Monday, March 22, 2010

Historic, Decisive and very American

The French view of the health reform debate is both overly optimistic and acute. Media coverage has been complete and the passage of the bills in the House merited front page treatment—but distinctly under-the-fold as the regional elections which were a near sweep for the socialist party was the big news this weekend. Le Monde calls the House vote an “Historic victory for Barack Obama” while Figaro put the news a bit lower on its web page calling it a “decisive vote” but leaving Americans “skeptical” of a reform that is “less ambitious than anticipated” which leaves the country divided. The Figaro clipsthat were on today's website were dominated by pictures of the opponents.

The response to the Le Monde story ranged from overly generous applause calling Obama a “real President” in comparison to the “product” Nicolas Sarkozy (whose party lost big in the recent elections). Another writer called it a beautiful victory, “but who is going to pay?”

Le Quotidien du Medecin gave the story top billing and was more or less descriptive. They are running a feature case “La santé version USA” that has been posted for the last few weeks. That includes a story about a New York physician who admits to over treating because of his fears of a lawsuit and a recounting of the 100 years of frustrated health reform efforts.

Meanwhile the generalist physicians of France (at least those in selected unions) are threatening to “close” their offices in protest on April 8th. They are objecting to the mandated charges that will accompany any paper claims that are submitted and objecting to a lost of “identity” not a loss of income.

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