Obama Healthcare Forum — December 2008


President-elect Obama is inviting Americans to spend part of the holiday season talking about health care — and report back to him.  As he gears up for major health reform legislation next year, Obama is encouraging average Americans to host informal gatherings to brainstorm about how to improve the U.S. system.  “In order for us to reform our health care system, we must first begin reforming how government communicates with the American people,” Obama said in a statement last week. “These Health Care Community Discussions are a great way for the American people to have a direct say in our health reform efforts.”[ii] 

From December 15 through December 31, 2008, this blog will focus on healthcare, with the objective of collecting healthcare stories and polishing recommendations to be submitted to the Obama Transition Team.  You can find healthcare pages listed to the right of this post.  Click on Obama HealthCare Forum as well as topics of interest under it, and comment on the contributions you see on the page focussing on that topic.


President-elect Barack Obama has begun preparing to change the U.S. healthcare system, reaching out to his supporters and interest groups to build grass-roots support for the huge undertaking.  “Every American is feeling the pressure of high health costs and lack of quality care, and we feel it’s important to engage them in the process of reform,” said Obama transition team spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter.

U.S. healthcare costs now account for about 16 percent of U.S. gross domestic product — or $2.3 trillion — a proportion projected to grow to 20 percent or $4 trillion by 2015.[i] 

The United States now spends more on healthcare than any other developed nation, yet has some 47 million people without health insurance. Most insured people receive coverage through their employers but businesses complain that exploding costs threaten their competitiveness in a global market.  High worker healthcare costs have been cited as a major reason why U.S. automakers are in such trouble.

At the press conference today when he introduced Tom Daschle as his nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, President-elect Obama said “What we want to make sure is that any plan that we have starts with the premise that rising costs are unsustainable.  We can’t insure everybody under the current program without bankrupting the government, business or states. We are going to spend a lot of time figuring out how to streamline the system,” He added. “We are also going to examine programs that aren’t giving us a good bang for our buck.”

Many health reform advocates believe Obama will need broad public support to overhaul an industry that has become among the most intractable of U.S. political problems.  Remembering what happened to the healthcare reform proposal led by Hillary Clinton in 1993, the Obama camp wants to gain broad public input early, before the insurance companies and drug companies start an intensive lobbying  and advertising campaign to defend their interest in the current system, which almost all experts and the majority of voters recognize is broken.  Daschle has already launched an effort to create political momentum last week in a conference call with 1,000 invited supporters culled from 10,000 who had expressed interest in health issues, promising it would be the first of many opportunities for Americans to weigh in.

Note the Editorial in the December 14th New York Times:


[i] http://www.reuters.com/article/vcCandidateFeed2/idUSN04420785

[ii] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/05/AR2008120503322.html


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One Response to “Obama Healthcare Forum — December 2008”

  1. Hippocrates Says:

    Do no harm

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