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July 31st, 2009
10:10 PM ET

Dem leader: Reform too good to pass up

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, left, thinks the U.S. cannot afford to fail on health care.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, left, thinks the U.S. cannot afford to fail on health care.

Steny Hoyer
Special to CNN

History shows that the chance to reform the American health care system is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. So reform is absolutely worth the time it takes to get it right.

That's why Democrats are subjecting their plan to bring affordable health care to all Americans to intense scrutiny, and that's why we're going home to hear from our constituents, adding to the more than 550 health care town hall meetings and public events that have already taken place this year.

But there is also a distinct urgency to our work - an urgency fired by an understanding that the most disastrous health plan is a simple extension of the status quo.

If reform splutters, we'll be left with a broken, unsustainable system, with health costs set to double over the next 10 years, and millions of more Americans projected to lose their coverage. As rising costs and rapidly-consolidating insurance giants strip coverage from more middle-class families, the costs of inaction will mount every year.

Keep reading...


Filed under: Democrats • Health Care
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. ronvan

    Ref. RLWellmans comment: Sadly I must agree. In my home town you know where to go to get cheap labor. They stand on street corners every morning! Yet, I have not heard or read anything about checking for legal or illegal status! We have become complacent & accepted this situation far to long. What do you tell your children when they are in school & that they must obey the laws and rules, when illegal aliens children are sitting next to them?

    August 3, 2009 at 9:59 am |
  2. Chris

    If anyone is interested, go to ottawacitizen/health for an interesting article to Mitch McConnel's claims regarding Canadian Health Care

    August 3, 2009 at 7:00 am |
  3. RLWellman

    If the Health Care Reform Bill is such a good thing, why do the Democrats even need the Republicans to sign on? They can pass it without the Republicans even voting.

    Do you want to know why the Democrats won't sign the bill by themselves? Did you ever hear of "tar and feathered"? Some of the Democrats have been listening to their constituants, you know, the people who they are supposed to represent? They know if they sign this garbage bill as is, they will end up tarred and feathered!

    Over 90% of American citizens have insurance, don't want to pay for illegal aliens to have insurance, and they want more than just "end of life care" after they turn 65 years old.

    So just what can the GOP squash anyway? If this is such a good deal, why aren't Government employees (Congressman, Senators, and the President) signing up for this program?

    August 2, 2009 at 9:03 am |
  4. rob kruse

    What's different? Us middle class people have always paid more than our share to support those without & now it's gotten too crazy! With that "joke" Pelosi running wild no telling what will happen. Says alot about crazy San Fran to keep putting that nutcase back in office!! Bush really screwed up allowing "Pandora's Box" to be opened with these crazy liberal Dems spending like idiots!! Bush was no better than the knuckleheads we have in office now!! I believe in afree market, but there has to be regulation on things in society that have to used like health care. Health care used to be a community service if I'm not mistaken!
    Really screwed the pooch when private companies got their hands on it.
    What about Canadian drugs? How much lobbyist money is getting pumped into the Dems greasy hands these days?

    August 1, 2009 at 10:58 pm |
  5. Marie

    I work in a pharmacy & see that the people on Title 19 are
    very well taken care of. And they can afford cigarettes (spelling).
    They can afford beer, etc. Socialized medicine is not the
    way to go. We have people from Canada coming into the
    United States because they are tired of waiting to have
    a surgery they need. Also I don't want socialized medicine
    because I don't want to be told what doctors I can & can't
    go too. My husband has had many many surgeries & yes
    still goes to work everyday & we have payed out of pocket
    sometimes 4,000.00 per year. We are middle class people
    & both work to afford this but we do get to pick our doctors.
    Something seriously has to be done about the cost
    of Senior Citizen RX's these seniors pay too much
    out of pocket , again I work in a pharmacy & I see this
    everyday.

    August 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  6. Martin

    The insurance companies that are forced to accept everyone with pre-existing health conditions will be going bankrupt within a year. They can not sustain paying out $5,000 to $50,000 a month on a $300 a month incoming premium. Their profit margin now is 2.8%.
    The seniors should receive the same quality of care as a 24 year old. It seems that will not be the case. No illegals should receive any government paid insurance or care but should be sent home,

    August 1, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  7. elZorro

    Heal;th Care Reform should be as easy as 1-2-3.... Yeah! But. Republicans plus others, speaking at the behest of the corporate insurance's interests of this country, have been labeling this new comprehensive, and honest I might add, President Obama's health plan as 'socialist' and 'down right invasive' of the American 'traditional culture'!... Plain nutts!

    August 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  8. Lionel

    Why are we placing blame on others for the inconsistencies of our constituents? I understand people are upset because there are a lot of illegal immigrants using the health care system that's driving up the cost. However, you can't blame them for the total problem. Our politicians should take the blame b/c they are the ones who are using them to lobby for big corporations in their pursuit of free labor throughout our nation. I recommend that you not place blame on illegal immigrants but blame the politicians, who are deciding whether to support or deny this change, for what's happening with our health care system.

    August 1, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  9. Henry Allen

    Anderson;
    I Am So Very Confused:

    The month of August is going to be the most important time in American history since President Franklin D Roosevelt with America on the brink of getting some kind of health care reform, and yet we are all confused and afraid. You know the Republicans are going to be spinning there half truths.

    Here is a chance for you to become the most important facilitator and debunker, by advertising for your upcoming show with a panel of experts of what's really is and is not in the health care plain and what it means and don't mean to the average American, so that WE can tell our Representatives we want you to vote YA or NAY to the plan. Somewhere the lies must stop, and it would take a respected and honorable person like yourself to pull it off. Who knows your ratings may go higher then the inauguration or Michael Jackson

    August 1, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  10. Art

    Health care in this country is a "business". Until you take "profit" out of the conversation there is no reform. If you can "afford" it you may live, if you can't "afford" it you my die. Morally shameful, and this is the USA.

    August 1, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  11. KIM-TN

    I agree we need to lower insurance costs, and an individual should be able to get health insurance like you get car insurance.
    What I don't agree with is providing any kind of health insurance for illegals not matter what. They don't belong here in the first place. Ship them back to where they came from and if they had a child in this country it goes back with them!!!

    August 1, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  12. J.V.Hodgson

    Ok more simple on health care:-
    Quote: " the time has come the walrus said to speak of many things, of shoes and ships and ship and sealing wax" etc,
    The shoes..those not covered,
    The Ships... big pharma, medical insurers, Hospital costs and pharmacists.
    The sealing wax... pluging the gaping adverse hole in Health care cost in the US versus other major indusrialised countries.
    OOoops to simple to idealistic,not really just boot out political ideology and do whats best for the people, and fairly ignore the industrial vested interests = lobbyists , they are a very tiny minority,protecting greed!! And some can afford to pay, thats life!!
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    August 1, 2009 at 4:29 am |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    The existing health care system since 1994 basically failed attempts ( to change) has seen premiums rise, co pays increase, exclusions be unrealistically implemented and leave 47m Americans without Health care. A per capita cost 33-50% higher than the most expensive elsewhere internationally, and therefore a national disgrace.
    Then you get to the real punch line, less competition via mergers in health care insurers and huge multiples of profit increase /growth by them in the merged companies, ( dare I say executive bonuses) but still more than double inflation rate increases in premiums past and likely in future!?
    Whoever you are if you think something does not need changing I cannot even conceive of why that would be your position, even if you can afford your current private basis and service... remember its gone under the current system. If you lose your Job, what then?!!
    Famous phrase from another economy/system which failed was the slogan " I'm all right jack". the other political sound bite was "live now pay later" = under Bush you lived now, and everyone is crying because "pay later" time has come.
    Health care is one element that has to be addressed.
    The other is " dealing" = you never really own anything but can still buy and sell, as opposed to "trading" which means you buy ( what you have paid for in full) and sell only what you own and have paid for in full, = realistic financial regulation and borrowings that are at least 10% less against the current market value of the underlying REAL security, combined with Insurance premiums that have real actuarial meaning for uncovered debt versus real asset value... then watch executive "bonuses" reduce automatically.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    August 1, 2009 at 4:15 am |
  14. Kay VanAacken, Germantown, WI

    In case one does not know...the purpose of a so called "government plan" is to keep competition going between insurance companies and plan offered by the government. Without it there wouldn't be competition between the insurance companies. Also the donut hole in Medicare would be eliminated. It is a daunting read but interesting. But I think that the powers that be need to speak to the public in plain english about what they will get and what they will not get. Most people are NOT going to read the bill. I for one am looking forward to not have to worry whether I will have insurance or not. Just give me an idea about premiums, copays and drug coverage!

    August 1, 2009 at 2:48 am |
  15. Ann-Virginia

    Healthcare reform is way too important to let the Republicans screw it up.They are not interested in poor Americans who can't afford $$$$ for private insurance.Their right wing lies in t.v.ads all over the country are confusing Americans.Don't listen to their lies.Having a govt.option will not stop competition amongst pvt.ins.,seniors will not be put out to pasture as they would have you belive&you won't die waiting to be seen by a doctor.Eric Cantor,from my state of Va.,is one of the worst for telling lies about the hc plan.He is trying to scare people,As many Republicans are,into saying they don't want hc reform.They have tried to scare us,calling hc reform,socialized medicine.What the hell do they think Medicare is?Except for greedy Drs.& hospitals,medicare works fine.Republicans need to get with the program or shutup!!!

    July 31, 2009 at 10:08 pm |
  16. Kathy, Andover

    I would bet most people do not want the status quo. The actual problem is what Joanne stated - ALOT of people feel the way she does. btw, I saw Jessica's piece on the warranty concept. I must say, identifying the patient and procedure you're supposed to do is not futuristic medicine! I can see the benefits of the warranty concept, but what happens if you don't want to stay with the same doctor? Or there are actually times something doesn't work, not because it's the fault of the physician. That does happen. One thing I'm getting sick of is the insinuation that the treatment doctors choose has to do with their pocketbook. I'm sure there are a few, but I think most of the medical community in my area is very good. My Dad was an oncologist (he died in 2000) & worked with the Mayo Clinic and MD Anderson, among others. Just to be clear, that communication was a 2-way street. I don't want to see coming down on the many, just because of a relative few who need to get their act together. It seems like, when someone says they care for the patient, it's treated as such an anomaly. Jeez!

    July 31, 2009 at 9:16 pm |
  17. Robert Anderson

    I would be reassured if I thought "time to get it right" meant a serious commitment to thinking very carefully about health reform – in the context of the overall fiscal situation we face, but evidence to date runs to the contrary. For me, getting it right means a number of things. First, I do not believe it is wise to commit at this time to a large, sustained increase in government spending. I appreciate Pres O's commitment to budget neutrality of this increment, but (a) the CBO has so far scored the proposals in play as deficient in this regard, and (b) many of the financing proposals (even though they do not measure up per CBO) rely heavily on a very narrowly focused tax to finance finance a broadly based benefit – possibly good short term politics but raise in my mind serious longer term concerns.

    My bottom line is that I do not want to be told by you or any other polician what is a good plan. I can read. I can calculate. I can analyze. I can understand. So for me, time to get it right means access to the raw facts, access to opposing "interested" briefs, access to CBO analysis – possibly presented differently to make it more widely accessible, and access to the draft legislation.

    I'm sorry, but given the crap coming out of Washington on this issue – and hey, you're there, I simply don't trust you guys – even if I may have voted out of civic obligation and for you as the only viable alternative, I do not support you on this. I am extremely disappointed in Pres O's performance to date, which I view as simply reckless.

    July 31, 2009 at 8:39 pm |
  18. Siddharth Verma

    Hello Mr. Cooper,

    How are you? Hope all is well. I wanted to email you in regards to President Obama's push for universalized healthcare. I am a physician and have a law degree as well, so feel that my comments may have some implication for your show.

    In any case, I would like to address the issues revolving the economic aspect of the healthcare reform. I, too, had been uninsured for a long time until recently, so I understand the need for people who are uninsured to obtain healthcare. I see alot of patients who are also uninsured and sympathize with their plight. I, also , see alot of elderly patients who are very fragile and afraid of the future of their medical benefits and medications. Under Mr. Obama's plan, it is likely that majority of the elderly population will suffer as a cause of his healthcare plan. What I would like to point out, and something I am not sure if is being discussed in the political arena, is the manner in which the reformation is being sugar coated by pro-reformation politicians on both sides to hide another aspect of why he may be trying to push this so quickly.

    While I am not a "conspiracy theorist" by any means, but I do like to examine the underlying rationale as to why some of the things are being done or said.

    The reality of situation is this (and this cannot be controverted): who is the most populous segment of our society? The elderly. Who consumes the most percentage of the healthcare dollars? The elderly. Which sector consumes the most resources of our GDP? Healthcare.

    So, this may call into question the true intentions of the sudden PUSH by Obama to implement the healthcare reformation, ESPECIALLY in light of the stimulus package. The money has been given to boost the economy. But the money has to come from somewhere. Correct? I understand Mr. Obama;s apparent Clintonesque charisma and appeal, however, why aren't people at least considering the potential that Mr. Obama is trying to preserve the country on cost of the elderly's health and need for medical attention. If one thinks the elderly do not seem to deserve healthcare and feel it may be OK to compromise the health of them for the betterment of their vote and re-election, so be it. However, I am surprised there has not been a discussion of this as a potential impetus for why Mr. Obama is doing the things that he is doing.

    Thank you and have a pleasant day.

    Sincerely,

    Siddharth Verma

    July 31, 2009 at 8:31 pm |
  19. Annie Kate

    From what the post listed I am the most interested in the removal of the doughnut hole for prescription costs in Medicare. That feature is the biggest most confusing aspect of Medicare and it actually encourages you not to take your medicine since it is so expensive (1 of my prescriptions costs 500$ a month out of my pocket). If Congress comes up with a bill that satisfies the four principals listed then it should be a good plan; but I think the GOP will try to squash any real progress toward helping people on this subject.;

    July 31, 2009 at 7:39 pm |
  20. RLWellman

    Health Care Reform is needed. The question I have is why do American Tax Paying Citizens have to pay for health care of illegal aliens? Some of you say we already pay and you are right when they go to the emergency room to seek treatment.

    But, my question again is why? If it is truely an emergency, treat them and then, put them on a bus back to where they came from. Illegal, I know that doesn't sound bad to some of you and to you who don't pay taxes, you could care less what the cost is.

    All we have to do is give all illegal aliens heathcare and the flood gates will open and we will never be able to control the amount of illegal aliens coming into our country. Nancy Pelosi wants to give them our social security too. It doesn't bother her, because it doesn't affect her.

    Here again, this may not bother those of you that don't pay any taxes. However, we can't take care of our own citizens, why should we take care of another countries citizens?

    July 31, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  21. shelley

    Exactly what is "affordable health care"? Give me a dollar amount. I work in a pharmacy and I see a plethora of plans of varying costs. People with no health care can afford something, they just don't want to. They will not sacrifice their beer money, cell phone texting money, cable money, etc. I suppose their dollar figure for affordable health care is $0.

    July 31, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  22. Joanne R. Pacicca

    Exactly what does this bill entail? How will this impact each individual, family, business? All this press and we still do not know the particulars.

    July 31, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  23. Michael C. McHugh

    We progressives have made the big compromise here by not pressing for a Canadian-style single payer system, or truly socialized medicine like they have in Britain. We have settled for a means tested program of expanded Medicare or subsidized private insurance at 400% of the federal poverty level–or 300% if the Dixiecrats get their way. We have compromised plenty, but the Republicans have never been willing to meet us halfway on this, of even 10% of the way.

    I do not mind if states and localities have the right to set up cooperatives. I have always been a strong supporter of these, and not only in health care. One problem with them is that they are usually very small, and only have a few dozen or a few hundred members. If they get too big, then they loose their true cooperative character, which is democratic control by the member-owners, and start to look like any other big corporation.

    Health care is going to get more expensive anyway, whether there is a reform bill or not, especially as 80 million Baby Boomers retire. No way is private insurance going to be willing or able to pick up those costs, and there are hardly enough Generation X-ers to pay for it, since we are only 10-20% of the Boomer generation, and generally poorer than they were.

    This is why I keep suggesting Tobin taxes on currency trading or direct Federal Reserve financing for the Medicare and Social Security GTrust Funds over the next 20-30 years.

    July 31, 2009 at 2:03 pm |