During his health care speech last night, President Obama incorrectly guaranteed that no public money would go toward abortion, and that illegal immigrants could not get coverage under his plan. He cannot make either promise, based on the existing legislation.
Obama also made the deeply misleading promise that “not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan.” Of course it won't. That's because the Medicare Trust Fund is already running an operating deficit and will do so indefinitely, according to last year's report from its trustees. Every single dime of the fund, plus some, is going to pay Medicare claims, leaving nothing for any other purpose. It's as if he just promised that no one will ever get lost in Belgium by driving across the Brooklyn Bridge. As a promise to senior citizens, it is meaningless, deceptive and disingenuous. He still plans to cut Medicare expenditures by half a trillion dollars over ten years, and it's anyone's guess whether he can do that without significantly affecting seniors' care.
The president also said that 14,000 people lose their insurance each day. By his math, 15 million more Americans will lose their insurance before his bill goes into effect in 2013, an increase of 50 percent. Really?
More to the heart of the matter, though, Obama continues to conflate cause with effect as he presents a the rationale for his proposal.
A major reason for the increase in medical costs is the fact that Medicare and Medicaid, which are unsustainable financially in their own right, underpay for most services, forcing the doctors that treat their patients to gouge private insurers in order to make up the difference. President Obama mentioned a $1,000 annual “tax” of sorts that uninsured people cause others to pay in increased medical costs. Medicare and Medicaid, through underpayments, actually impose a $1,788 annual “tax” on health care for the privately insured.
Under HR 3200, the House Democratic plan, the government-run public option health plan would pay the same Medicare rates that already make care more expensive for non-Medicare patients. If this were to become law, then Obama's public option plan would exacerbate the problem by expanding the underpayments.