Back on December 9th, in a post entitled “Fox Fair and Balanced” on Health Care Debate…..NOT!” I pointed out how the Fox News Network had deliberately tried to skew the national discussion on health care reform in such a way as to discredit the concept of a public option. Well just yesterday The Saint Petersburg Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning affiliate, PolitiFact.com published:”PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year: ‘A Government Takeover of Health Care”. This article pointed out how, when the facts are objectively analyzed, that for all of the rhetoric surrounding health care reform as being Socialist, it was in fact far from it .
Well with the health care debate behind us and with those facts on the table, the folks at PolitiFact’s.com have detailed the inaccuracies of this conservative claim, labeling it the political lie of 2010. This falsehood was second only to Michele Bachmann’s bizarrely absurd claim that Barack Obama’s trip to India would cost 200 Million Dollars a day. Politifact.com deconstructs the logic behind the argument that “ObamaCare” represents a “government takeover of health care” with the following facts:
“Government takeover” conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market:
Employers will continue to provide health insurance to the majority of Americans through private insurance companies.
Contrary to the claim, more people will get private health coverage. The law sets up “exchanges” where private insurers will compete to provide coverage to people who don’t have it.
The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors.
The law does not include the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would have competed with private insurers.
The law gives tax credits to people who have difficulty affording insurance, so they can buy their coverage from private providers on the exchange. But here too, the approach relies on a free market with regulations, not socialized medicine.
PolitiFact reporters have studied the 906-page bill and interviewed independent health care experts. We have concluded it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers.
It’s true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market.”
This very argument was raised last February when the renowned health care economist Uwe Reinhardt published an article entitled: “A Government Takeover of Health Care? Reinhardt came to the following conclusion: “A common refrain among critics of the health reform bills passed by the House and the Senate is that they constitute a “complete government takeover of 17 percent of the American economy.”How could this be so? Start with the $950 billion price tag over the next decade for federal subsidies toward the purchase of private health insurance. Divide that amount by $34 trillion, the current projection for total national health spending over the next decade even in the absence of health reform. You will get 2.8 percent. Does that, then, constitute a government takeover of our health system?” Reinhardt concluded that the proposed reforms at the time, while certainly representing a major intrusion by the Federal Government into the health care process, were necessary as the system was “wasteful and unwieldy” and “would require substantial intrusion of government into the system, as evidently the system cannot correct itself.”
Thus with the benefit of hindsight and with the 2010 elections where “ObamaCare” was certainly a topic of discussion now history, the question arises: To what extent have the American people been misled, if not outright bamboozled by the ultra right campaign against health care reform and it’s conflating of that topic with the conjured up “specter of creeping Socialism?” To my mind the conservative attack on health care reform fits very neatly into a pattern of history that stretches all the way back to Theodore Roosevelt’s first mention of the need for some type of national health care system. Since that time, health care reform has dovetailed neatly into more than one of the “red scares” that have accompanied this debate and that of progressive reform in general. Then like now, health care reform was seen as something that was tied to a decline of freedom in America and its replacement with that European import labeled “Socialism.” Remember how Ronald Reagan once told us that the enactment of Medicare would bring about the decline of freedom in America and how we would all one day tell our grandchildren what it was once like to live in a free country? And just like then, these claims have now been proven by facts to be far fetched at best and fictitious at the very worst. Thus have those Americans who bought into this rhetoric of fiction and fear become nothing more than the “useful idiots’ for those on the far right who have a vested interest in the status quo? Have they in so doing sacrificed their own best interests so as to avoid a “Socialist” threat that doesn’t even exist in today’s America? Or, have just so many Americans become fooled by the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as to be unable to distinguish fact from fantasy and what does that say about the future of American Democracy?
Steven J. Gulitti