is who are these Canadians that come down here for Healthcare? I grew up in Blaine WA... city limits are the international border near Vancouver. I've never known any Canadian to come to the US for care. I've heard of it, but I think that it's an anomaly. I've known plenty of dual citizenship holders who have went to Canada for healthcare though.
I heard that this could ruin Obama's Prez if this does not pass that is why it has been a media blitz 24/7 for him. I think we need some sort of change to the health care system. When people are going bankrupt because insurance will not pay is a major problem for me.

To hear people say, "TO BAD!" just boils my blood. *Thinking of republicans mostly here.
Embedded copy of the speech seems to be making the page clock, so here's a link to the video on WhiteHouse.gov.
If we move in the direction of universal healthcare, there is one hurdle not talked about. Drugs are developed almost entirely in the US because it's profitable. I'm personally happy with the drugs we have. There are always areas to improve and maybe technologies like stem cell therapies will make it a moot point. Fact is most of our drugs are taken due to living well beyond our sell by date or not caring for ourselves... eh overweight folk?
Here's another thought. If we do it, what makes you think that government won't get further into the policing our behaviors?
I'm all for it. We need it. It's immoral to have a company (publicly owned corps) legally obligated to make as much money as possible for the shareholder over the person whom they promise to protect in terms of heath and financially. They are obligated to try to get you off the balance sheet when you become a red mark. Just don't think of this as the Holy Grail. It's gonna be effed for quite some time. I like the idea of requiring Congress going on the plan as well.
Snopes took on a Canadian Health Care is bad propaganda email. Worth a look-see.
Obama's Health Care News Conference - Facts vs. Obama
July 23, 2009 - FactCheck.org
by Lori Robertson, Brooks Jackson and Jess Henig


Summary

President Obama tried to sell his health care overhaul in prime time, mangling some facts in the process. He also strained to make the job sound easier to pay for than experts predict.

  • Obama promised once again that a health care overhaul “will be paid for.” But congressional budget experts say the bills they've seen so far would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade.
  • He said the plan "that I put forward" would cover at least 97 percent of all Americans. Actually, the plan he campaigned on would cover far less than that, and only one of the bills now being considered in Congress would do that.
  • He said the "average American family is paying thousands" as part of their premiums to cover uncompensated care for the uninsured, implying that expanded coverage will slash insurance costs. But the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation puts the cost per family figure at $200.
  • Obama claimed his budget "reduced federal spending over the next 10 years by $2.2 trillion" compared with where it was headed before. Not true. Even figures from his own budget experts don't support that. The Congressional Budget Office projects a $2.7 trillion increase, not a $2.2 trillion cut.
  • The president said that the United States spends $6,000 more on average than other countries on health care. Actually, U.S. per capita spending is about $2,500 more than the next highest-spending country. Obama's figure was a White House-calculated per-family estimate.

Analysis

With the health care debate on Capitol Hill raging on, President Barack Obama held a prime-time news conference July 22 to make his pitch for a health care bill once again to the American public. Among his facts and figures, we found some false and questionable statements.

Paying For It

Obama promised that a health care overhaul “will be paid for.” Thus far, that’s been a tall order.

The House bill doesn’t pay for itself, adding a net $239 billion over 10 years to the federal deficit, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill is much further away from covering its costs. The CBO estimated that legislation would bring a net deficit increase of $597 billion over 10 years. The Senate bill, CBO said, only produced net savings of $48 billion (compared to current law), while the House came up with more money, saving $219 billion and bringing in $583 billion in federal revenue over that 2010-2019 period.

As the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group, said in a report released this month, it's tough to save money while greatly expanding health care coverage at the same time:
CRFB: More access and broader coverage do not save money, however. Greater coverage will increase health spending. Unless major changes are successfully implemented in health care delivery and payment systems, costs will continue to rise from a larger base at a rapid pace. Moreover, potential savings are speculative, while costs are far more certain. That imbalance suggests that unless there is broad popular support for the measures that will be required to achieve savings, the nation’s health care bill could become that much more unaffordable.
Obama went on to say that “the entire cost of that has to be paid for and it has got to be deficit-neutral. And we identified two-thirds of those costs to be paid for by tax dollars that are already being spent right now.”

“Identified” is the key word – the White House may have pinpointed ways it says can save that much, but whether the president can make these happen is an open question. Obama has spoken before about saving around $650 billion (about two-thirds of a cost of $1 trillion over 10 years) by cutting spending, largely in Medicare. But proposed cuts in payments to insurers and hospitals are likely to draw strong opposition from lobbyists and lawmakers. And Obama admitted last night that legislators hadn’t adopted his proposals: “Not all of the cost-saving measures I just mentioned were contained in Congress' draft legislation,” he said – but he remained optimistic, adding that “even though we still have a few issues to work out, what's remarkable at this point is not how far we have left to go, it's how far we've already come.”

Obama detailed a few of his Medicare savings proposals last night and went into greater detail in a speech June 15 at the American Medical Association conference. Some of the ideas are backed up by independent studies, at least in theory: Obama proposes introducing a competitive bidding process for Medicare Advantage, a program through which private insurers offer Medicare coverage and get higher payments from the government than standard Medicare reimbursements. Last night, he said it would save "over $100 billion of unwarranted subsidies that go to insurance companies"; he's said before that it would save $177 billion over 10 years. And the CBO has estimated such a proposal could save nearly that much, $159 billion over 10 years.

Other proposals are more vague: Obama has called for adjusting Medicare payments to "reflect new advances and productivity gains in our economy," which, he told the AMA, would "create incentives for providers to deliver care more efficiently," saving about $109 billion over 10 years.

As CBS News anchor Katie Couric recently asked Obama, “[A]ren't a lot of these cost savings, Mr. President, theoretical?. … [T]here are no guarantees these projected savings will really happen.”

The president dodged the question: “Well, here's what we know. Here is a guarantee: If we do nothing, then health care inflation is going to keep on going up at 8 percent, 9 percent, 10 percent a year. … If we take these actions, we are confident that we can actually see some serious reductions in health care inflation.”

Beyond paying for a health care bill, however, Obama has said an overhaul of the system will actually save money – or at least save money compared with what health care spending would have been without changes to the system. In his press conference, Obama said “the bill I sign must also slow the growth of health care costs in the long run.“ What Congress has proposed so far doesn’t do that, either.

CBO’s analysis of the House bill does recognize specific savings that the legislation will reap from changes to Medicare, but also highlights some increases the bill would make in Medicare spending as well. Overall, that bill and the Senate’s don’t control the rising costs of federal health programs, according to CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf, who told the Senate Budget Committee last week that the bills didn’t have “the sort of fundamental changes” that would change the cost curve. On the contrary, he said: “The curve is being raised.”

Near-Universal Coverage?

The president exaggerated the number of persons who would be covered by his health care plan.
Obama: So the plan that has been – that I put forward and that what we're seeing in Congress would cover – the estimates are – at least 97 percent to 98 percent of Americans.
That's true of the House health care bill, but it's far from the truth about Obama's plan proposed when he was running for president.

The CBO estimated that the bill working its way through the House would result in 97 percent of Americans (excluding illegal immigrants) having insurance by 2015. The figure would be only 94 percent of all those in the U.S., including those here illegally. However, Obama was careful to apply his 97 percent figure to "Americans," so he's right as far as the House bill is concerned. But that's the only proposal now being considered that would achieve such wide coverage.

The Senate HELP Committee bill wouldn't go as far. The CBO projected that legislation would cover 90 percent of Americans by 2015 (excluding illegal immigrants), and 88 percent of all those in the U.S. including those who aren't here legally. The Senate bill leaves twice as many people uninsured by 2019 (34 million) as the House bill (17 million).

The plan Obama campaigned on last year would have covered fewer than the House bill, according to analyses from two groups. The Lewin Group and the Tax Policy Center estimated last year that Obama's plan would leave 26.9 million and 25.2 million uninsured, respectively, in 2018.

Uncompensated Care

Obama repeated a claim about uncompensated care that we've already said was unjustified:
Obama: And, in fact, there's going to be a whole lot of savings that we obtain from that because, for example, the average American family is paying thousands of dollars in hidden costs in their insurance premiums to pay for what's called uncompensated care – people who show up at the emergency room because they don't have a primary care physician.
We wrote about this back in June, when Obama said that "the average family pays a thousand dollars in extra premiums to pay for people going to the emergency room who don't have health insurance." This came from a report by the health care advocacy group Families USA, which estimated that people with private family insurance paid an extra $1,017 in premiums to cover the cost of uncompensated care to the uninsured; individuals paid $368 extra. But the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation took issue with that estimate, saying that they were "highly skeptical" that the rising cost of insurance premiums had much to do with cost-shifting, because much of the uncompensated costs would not be passed on to premium payers. KFF's estimate of actual cost shifting amounted to more like $200 per family annually.

In his press conference, Obama added even more to families' premiums, saying they paid "thousands" more to cover uncompensated care. That's not what the Families USA study found, and even that group's $1,000 estimate has been disputed.

A $5 Trillion Whopper?

The president claimed he has cut federal spending by more than $2 trillion.
Obama: I am very worried about federal spending. And the steps that we've taken so far have reduced federal spending over the next 10 years by $2.2 trillion.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office doesn’t agree that Obama’s budget has “reduced federal spending” at all. Quite the opposite. His budget calls for vastly increased spending, according to CBO.

Last month CBO estimated that total federal spending, without the changes Obama proposed in his budget, would be just under $39 trillion over the next 10 years. It also estimated that if Congress adopted the president's budget, spending would increase to more than $41.7 trillion over the same period. As a percentage of the economy, CBO figured that federal spending would rise from 22.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) under current law, to 23.7 percent under Obama's budget proposals.

CBO specifically estimated the "total effect on outlays" of Obama’s budget as an increase of $2.7 trillion compared with what's called for in current law. So by CBO’s figuring, spending would go up $2.7 trillion, not down $2.2 trillion. That would make Obama's claim a nearly $5 trillion whopper.

Even the administration's own projections don't suport Obama's extravagant claim of a $2.2 trillion spending cut. His Office of Management and Budget projected that Obama's budget would produce $42.2 trillion in total outlays over the next 10 years. That's only $431 billion more than CBO's later estimate. However, Obama's OMB comes up with a much higher prediction of where spending would be without the president's budget. OMB figures "baseline" spending of $43.4 trillion. Compared with that, OMB figures that Obama's budget would represent a reduction of more than $1.2 trillion. But that's still nearly $1 trillion short of the figure Obama claimed.

Obama may have confused his deficit figures with his spending figures. Earlier he said that the projected deficit is "$2.2 trillion less than it would have been if we had the same policies in place when we came in." But even that is disputed. It's true that OMB projected a $7.1 trillion, 10-year deficit under Obama's budget, and a $9.3 trillion deficit if current policies continued unchanged. That would amount to a $2.2 trillion improvement. But congressional budget experts don't agree with that. CBO projects a $9.1 trillion deficit under Obama's budget, and a $4.4 trillion deficit under current law. In other words, CBO figures Obama's budget would make the deficit $4.5 trillion worse, not $2.2 trillion better.

U.S. vs. The Rest of the World

Obama exaggerated the discrepancy between U.S. and foreign health care costs:
Obama: And we know that we're spending on average, we here in the United States are spending about $6,000 more than other advanced countries where they're just as healthy.
In fact, the U.S. spends nearly $7,000 per person total, or nearly $2,500 more than the next highest-spending country, according to the most recent completed data from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

We contacted the Office of Management and Budget, where an official told us that Obama's figure represents costs per family, not per person. Obama didn't specify that, and the authoritative OECD figures on which he relied don't offer a per-family cost. The OMB official said the administration multiplied the per-capita spending by 3.3 to get a family figure (roughly the average number of persons living in family households). This yields closer to an $8,000 difference than $6,000, however, so we're still unsure of how Obama got his figure. In any case, using a per-family figure without identifying it as such is misleading, since millions of Americans live alone, and per-capita spending is the standard used for making such comparisons.

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