Navigating Health Care In The State Of The Union

How will health law politics figure into Obama's speech tonight?
How will health law politics figure into Obama's speech tonight?

1. Win over a wary public
2. Be brief

David Nather writes:

...the public is still deeply divided over [Obama's] biggest legislative accomplishment. Anything he says will be picked apart by groups on the left and the right – not to mention the entire health care industry – for clues about how strongly he’ll stand behind the law.

So, the best strategy, he says, will be to concisely reiterate the health law benefits that have already kicked in — no insurance bans on pre-existing conditions, more coverage for preventative care, tax credits for small businesses — and then move on, leaving Republicans, who voted in the House last week to repeal the law, to bicker and fret over the details — at their own peril.

This time, Obama will talk about the benefits of the law and may make a case that it will help the economy in the long run, “but it will be brief,” said Neera Tanden, chief operating officer at the liberal Center for American Progress and a former top official at the Department of Health and Human Services during the health care debate.

Keeping the health care discussion short would set up a “nice contrast” with Republican efforts to repeal or withhold funding from the law, which could consume so much time on Capitol Hill that the Republicans themselves could face demands to spend more time on the economy, Tanden said.

And here's Kaiser Health News with advice for the President from nine health policy experts on what to say about about health reform in the speech.

Warning: Since none of these unofficial advisees seem to have a sense of humor on this topic, here's an older post from The Onion on some alternative health reform proposals. My favorites include:

Melancon-Cooper Bill: Would create a low-cost government-administered health insurance plan, but would prohibit anyone from buying into it

Griffith-Cantor Bill: Low-income families would be allowed to huddle outside hospital windows in the cold and look at wealthier families receiving care

Hutchinson-Snowe Bill: Children insured on a cuteness scale

Grayson Bill: Rep. Alan Grayson will personally punch in the face any insurance executive who turns down a valid claim

Blookross-Feiser Bill: Although no one is exactly sure who these two shadowy congressmen are, their bill would mandate a twofold increase in insurance premiums and force patients to buy name-brand drugs

This program aired on January 25, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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