USA Today and Ed Morrissey go through some of the false statements in
President Obama's town hall meeting on Tuesday.
• "Under the reform we're proposing, if you like your doctor, you
can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep
your health care plan."
Not necessarily. In an analysis of the Senate Health, Education,
Labor and Pensions Committee bill, the non-partisan Congressional
Budget Office estimated that 10 million workers could lose
employer-provided benefits and would have to find other insurance.
There are many parts of the legislation which will get rid of private
insurance. For example, any discrimination based on pre-existing
condition is banned. Other factors at work include: "No yearly or
lifetime cost cpas on what insurance companies cover."
• "Insurance companies basically get $177 billion of taxpayer
money to provide services that Medicare already provides."
About 10.2 million Medicare recipients are in Medicare Advantage.
Under that program, the government pays insurers a set amount per
Medicare beneficiary. Obama ridiculed it as costly and redundant, but
the plan provides additional benefits, such as vision, dental and
hearing, to seniors and helps coordinate health care for those with
chronic conditions, says Robert Zirkelbach at the trade association,
America's Health Insurance Plans.
The higher payments that Medicare Advantage gives to doctors allows
those involved in this program to get access to doctors that they
otherwise couldn't get.
• "The rumor that's been circulating a lot lately is this idea
that somehow the House of Representatives voted for 'death panels'
that will basically pull the plug on Grandma. ... (T)he intention. ..
was to give people more information so that they could handle issues
of end-of-life care when they're ready, on their own terms. ... (O)ne
of the chief sponsors of this bill originally was a Republican ...
(Sen.) Johnny Isakson from Georgia."
Isakson issued a press release saying Obama misused his name. A
provision he attached to a Senate health care bill would allow seniors
to obtain help in formulating a living will something Isakson said is
different from House language. The House bill would require Medicare
to pay for end-of-life counseling sessions, but it would not mandate
that anyone use the benefit.
The fear that people have about rationing is justified. As noted
elsewhere on this blog, on June 24 at the ABC Health Care Town Hall,
one participant asked Mr. Obama: "Outside the medical criteria for
prolonging life for somebody who is elderly, is there any
consideration that can be given for a certain spirit, a certain joy of
living, a quality of life, or is it just a medical cutoff at a certain
age?" His response was "I don't think that we can make judgments based
on people's 'spirit.' . . . But what we can do is make sure that at
least some of the waste that exists in the system that is not making
anyone's mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or
additional drugs, that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to
improve care. . . . Maybe you're better off not having the surgery,
but taking the painkiller."
Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel, chair of the powerful House
Committee on Ways and Means, claimed on August 4: "that there is over
$2 trillion worth of waste out there in the health delivery system."
His statement is amazing given that health care expenditures are
currently $2.4 trillion. Does he really believe that about 80 percent
of current medical expenditures without effecting the quality of care?
But if you think that he was simply mistaken, listen to Larry Summers,
the president's chief economic advisor. According to him, just
eliminating unnecessary surgeries could save "as much as $700 billion
a year out of our health care system" -- about 30 percent of the total
health care budget. Does anyone really believe that these cuts won't
deny people the health care that they think that they "need"?
If you have further doubts, read through the Democratic health care
bills in the house. One agency to be set up is the Center for
Comparative Effectiveness Research, A Federal bureau supposed to
determine what is the most effective care people should receive. At
best, this panel will do what medical journals or medical schools at
universities already do. But more likely, there will be political
considerations to cut back on spending when judging what medical care
is considered useful.
• "AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, OK?"
The AARP issued a press release to make it clear that it has not
endorsed any particular health care proposal. "Indications that we
have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently
under consideration in Congress are inaccurate," AARP said.
The AARP can deny this, but it is actually true for all practical purposes.
• In the wealthiest nation on Earth, 46 million of our fellow
citizens have no coverage. They are just vulnerable. If something
happens, they go bankrupt, or they don't get the care they need.
First, 70 percent of the uninsured are happy with their health care.
Second, bankruptcy is not the end result for most uninsured. While 57
percent of the uninsured are very dissatisfied with the prices that
they must pay for medical care, it isn't clear how cheap the care
would have to be for them to be satisfied. These individuals could
obtain free medical care if they wanted it.
• if we do nothing . . . . Our deficit will continue to grow
because Medicare and Medicaid are on an unsustainable path. Medicare
is slated to go into the red in about eight to 10 years. I don't know
if people are aware of that. If I was a senior citizen, the thing I'd
be worried about right now is Medicare starts running out of money
because we haven't done anything to make sure that we're getting a
good bang for our buck when it comes to health care.
Even the Democratically controlled CBO doesn't think that the
proposals will reduce the costs of health care.
Just dumb economics
• And finally -- this is important -- we will require insurance
companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like
mammograms and colonoscopies -- (applause) -- because there's no
reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and
prostate cancer on the front end.
Requiring an annual check up to be covered isn't insurance. You give
the insurance company money and they have to give it back to you minus
all the handling costs.