Panel Slams Obama's Health Care Reform Plan; Industry Officials Talked about the Proposal as It Relates to a Free Market
Cox, Jeremy, The Florida Times Union
Byline: JEREMY COX
A panel of Northeast Florida health care leaders and analysts assailed several elements of President Barack Obama's plan to reform their industry Wednesday as the president sought to allay such fears on national television.
The event in Mandarin was like many health care forums hosted by interest groups and political figures nationwide in recent months: fiery and partisan. The organizer was the Jacksonville Association of Health Underwriters, a group that is strongly opposed to the centerpiece of Obama's proposal, a government-run alternative to private insurance.
"It creates a dynamic where the government is both a player and a referee in the same game," said Mark LaBorde, the Southeast region's president of small and middle market plans for the insurance carrier Aetna.
LaBorde was one of seven members of an industry-heavy panel that fielded questions about reforming America's $2.5 trillion health care industry. While most panelists agreed with some broad parameters of Obama's plan, sharp disagreements emerged once they began discussing the proposals in detail.
The two-hour discussion came amid an intensifying national debate on health care reform. Congress is working on a bill that spends $1 trillion over 10 years and covers million of uninsured Americans but does little to put the brakes on rising costs. Republicans and several key Democrats have balked at Obama's call to have the bill approved before Congress' August recess. …