Incorrect statements by Obama about Health Care
• "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.