Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who's The Guy Sitting Next to You? The Obama Health Care Reform Parties and Unexpected Guests

The incoming Obama administration is getting a quick start toward health care reform.

By the end of the year, they anticipate having thousands of health care discussions in homes, businesses, coffee shops, and the like.

About everyone, including the Obama health care team, believe Hillary Clinton's 1993 top-down health care reform process was a big mistake. The new folks don’t intend to make that mistake—good for them.

But there is that old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” The Obama health care team is going to get one incredible response and I expect the input will literally reach from one extreme on this health care issue to another. What they will almost certainly find is that there is very little in the way of consensus on just what America’s health care system should look like in the years ahead.

There seems to be this sense in the many stories I am reading about health care reform that we are at a very different place than we were in 1993--voters and stakeholders all understand this health care system is unsustainable and must change. Therefore, we have a good chance of having health care reform this time.

I agree that voters and stakeholders all understand that things must change. But that is all I see them agreeing on. Get to the details and you will see just how little consensus we do have.

But give the Obama team credit for wanting to build a grass roots organization from all of the names and email addresses they are about to collect from people who care enough about health care reform to give a few hours of their holiday time.

I did have to chuckle a bit reading Robert Pear’s story in today’s New York Times with the headline, “Insurers Seek Presence at Health Care Sessions.” Here's a bit of it:
“The health insurance industry is encouraging its employees and satisfied customers to attend. A trade group representing some of the nation’s largest health care businesses, including drug companies, is organizing several meetings. The American Medical Association and other medical societies are encouraging doctors to get involved.”
These groups are made up of Americans too and certainly have every right to be sure their neighbors understand their perspective on health care reform.

Maybe the biggest lesson the Obama administration, and every person attending, will come away with is just how little consensus we have in this country over how to reform our health care system and how hard this is really going to be.

That would be a good first step.

You can sign-up for your Obama Health Care Reform Party here.

And, here's my review of the Obama Health Care Plan--everyone needs a program!
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