Obama’s health reform speech: How it played in Boston

 greetings-from-bostonSome of those “Amens” you heard from the House chamber last night could have been coming from the Mass delegation. The plan Obama spelled out is essentially the Mass Model — mandatory insurance and help getting it. Bring on the global payments.

 The Globe’s play on the story reflected the forcefulness of Obama’s speech, with a headline: “The time for bickering is over.”  The two subheads read:Obama urges Congress to overhaul health care, spells out details; Denounces misrepresentations, evokes Kennedy’s moral stance.” The story is paired with another on a packed, 5-hour State House hearing on how to fill Kennedy’s Senate seat before the special election.

Check out the comments; they read like a town hall meeting. (Which were rather quiet here in the Boston area except for the now-familiar LaRouchian/Frank exchange.)

In the Bay State, you win automatic points with Kennedys. So seating Ted’s widow between the wives of the Prez and VP likely went over well here. (Although the state has its share of Kennedy haters.) Obama also made references to “Teddy” and his grown children. Rep. Patrick Kennedy was expected: his brother Ted Jr. — who recently expressed some interest in politics — was a guest.  Then there was the read-this-when-I’m-gone letter, which the Globe has posted on its website.

 …I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

 The Herald ran a headline with the same quote but not on the front page. That was dominated by a local fire department scandal and the Patriots Preview. Compare the comments there to the comments on the Globe story. Seems the hyper-conservatives prefer the Globe site. (BHN is not a big fan of comment sections, which tend to be dominated by ranters. We like meaningful comments, but rarely find them in these venues.)

BIDMC CEO Paul Levy was one of a group of health policy types commenting in the NY Times. He argues that it is unrealistic to say health reform won’t cost anything and suggests eliminating the current tax exemption for employer-sponsored insurance.   

 Levy: I think this gives a false impression that access to insurance, our highest priority, can be delivered at no additional cost to society. Quite the opposite will take place, as people who previously did not have access to preventative care and diagnostic care will obtain that access. Especially in the short run, this will result in higher costs, not lower costs, to society.

 BHN imagines talk about cutting waste from the system would worry any hospital CEO. They’ve been trying to slim down for more than 20 years. But, the hospitals don’t control a lot of the waste. They do, however, often benefit from it. If people stop getting tests and procedures they don’t need, hospitals will lose revenue.

 WBUR had Michael Doonan, Brandeis University professor and director of the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, and JudyAnn Bigby, M.D., Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services,blog live.  

 See the NYTimes for how it played outside Boston

 1:30 — This just in from the single-payer advocates at MassCare

Dear Single Payer Supporters,

Last night President Obama delivered a powerful speech on health reform to a joint session of Congress. The President was able to articulate the reasons so many of us put our time, our passion, and our heart into changing this health care system, which needlessly harms so many. We share the President’s vision, but we write to you with real concern about the road-map laid out in the President’s speech, as all too often in the United States our policy has proven inadequate to meet our ambitions… 

Click here for MassCare on “the good and the bad in President Obama’s address.”


2 thoughts on “Obama’s health reform speech: How it played in Boston

  1. Minor correction – Levy isn’t really “a health policy type.” He helps run a specific hospital, so is qualified to speak from that perspective.

    But that perspective also influences his outlook and his interests, as you’ve noted. That doesn’t count for an understand of health policy, IMO.

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