The health care reform post

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on March 17, 2010

Fox News’ Bret Baier today did the best interview of President Obama any journalist has done since he first began running for president when he was in college. Unlike the sycophants in the rest of the mainstream media, Baier repeatedly returned to questions that Obama failed to answer the first time as he went off on tangents and filibustered.

At the so-called “Health Care Summit,” Rep. Paul Ryan challenged President Obama on the double-counting of a $500 million cut from Medicare that the president claimed both would be used for other programs and helped the long-run fiscal solvency of that program. In response, Obama avoided the question.

Today, Baier wouldn’t be so easily turned aside.

BAIER: Mr. President, you said Monday that you praised the Congressional Budget Office numerous times. You also said this, this proposal makes Medicare stronger — and you just said it to me here —

OBAMA: Right.

BAIER: — it makes coverage better, it makes its finances more secure, and anyone who says otherwise is misinformed or is trying to misinform you.

OBAMA: Right.

BAIER: The CBO has said specifically that the $500 billion that you say that you're going to save from Medicare is not being spent in Medicare. That this bill spends it elsewhere outside of Medicare. So you can't have both.

OBAMA: Right.

BAIER: You either spend it on expenditures or you make Medicare more solvent. So which is it?

OBAMA: Here's what it does. On the one hand what you're doing is you're eliminating insurance subsidies within Medicare that aren't making anybody healthier but are fattening the profits of insurance companies. Everybody agrees that that is not a wise way to spend money. Now, most of those savings go right back into helping seniors, for example, closing the donut hole.

When the previous Congress passed the prescription drug bill, what they did was they left a situation which after seniors had spent a certain amount of money, suddenly they got no help and they were stuck with the bill. Now that's a pretty expensive proposition fixing that. It wasn't paid for at the time that that bill was passed. So that money goes back into Medicare, both to fix the donut hole, lower premiums.

All those things are important, but what's also happening is each year we're spending less on Medicare overall and as consequence, that lengthens the trust fund and it's availability for seniors.

BAIER: Your chief actuary for Medicare said this, that cuts in Medicare: "cannot be simultaneously used to finance other federal outlays and extend the trust fund." That's your guy.

OBAMA: No — and what is absolutely true is that this will not solve our whole Medicare problem. We're still going to have to fix Medicare over the long term.

BAIER: But it's $38 trillion in the hole.

OBAMA: Absolutely, and that's the reason that we're going to have to — that's the reason I put forward a fiscal commission based on Republicans and Democratic proposals, to make sure that we have a long-term fix for the system. The key is that this proposal doesn't weaken Medicare, it makes it stronger for seniors currently who are receiving it. It doesn’t solve that big structural problem, Bret. Nobody's claiming that this piece of legislation is going to solve every problem that's been there for decades. What it does do is make sure that the trust fund is not going to be going bankrupt in seven years, according to their accounting rules —

BAIER: So you don't buy —

OBAMA: — and in the meantime —

BAIER: — the CBO or the actuary that you can't have it both ways?


BAIER: That you can't spend the money twice?

OBAMA: — no, what is absolutely true and what I do agree with is that you can't say that you are saving on Medicare and then spend the money twice. What you can say is that we are going to take these savings, put them back to make sure that seniors are getting help on the prescription drug bill instead of that money going to, for example, insurance reform, and —

So, after all that flailing like a fish on a line, Obama kinda sorta concedes that if you’re filling the Medicare prescription drug donut hole, then you’re not making the trust fund more solvent.

The other comical exchange was when Obama claimed that everyone knows what’s in the bill, but at the same time couldn’t tell Baier whether special deals for Connecticut, Montana and various other states were still in the bill.

For those who are interested, you can see the video after the break.

For an idea of just how dishonest this entire takeover of the health care system is, I present to you an AP fact check.

Buyers, beware: President Barack Obama says his health care overhaul will lower premiums by double digits, but check the fine print.

Premiums are likely to keep going up even if the health care bill passes, experts say. If cost controls work as advertised, annual increases would level off with time. But don't look for a rollback. Instead, the main reason premiums would be more affordable is that new government tax credits would help cover the cost for millions of people.

That’s right, premiums only become more affordable because the government subsidizes them. Where does the government get the money for the subsidies?


If you think the government is going to get sufficient tax money for this by focusing on “the rich” making more than $250,000 a year, then I’ve got some oceanfront property to sell you in Kansas.

Finally, I’d like to re-emphasize two points.

First, just because you don’t have health insurance, doesn’t mean you can’t get health care. If you’re uninsured and you break your arm or you’re throwing up blood, there isn’t an emergency room in the nation that will turn you away.

Second, just because you have health insurance doesn’t mean you’ll get health care. Waiting lists and rationing are hallmarks of the Canadian and British health care systems and you’d be a bit of a fool to think that if we were to adopt a similar system, that those undesirable aspects wouldn’t come with it.

If you’re willing to trade the former for the latter, at least be honest about what the system is now and what you’ll be getting.

On a related note, doctors think health insurance companies are a pain. Doctors also think the government is worse and appear to be on the verge of “going Galt” if Obama’s plan passes.

4 comments on “The health care reform post”

  1. This is great. I watched the interview, but this helps me tremendously. You put into words exactly what I thought. Keep it up, we need journalist like you to help us wade through the filth they are trying to sell us witha smile.

  2. While Baier did a tough interview, I felt he focused too much on the process behind the bill, and did not get into some of the more substantive issues with the legislation. I would have liked to hear him ask Obama about the constitutionality of requiring citizens to purchase health care (with, if necessary, the obvious difference with states requiring auto insurance); about the timing of increasing taxes by $500 Billion when we are at 10% unemployment/20% underemployment; effect on doctors reimbursement rates that could cause them to go out of business; etc. By focusing so much on process, he framed the question not as whether or not the bill should passed, but only how it should pass.

    Having said that, it was refreshing to see a reporter asking some tough questions of this president, and not treating him entirely with kid gloves.

  3. JD,

    By highlighting the absurdity of the process, the flaws of the whole "health-care reform" legislation become obvious. Looking at this from 30,000 feet, it is remarkable. The Dems have huge majorities in both chambers of Congress and the Presidency. They have mangled the rules of Congress to their advantage. Yet, they still may not get this thing done, and the reason is that people, including a significant percentage of Democrats, know that this bill is a disaster.

    The US healthcare system, as currently constructed, does indeed suck. However, what has been proposed will virtually ensure that the US will have an inferior system for many years to come, and with less wealth-generation to ease the pain. Europe here we come.

  4. Bruce,

    You are preaching to the choir hear. Yes the process is ugly. Yes there need to be effective changes to the arcane system we have in the US. However, the point I was trying to make was that if the discussion only becomes about process, then we are ignoring specifically why this particularly piece of legislation is so bad. I personally do not have time to read all 2,700 pages of the Senate Bill, and whatever number of pages in the so called reconciliation legislation, but neither do most people. This bill alone would add two or three volumes to the U.S. Code, which is already about 100 physical volumes long (about two volumes per Title),and would eventually add about 5 Volumes worth to the Code of Federal Regulations for the various agencies that would be involved. The few pieces of information that we do hear are scary (e.g. requiring citizens to purchase health insurance), but what is in the remaining 2,700 pages? If disgust with the process gets some Democrats to vote against it, that is all well and good, but to put substantive issues completely on the back burner, in my opinion, is a mistake.


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March 2010



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