Obama Makes Strides in First 100 Days, Still Faces Challenges on Health Care
The Obama administration has made strides toward comprehensive health care reform during the president's first 100 days in office, but the next 100 days might "illustrate whether he is going to succeed," USA Today reports (Page/Hall, USA Today, 4/28). Since taking office in January, "the White House has been drumming up support for some type of health care overhaul," and the administration had some early health policy achievements, the Wall Street Journal reports. For example, the economic stimulus package that President Obama signed into law includes $19 billion for health information technology and funding for comparative effectiveness research (Adamy, Wall Street Journal, 4/29).
Over the next 100 days, Congress is expected to continue focusing on health care. Members of Congress has begun holding hearings on the issue, and Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said he plans to have legislation ready for a Senate vote by June. The House plans to follow, with legislation before the August recess (USA Today, 4/28). According to White House officials, the final push for health care likely will happen in the fall (Weisman, Wall Street Journal, 4/29). However, USA Today reports that there are "signs of discord." Lawmakers already have rejected Obama's proposal to limit tax deductions for wealthy U.S. residents to raise $318 billion to cover the uninsured. Also, many Republicans have voiced strong opposition to Obama's proposal for a public health insurance option designed to compete with private insurers (USA Today, 4/28).
Inside the Administration
The New York Times' "The Caucus" on Tuesday included an interview with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel about Obama's first 100 days in office. According to Emanuel, Obama is willing to accept final health reform legislation that does not include a dramatic expansion of coverage. He said that Obama's "principles are very clear" on health care, which are focused on "controlling costs." According to Emanuel, Obama is "willing to explore different roads" to achieve his goals (Hardwood, "The Caucus," New York Times, 4/28).
Obama "has not allowed a once-in-four generations recession -- or politically driven charges that he is over-reaching -- to rob him of his ambition," but the president and the U.S. still "have a long way to go," a Times editorial states. According to the editorial, "Far too many Americans still have no health insurance, those who do pay too much and the quality of care is too low."
The editorial states that "Obama's bold 10-year budget plan proposed a substantial $634 billion down payment to widen coverage and improve the delivery of care," adding, "He offered sensible proposals to pay for these reforms -- including higher taxes on the rich and eliminating unjustified subsidies for private Medicare plans -- that met with immediate congressional resistance." According to the Times, "This is going to be a tough fight," but "Obama must keep reminding Americans that reforms are essential for their personal health and the nation's economic health" (New York Times, 4/29).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Wednesday reported on Obama's achievements during his first 100 days in office and the obstacles that lie ahead on health reform. The segment includes comments from health economist Stuart Altman, Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack and Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 4/29).