Deutchman on Obama’s Health Plan – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Deutchman on Obama’s Health Plan

“Laws and sausages are two things you do not want to see being made,” says Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman in the Feb. 23, 2010 issue of the Finger Lakes Times. The article is about President Barack Obama’s recently unveiled health plan summary. The article notes the President is being criticized for “having been too deferential to lawmakers.”

“I just think it’s funny – the irony of Clinton too much, Obama too little. You can’t seem to win. You inject yourself into it, and then everybody gets mad you’re too much into the issue. Or you don’t inject yourself into the issue, and people say you don’t care,” Deutchman says.

Deutchman holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics. View Deutchman’s expert page.

The full article with additional Deutchman quotes follows.

The Finger Lakes Times
Obama unveils revised health plan
Democrats cautiously welcome the plan

David Taube • February 23, 2010

Bills, whether from Congress or a pharmacy, don’t sit well with Genevan Edwin Gonzalez.

On Monday, Gonzalez didn’t have the proper health insurance documentation for an asthma prescription, which would have cost him $300 in cash. Bills like that have led him to forgo trips to the hospital, making yesterday his first visit to one in nine years.

Millions like him have sought health care reform, including seniors who spend more than $2,830 on prescription drugs and don’t have Medicare to pick up the bill until out-of-pocket spending hits $4,550; small businesses and Americans who annually see double-digit increases in insurance premiums; and more than 31 million uninsured.

“For us, it’s hard,” said Gonzalez, whose Blue Choice Option health insurance was rejected at a local pharmacy after his hospital visit because he only had a printed paper form instead of a plastic card.

President Barack Obama, who avoided submitting a health care proposal of his own for more than a year, yesterday unveiled an 11-page summary intended to serve as a model for compromise between the varying House and Senate bills. The proposal would allow the government to reject or roll back egregious insurance premium increases that infuriate consumers.
“All the other presidents said they wanted something … but in the long run nothing ever got done,” Gonzalez said, referring to a half-century of unsuccessful attempts by scores of politicians to remake the nation’s health care system.

While no fan of the political wrangling that led up to the Congressional bills, Gonzalez is glad to see Obama getting involved. A year ago, Obama sought to avoid the problems former President Bill Clinton encountered when he gave Congress a detailed prescription for health care reform in the 1990s. Now Obama is being criticized for having been too deferential to lawmakers.

“I just think it’s funny – the irony of Clinton too much, Obama too little. You can’t seem to win,” said Iva Deutchman, political science professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “You inject yourself into it, and then everybody gets mad you’re too much into the issue. Or you don’t inject yourself into the issue, and people say you don’t care.”

Obama hopes his nearly $1 trillion, 10-year compromise will guide the discussion during a televised bipartisan meeting on the subject at 10 a.m. Thursday.
But trying to build up interest through TV and Web screenings conjured up an old saying for Deutchman: “Laws and sausages are two things you do not want to see being made.”

“I don’t think most laws are made on television, C-SPAN or otherwise,” she said. “I think it would bore most Americans to see the level of discussion.”

The White House has demanded an up-or-down vote in Congress on the plan, or something close to it.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats cautiously welcomed the plan, while Republicans gave a thumbs down.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement she looks forward to reviewing the plan and discussing it at the summit.

“We must pass comprehensive, affordable health insurance reform, and I am hopeful that Thursday’s meeting will help us achieve this goal,” she said.

House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio dismissed the proposal, saying, “the president has crippled the credibility of this week’s summit by proposing the same massive government takeover of health care based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected.”

White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said the plan is an “opening bid” going into Thursday’s summit. It would cover more Americans, but it also includes a new tax on investment income that Republicans object to.

The plan omits the government insurance option sought by liberals and viewed as a nonstarter by conservatives and some congressional moderates. It also includes Senate-passed restrictions on federal funding for abortion.

The White House plan would give the federal government the power to regulate the health insurance industry much like a public utility with a seven-member Health Insurance Rate Authority. The Health and Human Services Department in conjunction with state authorities would be able to deny substantial premium increases, limit them or demand rebates for consumers.

By and large, the proposal follows the bill passed by Senate Democrats on Christmas Eve.

It would require most Americans to carry health insurance coverage, with federal subsidies to help many afford the premiums. Insurance companies would be barred from denying coverage to people with medical problems or charging them more.

The plan scales back a Senate tax on high-cost health insurance plans objected to by House Democrats and labor unions. Instead of raising $150 billion over 10 years, it would bring in just $30 billion, the administration said. A Medicare payroll tax increase on upper-income earners would help plug the revenue gap. For the first time, Medicare taxes would be assessed on investment income, not just wages.

Like the Senate bill, the Obama plan would create competitive insurance markets in each state for small businesses and people buying their own coverage. It would strip out a special Medicaid deal the Senate bill granted to Nebraska but leave in a special Medicaid deal for Louisiana. It also would gradually close the Medicare prescription coverage gap and make newly available coverage for working families more affordable. Those changes move in the direction of the House bill.

Obama’s plan would be paid for by a mix of Medicare cuts, tax increases and new fees on health care industries.

“This is an important step in reaching out again to get a bipartisan bill, which is still possible if both sides work together,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “But it is only blueprint, and on so many issues, the devil will be in the details.”

The president’s proposal

According to the White House, the president’s health care proposal would:

  • Cover 31 million Americans who can’t afford insurance today.
  • Increase health insurance competition.
  • Create a regulatory board to help reduce insurance premium hikes.
  • End discrimination for those with pre-existing conditions.
  • Help reduce the deficit by $100 billion over the next decade and $1 trillion the decade after.