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Health care is a top priority for President-elect Obama, and he wants your help in reforming the system to provide quality, affordable health care for all Americans. That's why this holiday season, we're asking you to give us the gift of your ideas and input.

Sign up to host a Health Care Community Discussion anytime from December 15th to 31st.

We'll provide all our hosts with special moderator kits that will give you everything you need to get the discussion going. And Senator Tom Daschle, the leader of the Transition's Health Policy Team, will even choose one discussion to attend in person.

I have been exploring the Obama/Biden post-election site, change.gov and found this (rather late for me) invitation to host a home discussion group on health care reform. There is also a form in which you can provide your health care story or key issues.  

First, I hope this invitation gets wide distribution. This is an opportunity to provide real progressive needs and solutions into the process. Will it be a fruitful opportunity? I would love to hear from those who participated in previous Obama discussion groups if they were productive for Obama, for the process, and for you.

The Obama/Biden plan for health care reform seems uncontroversial and modest imo:
 

* Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.
   * Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees.
   * Lower costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees.
   * Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.
   * Make employer contributions more fair by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees' health care.
   * Establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.
   * Ensure everyone who needs it will receive a tax credit for their premiums.

Notice the goal element I bolded,

...a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.

Here's the meat. This is the element we need to endorse, the portal to true change. If Obama can open Medicare to All or have a similar plan for all Americans to join at reasonable rates then we are on the road to reform.

Naturally, in this insurance industry friendly modality, opponents will have full access to resist and cripple efforts toward a public plan option. If they fail and a public plan is established, the insurance industry has a number of ways they can game the system to make the public portal fail.

In the hope that it will be a worthy effort, let's support this invitation to get involved and get our input documented within Obama's framework.

Originally posted to kck on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 08:19 PM PST.

Poll

Insured?

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6%3 votes
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2%1 votes
17%8 votes
25%12 votes
2%1 votes

| 47 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  While Obama currently (7+ / 0-)

    does not see single payer as politiclaly possible, it would be good to show him that there is much support for it.

    It may not be feasible politically, in part because Obama does not support it, but moving Overton Windows is a necessary step for the future.

    Good diary.  Make you voices heard.

    "What we've seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed." -- Barack Obama

    by TomP on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 08:23:38 PM PST

    •  Thanks, Tom. (5+ / 0-)

      I'm skeptical and even negative but that wouldn't make me stop trying or not take every opportunity to make a difference and be part of a relentless public demand for reform.

      As we all know, what is or isn't "feasible" depends...

      Besides, if we don't drive a stake in the ground, there will be no left left, the goal posts will be pushed rightward and the entire field will be named after AHIP!

    •  What Obama said in the campaign and what (4+ / 0-)

      the implications of his broader agenda, as it related to affordable health care, is another thing.  He is waiting for the public to DEMAND the end of the insurance model.  Indeed, his plan to digitalize all medical records will be a foot in the door, because it will force all insurance companies AND healthcare providers to use the same protocol.  That is the first step in the process of moving to a single-payer system.  
        Once everyone shares the same medical records protocol, it is a simply step to move to a unified billing system...and once that is in place, the insurance companies will have no justification for skimming 30% of the nation's healthcare dollar into their corporate coffers.  
        One of the places Obama can pay for many of the projects he is proposing is by cutting out the waste associated with the present insurance-based system.  If he frames the choices as "universal Medicare" or a tax hike...he will have the conservatives by the cajones.  Universal Medicare is a way to get to fiscal responsibility.  Talk that up and watch the conservative break into a cold sweat.  :-)
       

      ...Former candidate for Congress.

      by Steve Love on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 09:06:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Steve, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pris from LA

        You say:

        his plan to digitalize all medical records

        What do you mean by this?

        The largest existing EMRs are either government departments or non-profit HMOs. These institutions made their own investments and have employed many different solutions. Of course any group of systems can be integrated but what will Obama do with the huge number of private, for profit hospital chains and small provider groups? Will the taxpayers pay for these? To what end?

        Already, today there are cheap ways to unify billing systems with EDI.  Why ever would the federal government subsidize EMR development (one project can be as much as $2billion)?

        •  Presently most medical records are pen on (0+ / 0-)

          paper and X-rays are photo film.  Moving these files from doctor to doctor is laborious and costly.  [If you are diabetic and, while on vacation, are discovered unconscience, would you like the MICU paramedic to be able to call up your record on the way to the hospital or have it there in the ER when you arrive?]
            As for the benefits other than economic, scanning in all these documents and X-rays will enaable patient review by doctors anywhere in the world, researchers to access multiple files with ease and payment agencies to track costs and do cost/benefit analysis efficently, saving lives lost to our present inablility to track the effects of many madications.
            Where do we start?  The medical care community is based on doctors. That is where all care starts. The Obama process would begin in the doctor's office.   Hospitals and clinics (for-profit or not) would be provided the software and expected to provide the staffing to move their files to a digital format as a condition of being part of the national integrated healthcare database.
            All I am suggesting is that Obama's plan to digitize medical records is this:  I think you will agree with me that, if the medical records of the country were written in the languarge of the ethnic origin of the patients there would be all kinds of benefits to have them all translated to English.  Digital is the new universal "language" of mass communications.  Does that make sense?

          ...Former candidate for Congress.

          by Steve Love on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 05:03:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Agreed. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reepicheep, kck, Pris from LA

    Creating a public plan that is open to all is key.  If done properly, that will put us on the course to single payer.

  •  This is important. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kck, Pris from LA, drlevant, SoCaliana

    This is where nyceve and company can get into the picture and really push for the legislation that will make a difference.  Medicare for all is what I am pushing for, if only to move that window to the progressive side.  If they try to do this in some complicated piece-meal way, it fails.

    I can't host, but I'm happy to come!  I live in kcmo.

    I really hope this gets on the rec list.  

    "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

    by Reepicheep on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 09:03:05 PM PST

  •  Medicare is better than nothing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kck
    However the tie in plans cost as much as many group plans if you're young enough and the drug donut hole is a real kick in the teeth.  Medicare was actually much better for people when I worked in healthcare in the 1970s.  It was basically fee for service.  Don't think we'll ever see that again.  The managed care companies just take the money and run if you sign up with one of them for the most part.  I like the idea that people could buy into the federal government's insurance plans, the one that senators have for example.  That would be a much better deal than medicare.  

    Winning without Delay.

    by ljm on Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 11:41:24 PM PST

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