Sunday, August 23, 2009

Whirlwind cross-country tour: Eight states in five days

Last week, while the rest of the family hit the Oregon coast for vacation, I did something a little different.

I was invited to take part in a cross-country tour to talk about the health care overhaul being debated in Congress. The tour focused on different states' experiences with government run health care programs. I talked about Oregon's experience with the Oregon Health Plan. OHP is unique in that it explicitly rations health care. It draws up a list of conditions and treatments and draws a line on the list: Anything above the line is covered, anything below the line is not. This can lead to some unfortunate results (video).

My fellow travelers were from Hawaii, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Maine. All of these states have experimented with expanding health care coverage and reducing costs at the same time. Every state has run out of money and had to close enrollment in their government-run programs.

Here are some pictures from the trip.

This is the jet we took from city to city, a Hawker 400. It seats seven. With all of us on board with our luggage, it looked like a family station wagon packed for summer vacation.

I celebrated by birthday in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bill Clinton and I have the same birthday and my hotel was on President Clinton Avenue.

My talk was in the Arkansas Capitol building. I stood on bench to get my picture with Bill Clinton's painting hanging in the rotunda.

One of my fellow travelers was on Fox News for an interview on the way to the airport. I waited in the green room while he was interviewed. Some of the pictures behind me are of Dick Cheney, John Kerry, Steve Forbes, Karl Rove, and Condoleeza Rice.