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Healthcare Thought Leaders React to Obama's News Conference

Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media, July 23, 2009

During a prime-time news conference focused on healthcare reform Wednesday, President Obama spoke about the need to change the healthcare system while decreasing costs and not adding to the national debt.

The 60-minute news conference featured Obama promoting quality healthcare, a public insurance option, and bundled payments, while downplaying potential side effects or tax increases to middle-class Americans to help pay for the reform.

When asked what effect the health reform would have on the American people, Obama said the only change is that it would improve healthcare quality and cut costs. The news conference was a chance for Obama to reach out directly to Americans, but was also an opportunity for healthcare leaders to hear from the president. However, those who hoped for something new were likely disappointed because the president's comments mirrored earlier statements about healthcare.

In response to the news conference, HealthLeaders Media reached out to a number of our trusted sources to ask them for comments about Obama's news conference and healthcare reform. Here is what three of them had to say:

Ted Epperly, MD, FAAFP
President
American Academy of Family Physicians

"The American Academy of Family Physicians agrees with President Barack Obama that the American people cannot wait for health care reform.

"Family physicians see firsthand the fallout from our broken system, as more patients are priced out of health care coverage or lose health insurance and forgo needed healthcare services. Americans need a healthcare system that will allow them to keep their plans if they wish without fear of losing coverage when they become sick or if they change jobs. They need a system that offers affordable coverage and that is available regardless of pre-existing conditions

"Our nation must redesign the way we deliver healthcare so that we pay for quality of care, not the quantity of tests and procedures performed. We must have a healthcare system that fosters the doctor-patient relationship and ensures the preventive care that saves lives and money. Americans want a system in which patients can work with their personal primary care physician who coordinates their care among a team of professionals, especially when they have chronic conditions.

"As President Obama noted, legislation that is being debated by Congress is designed to meet those needs. This legislation will provide peace of mind for the millions of Americans who value the healthcare they have now and to the millions who have no healthcare coverage under the current system.

"Now is the time to reform the system. We urge Congress to invest in the health care system we want and need, not the one we have."

Georganne Chapin
President & CEO
Hudson Health Plan
"In bypassing the wrangling and rhetoric about healthcare reform–from the health insurance industry, from the politicians, and from the media–and by speaking directly to the public, President Obama was able to cut through to some very basic, bottom-line issues.

"First, every American is already paying for the overpriced, underperforming healthcare system we have now; this is the reason that average wages have stagnated over the past two decades, and it is only getting worse.

"Second, before succumbing to the fear-mongering objections to government-run public program, we should remember that the current system–with insurers calling the shots based on how much money they stand to make or lose–does not operate in people's best interests.

"Finally, making sure that everyone has access to healthcare is a moral imperative for a country like the United States."

Dee W. Edington, PhD
Director
University of Michigan Health Management Research Center

"I am sure everyone respects the President for even addressing healthcare to a nationwide audience. There were so many topics that one could comment upon, so let me address just one fundamental issue. President Obama talked about how the 'do nothing' strategy is economically unsustainable and he is clearly correct.

"However, what he missed in my opinion is the more fundamental issue of the 'do nothing' American healthcare strategy, which is waiting until people get sick prior to having our healthcare system take notice. The major opportunity for America is to intervene in the current sickness strategy by addressing the systems that lead to sickness and by helping the healthy and high performing people stay healthy.

"In this way, we avoid the high costs while maintaining high levels of performance, which is good for individuals and good for companies and good for American competitiveness throughout the world."

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