THE BLOG
08/23/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Health Care Reform: Some Clarification Needed

Okay, I admit, I've had a lot on my plate lately, and haven't given the debate on health coverage the kind of attention it deserves. My bad. So, after watching the president's press conference, I'm left with a few questions:

1) What does "affordable" mean? Clearly, the term is a relative one. What is affordable to one person may not be to another. When President Obama talks about every American having access to affordable health insurance, what does the term mean -- exactly?

2) When did the president's campaign pledge for "universal health coverage" morph into mandated medical insurance a la Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney?

3) Specifically, how will the proposed change impact those who are not insured. What is the difference between the so-called "public option" and single-payer care in terms of access to treatment?

4) For those whose benefits are taken out of their paycheck, like me, and whose employers pick up a percentage of the costs, how much can we expect our out of pocket expenses to decrease under the president's plan?

5) How can the government ensure that employers are transparent about the costs that employees incur to insure themselves, and their families?

And, most importantly, may we expect to have a cognate system with that of the automobile industry such that there will be a two-tiers of coverage, a "public option," or liability insurance, and more comprehensive coverage?

We need to entertain a healthy dose of skepticism about any health care reform proposal that meets with the approval of the HMOs, and the pharmaceutical companies, as the Obama plan does, but we also need to recognize, as the president suggests, that the escalating cost of health care has contributed to a nearly $2 trillion deficit in the past year alone. How can we be assured that the people who will benefit the most from what amounts to mandated health coverage aren't the HMOs, and pharmaceutical companies who, along with big oil, made record profits last year?

While I agree with President Obama in principle that we must tax the rich, those who make millions each year, to subsidize the program, and while I applaud the decision to deny funds for the F-22 weapons yesterday, I also think he needs to honor his pledge to rethink the $10 billion a month we are currently spending on the war in Iraq, and spend it instead not on a so-called public option, but on a single payer program.

Down the road, the single payer plan proposed by Dennis Kucinich will prove to be the only one that has longterm benefits, and that doesn't lead to a binary system whereby the privileged continue to get to go to the Mayo Clinic while the rest of us end up at the local clinic.