Video: Sebelius’ double talk on public plan

posted at 4:05 pm on June 17, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Another gem from the guys at Verum Serum. The video has been up before, but it’s even better after hearing from Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today. She tried denying that a public-plan option would serve as a stalking horse for single-payer nationalization of health care, but in 2007, she sang a different tune:

In 2007, Sebelius explains that the US can’t just change to a single-payer system without a way to “close the gap” and move gradually to it. Today, though, she tells the AP that the public plan isn’t designed to do that:

In an interview with The Associated Press, Sebelius said that President Barack Obama does not want to drive health insurers out of business, but make them more competitive by offering working families and small businesses the option of a public plan without the high overhead costs of marketing, administration and profits. …

The idea of a public plan has drawn sharp opposition from the insurance industry, which sees it as a step toward a government-run system like in Canada or the United Kingdom. Business groups, doctors and hospitals also have concerns. Republicans have made the issue the cornerstone of their opposition to Obama’s health care push. And while liberals enthusiastically support a government plan, conservative Democrats are leery.

Sebelius said that Obama is not trying to run insurers out of town.

The notion that a public option “is really the stalking horse” for a government-run system “is not accurate,” Sebelius said.

Er, sure, except that Sebelius herself championed that very approach.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal notices the Democrats shifting positions on competitiveness:

Democrats have spent years arguing that corporate tax rates don’t matter to U.S. competitiveness. But all of a sudden one of their favorite arguments for government-run health care has become . . . U.S. corporate competitiveness. Political conversions on this scale could use a little scrutiny. …

A recent study from none other than the White House Council of Economic Advisers notes exactly this point: If medical spending continues to accelerate, it expects take-home pay to stagnate. According to the New York Times, White House economic aide Larry Summers pressured CEA chairman Christine Romer to make the competitiveness argument, “adding that it was among the political advisers’ favorite ‘talking points.’” Ms. Romer pointedly retorted, “I’m not going to put schlocky arguments in there.” How the schlock gets into Mr. Obama’s speeches is a different question.

It’s certainly true that the U.S. employer-based insurance system can dampen entrepreneurial spirits. There’s the “job lock” phenomenon, in which employees fear leaving a less productive job because they’re afraid to lose their health benefits. Another problem is that insurance costs more for small groups than the large risk pools that big corporations assemble, meaning that it’s harder to form new businesses that can offer policies. But all this is really an argument for developing the individual health insurance market, where policies would follow workers, not jobs.

As for the competitiveness line, it’s nonsense for most companies. The exceptions are heavily unionized businesses like auto makers that have locked themselves in to gold-plated coverage, especially for retirees. They have a harder time adjusting health costs and wages. Other companies might get a bit more running room in the short run if government assumed all health costs a la the single-payer systems of Western Europe. But over time the market would clear — compensation being determined by the demand for and supply of labor — and wages would rise. Or they might not rise at all if health-care costs are merely replaced by the tax increases necessary to finance Mr. Obama’s new multi-trillion-dollar entitlement.

Besides, as the WSJ notes in another article, the Democrats plan on taxing businesses to pay for ObamaCare:

In the House, Democrats are putting off public release of their financing plans, but have begun discussions. Among the options under consideration: a levy on upper-income individuals, or claiming revenue that would be raised when the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy begin to expire. Another option is curbing a tax break that lets companies defer or postpone taxes on their foreign income.

Obama has already announced his intention to pursue the latter tax increase.  How, exactly, does that make US-based corporations more competitive? Answer: it doesn’t.

It’s not just Sebelius that doesn’t know the meaning of the word competition.


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P.S. Are you insured?

bluelightbrigade on June 17, 2009 at 4:56 PM

AnninCA loves her Kaiser plan. In fact, she is certain that the public option will be just like her current Kaiser plan.

myrenovations on June 17, 2009 at 5:01 PM

Frankly, my healthcare is great. We buy our health coverage through my husband’s employer. I get into see my doctor and specialists with ease. All surgeries I have had have been covered and were performed in a very timely manner.

If I had my way, I’d keep mine just the way it is.

pullingmyhairout on June 17, 2009 at 5:01 PM

Can’t wish Kaiser on anyone. They mis-diagnosed my Father-in- law. He went in for a year complaining of stomach pain and they just kept giving him antacids.Finally they used one of their “rationed” tests and found stomach cancer. Took 2/3 of his stomach out and he died 2 years later. Now I’m sure many of you have Kaiser and love it, but my point is they seem to like to hold off on expensive tests.Can you say rationing? Can you say Government health care?

sandee on June 17, 2009 at 5:06 PM

Now I’m sure many of you have Kaiser and love it, but my point is they seem to like to hold off on expensive tests.Can you say rationing? Can you say Government health care?

sandee on June 17, 2009 at 5:06 PM

AnninCA believes that those are the highlights of her Kaiser healthcare plan.

I’m sorry your family had to deal with that company.

myrenovations on June 17, 2009 at 5:07 PM

Why can’t your leaders be HONEST about what they intend for this country and it’s insurers? Why do they feel COMPELLED to lie and deceive on this issue?

manofaiki on June 17, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Because they know that if they tell the truth, only the completely moronic among us would think it’s a great idea to completely destroy the best health care system going right now.

AnninCA, Why can’t your college kid get covered on a private insurance plan? My guess is that the actual problem is that he/she just doesn’t want to pay the premiums out-of-pocket.

I’ll bet a majority of people who are screaming for “access” to “affordable” insurance all have nice cars, cell phones, cable TV, etc.

jana on June 17, 2009 at 5:16 PM

I’ll bet a majority of people who are screaming for “access” to “affordable” insurance all have nice cars, cell phones, cable TV, etc.

jana on June 17, 2009 at 5:16 PM

They are also the same people who petition their state governments to force insurance companies to insure all kinds of medical issues, which raise the price of the policies.

myrenovations on June 17, 2009 at 5:24 PM

I disagree with the GOP on this issue and think it’s a political mistake.

Just my 2 cents.

The GOP could STEAL the 2012 elections if they viewed this as a good thing for business.

Alas, I can tell it’s not going to happen.

AnninCA on June 17, 2009 at 4:09 PM

Ann,

Can’t you move on with your life? HuffPo, DU, DKOS?

Come on FCOL.

Have you no mercy?

You’re killin us.

Statists like you just can’t let go to your utopian dreamworld.

You’re like a drug addict constantly going back on it and denying you need serious help.

Get it before the Hollow Man starts rationing it.

Sapwolf on June 17, 2009 at 5:59 PM

I’m on the board of a non-profit org. We have 2 employees.
Healthcare is killing us. If there were a public plan, we’d gladly pay these employees to purchase it.
It would save us so much in the future.

Given how much personal information you have shared with the world that news is convenient, and since you are now a QUALIFIED expert based on your abundant experience maybe you might want do a little more research on why health care and the plans are so expensive. There are many many plans – maybe you might want to go with an agency that can help you find a plan that can group you with other small non-profits in similar situations.

I’m absolutely FOR a public option.

shocking news.

I also have a child in school who is too old for my insurance and cannot get covered. It’s awful.

again – options exist, as does the option of negotiating with your own physician & other providers of services. People do it every day. Be pro-active.

Today, Blue Cross was in the news for paying bonuses for kicking people off of their plan who had serious illnesses.

Bonuses. That’s the private way.

Link?

I will NEVER agree with any of you guys on this.

AnninCA on June 17, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Sebelius is Humpty Dumpty:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is, ” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty. “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Who will be the Master of your health care?
That’s what it’s all about.

batterup on June 17, 2009 at 6:04 PM

AnninCA on June 17, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Sorry Ann. More LIES.

You could just as easily reimburse the employees for catostrophic care. But you don’t want that.

You want the following covered by your all everything plan:

abortion
condoms
cosmetic surgery
psychological counseling
viagara (for the son)
cialysis
fertility treatments (octomom anyone?)
stupid unneeded tests because you in CA are run by the trial lawyers

Get real. You are just bs’ing again when you know damn well you could get them insurance.

I recently paid $179/month for catostrophic insurance.

No it wasn’t ‘free’ like Medicare and Medicaid, but it was there.

With the government, you are gonna wipe out the private sector, costs will skyrocket and then to keep costs from going up, the government WILL ration out care.

You’ll wait in line for six month for things you now get taken care of relative quick.

Oh, and just TRY to get customer support/assistance to talk to you. Have fun.

Get real.

Cut the drivel and move on.

Ed,

We need better trolls that can actually argue facts, not feelings.

Sapwolf on June 17, 2009 at 6:08 PM

I’ll bet a majority of people who are screaming for “access” to “affordable” insurance all have nice cars, cell phones, cable TV, etc.

jana on June 17, 2009 at 5:16 PM

Yep!

$179/month with $5k deductible but I got preventive exams free. 100% above $5k covered.

No it did not cost $1500 per month.

We need the government to get the f out completely so that we can have a REAL market, not the stupid pseudo-gov/private mess we have now. It reminds me of the mortgage/housing industry that has been meddled with for two generations. Look how that went?

Sapwolf on June 17, 2009 at 6:12 PM

..in 1965, everyone was told that over 25 years, the cost of Medicare would be $12 billion. The actual cost, $107 billion.

They’re really good at estimates.

BacaDog on June 17, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Sorry for foisting Sebelius on the nation, but we just had to get her out of Kansas.

Sebelius blocked all efforts to provide energy to Kansans for several years. Just months after she left, we Kansans finally have an energy plan which will keep our lights on and our computers humming without quadrupling our energy costs and bankrupting us.

Now that she’s in Washington, she’ll probably block all attempts to come up with rational health policies with her foolish extremist positions. This will probably keep anything new from getting implemented…which may not be a bad thing as long as the Obamaniacs are in power.

landlines on June 17, 2009 at 7:06 PM

$179/month with $5k deductible but I got preventive exams free. 100% above $5k covered.

Sapwolf on June 17, 2009 at 6:12 PM

See? $179/month is less than my cable/internet/phone bundle… I think that my cable/internet/phone service is too high… I demand “access” to “affordable” technology bundles.

Maybe the government can take care of that for me, too. Also, my cell phone bill is too high. Obama? Can you get me some free minutes?

jana on June 17, 2009 at 7:10 PM

TRICARE for Life works for me. If the Kenyan Pretender or his Band of Fools mess with that they will deeply regret it.

The Team Obama Phonies have no idea of the cost of their Social Experiment but anything the Government runs is going to be subject to waste, fraud, abuse and failure.

The IRS confiscated the Bunny Ranch, outside Reno,Nevada a few years back and couldn’t even run a whorehouse and break even.

Obama Care. Not No but Hell No!

old trooper2 on June 17, 2009 at 7:21 PM

The only thing that lies more than an average woman, is a Democrat woman.

Jeff from WI on June 17, 2009 at 8:10 PM

Is it me of does every Democrat woman look like a lesbian?

Jeff from WI on June 17, 2009 at 8:27 PM

Slightly off topic,,, More cracks in the facade of Dem. unity. The Hill.com is reporting that Feinstein may not support plan that cuts Medicare which will unfairly impact California to pay for insuring the uninsured in rural states like Montana.

txmomof6 on June 17, 2009 at 9:31 PM

Is it me of does every Democrat woman look like a lesbian?

Jeff from WI on June 17, 2009 at 8:27 PM

Well, liberal women have a lot in common with lesbians in that both tend to hate men, so maybe that translates into dressing like men and getting haircuts like men.

NoDonkey on June 17, 2009 at 9:34 PM

Isn’t she the old hag that’s going to roast forever in hell for supporting infanticide?

Jeff from WI on June 17, 2009 at 10:53 PM

Well, liberal women have a lot in common with lesbians in that both tend to hate men, so maybe that translates into dressing like men and getting haircuts like men.

NoDonkey on June 17, 2009 at 9:34 PM

Good Point! LOL

Jeff from WI on June 17, 2009 at 10:53 PM

It’s not just Sebelius that doesn’t know the meaning of the word competition.

Sebelius, just like most of the Obama administration, has never worked outside academia or government. Even though her Wikipedia page lists her profession as “insurance executive,” that refers to her tenure as the elected insurance commissioner of Kansas. At least as far as I can tell, she’s never had to meet a payroll in the real world.

Why are we surprised when people like this are mystified by words like market and competition?

blueguitarbob on June 18, 2009 at 7:40 AM

Its all about control over the masses. When they control your health, they control another aspect of your life that insures your conformity to their desire to eliminate free thinking and personal independence.

volsense on June 18, 2009 at 8:38 AM

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