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Health Care News Podcast: What’s Going to Happen at the Senate Tomorrow?

So what should we expect tomorrow morning on the Senate floor? Peter Fotos, The Heartland Institute’s director of government relations, did a pre-Christmas Eve interview with me hashing out where we stand. Give it a listen here.

One thing worth noting that we don’t discuss in the podcast is President Obama’s rather incredible series of interviews this week.  He has taken to friendly outlets — NPR, PBS, and the Washington Post — to answer questions about health care, and about how big of a gap exists between his promises and what the Senate and House are about to deliver. He gives us insights like this:

President Obama rejected the criticism that he has compromised too much in order to secure health-care reform legislation, challenging his critics to identify any “gap” between what he campaigned on last year and what Congress is on the verge of passing.

“Nowhere has there been a bigger gap between the perceptions of compromise and the realities of compromise than in the health-care bill,” Obama said in an Oval Office interview with The Washington Post about his legislative record this year. “Every single criteria for reform I put forward is in this bill.”

In the interview, Obama offered a vigorous defense of the legislation and the priorities he set out in shaping it, saying he is “not just grudgingly supporting the bill. I am very enthusiastic about what we have achieved.”

A couple of details to come, but first, this reaction: has President Obama read the legislation he’s discussing? If he has, is he out of his mind? There must be some more reasonable explanation here — did he accidentally read the wrong PDF? We’ve all done that at some point, there’s no shame in admitting it.

The assertion that “every single criteria for reform I put forward is in this bill” is the most jarring line, if only because no member of the Democratic rank and file in the House or Senate would honestly advance such an idea. Indeed, their internal talking points at the moment are all about how they can go back and change the bill — they’re using this method to assuage concerns from both the left and the center — and no one’s saying the bill to come (Pelosi and Reid mashup version 2.0) will be perfect, not even die-hard supporters.

Except, apparently, the President. He’s arguing that health care reform will reduce costs for individuals, businesses and government, deliver trillions in deficit reductions, not boost taxpayer funding for abortions, not raise taxes on those making under $250,000 a year, and about a half dozen other things (see a larger but by no means comprehensive list below). And that’s before you even get into the little promises along the way about price controls, improving quality of care, and bringing people together in a transparent and open process.

The national polls all illustrate that the American people do not want this plan — it is too little to satisfy the left, far too egregious to satisfy the center, and based on assumptions at war with everything the right stands for. But Barack Obama remains its biggest fan. Will Obama want to claim ownership of this reform as his legacy to the country after he’s out of office?  We’ll see — and we should know if he’s going to change his tune in the next two years, easily, as the economic ramifications become known — we’re about one year away from millions of seniors getting the letters letting them know Medicare Advantage is no more, and that is only the beginning.

Read more at Health Care News.

Promise: Transparency

“I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table.  We’ll have negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.”

Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama, Chester, Virginia, August 2008

Reid Bill Reality

“The first big fight over the Senate Finance Committee’s health care legislation erupted Tuesday night: a rollicking brawl over a deal that the Obama administration cut with the pharmaceutical industry…”

The New York Times, September 23, 2009

“But now, as a Senate vote on health-care legislation nears, those negotiations are occurring in a setting that is anything but revolutionary in Washington: Three senators are working on the bill behind closed doors.”

The Washington Post, October 18, 2009

“I would say to the Senator from Arizona that I’m in the dark almost as much as he is. And I’m in the leadership.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, Floor Remarks, December 12, 2009

“Senate Democratic leaders and White House officials met through the day with Mr. Nelson…”

The New York Times, December 19, 2009

Promise: Lower Costs for Families

“The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals. It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance for those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.”                                                

President Obama, Remarks To Joint Session of Congress, 9/9/09

Reid Bill Reality for Families

“The U.S. Senate’s healthcare bill would raise insurance premiums by at least 10 percent by 2016 for those independently buying coverage… the Congressional Budget Office said on Monday.”

Reuters, November 30, 2009

“Although CBO and JCT have not updated the estimates provided in that letter, the effects on premiums of the legislation incorporating the manager’s amendment would probably be quite similar.”

Congressional Budget Office, December 19, 2009

Promise: Lower Costs for Businesses

“The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals. It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance for those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.”

President Obama, Remarks To Joint Session of Congress, 9/9/09

Reid Bill Reality

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is short on savings and long on costs, is the wrong reform, at the wrong time and will increase healthcare costs and the cost of doing business.”

National Federation of Independent Businesses, December 8, 2009

In general, firms with more than 50 workers that did not offer coverage would have to pay a penalty of $750 for each full-time worker if any of their workers obtained

subsidized coverage through the insurance exchanges…”

Congressional Budget Office, December 19, 2009

“Requiring Employers To Offer Health Insurance—Or Pay A Fee If They Do Not—Is Likely To Reduce Employment…”

Congressional Budget Office, July 14, 2009

Promise: Lower Costs

“The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals. It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance for those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.”

President Obama, Remarks To Joint Session of Congress, 9/9/09

Reid Bill Reality

“Under the legislation, federal outlays for health care would increase during the 2010–

2019 period, as would the federal budgetary commitment to health care. The net increase

in that commitment would be about $200 billion…”

Congressional Budget Office, December 19, 2009

“In discussions with dozens of health-care leaders and economists, I find near unanimity of opinion that, whatever its shape, the final legislation that will emerge from Congress will markedly accelerate national health-care spending rather than restrain it.”

Dr. Jeffrey Flier, Harvard Medical School, November 17, 2009

“In aggregate, we estimate that for calendar years 2010 through 2019, [National Health Expenditures] would increase by $234 billion…”

Obama Administration Chief Actuary, December 10, 2009

Promise: Premiums

“I have made a solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”

Presidential Candidate Obama, Hartford, Connecticut, June 23, 2007

Reid Bill Reality

The average premiums would increase by $2,100 for a family policy in the individual market.

Congressional Budget Office, November 30, 2009

“Although CBO and JCT have not updated the estimates provided in that letter, the effects on premiums of the legislation incorporating the manager’s amendment would probably be quite similar.”

Congressional Budget Office, December 19, 2009

Promise: Deficits

“First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period.”

President Obama, Remarks To Joint Session of Congress, 9/9/09

Reid Bill Reality

“While the CBO said that both the House-passed bill and the one Reid has drafted meet Obama’s test by being budget-neutral, every expert I have talked to says that the public has it right. These bills, as they stand, are budget-busters.”

David Broder, The Washington Post, November 22, 2009

“And a steady two-thirds [66%] of Americans think the changes would increase the federal budget deficit.”

Washington Post/ABC News poll, December 15, 2009

Promise: Taxes

“I can make a firm pledge: under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase – not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

Presidential Candidate Obama, Dover, New Hampshire, September 12, 2008

In 2019, 41.2 million individuals and families or 25% of all tax returns under $200,000 will, on average, see their taxes go up.

Data from the Joint Committee on Taxation, 12/19/09

Promise: You Can Keep What You Have

Let me be exactly clear about what health care reform means to you… First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.  Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”

President Obama, Holmdel, New Jersey, July 16, 2009

Reid Bill Reality

“Between 8 million and 9 million other people who would be covered by an employment-based plan under current law would not have an offer of such coverage under the proposal.”

Congressional Budget Office, December 19, 2009

Promise: Choice Of Doctor and Plan

“Comprehensive health reform should… guarantee choice of doctors and health plans.”

The White House Health Care Website

Reid Bill Reality

Medicaid would be the only health care option for 50 million Americans under the Reid health care bill.

Congressional Budget Office, December 19, 2009

Promise: Medicare Benefits

“So don’t pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut… That will not happen on my watch.  I will protect Medicare.”

President Obama, Remarks To Joint Session Of Congress, 9/9/09

Reid Bill Reality

“Congress’ chief budget officer on Tuesday contradicted President Barack Obama’s oft-stated claim that seniors wouldn’t see their Medicare benefits cut under a health care overhaul…The head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, told senators that seniors in Medicare’s managed care plans could see reduced benefits…”

CBS News, September 23, 2009

“Providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries).”

Obama Administration Chief Actuary, December 10, 2009

Promise: Lawsuit Reform

“I want to work with the AMA so we can scale back the excessive defensive medicine that reinforces our current system, and shift to a system where we are providing better care simply — rather than simply more treatment.  So this is going to be a priority for me.”

President Obama, Remarks To The AMA, Chicago, IL, 6/15/09

Reid Bill Reality

The Reid bill includes only a Sense of the Senate and grants for “Demonstration Programs.”

Legislative language of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

S .Amdt 2786 To H.R. 3590, “Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act,” P. 1858

Page 344 of the Managers Amendment.

Promise: Taxpayer Dollars to Pay for Abortions

“No federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.”

President Obama, Remarks To Joint Session Of Congress, 9/9/09

Reid Bill Reality

“The new abortion language solves none of the fundamental abortion-related problems with the Senate bill, and it actually creates some new abortion-related problems.”

National Right to Life, December 19, 2009

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