Obama calls Wyden health plan radical

The Oregonian reported today that President Obama called Ron Wyden’s health care plan radical. Here is a highlight:

“Under Wyden’s plan, workers would be responsible for choosing their health insurance. In return, employers would give workers a raise equivalent to the cost of the health care that was previously offered. That pay would be taxable, but Wyden stresses that new federal tax deductions would shield all but the highest earners from additional taxes. Wyden argues that linking health care costs to individuals will promote competition and drive down costs. But Obama said that is too sharp a departure from what workers have known — and become comfortable with — for generations.That fundamental shift, along with the major changes in the tax code that Wyden proposes, are too “radical,” Obama said, when aligned with all the other changes that must take place to provide health insurance to 47 million Americans who don’t have it.The president said his discussions with Wyden are similar to those with people who advocate a single-payer system. In theory, those plans work, he said. “The problem is, we have evolved partly by accident into an employer-based system.” A “radical restructuring” would meet “significant political resistance,” Obama said, and “families who are currently relatively satisfied with their insurance but are worried about rising costs … would get real nervous about a wholesale change.”

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