In the battle of health care messaging yesterday, groups opposed to the government takeover of health care were shut out of the so-called discussion that the White House was having with itself on ABC. Hosted by Americans for Tax Reform and the Media Research Center, these groups held a forum to have an actual open discussion and even held chairs open for the invited but no-show House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). But the Democrat definition of a discussion is they talk and bar you from doing anything but listening.
I asked both Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), the Republican Study Committee chairman and a former orthopedic surgeon, if they would comment on the President’s statement at his press conference this week suggesting the government would have to be doing something right if the public option could crowd private insurance out of the market.
(“If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care, if they tell us that they’re offering a good deal, then why is it that the government — which they say can’t run anything — suddenly is going to drive them out of business?” Obama said. “That’s not logical.”)
“That simply isn’t the case,” Price said. “If employers across this land, because of the regulatory environment… had the opportunity to say get me out from under this incredibly arduous burden the federal government puts on me, just because I am trying to provide health coverage for my employees, please get me out from under it, and there is a ready alternative that the feds are running, then tell me what employer in his right mind would say — ‘Oh, no I don’t want to do that.’ They would say take that headache off my plate. It is just phenomenal fantasy to believe that the federal government won’t crowd out private industry and end private health insurance as we know it.”
“I had a car company in my office the other day who is not currently owned by the federal government,” DeMint said. “They said, ‘Okay, GMAC has received 10 billion dollars from the federal government; they are offering five-year no interest loans to buy their car. How can we compete with that without government money?’ Is the government crowding them out? You are darn right they are.”
“What is going to happen with a government plan, first of all they won’t pay doctors enough to meet their costs, so doctors have to charge private insurers more,” DeMint continued. “Someone who is getting their healthcare through an employer will probably pay less with a government plan, because its subsidized by taxpayers. So you will begin to see private policies dry up, because employers will say, ‘I don’t want to do this, go get your health insurance from the government.’”
“This administration believes the American people are stupid,” DeMint concluded. “They will sit there and say while we are recording 1.9 million jobs lost, they will say with a straight face, we have saved or created 150,000 jobs. They think we are stupid. They think you do not know that government does not work well, that the same people who cleaned up after Katrina can really run your health care with that personal touch that we all love. They think you are stupid, they think you are not paying attention, and they think that the media is stupid and won’t report this.”
New Independent Study: $3.5 Trillion Price Tag on Democrat Health Care Bill
At the Ways & Means hearing yesterday on the Democrat’s Orwellian-named “2009 Affordable Health Choices Act,” Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) introduced a new, independent study done by the HIS Network, a non-partisan, independent health care research firm that has worked with research universities, the federal government and the private sector. HIS estimates the Democrats’ health care bill would result in a whopping $3.5 trillion in new government spending. The study also predicts that 64 million Americans would lose their current health care coverage under the bill.
“The President should not back away from his pledge that the American people will be able to keep their health care insurance if they like it — Republicans want to help him keep that promise,” Camp said. “But under this bill, one out of every three Americans under the age of 65 will lose their private health insurance. We need to strengthen and improve our health care system, not destroy it.”
At the hearing, I had a chat in the hallway with Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a former heart surgeon with 20 years of clinical experience. I asked him about the hearing and the impact the Democrat bill would have on practicing physicians.
“The American public deserves an open debate on health care, and we’re not getting that right now,” Boustany said. “The government option as it is being proposed is going to impose Medicare rates. Many physicians will choose not to participate in that. Medicare rates do not cover costs.”
“The problem will be trying to get a provider network in place to even administer the health care that’s needed,” Boustany added. “We already have physician shortages and that’s going to get worse and it’s going to hurt access. Same thing with hospitals. Some rural hospitals are going to close, and even some urban hospitals will close, and this will further hinder access. These are issues that are not being addressed by the Democrats. They’re glossing over it. Every single witness has glossed over this fact. What you’re seeing is an attempt to paint a one-size-fits-all picture that they’re trying to ram through. And it’s wrong.”