Critical Condition

Obama’s Health-Care Rhetoric Divorced from Reality

The sad truth is that President Obama’s health-care rhetoric is so divorced from reality that you can’t believe anything he says about his health overhaul scheme.

Yesterday at his town hall in New Hampshire, he said that AARP has endorsed his health plan. But just the night before an AARP spokesman said on national television that the organization has not endorsed that plan. That, however, has not stopped Obama from continuing to cite them as supporters.

Obama also keeps publicly insisting that his health plan does not involve any cuts in Medicare. But the specified financing for the plan in the pending legislation and scored by CBO includes precisely $500 billion in Medicare cuts with that money diverted to financing his national health plan. Obama wants to rely on that in claiming his health overhaul is paid for, but when challenged on it he wants to deny that he is doing it.

Obama also continues to claim that his plan will reduce federal spending and deficits. But the CBO has scored it as raising federal spending by $1–1.5 trillion, with hundreds of billions in increased deficits. That official CBO score should have ended the matter, but Obama continues to make false claims in the face of this reality.

Similarly, Obama is sticking to his rhetoric that if you like your current insurance plan you can keep it, and if you like your current doctor you can keep him or her. But as I explain in my new study for the Heartland Institute that is not true. That decision will be out of your hands, with powerful new incentives for your employer to drop your coverage, your insurance company to go out of business, and even your doctor to drop you. If you like the coverage and service you get from a Medicare Advantage health plan, that is under assault under the Obama health plan as well.

Finally, all those folks saying that there is nothing about government health-care rationing in the bills are misleading you or don’t know what they are talking about. The rationing begins with the sharp underpayment of doctors, hospitals, and other health providers under the public-option government health-insurance plan. Any authorization in the bills for government bureaucracies to make decisions about cost effectiveness in health care or what health care works and what doesn’t provides a further basis for government health-care rationing. Top Obama White House health policy advisors Ezekial Emanuel and Michael Blumenthal have also written extensively in the health-policy literature about the social desirability of government health-care rationing. Until any of the above mentioned provisions are removed from the pending health overhaul legislation, and these policy advisors are dismissed, don’t let anyone tell you that the Obama health plan does not involve government health-care rationing.

– Peter Ferrara is Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy at the Institute for Policy Innovation.  His study “The Obama Health Plan: Rationing, Higher Taxes and Lower Quality Care” appears at www.heartland.org. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as associate deputy attorney general of the United States under the first President Bush.