Obama Heads West To Gain Momentum For Reform
President Barack Obama is again heading West in hopes of winning support for his health reform push, The Associated Press reports.
"Democrats have made recent election inroads in the region by successfully courting independents, Republican crossovers and conservative-to-moderate loyalists in their own party. But it's these very voters - gun owners, civil libertarians, private property advocates - who seem to be turning away from the president across the country because of deep-seated concerns about expanding government and soaring budget deficits."
"Obama is hoping he can allay such worries as he promotes his plan at town hall-style events in reliably Republican areas: Friday in Bozeman, Mont., and Saturday in Grand Junction, Colo., near the Utah state line. The first family also plans to visit Yellowstone and Grand Canyon to highlight the country's national parks" (Sidoti and Wyatt, 8/14).
NPR reports that Grand Junction is the site of an innovative program for controlling health care costs, a program Obama will highlight as the type of change his push for reform aims for. Grand Junction's costs are about 30 percent below the national average, according to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, NPR reports (Horsley, 8/14).
The Los Angeles Times on Grand Junction: "The local HMO offers prenatal care to all women in the county. Doctors evaluate themselves partly on the cost-effectiveness of treatments they prescribe. Nurses often check on patients home from the hospital to help prevent relapses."
"Grand Junction, the researchers found, is the sixth-cheapest community in the nation, with Honolulu registering as the most cost-effective and Miami the most expensive. Depending on the point of view, Grand Junction embodies some of the principles outlined by Obama in his bid to rein in healthcare costs -- such as promoting preventive care -- or shows what can be done without government intervention." Another point of interest -- physicians in the community "agreed among themselves to charge a little less for regular patients and a little more for Medicaid patients. That way doctors would be happy to treat all comers" (Riccardi, 8/14).
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: "In the early days, doctors lost money on their investment if patients were overtreated. An Internet data-sharing system called Quality Health Network soon followed. It is buoyed with buy-in by doctors, hospitals and health-care agencies. Because doctors across Mesa County are able to access patients' information through the Internet database, the system helps physicians from either over- or under-serving the patients they treat."
"Additionally, programs offered by Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado help patients receive some treatment in lieu of expensive emergency-room visits or extended hospital stays. And Marillac Clinic, started in 1988, offers a wide array of high-quality health care to underinsured and uninsured low- to moderate-income patients on a sliding fee scale. Both programs save taxpayer dollars on Medicare and Medicaid, keeping those local reimbursement rates low" (Hamilton, 8/13).
The Washington Post: "Obama supporters are being urged to turn out for the president to counter what they anticipate could be the kind of vocal criticism that has recently dominated headlines and cable news. Facing questions about whether public support for the health overhaul initiative is sagging, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that the problem was rooted in misconceptions spread by political opponents" (Kornblut, 8/14).
Politico on how the crowd in Montana is likely to be very different than the one in New Hampshire: "Obama's luck could change Friday afternoon when he meets an audience in a conservative suburb in the red state of Montana. For one thing, tickets were handed out Thursday on a first-come, first-served basis at two local city halls a far more immediate process than the White House's usual web-based system. And Bozeman is hardly the liberal Seacoast in the Democratic-leaning state of New Hampshire where Obama held court Tuesday" (Lee, 8/14).