Parsing the President

President Obama is doing a pretty good job rallying the troops on health reform. Between working the Congress, bringing health care players to Washington to promise savings, and inserting key “down payments” into the stimulus bill, he’s done a lot already. It’s not to say that health care reform will be easy or even that it will happen, but it’s not looking like Hillarycare II.

A key component of the Obama strategy is to lean on the grassroots organization built up during the campaign. Yesterday everyone on the mailing list received an “I need your voice on health care” email from the President.

The chance to finally reform our nation’s health care system is here. While Congress moves rapidly to produce a detailed plan, I have made it clear that rea reform must uphold three core principles –it must reduce costs, guarantee choice, and ensure quality for every American…

When our opponents spread fear and confusion about the changes we seek, your support for these core principles will show clarity and resolve. When the lobbyists for the status quo tell Congress to hold back, your personal story will give them the courage to press forward.

The email then links to a website where people can show their support and tell their personal stories about their encounters with the health care system. Obama then tells such a story of his own and promises to “personally [review] many of these signatures and stories.”

It’s a clever message and approach. It helps anyone who’s reasonably well informed keep in mind the salient points about health reform, and opens the floor up to anyone who’s had an issue with the health care system. Obama’s principles and approach also don’t run into any of the problems Drew Altman describes in his column highlighting differences among experts and the public, which I blogged about yesterday. Experts and the public are in favor of cost reduction, quality, and care for all. Everyone has a personal story. Choice is in there as a defensive tactic for when the plan’s foes talk about a government takeover, but the truth is most people don’t have that much choice in their health care today and won’t in the future.

May 21, 2009

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