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Don't Get Sick In America

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Don't Get Sick In America

Don't Get Sick In America

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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President Obama's deadline for a health care overhaul was once the end of the summer is to move back to the end of the year. He said that again today to his audience at an RV factory in Elkhart, Indiana.

President BARACK OBAMA: I promise you, we will pass reform by the end of this year because the American people need it.

(Soundbite of applause)

Pres. OBAMA: The American people need some relief.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Pres. OBAMA: Now, we're going to have to make an effort.

BLOCK: Senior news analyst Daniel Schorr says the need for relief is great, but the delay follows a very old script.

DANIEL SCHORR: My book on health care, "Don't Get Sick in America," says that with expenditures at $63 billion a year, headed towards an eye-popping $100 billion, this has to be the year for national health insurance.

A foreword by Senator Edward Kennedy emphasizes that this must not be simply an updated insurance program but a revolution in health care. Did I forget to mention that my book was published in 1970, and since then, expenditures have risen past $2.2 trillion? Almost 40 years later, America is still wrestling with a health industry that is deathly sick.

The House has gone home, the Senate soon to follow. Left behind are elements of several bills in committees. And now, the rhetorical guns of August resound through the land as constituents vent their anger at the mess.

Senator Arlen Specter and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were cheered but also heckled and booed in Philadelphia. In Austin, Texas, Representative Lloyd Doggett faced protesters carrying a sign saying: No Socialized Health Care.

The administration says no, not socialized: government. No, not government: public option. Some senators say, no, not public option: co-op. It is a war of slogans, sound and fury signifying little.

Meanwhile, if you listen closely to the president, you will note that he no longer talks of health care reform, but health insurance reform, a limited goal that Senator Kennedy said almost 40 years ago would not work.

Where has the Obama administration gone wrong? Early on, it decided that it would avoid the Hillarycare mistake of the 1990s, confronting Congress with a massive plan all worked out. This time, the administration would let Congress work out a plan that the president could then sign. As it turns out, that has led to chaos by committee. This is Daniel Schorr.

(Soundbite of music)

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