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Thursday, January 25th 2007

What Does Obama See Health Care As?

Obama has called for everyone to have health care within six years.

Every American should have health care coverage within six years, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama said Thursday as he set an ambitious goal soon after jumping into the 2008 presidential race.

“I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country,” Obama told a conference of Families USA, a health care advocacy group.

A general plea, trumpeted by many. But Obama hasn’t shown a lot in terms of how he actually thinks universal coverage should be achieved. That is to be expected, with his hat already in the ’08 race (although he’s burning oftly brightly, which plenty of times means quickly), but even back in Illinois he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

[Senate Bill 1430] would create a bipartisan Health Care Reform Commission (HCRC) to oversee the gathering of comments from the public and recommendations for a universal-access health care plan.

The bill does not describe a specific plan. The HCRC, operating under the auspices of the Illinois Department of Public Health, would develop a plan based on comments from the public. The process would occur over several years and in three stages.

“I don’t think this issue is going to go away,” said Senator Barack Obama (D-Chicago), the senate bill’s chief sponsor. “This probably won’t be dealt with during the fall veto session, but I think it will come back in the next general session in January.”

Nice talk, getting everyone down at the table to discuss the issue (although Obama’s Senate version of the bill actually failed), but certainly far from decisive.

Obama is back to the rhetoric and photo ops, as he said in speech on January 25th,

“I want to hear people’s ideas about how we can achieve that goal.”

I understand you can’t expect more from a candidate already running. He can’t be calling for say, mandates, and dabbling in specifics years before the election, but this seems to be a theme even when he isn’t running.

While he hasn’t come down hard against it, he doesn’t seem to be a fan of ‘true’ single payer,

“Everybody who supports single-payer healthcare says, ‘Look at all this money we would be saving from insurance and paperwork.’ That represents 1 million, 2 million, 3 million jobs of people who are working at Blue Cross Blue Shield or Kaiser or other places. What are we doing with them? Where are we employing them?”

Just weeks into his candidacy (and a year-plus from election day) I am no longer convinced Obama can win. I was never convinced that Obama was going to win, but now I really am saying I question whether he even has a shot. If I’m wrong though, I suppose we’ll learn more about what Obama thinks the solution to America’s health care crisis should look like. With Hillary also blowing the health care theme horn, and even President Bush speaking to it, it certainly looks like the 2008 race will feature such as its primary domestic theme.