Former Sen. Tom Daschle heads health care summit

Friday, October 30, 2009 | 11:59 a.m. CDT
Former Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle, speaks at the seventh annual Missouri Health Policy Summit at the Hilton Garden Inn on Vandiver Drive on Friday. Daschle talked about health care policy reform. "This (health care) is the only sector that we don't know who is going to pay and what it's going to cost," Daschle said.

COLUMBIA — Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle told a crowd of hundreds of health care professionals that per person health care spending has risen 40 percent in the last decade and that if costs are not contained, the average family in Missouri will pay roughly $25,616 in 2016.

"It is imperative that we get something done," he said. "And we are hopeful this is the year we do it."


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Daschle was the keynote speaker at the Seventh Annual Missouri Health Policy Summit on Friday at the Hilton Garden Inn conference center. Among the roughly 250 people in attendance were doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MU Health Care, Biological Services, MU's School of Medicine and the Center for Health Policy.

Daschle was President Obama's first choice nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, but he withdrew after disclosing that he failed to pay $140,000 in taxes and interest.

Between work at a private sector law firm and a couple of political think tanks, Daschle has been flying around the country and speaking to "groups like this one," he said, about the urgency of reforming the U.S. health care system.

According to a report by Democratic Policy Committee that cited the Kaiser Family Foundation, premiums for employer-sponsored insurance have more than doubled over the last nine years, which is a growth rate four times faster than cumulative wage increases.

In 1997, the average family's costs were $4,872 in Missouri. In 2006, the report said, employer-sponsored insurance costs in the state rose to about $11,171.

"When Starbucks spends more on health care than coffee ... we know there's a problem," Daschle said.

Daschle said that though health care reform has been attempted many times in the past 100 years, he thinks health care reform has more momentum now than ever.

"This is by far the farthest this process has gone," he said.

The House unveiled its health care reform bill Thursday: the Affordable Health Care for America Act, or House Resolution 3962, which is a blend of two bills. Daschle told the crowd said he expects the Senate to unveil a health reform bill in the next week and for debate to begin soon thereafter.

If the Senate can get the 60 votes before Thanksgiving, Daschle said, the House and Senate will hold conferences and might have a bill on President Obama's desk before Christmas Day. If they can't get the votes, he said, the proposed bill goes to the budget track.

"That remains as the legislative part B," Daschle said.

When asked how he felt about Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., reviving the public option in his proposed bill, Daschle said he supported it.

"I applaud Sen. Reid for his extraordinary leadership on this issue," he said. "The public option, in my view, is critical to the process and ultimately to our efforts at reform."

Daschle said Reid's proposed legislation will enjoy a majority of support in the Senate and that he was not concerned about Sen. Olympia Snowe's withdrawal of support.

"I'm a big admirer of Olympia Snowe," he said. "I think Sen. Snowe wants to get to yes, and I think she is going to persist in her efforts to fashion a bill through amendments and through negotiations that she will support at the end of the day."

Daschle concluded that he believes the greatest obstacle to achieving health reform in the U.S. is ideological, centered on the proper role of government.

"Virtually every other country in the world has resolved it in favor of more — not less — government role, much like education or transportation."

The conference continued through most of the day.


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John Lloyd Scharf October 30, 2009 | 9:30 p.m.

This bill is not about making health care affordable nor is it for Americans... Americans must not live in America.


(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 30, 2009 | 11:13 p.m.

IMHO, the government is looking to take too much on and this will change the very nature of how our economy handles cash flow for health care services, medicines, supplies, hospitalization, etc.

Veterans, seniors, the disabled and the disenfranchised have a stake in this.
So too the corporations, actuary industries, health care professionals, United Way agencies, the nonprofit sector, church run hospitals, private foundations. etc.

What makes anyone think a big HHS takeover of our nations health care cash flow will improve timely accessibility, affordability and quality?

Economically/Financially are we looking at the engine which will be driving this machine?
Legislatively, are they competent?
Managerially can they pull it off?
And if they could pull it off, at what cost to freedom and liberty?

Is there a better way?

Can't we realize that this is not just for the politicians'governmnet to solve?

A bigger bureaucratic government HHS and payroll to administer new regulations, policies, procedures, responsibilities and cash flow usurps all individuals and direct health care providing entities and supporting private agencies and manufacturing companies which should be at the table discussing this.

Town hall meetings were apparently meaningless. Republicans are ignored and Democrats are getting their marching orders from the Obama inner circle.

Every entity, every person has a stake in this.

The political agenda of the progressive left, the propaganda, the manipulation of the economy, lack of meaningful bridge building & the loss of objectivity as the media pits the people against each other by distorting reality and controlling what we think we know keeps the truth from us and forces us into our corners or we come out fighting.

Do they run us or do we run them?

Is this administration trying to provide health insurance to the uninsured, health insurance for all, access to affordable, quality care for all, (even if not on an insurance policy) or just looking to muscle in on the insurance industry?

What's next after destroying the health insurance industry?
Destruction of private practice? Destruction of the voluntary sector? Destruction of true philanthropy? Destruction of an open market?
Do we just keep printing up more money?

Over regulation, laws and clauses, legislation just to make the existing or modified "entitlements" more solvent?

What happens when that fails as taxes increase to absurd levels? Does everyone forfeit discretionary income? Do we work only for governmentally provided goods and services? Do we become more like Cuba?

The very nature of our economy is changing. And it's not for the better.

(Report Comment)

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