Obama Wins: What It Means for Health Care
Obama's Health Plan continued...
According to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan tax analysis group, the president-elect's plan, if fully implemented, would reduce the number of uninsured Americans from a projected 67 million to 33 million over the next decade at a cost of $1.6 trillion.
Obama has said he would pay for his plan by rolling back President Bush's tax cuts on people making more than $250,000 a year and keeping the estate tax at 2009 levels, but he has not been more specific. He has not provided a timetable for seeking his proposed reforms and has not said if he would present a comprehensive health care reform package or try for incremental change.
Expansion Likely for State Children's Health Insurance Program
Experts interviewed by WebMD agreed that expansion of the children's insurance program SCHIP is likely to be the first of the proposed reforms to be considered.
Last December, Democrats in Congress lost a yearlong fight to boost federal spending that would have expanded the program after two separate vetoes by Bush.
The program will be up for congressional review next March, and experts say it will probably be the Obama administration's first chance to make good on a health care promise.
"SCHIP is one of the big success stories in health policy over the last 20 years," Buckmueller says. "It has succeeded in getting kids the preventive care they need to keep them out of the ERs."
Medicare Reform More Problematic
Many of Obama's other proposals -- from the expansion of Medicare to his National Health Insurance Exchange -- will be much harder to win support for, even with a largely friendly Congress behind him.
Buckmueller believes the best chance for major reform lies in seeking bipartisan support for his proposals.
He says a key reason for the failure of President Clinton's 1993 health care reform effort is that his administration did not reach across the aisle. "Assuming that Obama has learned from the Clinton debacle, I think he would be wise to say, 'Here are the basic principles of my plan. You work out the details, get bipartisan support, and I'll sign it.'"