Campaigning for his health care plan yesterday, President Barack Obama told a Green Bay, Wisconsin audience: “Right now a number of my Republican friends have said, ‘We can’t support anything with a public option.’ It’s not clear that it’s based on any evidence as much as it is their thinking, their fear, that somehow once you have a public plan that government will take over the entire health care system.” In fact, the opposite is true. It is President Obama who is operating on rhetoric without any evidence to back up his claims. Consider the following four themes crucial to Obama’s argument:
1. You will be able to keep your doctor and health insurance if you want.
On the contrary an independent analysis has shown that up to 119 million Americans could lose the coverage they have today under a Medicare like public plan. The whole notion that a public plan would help increase competition defies common sense. For one thing, the government cannot create a level playing field between its own plan and private plans. It would be like an umpire at a baseball game also fielding a team. The playing field will always tilt towards the government plan that would eventually run out. And that is the whole point of the public plan. Just ask public plan architect Jacob Hacker: “Someone once said to me this is a Trojan Horse for single-payer, and I said, well it’s not a Trojan Horse, right? It’s just right there.”
2. You will have the choice of buying health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress.
During the campaign, President Obama continued to tell people that his plan would give the same coverage offered to Members of Congress through the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP). First, there is no public plan in FEBHP. Second, there is no “one-size-fits-all plan” in FEBHP. The plans offered vary by price, benefit and region. As a matter of fact there are over 250 plans offered through FEBHP including at least a dozen national plans that are available wherever you live. Under the President’s planned version of an “exchange” and detailed in congressional plans, the federal government would have unprecedented control over the type of coverage Americans can buy resulting in a “one-size-fits-all” federal standard which would limit choices for families and weaken incentives for insurers to compete for enrollees based on value.
3. No government bureaucrat will second guess decisions about your care.
Nobody wants to get between a person and their doctor, yet President Obama wants to establish a Federal Health Board — a Supreme Court of health care that would micromanage the practice of medicine through “best practices” and “comparative effectiveness.” Ironically, the examples the President pointed out yesterday of high quality, low cost care systems would probably not exist today if the government were involved in it. The federal bureaucracy would destroy innovation and change would be slow to come by. So, in twenty years the American health care system would be stuck (again) in an outdated 2000 health care model.
4. American families will save money
The President’s health plan is estimated to cost $1.6 Trillion over 10 years. He plans to pay for some of it with “savings.” Unfortunately, these “savings” are unproven and untested. Even the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) – the score keeper for cost and savings – doesn’t appear to have much faith in these savings. And what has been the reaction from the left in Congress? Instead of embracing objective evidence on health care reform, they are trying to find ways around it, with some in Congress threatening to scrap the CBO’s cost estimate of the Obama plan and instead go with the White House’s own cost estimates.
Closing his remarks yesterday, President Obama said: “To those who criticize our efforts, I ask, “What is the alternative? What else do we say to all those families who now spend more on health care than housing or food?” There is an alternative. A patient centered alternative that keeps health care decisions between doctors and patients instead of centralizing power in Washington. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has a bill, the Patient’s Choice Act, and he recently took questions from Americans across the country on a 45 minute conference call. Listen to what real health care reform sounds like, here.
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