Is President Obama trying to do too much with health reform?

by J.E.B. Johnson, MD

Dear President Obama:

We agree that our health care system can use some improvement, but it is difficult to agree on how to accomplish this. It seems as if your desire for a major overhaul is far from certain. Some pundits have suggested this may emasculate your presidency, but I beg to differ on this point. This is not a failure of policy as much as it is a realization that the speed and the scope of the goal you have set is unrealistic.

It is time for an honest re-appraisal. Re-forming our health care system should be a continuous improvement project not a one time slam dunk solution.

Lead us. Accept the blame for an ill-conceived picture of health care reform and begin the orderly process of improvement with a blueprint. May I suggest that you begin with Medicare? Medicare is neither a model of quality health care or efficiency. It is a model of government bureaucracy and it is a logical place to begin demonstrating that you can lead us to creative solutions.

Set a reasonable timetable. Five years would be a very ambitious timetable to achieve significant improvements in Medicare. Two and a half years would be a reasonable time to start Medicaid on a five year improvement cycle. Your legacy after 2 terms will be to pass on to the next President a populace with confidence in our government’s ability to nurture and encourage good health care and the opportunity to expand it to serve all.

J.E.B. Johnson is a family physician.

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