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Recent Second Opinion:

Post-Election Predictions for Obamacare
November 11, 2010

Improving the FDA's REMS Program
August 05, 2010

Are Foreign Clinical Drug Trials Safe?
July 08, 2010

FDA's Bad Ad Program
June 03, 2010

Obesity and Public Health
May 05, 2010

The Route to Reconciliation
March 05, 2010

Conflict of Interest
January 28, 2010

Analyzing the Healthcare Bills
November 18, 2009

President Obama's Plan for Reform
August 24, 2009

The Healthcare Reform Debate
July 23, 2009

Priorities for the New FDA Commissioner
December 19, 2008

PhRMA's New Marketing Code
August 28, 2008

Personal Genetics Testing
July 29, 2008

Where health care policy experts have their say
June 13, 2008

Sources of Medical Research Funding
April 24, 2008

Off-Labeling Marketing
March 17, 2008


Second Opinion:
Where health care policy experts have their say

August 24, 2009:
President Obama's Plan for Reform

President Obama's recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times making the following claims about his plan for reform:

"First, if you don't have health insurance, you will have a choice of high-quality, affordable coverage for yourself and your family—coverage that will stay with you whether you move, change your job or lose your job.

Second, reform will finally bring skyrocketing health care costs under control, which will mean real savings for families, businesses and our government. We'll cut hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid and in unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies that do nothing to improve care and everything to improve their profits.

Third, by making Medicare more efficient, we'll be able to ensure that more tax dollars go directly to caring for seniors instead of enriching insurance companies. This will not only help provide today's seniors with the benefits they've been promised; it will also ensure the long-term health of Medicare for tomorrow's seniors.

Lastly, reform will provide every American with some basic consumer protections that will finally hold insurance companies accountable."

What is the truth about Obama's plan for healthcare reform?

This edition of our expert panel includes:

  • Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute
  • Merrill Matthews, director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance
  • Greg Scandlen, senior fellow of The Heartland Institute and founder and director of Consumers for Health Care Choices

By Grace-Marie Turner

"President Obama continues to offer promises and rhetoric to try to sell his health reform plan, but the American people want concrete answers to very real concerns about what the changes would mean for them.

They want to know how his plan would reduce costs, as he promises, in face of independent analyses from the Congressional Budget Office and others that the reform plans making their way through Congress would significantly increase costs. They want to know how they will be able to keep their doctors and health plans, as he promises, when economists at The Lewin Group say at least 88 million people would lose their private health insurance, many involuntarily, if the Obama plan were implemented. They want to know how he would increase the quality of care, as he promises, when the Mayo Clinic and other leading high-performing health systems say the Obama plan would put them out of business.

Instead of answering these questions, the president is trying to throw up a smokescreen by vilifying the insurance companies in hopes of selling his version of change. But it's not working; as flawed as our system is, people tell pollsters and politicians that they still prefer the private insurers to a new government-run health plan. The president is offering promises and hollow rhetoric when the American people are seeking real answers"

Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a public policy research organization that she founded in 1995 to promote an informed debate over free-market ideas for health reform. She has been instrumental in developing and promoting ideas for reform that transfer power over health care decisions to doctors and patients. She speaks and writes extensively about incentives to promote a more competitive, patient-centered marketplace in the health sector.

* * *

By Merrill Matthews

"I, for one, am getting sick and tired of President Obama's plethora of platitudes and sparsity of specifics.

For example, he claims in his recent New York Times opinion piece that he will cut hundreds for billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs. Um, just like Congress has been so effective in cutting waste and inefficiency in public education and the post office?

He needs to explain to us exactly how he intends to do that. Congress has controlled Medicare for 45 years and it is both inefficient and fraud-ridden. If the president knows how to fix Medicare, he can do it without this sweeping new legislation.

Better yet, Mr. President, show us you can fix Medicare and Medicaid, and maybe then—and only then—should the American people consider giving you the power to "fix" the rest of the health care system."

Merrill Matthews Jr., Ph.D.
, is director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, a Washington D.C.-based research and advocacy organization promoting free market health insurance reforms, and a visiting scholar with the Dallas-based Institute for Policy Innovation. He is a public policy analyst specializing in health care, Social Security, welfare and Internet issues, and is the author of numerous studies in health policy, as well as other public policy issues.

* * *

By Greg Scandlen

"It is remarkable that seven months after taking office Mr. Obama is still spouting the same platitudes and generalities about health care he used during the campaign. The one change in his rhetoric is that he is now focused on health "insurance" reform rather than health "care" reform. Obviously the administration has found that most people are happy with the health care they get, though not so happy with their health insurance companies.

But if reform is only about regulating health insurance companies, Congress certainly doesn't need to write thousand-page bills to get the job done. Nor is there anything new about it. Congress and the states have been "reforming" health insurance for at least 30 years. These reforms have included state mandated benefits, community rating and open enrollment, restrictions on marketing practices, price restrictions, and an alphabet soup of federal laws—ERISA, COBRA, PDA, HIPAA, etc. None of these reforms has worked. All have made the health insurance market worse, not better. Maybe this time will be different, but where is the evidence?"

Greg Scandlen is a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute and founder and director of Consumers for Health Care Choices, a non-partisan, non-profit membership organization aimed at empowering consumers in the health care system. Scandlen is an accomplished writer, researcher, and public speaker. He is considered one of the nation's experts on health care financing, insurance regulation, and employee benefits. He testifies frequently before Congress and appears on such television shows as the O'Reilly Factor, NBC Nightly News, ABC News, and CNN. Scandlen gives three dozen speeches a year to organizations representing employers and labor, hospitals and physicians, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies.

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