Of all President Barack Obama's transformative domestic policy proposals, none is more far-reaching and less transparent than health care. What most Washington policy people mean when they talk about his health care proposal was described in the first two paragraphs of Robert Pear's meticulous article in The New York Times on April 1:
"Efforts to overhaul the health care system have moved ahead rapidly, with the insurance industry making several major concessions and the chairmen of five Congressional committees reaching a consensus on the main ingredients of legislation. The chairmen, all Democrats, agree that everyone must carry insurance and that employers should be required to help pay for it. They also agree that the government should offer a public health insurance plan as an alternative to private insurance."
Also, President Obama wants to digitize and collect all patient health care data initially because such data could assist in assessing best practices.
This is, for certain, a controversial and vastly expensive universal coverage proposal; it would cost between about $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion over 10 years. But the full scope of the president's health care policy ambitions cannot be understood without accounting for his claim that he needs to do health care this year as part of his long-term plans to reduce the deficit.
While some emergency-room and related cost savings would be realized if everyone had health insurance, no one seriously suggests that such savings would even put a dent in the $1.5-2 trillion that this proposal would cost in tax increases and debt issuance in the first 10 years.
The president's claim only would make sense if this huge proposed undertaking were to be merely the first step in a series of timed policy changes on a path toward nearly comprehensive federal government regulation and management of health care.
What follows is my surmise of what the administration hopes the path to America's future health care system will look like. Currently, a little less than one-fifth of the American economy is devoted to health care. Of that, about 68 percent of it is in the private sector, with 32 percent run by the government (Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs, Defense Department health services, etc.).
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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