President Obama opened his conference with a clear, passionate, and generally accurate depiction of the state of current health system with some broad goals for reform. Most importantly there was the new admission, as we have been pointing out in previous entries, that the main reason for this reform is “the biggest driving force in the federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost in Medicare and Medicaid. If we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit” . The President’s admission of waste and excess in Medicare and Medicare is a helpful acknowledgment of truth and provides some ground rules when trying to fix the problem. No claim, in his opening, that the government does it better, and that is appreciated.
The tone of last night’s review shed some new light on a few of the issues that may be foreshadowing the early demise of HR 3200. Will a Senate Finance Committee bill be better in some way? That’s yet to be determined, but we know it will be more favorable towards increasing provider reimbursements.
Let’s look at some of the specific information last nights Q&A, with some Truth-o-Meter reviews. (Truth-o-meter a scale from 0=nope, to 100=truth)
OBAMA: 14,000 people a day are losing their health insurance.
Truth-O-Meter Score: 80 – Sounds about right. The economy is losing about 525,000 jobs per month. With 85% of American’s with healthcare, that number makes sense. Not outlined is how many people get new health insurance per day or that the government is providing a 65% subsidy for those offering COBRA under ARRA. The most recent data (2007) shows that 1.3 million less people are uninsured than the previous year.
OBAMA: If you have insurance, this will provide more stability. This will prevent you from insurance dropping you if you get to sick, you can move and keep your coverage.
Truth-O-Meter Score: 50. – Part 1 – Sort of True; A government plan will provide more stability. If you move, you will be able to keep your coverage with the federal plan. There is nothing indicating that if you have private insurance, the same right would exist In fact if you move, you would not be able to get new private insurance. . Part 2- FALSE: Insurance companies do not have the right to cancel you if you get too sick. The regulation authority currently exists within each State, and each State prevents it. Health insurance is not like homeowners insurance.
Obama: The Status quo is going to double costs over next 10 years.
Truth-O-Meter Score: 90 – While no one has a crystal ball, it’s fair to say that looking at the current system is not a pretty picture. The health insurance industry is not abusive, but there is a confusing and frustrating system for people when they try to change coverage. A mandate that all carriers offer coverage with no pre-ex clause and level pricing, that would accompany taxation, mandates and subsidies for those with lower income would solve all the issues in getting the bill passed. We all agree that reform is needed, but not this bill.
Obama: It’s (this healthcare reform) about every small business that has been forced to cut back their coverage or lay off employees because coverage became too expensive.
Truth-O-Meter Score: 20 – The only reason that this is not a zero score is that the truth lies in the government mandating to the business your coverage versus giving an employer an option to reduce or eliminate benefits. A small business would not have an OPTION to not pay tax or insurance. Under the current bill small business would not have a right to choose a private plan. They would be able to choose only the Public healthcare exchange plans. The tax structure outlined for businesses with more than $250,000 of annual payroll exceeds the median amount that small employers currently pay for employee’s coverage. In many cases, it will more than triple the cost of coverage for their employees. It appears to be statistical certainty that many jobs will be lost from small business, especially in businesses with less than 10 employees.
Obama: (About who supports this bill) AMA, Big Pharma, and AARP
Truth-O-Meter Score: 100 – The AMA supports this because under the current structure of the bill, their reimbursements get increased. Big Pharma, although they are apparently giving back at least $80 billion over the next 10 years, they like it. AARP, the union of seniors because they will get preferential treatment, for now. If you include some oil drilling credits, you might get BIG OIL to join in support… I am concerned about who supports this. No business groups or commerce groups. Even the independent Congressional Budget Office says that “fully paid for” reference that President Obama calls for would not include nearly $250 billion of other costs.
( Is anyone else get the feeling that aligning with the AMA, AARP and Big Pharma is the political equivalent of voting in the U.N. with only North Korea, Venezuela and Iran?
Obama: It (the plan) will keep government out of health care decisions.
Truth-O-Meter Score: 0 – The public plan has the benefits committee to decide what will be covered, what can be done, and how much you pay. (Page 30-34 HR 3200)(Page 30-34 HR 3200) To be Clinton-esque, I guess we need to know what t “Government” means. If it means a White House Cabinet position that selects a committee to manage all aspects of care and cost, I think that means “government”.
OBAMA: The Current system does not provide incentives for you to take the Blue Pill at half the cost of the Red Pill.
Truth-O-Meter Score: 03 – Perhaps the biggest misrepresentation about the current system. This statement may have hurt his credibility since it is probably one of the few things that American’s with Rx Cards know about first hand. If the Blue Pill (generic) is ½ the cost of the Red Pill (name brand, or non-formulary) and you want the Red Pill, you the consumer pay 100% of the cost difference. Now, in most government plans, that penalty does not exist. In the VA or Medicare Part D just doesn’t’t offer the Red drug in any form. Guess what he meant by “incentive” is to “ban”.
Jake Tapper, Sr. White House Correspondent asked: What Sacrifices will the American People going to have to make aside from taxes? “You aren’t telling people about what they give up, like end of life care, tests and choice”… President Obama answered that people will have to give up paying for things they don’t need. He went on to say ‘Now it might be the right thing to take out kids tonsils, but we want the doctor to check for allergies. (Huh?) If the President believes that your doctor is about putting kids into surgery to get money, we have a problem.
If the government took over the now profitable banking industry (including Goldman Sachs), the oil industry and the insurance industry together, we could all have this healthcare at a low-low cost, no new taxes, Gasoline for $1.50 per gallon, and much lower interest rates. All in favor? NO, I hope.
Don’t be Against Healthcare Reform, be against HR 3200. Be against a government run health care plan that will take away your competitive choice and will outlawing your choice to get private health care.