From a commenter:
I think as long as Obama admits that he wouldn't subject his own family to the limitations he proposes for everyone else, his plan will fail.I assume he/she refers to comments by Obama during the recent ABC News "town hall" held at the White House, in which there was this exchange, edited selectively in many "news" sites:
A Better Angel
"Q: If your wife or your daughter became seriously ill, and things were not going well, and the plan physicians told you they were doing everything that could be done, and you sought out opinions from some medical leaders in major centers and they said there's another option you should pursue, but it was not covered in the plan, would you potentially sacrifice the health of your family for the greater good of insuring millions or would you do everything you possibly could as a father and husband to get the best health care and outcome for your family?
OBAMA: [....] I think families all across America are going through decisions like that all the time, and you're absolutely right that if it's my family member, my wife, if it's my children, if it's my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care.
Predictably, this has been jumped on by detractors and touted in pretty much the way the commenter did: Obama's plan is good for your family but not for his, says Obama. Since we all love our country and don't wish our President to fail, I'm sure it was just an honest misunderstanding. Like my snippet above, most of the criticism leaves out the President's next sentence:
...but here's the problem that we have in our current health care system. Is that there is a whole bunch of care that's being provided that every study, every bit of evidence that we have indicates may not be making us healthier.Which, of course, is the most important thing he said.
First of all, the wording of the question was, well, questionable. It's a false premise. It implies there are "plan physicians." It implies that treatments recommended by "medical leaders in major centers" wouldn't be part of "the plan." There's simply no reason to think either is true. There isn't, as far as I know, a proposal to separate "plan physicians" from others. And there most certainly is NOT an implication that therapies that carry the weight of "leaders" in "major centers" would be off the list. The opposite is true.
And it's exactly the point Obama was making. But it's neither sound-bite worthy nor easily explained; and, as we've seen, it's very much selectivequotable and outofcontextable. (Incidentally, that he got tough questions like that sort of shows the right wing fury (ie, Fox News) over the "unprecedented access" ABC was granted was so much hot air...)
Among the many ways to control health care costs is to establish what works and what doesn't. As I've written, severally. Patients and families, as President Obama said, face such dilemmas all the time. "The very best care," he said. Exactly. Would that it were always as easy as the example that the questioner (a doctor) gave, in which there would be general agreement from the creme de la medical creme. (It'd have been better if Obama had pointed that out: again, showing the session was hardly planned and canned.) On the contrary. It's often a decision involving futile care: the operation with a one in a million chance of helping; prolonging life in the ICU; trying dangerous drugs with virtually no chance of helping. Or -- and one assumes this would not be covered, since it currently isn't -- heading to Mexico (or, like Farrah Fawcett, to Germany) for entirely bogus treatments.
These sorts of things are, in my opinion, way too difficult for our political system, as currently manifested, to handle. Rather, at best (if that's what to call it), we'll get a plan to pay for insurance for those who can't afford it, leaving the excess costs of insurance untouched and not tackling effectiveness in any meaningful way at all.
But, perhaps, we could at least do it or not, without deliberately taking out of context what the President said.