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President Takes on Role as Chief Pitchman for Health Reform- Buy NOW! [Commentary]

Sep 10, 2009

Posted by Kristie Arslan - If you’ve ever had a bout of insomnia which left you flipping through the channels of very late night television, you have run across those crazy yet oddly addictive infomercials for various products or self-help programs.  Was it me or did the President’s much hyped speech on health reform last night seem like he was trying to sell us something? Albeit he had a much more impressive backdrop and he certainly had a better pitch than those we see plugging products, but nonetheless it was the same old pitch in a fancier package.

Did people think the President's speech lived up to the hype?  Was it the lightening rod needed to bridge the divide on reform and move the ball forward?    

It is no shocker that the Democrats bought what the President was selling and gave him a rousing thumbs up.  They say the speech was just what was needed to reawaken their resolve to pass health reform.  Republicans sat either stone faced or shaking their heads through most of the speech making it clear that they aren’t going to give one inch to the President on this issue or likely on any issue.   

Maybe I have been in the beltway too long, yet from my perspective as an advocate for the self-employed, the roll out of the President’s plan was a non-news event.  Other than throwing a bone to Republicans on medical malpractice liability reform and gently scolding his fellow Democrats on their public option or nothing crusade, the President didn’t offer Americans, especially the self-employed, any new ideas on reform.   

The President pitched a set of proposals that are already included in the three key Congressional health reform packages: 

  • Creation of an Exchange to allow individuals and small businesses without health insurance to have a place to go to purchase coverage – Check
  • Tax credits for individuals and small business – Check
  • Market reforms to ensure that your health status or a preexisting condition will no longer determine whether you are able to access or keep your coverage – Check
  • Mandates requiring all individuals to purchase coverage and all small businesses above a certain size to provide coverage to employees or pay a fine – Check
  • Measures to pay for health reform – Check

The key question remains, what does the President have to offer on health reform that is new and will help those who need reform the most like the self-employed?  We're happy to help with some recommendations, Mr. President.   

While I am pleased that the President has decided to take a more active role on health reform and referee the players on Capitol Hill, ultimately we all know that the devil is in the details.  If the President is going to hold fast to the current proposals (some good, some bad) on the table and not offer any new ideas, then we need to know his opinion on the details and how it differs from Congress.   

And just like those late night infomercials that suck you in with promises of clear skin, easily chopped vegetables or becoming a millionaire from the comfort of your own home, the President adeptly avoided discussing the fine print with Americans last night.  Yet, we all know it is that fine print which will determine the success or failure of health reform.