Obama Busy ‘Selling The Greater Good’ On Health Reform
President Barack Obama, in comments about health reform, has acknowledged what most Americans already know, that "(w)hat's good for the health care system as a whole often looks very different when it's their own health at stake, or the health of someone in their family," CQPolitics reports.
"But in acknowledging that fact, Obama highlighted what is perhaps his biggest challenge in maintaining support for remaking the health care system. He has to make sure Americans don't think they will personally lose out in an overhaul of the way medical services are delivered - through higher costs to themselves, lower quality of care or simple inability to get the care they're convinced they need."
What reform means to Americans personally is a driving factor that many lawmakers are ignoring, CQ Politics reports. "The only player who can truly close the sale on the health care overhaul is Obama himself. For that to happen, he'll need to excel both as the nation's educator in chief and as its salesman in chief."
"'There is one central challenge in this debate, and all of the other challenges stem from it. Right now, the middle class cannot answer the question, "What's in it for me?"' said Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at Third Way, a messaging and policy group for centrist Democrats. 'That is the No. 1 public relations challenge right now. There is no No. 2.'"
"Indeed, administration officials argue that the biggest cause of public anxiety right now is not the potential costs of an overhaul, but the escalating personal costs they face with the current health care system: the rising premiums, co-payments and deductibles; the lost wages; the businesses that can't afford to hire enough workers. 'The goal of health care reform, above all, is to make sure that your health care costs go down,' said Linda Douglass, communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform.
"But in the coming weeks, with actual legislative details to look at and financing decisions to be made to pay for the emerging cost estimates, the public will begin to hear more about what kind of personal costs they might face. They'll hear about possible taxes on their benefits and other ways they might have to pay more, at least in the short term, until the changes begin to save money. And they'll hear from Republicans about the prospect of rationed health care."
Public care is moveable, it's not that Americans are afraid of reform, Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman told CQ Politics.
"Still, lawmakers are keenly aware of the public's views, which is why they're watching Obama's efforts - through frequent speeches and town hall forums - to assure the majority of Americans with health insurance that they won't lose out because of an overhaul. 'The outcome is going to be determined by the people who already have coverage,' said Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana."
"Leading the public in a discussion of what they can live without, even if it's necessary to save the health care system, may be more than any political leader wants to take on - even one with Obama's communication skills. But there really isn't anyone else who can do it on a national level" (Nather, 7/8).