Wednesday, February 25, 2009

News You Can Use: Obama: Health care reform ‘will not wait another year’

President Barack Obama last night reaffirmed his priority to provide universal health coverage and reduce health insurance costs, declaring before the joint session of Congress that "health-care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year."

For the most part, the health insurance community’s reaction appears to be supportive, yet cautious. A statement from America’s Health Insurance Plans concurs that insurers “strongly agree that comprehensive health care reform cannot wait. We will continue to offer workable solutions to ensure that all Americans have quality, affordable health care."

Other health care experts say the president needs to offer more concrete details on his plans.“This was a solid commitment to changing health care, but the part on how you solve the health-care cost puzzle while covering everyone is still missing,” Paul Keckley, director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions in Washington, D.C., told Bloomberg. “He’s got to start giving specifics.”

Labor leaders appear more solidly aligned with Obama. Doug Sizemore, the executive secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO Labor Council in Cincinnati, said, "We see [the effects of health insurance costs] every time we go to the bargaining table with an employer - businesses dealing with the rising costs of providing health care to workers and putting those costs on the backs of the workers. There has got to be a better way. The president gets that."

Naturally, however, Republican lawmakers are among Obama’s critics. In a staunch rebuttal to the president, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) drew his party’s line in the sand. “We stand for universal access to affordable health care coverage, [but] we oppose universal government-run health care. Health care decisions should be made by doctors and patients – not by government bureaucrats.”

But we know who’s opinion in this debate matters most – yours. As employers will shoulder much of the responsibility and the cost for whatever proposals ultimately become law, we want to hear what you think. Comment and let us know.

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