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October 14th, 2009
11:09 AM ET

Dear President Obama #268: The three critical questions of health reform

Reporter's Note: President Obama has cautioned his supporters that his health care reform plans have a long way to go, despite being ok’ed by an important Senate committee. Fair enough. I have a long way to go before I am done for the day, so I better get to work on this, my latest letter to the white house.

Key Senate committee passes health care plan.

Key Senate committee passes health care plan.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Always on the cutting edge of public health responsibility, I got a flu shot today. No side effects, no pain to speak of, and frankly now I’m a little embarrassed that my colleagues had to drag me out of the supply closet and pin me to conference table to make it happen. I can’t recall having had the flu in a long time, but you never know. I have yet to triangulate a swine flu shot location, but I suppose I should take care of that too.

And yes, I know that I should call it H1N1, but swine flu sounds much more like an actual human talking instead of some sort of lab tech roboticon, and in all fairness, if someone is ill-informed enough to think he can get the flu from bacon, do you think renaming the malady will suddenly impart a great blaze of reason to that unfortunate soul? It’s kind of like those commercials where a guy drives his truck a hundred miles an hour, leaps a draw bridge, and lands on the wing of an airplane, then the little warning comes up that says “do not attempt.” Seriously, if someone thinks that stunt is a reasonable possibility, I’m pretty sure he’s not a Jedi Knight of the Fine Print.

So I spent most of the day considering and researching a pretty simple concept, and I think the results are worth pondering a bit. My goal was to come up with the three central questions that voters need to have answered before they’ll give their elected reps the thumbs up on a health care reform vote. Based on a lot of polls, and a lot of reading, this is what I came up with.

1) What happens to my care? I know that you’ve assured people a million times that they can keep the insurance they have, but a lot still don’t believe it…and even though most think we need reform, most are also reasonably happy with the care they have now. I know, it sounds like a paradox, but there you have it.

2) Isn’t government big enough already? I heard this so many times at town hall meetings it starting playing in my head like an old Billy Joel song. Short story: The deficit is climbing like a coati, bailouts have been falling like acorns (well, not quite, but still..) and even some people who like the government seem to be thinking it’s like blueberry pie; at some point you have enough.

3) And what if it doesn’t work? What if, for all the debate and worry, we end up passing a plan that simply fails to fulfill anyone’s expectations, liberal conservative, moderate or otherwise? The CBO is already saying the latest, best hope version will fall far short of your goal of insuring everyone.

Whether these questions and the fears they raise are fair or not is a separate debate. What I’m saying is that polls show far too many Americans are still asking them for your plans to be reasonably assured of surviving intact, even at this point. It’s not enough to say, “We’ve already answered those questions.” You and your supporters have to satisfy enough voters, and get them openly behind your efforts, or I suspect a lot of nervous members of Congress will also start asking tough questions, like “Do I really want to vote for health care reform badly enough, to risk losing re-election next fall?”

I won’t ask you to call, because I suspect you are pretty busy right now. Well, I guess you’re always busy, but still…btw, if you can hook me up with a swine flu shot, let me know.

Regards,

Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Dianna - Florissant, MO

    WHO is happy with their healthcare? Not my family, the company my husband works for has switched insurance 4 times in the last 2 years. And each time, it's gotten worse. Higher premiums, higher co-pays, more restrictions on doctors we can see and more restrictions on what they will pay for.
    So please explain to me WHO is happy with their healthcare? Because no one we've talked to are.

    Dianna, Missouri

    October 14, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  2. SLM

    We should all be skeptical – promising we can keep our health care if we like it, that choice may not be up to many of us, it is up to our employers. We all know Government isn't capable of running anything efficiently and the costs will be much higher than any of their predictions, they are already out there talking about raising taxes to cover it. The 53% of us that pay taxes just cannot afford to pay for the 47% that don't. Health care will be rationed and there will be long waits. Use a little common sense to figure out there aren't enough hospitals and doctors. If the public option passes, there will be even less doctors.

    October 14, 2009 at 8:48 am |