President Obama last night hosted a townhall meeting at the White House that aired as a one-hour special on ABC’s news show “Primetime Live.” Taking on questions from everything from how to pay doctors to how to pay for reform overall, the president offered few specifics to add to the ongoing debate on overhauling the nation’s health care system.

Throughout the hour-long special, Obama returned often to the need to shift the physician payment structure to encourage more medical students to become primary care doctors rather than specialists. One student who attended the event told the president that she would be $300,000 in debt when she finished her schooling, but still wants to go into primary care. Obama responded that the need for incentives like loan forgiveness to ensure more students make similar commitments.

Toward the end of the hour, questioners pressed the president on how to pay for reforms, citing estimates from the Congressional Budget Office that most proposals on the table would cost upward of $1 trillion.


Obama offered sketchy ideas at best, saying two-thirds of the bill would be footed by reallocating spending in system, including subsidies to insurers. The remaining one-third would come from “new revenue,” aka, taxes. It’s noteworthy that without prompting, Obama cited taxing health benefits as a potential way to fund health care reform.


In other reform news, I’m thinking of coining a new saying: Opinions are like health care reform proposals – everybody has one. Among the main opiners, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said yesterday that the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Com mittee will extend the markups of its bill through July 4. Click here to read the Benefits Explained blog post and video of Dodd’s comments.

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