mPresident-elect Barack Obama is getting plenty of free advice as he prepares to address many of the issues of concern to U.S. consumers. The post-election celebrations had barely died down before public and private interest groups were stepping forward with "helpful" proposals.
With 2008 seeing record gasoline prices, Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, said she is encouraged by Obama's emphasis on energy conservation as a policy.
"President-elect Obama's New Energy for America plan correctly cites energy efficiency as the cheapest, cleanest, fastest energy source and calls for new energy efficiency policies and substantial federal investment in energy efficiency to help reduce U.S. oil dependence, create new jobs, and curb climate change, Callahan said.
Besides energy, health care issues are likely to be a major early focus of the Obama Administration.
"The AMA shares President-elect Obama's focus on expanding health insurance coverage and choice through income-related federal subsidies, and we look forward to continuing to work with him and the new Congress toward reform," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, president of the American Medical Association. "Bi-partisan efforts will be an essential building block for comprehensive health care reform."
Obama's approach to health care, as outlined during the campaign, is relatively simple. Those who currently have health coverage they like would keep it. Those who have no insurance, or not enough, could enroll in a government-sponsored health care plan. The government would subsidize premiums for those who meet certain income requirements.
The AMA said it would like to see consumers have a choice in plans so that they can pick the coverage that's best for them.
"And we want to create fair insurance rules that include protections for high-risk patients and make insurance more affordable," Nielsen said.
WellPoint, Inc., the nation's largest health insurer, said it would like to work with the new administration to improve the value and quality of U.S. health care.
"This can be achieved through an increased focus on the development of consensus-based quality measures and expanded use of quality-based payments; enhanced efforts to promote an advanced medical home model for the delivery of care; continued efforts to provide coordinated care and disease management; and expanding viable public and private coverage options and access," the company said in a statement.
Consumer activists, meanwhile, will keep a close eye on administration appointments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Product Safety Commission. Both agencies have been under fire in recent months over foodborne illness outbreaks and dangerous products.