A few people I chatted with were in the ballpark, sort of. Megan Stone, twenty-nine, was working at a booth selling baked goods. She said it was not individuals who were engaging in waste, fraud, and abuse, but “hospitals, CEOS, CFOs who are pushing money around.” She added “Obama is focused more on the people who really cause the problem.”
Tom Toigo, age fifty-three, said he was active in Democratic politics in upstate New York. To him, health care waste meant that doctors are ordering more tests. He, too, said that it was the insurance companies that were causing health care abuse. “Their perspective is how they can make the most money.”
Twenty-three year old Sierra Carrere was selling beans, grains, flour, and polenta. She knew her merchandise as she explained how to use spelt. She also knew a bit about health care. Abuse in health care, she said, was overmedicating children and giving prescriptions to people who don’t need them. Abuse occurred when people can’t get health care.
What does all this mean for the president’s sales job? He needs to put “waste, fraud, and abuse” near the top of pedagogical to-do list. It seems the public needs to understand the terms along with the individual mandate, affordability, age banding and all the other wonky terms the public is fuzzy on. The White House announcement did talk about boosting transparency. The administration is launching an Improper Payment Dashboard, which would let people see the details on improper payments, view error rates, and so on. But first, the WH needs some transparency in language if it is serious about communicating with the public.