Eight quick reactions to the President’s speech:
1. It was a good speech. Reaction around the blogosphere and elsewhere seems to be dependent on how you felt about reform plans going in. If you were in favor, you thought it was terrific (warning strong language at the link); if you were against, you thought it was disingenuous.
2. The interesting question is how people who weren’t sure will react. By this I mean people who are anxious that reform will affect their health care in ways they don’t like. There is still the mixed message that created this anxiety in the first place. On the one hand, the President repeated “Nothing in this plan will require you to change what you have. “ Sounds like no big deal. On the other hand, he quoted Ted Kennedy as saying the plan “is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.” Sounds like a very big deal. Which is it?
3. The boorish Congressman who screamed “you lie!” at Obama during the address must have been confused and thought he was at a town hall meeting. But I’ve always thought it would be cool if we had a “Question Time” like they do in the UK. Presidents would have to face much more interesting and uncomfortable questions than they otherwise get, and it would make for a terrific spectacle. Obviously this wasn’t the time or place for that sort of thing. And if we ever do get an American Question Time, representatives will have to come up with better questions than “you lie,” too.
4. The President talked about “30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.” This is different from the 46 million “uninsured” he usually talks about. The Associated Press thinks the other 16 million are people who could buy or otherwise get coverage but choose not to, as compared to those who want coverage but can’t afford it.
5. I was surprised to hear the President give more than just a nod to the Facebook health care status update meme. I mean he quoted it directly: “in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.” This must be the first time a President has ever quoted something from Facebook in an address to Congress – it’s some kind of a milestone for social media. Thoughts on that meme are here.
6. The President talked about the uncompetitive insurance market, noting that “in 34 states, 75 percent of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies.” It sounds like he’s not just talking about the “public option” when he talks about creating competition in these markets. His idea of insurance exchanges and a federal health insurance regulator seem to be direct challenges to the state-by-state system of insurance regulation. It will be interesting to see the reaction of state insurance regulators to this speech.
7. I was right: the President didn’t talk about the three things I said he wouldn’t talk about. In fact, he said almost nothing about the delivery of care- it was all about how to pay for it.
8. The President got some laughs with his comment that he thinks “there remain some significant details to be ironed out.” He’s right, and there’s the rub. Whether and how that ironing out happens was the question before the President’s speech, and it’s still the question today.
*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*