White House Officials Make Case For Health Overhaul
President Obama's top advisers and leading health care officials are on the stump for a health overhaul during the August recess. "[W]e've been at this for 60 years, trying to do something about our health-care system," Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House's chief health reform lobbyist, told public radio's Marketplace. "And it's not surprising, but there are some out there who are defending the status quo." Nevertheless, DeParle says she and others at the White House remain confident they'll achieve an overhaul that "lowers costs, and gets everybody covered." The president is spending two or three hours a day on the issue, she said (Ryssdal, 8/4).
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed the adminsitration's approach to the month ahead on NPR's All Things Considered, here's part of the exchange on the town hall protests: "(Madeline) BRAND: Do you think that those protests are purely orchestrated or do they reflect any genuine unease with the direction that this health care overhaul is going?
Sec. SEBELIUS: Well, I don't think there's any more personal issue to the American people than health care. Everyone has a personal story situation, a member of the family, a child, a parent where either health care was really good or really bad or fell somewhere in the middle ... So, you know, this is, I think, a real and personal situation. And what I think is unfortunate is there is a lot of misinformation being intentionally pushed out to folks who right now have health care, and I think there's no question that the intent is to really scare people" (Brand, 8/4).
Meanwhile, Peter Orszag, the White House budget director, responded to a letter by 13 health economists that basically supported an administration proposal to create an independent Medicare overseer that would be more willing than Congress to make tough choices to cut costs, the New York Times' blog, Economix, reports. Orszag and the Congressional Budget Office had tangled over the value of the plan in recent weeks. In a blog post yesterday, Orszag welcomed the letter, whose signatories represent half the CBO advisory board, as a victory. He titled the post, "Thumbs Up For IMAC," or the Independent Medicare Advisory Council (Leonhardt, 8/4).