National Review: Health Care Plays A Broken Record

Partner content from The National Review

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi i i

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to the media as Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid and House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn listen outside the West Wing of the White House after a health care reform summit at the Blair House Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Wong/Getty Images
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to the media as Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid and House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn listen outside the West Wing of the White House after a health care reform summit at the Blair House

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The White House was hoping the health-care summit would create momentum among Democrats to push their bill through Congress. It almost certainly did not work.

Both sides repeated points that have been made countless times over the past year. That being the case, it seems likely that the public will react to what they heard from the Blair House meeting much as they have to the months-long debate in Congress: by agreeing in larger numbers with the Republican view that the bill the Democrats are pushing is hopelessly flawed.

One reason for the Democrats’ trouble is that their talking points are simply not believable.

For instance, the president tried at the beginning of the meeting to claim that, if his plan passed, individuals would see their health-insurance premiums fall, and he claimed that the Congressional Budget Office backed him up in that regard. But that is not the case. CBO says that premiums would go up in the individual insurance marketplace, not down, because the Democratic plan would require minimum benefits that are much more costly than those of the high-deductible plans that are often selected today. Within an hour or so of first saying otherwise, the president was forced to concede this point.

Moreover, there are many studies showing that the premium spike from the Democratic plan would be even more severe than CBO predicted. Oliver Wyman, a respected actuarial firm, did a study for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association finding that premiums would be 54 percent higher in the individual market and 20 percent higher in the small-business market in five years if the Senate-passed bill were enacted. Oliver Wyman’s analysts and many other insurance experts believe the individual mandate in the Senate bill is too weak and won’t work. Consequently, the risk pool will become much less healthy over time, driving up premiums substantially.

On Medicare, the Democrats tried to claim that what they are doing is simply redirecting money from overpaid insurers to improve the solvency of the program. But seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans know better. They would get less in the way of benefits and in many cases would lose the coverage they have today if the Democratic bill were enacted. Moreover, most of the Medicare cuts would not be in Medicare Advantage. There are cuts for hospitals, clinics, and others that the administration’s own experts say would push one in five U.S. health-care facilities into financial distress. And the Democrats never had a response to the criticism that you can’t count Medicare savings both as an offset for their bill and as a source of revenue to pay for future Medicare benefits.

Americans rendered their verdict on Obamacare a long time ago. They don’t want any part of it. And the more they see Democrats pushing for passage over their clear objections, the more outraged voters become. If the president and his allies now think that, post-summit, they have new latitude to jam their plan through, they are sorely mistaken. Such a move would more than backfire: It would invite a public backlash of epic proportions.

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