As President Obama prepares to deliver a Wednesday address to Congress that must reframe the debate about healthcare reform, he is getting plenty of advice and counsel with regard to messaging.
Plenty of folks will tell the president that he cannot change course, that he simply needs to offer a better explanation of what’s on offer.
The fact is that the president must change course.
And the wisest counsel on how to do so has come from New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Don’t try to explain the “public option” one more more time.
The cure for what ails a healthcare system that leaves close to 50 million Americans uninsured and at least that many underinsured is not an “option.”
It is genuine change that makes sense to Americans who are anxious and confused about what might be buried in a 1,000-page House bill or, worse yet, in the backroom where Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus, D-Montana, is busy bartering away the public interest.
Instead of listening to the White House aides and advisers — and congressional compromisers — who have so ill-served the reform initiative that it is now imperiled, the president should consult a legislator who “gets it.”
That would be New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, the Brooklyn Democrat who has emerged as a smart, steady advocate for a change that is realistic and comprehensible.
“As President Obama prepares to address the nation about his vision for healthcare reform, we should not overlook the last, best truly transformative change to our healthcare system: Medicare,” argues Weiner, who explains that:
During the eleven town hall meetings I’ve held around my district, I’ve had some direct experience with the anxiety this debate has produced. Much of the fear comes from two groups: those who have Medicare and don’t want it changed and those who have never had a government-run reimbursement system like Medicare and are worried about the impact it will have on their quality of care.
In both cases, a calm, reasoned and vigorous defense of the American single-payer plan is just what the doctor ordered.
The truth is that the United States already uses single-payer systems to cover over 47 percent of all medical bills through Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Understanding that these single-payer health programs are already a major part of our overall healthcare system should help us visualize what an actual public plan would look like. These institutions also provide healthcare to millions of satisfied customers in every community who would heartily agree that the government can build and run programs that work quite well.