Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reality Check on the White House Reality Check

The White House has unveiled a new " Reality Check page at where people can go to "get the facts" on health care reform. I guess we know now why they were collecting all the "fishy" disinformation out on the internet. The page is a collection of videos meant to dispel specific myths that are being perpetuated by assorted fishy types all over the internets.

The MSM are out in full force giving the new site all the attention they can muster. Is the site a true "reality check" or merely "keeping it real?" I am going to go with the latter. This is a rehash of many of the same ineffective arguments that the White House has trotted out over the last several weeks to no avail. Why they would believe this new format should make the sudden difference, is unclear.

Pat at And so it goes in Shreveport does a nice job arguing there is less reality check and much more politics as usual in these videos. Keith Hennessey gets a bit feisty and sends an email to Linda Douglass to report the "fishy" statements coming from the "rabble rousers" in the Ford Office Building. The suspicious mob at the CBO have done the unthinkable in pointing out none of the legislation currently proposed does anything to "bend down costs" over time.

Kavita Patel assistant to Senior Advisor Valerie Jarret, attempts to address rumors that government health care will increase rationing. At :38 Dr. Patel makes the statement health care is already rationed by insurance companies. This seems rather contradictory to the President's statement at his July 22nd Press Conference that doctors take out tonsils willy nilly because they can make more money. The President has also suggested taxing gold plated insurance plans that encourage over-usage of medical services, thereby driving up costs through inflation, as a means of cost control. If the insurance plans give open access to medical services drive up costs, how can a government plan that claims it will put a stop to rationing possibly drive down costs?

At :55 Dr Patel reiterates the President's "overpromise" that if you like your health care program and your doctor you can keep them. Keith Hennessey shows this is not a true statement for 10,000,000 if they were covered under the Kennedy Dodd bill:
Under the Kennedy-Dodd bill, that is not true for 10 million people. And the same will be true for any other bill that levels the playing field between employer-based and individually-purchased health insurance, which means any bill that offers subsidies to buy insurance outside of your job. You cannot avoid this problem. The mistake is not the unavoidable policy consequence. The mistake was making a Presidential promise that cannot be kept.
Jake Tapper notes the President continues to reiterate this promise despite a walk back on the promise in June:
But last month, as the president acknowledged during a press conference, he doesn’t literally mean that you are guaranteed to be able to keep your health care plan, and your doctor, if and when health care reform passes.

Patel repeats the President's overpromise as proof government doesn't want to take over your health care, then states "the notion the government will interfere with what you have, is really laughable." It is really the notion that government intervention will have no consequence on individual citizens that is laughable.

The video then segues to a clip of the President mocking the letters from citizens who state they don't want a Canadian style health care plan or a government plan, but at the same time demand that he doesn't touch their Medicare. Of course Medicare is a government plan but that in and of itself does not preclude expanded involvement in the health care industry by government. The President is repeating this same anecdote right now in his televised town hall in New Hampshire. He suggests that if the government does something right in health care why wouldn't they be able to do the same good by protecting consumers from insurers. While this sounds fine on its face, the notion that the only way the government can protect consumers from insurers is by expanding its role and becoming a competitor to the insurers is absurd. Greg Mankiw, in a post on August 6 links to a prescient paper by current dean of Harvard Medical School Jeffrey Flier that outlines the numerous ways government intervention and involvement in the health care industry has led to most of our current problems in health care. Further government intervention can certainly do more damage.

Finally, the President himself has said that he is a proponent of universal health care though we might not get there immediately:

Are the ideas that the current proposed reforms will not lead to a government takeover of health care really so laughable? It sure doesn't look that way to me.

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