Obama Releases His Health Plan Online

Barack Obama has chosen the internet to present his health care reform plan. After a year of particularly unintelligible debates and negotiations in Congress, leading to the current dead-end (the Senate and the House of Representatives have, at the cost of great efforts, each adopted one law, but no longer have the majority required to finalize these two texts), the president has re-taken the initiative by displaying a will of transparency and clarity. The site, or sub-site created specifically for the occasion, is as always at www.whitehouse.gov, and is rather very well drafted. It addresses questions Americans would likely ask themselves (Would I be able to keep my doctor? What would happen if I lost my job? Will the costs increase?), all while illustrated very artistically by photos of a stethoscope, tablet-filled containers, savings booklet or a worker’s big glove-covered hands.

Essentially, this Obama plan — the first on the part of the president, who had previously left the initiative to Congress, whose outcomes we are well aware of — does not do much to simplify the issue, and this could be its first criticism: Rather, it seems to re-state the complex instigations, regulations and infringements laboriously elaborated upon by the House and the Senate, only to apply its own re-touches. But the White House’s experts on communications have at least attempted some more or less detailed summaries for the public and journalists. The presidential plan would allow 31 million currently non-covered Americans to afford health coverage, so it claims. It would create a new federal regulation, made responsible for restricting insurance companies’ abusive fee increases. And this plan would also “fill-up the doughnut hole”: seniors, who are currently not reimbursed even when having paid $2830 in health expenses (up to the total cost of $4550 in expenses, at which point the reimbursements begin), would be entirely compensated.

Those most passionate on the subject could review the Obama plan in its entirety online… keeping in mind that this new measure has little chance of actually being carried out. The White House has itself stated that it is simply a “base of discussion” with regard to the health summit planned on Thursday with the opposing Republicans. The first objective of the Obama plan is to say: “Here is our project, where is yours?” An adviser to the White House underlined it this Monday morning during a briefing: “Our hope is that the Republicans will now put their project online so that Americans may be informed.” From the Republican side, nothing signals that this approach is deemed conciliatory enough: The New York Times proposes this Monday a good summary of the Republican response to come, publishing the points of view of five conservative experts. Their starting point, which they are likely to hit on the nail once again on Thursday: The Obama team “has failed” in its health reform.

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