THE DAILY BLADE: Obama’s Healthcare Speech: Same Old, Same Old
Skipping over all the flowery bits at the beginning and end of President Barack Hussein Obama’s 48-minute long address to a joint session of Congress on healthcare, what's left is:
§ Disingenuousness (“We spend one-and-a-half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren't any healthier for it” and “The reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally”);
§ Obfuscation “The public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects,” “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits” and “The plan … will cost around $900 billion over ten years”;
§ Partisanship (“Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics” and “ … bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost”);
§ And - most maddeningly, at this stage - vagueness “There remain some significant details to be ironed out” and “If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open”).
In other words, other words, nothing new. Obama has clearly turned a deaf ear to the thousands of Americans who attended town hall meetings last month and tried to communicate their concerns – sometimes at the top of their lungs.
Here’s what Obama said last night – and what The Stiletto was muttering under her breath:
Obama: [I]f you're one of the tens of millions of Americans who don't currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. … We will do this by creating a new insurance exchange – a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. …
[I]n 34 states, 75% of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies. In Alabama, almost 90% is controlled by just one company. Without competition, the price of insurance goes up and the quality goes down.
The Stiletto: Couldn’t you foster competition more easily and less intrusively simply by allowing Americans to buy insurance across state lines?
Obama: [T]hose of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it – about $1000 per year that pays for somebody else's emergency room and charitable care. …
Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those - particularly the young and healthy - who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers. … [U]nless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek – especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions – just can't be achieved.
That's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance - just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. Likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers. There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still cannot afford coverage, and 95% of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements.
The Stiletto: Under your plan? What plan that? The one that you are keeping your door open for, waiting until Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid walk into the Oval Office and hand to you on a silver platter? At this late date, Americans expected you to roll up your sleeves and hammer out specifics with legislators from both sides of the aisle. But, as usual, you put the cart before the horse and held a joint session of Congress to sell a plan that’s still on the drawing board.
Plus, just as people who do not own a motor vehicle are not required to buy auto insurance, people who are young and healthy should not be required to buy health insurance. Unless they are indigent or illegal, “we” don’t pay for ER visits by the uninsured; they typically pay their own way out of pocket. In 2003 the average expense for an ER visit for people between the ages of 45 to 64 was $832. That’s significantly cheaper than a bells-and-whistles health insurance plan. At most, young people or those who have not yet developed chronic disease risk factors would need catastrophic coverage to cover the cost of cancer treatment or severe traumatic injury.
And, if 95 percent of small businesses will be exempted from having to cover their employees, poor people will be not required to buy health insurance and “less than [sic] 5% of Americans would sign up” then how can the public insurance option “be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects”?
Obama: Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims … that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. …
[T]he reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place. …
I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need. …
[T]his plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud … And we will also create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead.
The Stiletto: You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth (or, as Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) famously put it, “You lie!”). Assuming you can even put a dollar figure on Medicare fraud (by one estimate, $60 billion) – and thus will know when all of it has been identified and wrung out of the system – how will your independent commission define “waste” in the years ahead? The way Ezekiel Emanuel does – that it’s a “waste” to treat infants and the elderly with advanced procedures and expensive medications? That is a “death panel,” no matter how furiously you dance around it.
How will you ensure that illegal or forged documented aliens are not availing themselves of medical care and coverage to which they are not entitled? There is nothing in the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200) to dissuade them, or to check citizenship status of those who want to sign up for the public option – which 83 percent of voters said they wanted in a recent Rasmussen poll.
Finally, what’s in the bill is less important than how the legislation is translated into regulations – regulations that will be written by faceless bureaucrats guided by your radical (third item on page), unvetted, and unaccountable czars. When all is said and done, illegal aliens will get taxpayer-subsidized health insurance and abortion will be paid for by taxpayers as well.
Obama: I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. … I just want to hold them accountable. The insurance reforms that I've already mentioned would do just that. But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Let me be clear – it would only be an option for those who don't have insurance. …
The public option is only a means to that end – and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. …
[A] strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I've proposed tonight.
[S]ome have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others propose a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring.
The Stiletto: According to a recent Rasmussen poll, just 32 percent of voters nationwide favor a single-payer health care system. Not too long ago, you were “a proponent” (video link) of a single-payer universal health care plan, and were very interested in putting insurance companies out of business.
As for the public option, you’re not being clear – is it an integral part of a plan you want Congress to craft, or only a means to an end? You can’t have it both ways.
Obama: [L]et me discuss an issue that is a great concern to me, to members of this chamber, and to the public – and that is how we pay for this plan. …
[T]here will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don't materialize.
Second, we've estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system – a system that is currently full of waste and abuse.
Finally, many in this chamber – particularly on the Republican side of the aisle – have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. … I know that the Bush Administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these issues. It's a good idea, and I am directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today.
This is the plan I'm proposing. It's a plan that incorporates ideas from many of the people in this room tonight – Democrats and Republicans.
The Stiletto: How can you ensure that Congress won’t waive any spending restrictions? You can’t – and won’t, given your failure to rein in
If you were serious about tort reform, it would be included in the bill now – not as a separate piece of legislation if the demonstration projects create appreciable cost savings. Why couldn’t you also launch demonstration projects to remove fraud and waste from the system, and to test an insurance marketplace or a government-funded plan before enshrining these unproven concepts in legislation?
Finally, these are the broad outlines of a plan you are proposing, it’s not “the plan.” The American people are still waiting to know what is in “the plan” and how you will pay for it.
Oh, and BTW, though you claim that “our overall efforts have been supported by an unprecedented coalition of doctors and nurses; hospitals, seniors' groups and even drug companies,” several doctors in Congress do not support “your” plan, one of whom – Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), a cardiac surgeon – presented the Republican response to your address.