Last night, ABC News aired ‘Questions for the President: Prescription for America‘ designed to be a town hall for doctors, patients and health care experts to ask President Obama challenging questions on his health care proposals. Many Americans protested before the program aired, in self-described “waiting rooms,” to challenge a perceived notion that ABC was simply giving the President one hour of prime time television to sell his program without an opposing view. Conservative Members of Congress gathered on Capitol Hill during the hour to showcase their health reform plans at an event organized by Americans for Tax Reform, including Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), a former physician who said “[i]f the fourth estate continues to be in the tank [for the Obama administration], it would endanger the future of the nation.”
The Heritage Foundation decided to be a part of the discussion and was granted two invites to the event by ABC News. Vice President for Domestic and Economic Studies, Stuart Butler, and Nina Owcharenko, Deputy Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies, were at the White House hoping to engage the President on issues such as his plan for a massive government health care system, or exactly how he was planning on paying for his proposals. According to Stuart Butler, “ABC News promised a tough town hall meeting but delivered a White House infomercial.”
Nina Owcharenko said: “The stage-managed nature of the meeting, and preventing tough follow-up questions, meant President Obama could talk around the issues raised about his proposal, rather than really answering them.” In fact, some of the audience members did have tough questions, including Dr. Orrin Devinsky who led off by asking the President if he would sacrifice the health of his own family by putting them in a government plan.
The President said, “If it’s my family member, it’s my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care. But here’s the problem that we have in our current health care system, is that there is a whole bunch of care that’s being provided that every study, every bit of evidence that we have indicates may not be making us healthier.” In other words, the Doctor-in-Chief believes that the government could, in fact, make better decisions about health care than you and your doctor. Of course, he evaded answering whether he and his family would ever live under such a public plan.
Later, in the Nightline hour, after most viewers had gone to sleep, ABC finally got around to asking the President about his public plan. Up until a week ago, the President was adamant that anyone who wanted to stay in their current plan could and would. Shortly after Heritage President Ed Feulner delivered an Open Letter debunking this myth, the White House began to walk back this claim, continuing to do so last night.
First, the President told Christopher Bean in the audience “If you’re happy with your plan, as I said, you keep it.” Then he said that a public plan wouldn’t create an unlevel playing field because the plan itself would have to play by the rules it sets. Got that?
Stuart Butler said “President Obama continued to argue that if a public plan does well against private insurers, that’s just what competition is about, but if the government sets up a plan where it can drive down payment to doctors and hospitals, force doctors to join its plan on its terms, have Congress rig the rules of competition to favor its plan, and not have to balance its books – Medicare has $32 trillion in unfunded commitments – then I suppose it can do ‘well’ in a competition with private plans.”
When specifically asked whether millions of people would be dumped into a public plan because their employers were incentivized to drop private coverage, he introduced a new concept: “firewalls.” This is where the government would decide which “large employers” had to pay more into the system, and who could and couldn’t join this great new plan. So, of course, millions would be dumped into government-run health care, but he would design a system to pick winners and losers to slow the drain.
The President argued last night that the “status quo” wasn’t good enough. This is the new talking point of the left. Before, they argued there weren’t any alternatives, but then realized Congressional Republicans were the only ones with a complete proposal in the public domain. Now they argue that if you don’t want massive government intervention, you must be in favor of no change at all. In fact, the Heritage Foundation has been leading the charge for substantive health care reform for decades, and we wish we’d had the opportunity last night to share with him some of our ideas. For now, he’ll just have to visit www.FixHealthCarePolicy.com to learn better ways to provide quality care to all Americans.
- ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Karen Travers said the President “struggled to explain…whether his health care reform proposals would force normal Americans to make sacrifices that wealthier, more powerful people — like the president himself — wouldn’t face.”
- Yesterday, North Korea threatened to wipe the United States off the map, as they prepare to launch a series of missiles in the coming weeks. The Pentagon dismissed such talk as “silliness.”
- In response to North Korea’s threats against Hawaii, the U.S. has deployed missile defense systems to the region, while simultaneously proposing major cuts to the missile defense program.
- Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) has again asked Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to relax recently tightened mortgage loan standards.
- Morning Bell and Foundry Editor Conn Carroll and his wife Wendi celebrated the birth of their daughter Kathryn Emma Carroll yesterday. Congratulations to Conn, Wendi, and big brother Owen.