Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama Progressive on Healthcare

Obama's health care plan expects an individual mandate

Here's how it will work, according to the officials I've spoken to. The budget's health care section is not a detailed plan. Rather, it offers financing -- though not all -- and principles meant to guide the plan that Congress will author. The details will be decided by Congress in consultation with the administration.

One of those details is "universal" health care coverage.

That word is important: The Obama campaign's health care plan was not a universal health care plan. It was close to it. It subsidized coverage for millions of Americans and strengthened the employer-based system. The goal, as Obama described it, was to make coverage "affordable" and "available" to all Americans.

But it did not make coverage universal. Affordability can be achieved through subsidies. But without a mandate for individuals to purchase coverage or for the government to give it to them, there was no mechanism for universal coverage. It could get close, but estimates were that around 15 million Americans would remain uninsured. As Jon Cohn wrote at the time, "without a mandate, a substantial portion of Americans [will] remain uninsured."

The budget -- and I was cautioned that the wording "is changing hourly" -- will direct Congress to "aim for universality."


Obama Budget: $634 Billion For Health Care

President Barack Obama is asking Congress to raise taxes on the wealthy and cut Medicare costs to provide health care for the uninsured while making the just-enacted $400 tax cut for most workers permanent. In his first budget blueprint, Obama proposes setting aside $634 billion over the next decade to expand government subsidized health coverage _ a little more than half the money needed to ensure that every American gets medical care.


Details are scarce but there's the first hints of what is to come. Again, quite hopeful.