Our previous coverage of President Obama’s blogger conference call on health care reform:
After President Obama left the conference call his senior aides David Axelrod and Nancy-Ann Deparle continued to take questions from bloggers in on the call. Our very own Blue Girl got in a question (below the fold):
….Question: …Our readers are very community oriented and very supportive of the President and they’ll want to know what they can personally do to help insure health care reform happens in the House and Senate.
David Axelrod: You know obviously we’re eager to spread the word. I mean one of the frustrating things about this, uh, uh, enterprise is that, uh, a lot of the coverage focuses on, uh, kind of the trees and not the forest. Uh, you heard the President articulate what his vision is and where he’s driving in terms of, uh, health reform. He, he defined it, uh, well I think, uh, in this conversation and, uh, and I think laid out the parameters that, uh, are important to him. I think for you guys to spread the word on that, uh, would be very, very important. We’re after health, uh, insurance reform, health care reform that will benefit all Americans, uh, folks who have insurance and have seen their premiums, uh, double over the last decade and have seen, uh, uh, health, uh, care, uh, premiums, uh, rise at three times the rate of wages. Uh, and who are increasingly finding it difficult to, uh, maintain [garbled]..I saw today, uh, uh, Mr. Steele say, uh, that, uh, under the Obama plan people would pay more for less. That’s exactly what’s happening every single year. People are paying more money for their health care and they’re getting less, uh, for it as deductibles rise, out of pocket costs, uh, rise. That’s exactly what we’re trying to address. Uh, and, uh, as well as deal with the issue of the uninsured and deal with the issue of the underinsured and people who, um, uh, have pre-existing conditions or loo…or have lost their job or changing jobs. These folks need some security and some stability. And that’s what this, that’s what this effort is about. And, uh, we want to make sure that people understand what it is that we’re fighting for and why it’s so important. And so to the extent that you can enlist people to spread the word, uh, and, uh, to mobilize folks, uh, to speak to their representatives in Congress and, uh, let them know, uh, that now’s the time. Uh, we saw, and I’ll yield the floor to, uh, Nancy-Ann here, but, uh,, we saw, uh, you know, over the weekend, uh, Senator DeMint, uh, say that the, you know, the strategy is to, uh, delay, uh, this process long enough so that they can, uh, kill it, uh, so that, uh, they, they, they said it could be Obama’s Waterloo, we can, uh, we can break him with this. Well the point is that there are millions of Americans who are being broken every single day. Uh, or, or every single year I should say, by, uh, uh, by, uh, climbing costs, uh, of health care. And that’s what we’re concerned about and that’s what we want to address. Do, do you want to add?…
…Nancy-Ann DeParle: No, I think your answer is right on point. And thank you for asking. We, we need your help to, uh, make sure that everyone knows what the President is fighting for here and that it has to happen now. And we, we appreciate everything you’re doing….
….Question: [Blue Girl!] …Uh, actually that’s They gave us a republic dot com. But anyway, uh, my question is about provider shortages. I’m a lab professional. I’ve spent more than twenty years on trauma teams and the fact that I’m still the young one speaks for itself. Uh, yeah, we’re, it, access doesn’t matter if you don’t have a doctor to see. So is there any op.., any chance that we might, uh, see some training programs that are maybe tied in with Americorps or something? Or something like the military does now with ROTC and medical schools to staff, uh, military hospitals? Uh, [garbled], you know, to get people trained and on the job. The nursing shortage alone is a nightmare.
Nancy-Ann DeParle: Yes and [Blue Girl] thank you for what you’re doing and for your, your serving as a health [crosstalk]…
Question: Oh I’m, I’m retired. [laugh] And I was still the young one when I retired.
Nancy-Ann DeParle: The President spent some time today at Children’s, uh, National Medical Center here in D.C and met with nurses and physician assistants and doctors and, and talked about, uh, the struggles that families are facing in, in getting adequate care. And the emergency room there he, um, he was talking about the fact that they now have eighty-five thousand people, I think, a year, visits a year in their emergency room, up from fifty thousand. So we see the shortage, we see the need for more health professionals. In fact, one of the first things the President did, uh, was to, in the recovery act, uh, uh, add some additional funding, a substantial amount of additional funding that hasn’t been seen in a long time to the National Health Service Corp to train, uh, folks who will become health professionals in under served areas of the country. And we know that’s just the start of what is needed and in the health reform bill the House is, uh, doing right now they do have some authorizations for more funding for training.
I like your idea about trying to figure out a way to, uh, one thing that we’ve talked about is there a way to, to, uh, work with the returning, uh, veterans and those who have medical training, uh, and try to make sure that they can be, uh, plugged in to the, to the system and get jobs doing, uh, the work that they have been trained to do and which we need them doing. So, we’re looking for any and all ideas like that to make sure that we have adequate, uh, numbers of professionals out there. And appreciate your help in getting us new ideas….
….Question: …What’s your biggest concern about the current state of the debate? What’s your biggest fear in, in, in that way? What could we help do?
David Axelrod: [garbled] I, I think, uh, I, I appreciate the question and I, and I, uh, uh, you know I think I began to get at that, uh, a second ago. You know here in Washington, uh, the President always likes to say they sc.., you know they, they, they have a scorekeeper’s mentality. It’s all about who’s up and who’s down and, uh, people view this as a, kind of a, uh, uh, a game. And, uh, they tend to focus on, um, uh, uh, on, ss.., you know, uh, on the trees, as I said, rather than the forest. And I think, um, what we’re what we’re trying to stress is that, you know, the, the other side is using a tactic, uh, uh, of a, or opponents of this, of fear that change is frightening and the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. Well the fact is that, uh, what we have right now is unsustainable and that, you know, we want to communicate that that, uh, the reason it’s essential that we act now is that, uh, we can’t go decade after decade with health premiums doubling, with out of pocket costs, uh, growing, uh, uh, by a third. We can’t go with ten or twelve or fourteen thousand people a day losing their health, uh, uh, coverage. There’s an enormous price to be paid, human price, for inaction, uh, now. And we have a health care system right now that works, uh, well for, uh, uh, insurance companies and drug companies, but not so well for, um, individual Americans who, who are, are just getting crushed by the cost. Not so well for b
usinesses, small in particular, but also large. And we’re on an unsustainable path in terms of cost to the government. Uh, and we have to address these things. So, the thing you can communicate is this sense of urgency, uh, uh, that, uh, that we, that we have [garbled] that the program that we ult.., that the President will sign will address these issues, will give people some, uh, security, will have long overdue insurance, uh, reforms, and will make, uh, make the whole system work better, uh, give more choice in certain, more competition for consumers, more transparency. Uh, will do the things that are necessary to really bring about health care reform….