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Howard Dean Is Right, This Is Not Health Care Reform



The Morning Bell
The Heritage Foundation
December 16, 2009

President Barack Obama yesterday hosted yet another health care pep rally to shore up liberal support for his health care bill. Obama’s “rally” followed Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) latest capitulation to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) health care demands, whereby Reid removed a Medicare expansion that Lieberman had initially supported. From the Roosevelt Room, Obama claimed Democrats were “on the precipice of an achievement that’s eluded congresses and presidents for generations.” But hours later, former Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told Vermont National Public Radio:

This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. And, honestly, the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill and go back to the House … You have the vast majority of Americans want the choices, they want real choices. They don’t have them in this bill. This is not health care reform and it’s not close to health care reform.

Later on MSNBC’s Countdown, Dean further responded to President Obama’s claims that “You talk to every healthcare economist out there and they will tell you that whatever ideas are — whatever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce costs for families, businesses and government, those elements are in this bill.” Dean told guest host Lawrence O’Donnell: “There is no cost control of any substance. … You’re going to be forced to buy health insurance from a company that is going to take on average of 27% of your money … and there is no choice about that. If you don’t buy that insurance you are going to get a fine.”

The President’s own Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) agrees with Dean and contradicts Obama. CMMS found that the Senate bill, instead of bending the cost curve down, actually drives health care costs up, adding $234 billion to national health expenditures. But the President’s fantastic claims did not end there. Obama then asserted: “And in terms of deficits — because we keep on hearing these ads about how this is going to add to the deficit — the CBO has said that this is a deficit reduction, not a deficit increase. So all the scare tactics out there, all the ads that are out there are simply inaccurate.”

But the President leaves out this all important caveat in the CBO’s report: “In the subsequent decade, the collective effect of its provisions would probably be small reductions in federal budget deficits if all of the provisions continued to be fully implemented.” But nobody believes that all of the provisions in the bill will be fully implemented. For example, the Senate bill includes a 20% cut in the payments Medicare sets for doctors. Nobody believes these cuts will be allowed to happen. By changing just that provision, Obamacare ends up adding $196 billion to the deficit in the first 10 years and $765 billion in the second decade.

The American people already do not trust President Obama’s health care claims. Just today, the Washington Post released a poll finding that 51% of adults oppose Obamacare, with 40% in strong opposition. Meanwhile only 44% support the bill with only 25% feeling strongly about it. Digging deeper we find that 66% of Americans believe Obamacare will increase the federal budget deficit, 53% believe it will cause their own health care to cost more, 55% believe it will increase the country’s health care costs overall, and 50% believe it will not improve their quality of care. These findings echo an earlier CNN poll which found that 61% of Americans opposed Obamacare, with 79% believing it would add to the deficit and 85% believing it would raise their taxes.

It has become obvious to any American following the debate that President Obama has adopted a get-a-deal-at-any-cost mentality that puts a higher priority on the political victory of passing any bill over the policy substance of what is actually in the bill and how it would effect the American people. As Dean told O’Donnell last night: “You can’t vote for a bill like this in good conscience. … It costs too much money. It isn’t health care reform. It isn’t even insurance reform.”


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The Public Health Insurance Option: Unfair Competition on a Tilting Field
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Article The Vicious Heart of ObamaCare
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