Back in the day, Barack Obama really did work as a mythbuster. In this clip from Naked Emperor News and Breitbart TV, Obama explains that any health-care overhaul will require $100 billion a year in new spending, for which Obama would push new taxes as a funding mechanism. Cutting red tape and “profits” out of the existing system would not be enough to fund a transition to a new system. Medicare and Medicaid, he warns, get used by politicians to manipulate budgets at the expense of health-care providers.
Quite the change, yes? Of course, this version of Obama spoke in 2007:
Maybe the White House should feature this video on its mythbusting page. It does a much better job than the self-serving effluvium one finds there now. Of course cutting out profits won’t save enough to expand coverage, for two reasons. First, the profit margin in the health-care industry is between 4-5% in a good year, hardly a windfall level of profit in the American economy. Second, it’s the profit motive that keeps insurance providers efficient and effective, especially at eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse, which the government systems have in abundance. Why? They don’t compete, and have no particular incentives to operate efficiently.
Expanding coverage will cost money. One does not lose money on a per-person basis but make it up in volume; that line is a joke in the private sector, but policy in the public sector. Obama knew enough two years ago to reject it, but now he’s trying to sell it to the American public. One has to wonder whether Obama unlearned this lesson, or whether he’s selling us snake oil with a big bill coming due later. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.
Update: It’s not the only myth that Obama’s been spreading lately, either:
After I raised questions about its accuracy, President Obama has dropped from his last two health care speeches an inaccurate reference he made about the health care travails of an Illinois man, whom Obama claimed had died after his insurance company declined to pay for his cancer treatments.
When Obama spoke to Congress about health care reform on Sept. 9, he attempted to put a human face on his push for a provision barring insurance companies from dropping patients with pre-existing medical conditions.
While not citing the person’s name, the president said: “One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones that he didn’t even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it.”
It’s just not true, which I pointed out in my Chicago Sun-Times column. I confirmed with the White House that the man Obama was referring to was Otto Raddatz, from a Chicago suburb. His insurance company did indeed yank his coverage in April 2005. But after a fight led by his sister, Peggy, an attorney and the Illinois attorney general, Raddatz got his coverage reinstated in a few weeks and never missed any needed treatments. And he did not die until Jan. 6, 2009.
How did Obama research this anecdote? He read it in Slate, and no one on his staff checked to see if the story was accurate. It’s precisely this kind of expertise that Obama wants to put in charge of your health care.