Rising temperature? Symptoms of a health problem, alright. Namely, the one on Capitol Hill.

Which is why President Obama is taking his argument about health care reform to the people in small town America.

Undertaking an aggressive new effort to push a major
health-care measure through Congress by August, Obama rebuked critics
from both the right and left — conservatives who say his support for
creating a government-sponsored insurance option alongside private
coverage would send the country toward an unsustainable nationalized
plan, as well as liberals who are concerned he won’t go far enough to
mandate universal coverage.

He is sounding a lot like candidate Obama in these speeches.
Dramatic rhetoric, but generalizations like “doing nothing will cost us
more”, as if anyone is suggesting that.

There is emerging bipartisan consensus around many big
isssues of health reform, including a need to move all Americans toward
coverage and to prohibit insurance industry practices that deny
coverage to people with health problems.

But there remain major disagreements over how to pay the $1.5
trillion it will cost over the next decade to cover the 50 million
Americans who lack coverage, as well as whether employers should be
required to offer coverage and whether government-sponsored insurance
should be one option.

Obama has detailed few specifics that he is for and against, and he did not break any new ground on Thursday.

But plenty of others are laying out alternative plans. Like Judd Gregg.

To be effective, health care reform must include
insurance coverage for everyone, encourage prevention measures, and
reform the inefficiencies in our system to ensure the future strength
of our economy. CPR—Coverage, Prevention, Reform—is a plan I have
proposed that sets up a system where every American will be required to
purchase meaningful health insurance to ensure each family will be
protected against bankruptcy if a family member becomes seriously ill
or injured.  No family should lose their home or life-savings because
of illness or injury.  For those who may not be able to afford this
plan, you will have assistance getting coverage.

And Karl Rove.

If Democrats enact a public-option health-insurance
program, America is on the way to becoming a European-style welfare
state. To prevent this from happening, there are five arguments
Republicans must make.

The first is it’s unnecessary. Advocates say a government-run
insurance program is needed to provide competition for private health
insurance. But 1,300 companies sell health insurance plans. That’s
competition enough. The results of robust private competition to
provide the Medicare drug benefit underscore this…

Second, a public option will undercut private insurers and pass the
tab to taxpayers and health providers just as it does in existing
government-run programs…

Third, government-run health insurance would crater the private
insurance market, forcing most Americans onto the government plan. The
Lewin Group estimates 70% of people with private insurance — 120
million Americans — will quickly lose what they now get from private
companies and be forced onto the government-run rolls as businesses
decide it is more cost-effective for them to drop coverage. They’d be
happy to shift some of the expense — and all of the administration
headaches — to Washington. And once the private insurance market has
been dismantled it will be gone.

Fourth, the public option is far too expensive…The Obama
administration estimates its health reforms will cost as much as $1.5
trillion over the next 10 years…

Fifth, the public option puts government firmly in the middle of the
relationship between patients and their doctors. If you think insurance
companies are bad, imagine what happens when government is the
insurance carrier, with little or no competition and no concern you’ll
change to another company.

Then there’s Kent Conrad.

The idea of creating health-care cooperatives was
proposed by Senator Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat. It would
allow non-profits to negotiate directly with health-care providers for
low-cost rates. The plans they offer would be sold, like private plans,
through Internet-based exchanges where consumers could buy insurance at
lower-cost, group rates.

Conrad said the cooperatives could be chartered by either the
federal government or the states, and that they could receive federal
seed money.

Member-run cooperatives is an idea that’s gaining traction. At least
the two parties are talking about it, and some of them even have cool
heads and clear vision.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....