Health Care Reform is a government takeover of the healthcare system.
In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama's ambitious plan to overhaul America's health insurance system. Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a "government takeover."They point out that they are making no judgement about whether the Health Care Reform bill was a good idea or a bad idea. They're just saying that the statement "HCR is a government takeover" is "simply not true."
"Takeovers are like coups," Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. "They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom."
The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the "public option" concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan.
But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn't let facts get in the way of a great punchline. And few in the press challenged their frequent assertion that under Obama, the government was going to take over the health care industry.
PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen "government takeover of health care" as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats' shellacking in the November elections.
Here's what they said:
PolitiFact reporters have studied the 906-page bill and interviewed independent health care experts. We have concluded it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers.And politifact is not alone in calling this lie a lie. Here's factcheck.org:
It's true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market.
Republicans who maintain the Democratic plan is a government takeover say that characterization is justified because the plan increases federal regulation and will require Americans to buy health insurance.
But while those provisions are real, the majority of Americans will continue to get coverage from private insurers. And it will bring new business for the insurance industry: People who don"t currently have coverage will get it, for the most part, from private insurance companies.
Consider some analogies about strict government regulation. The Federal Aviation Administration imposes detailed rules on airlines. State laws require drivers to have car insurance. Regulators tell electric utilities what they can charge. Yet that heavy regulation is not described as a government takeover.
Despite the fact that the federal health insurance plan (a.k.a. the “public option”) is now gone from the bill, Republicans and conservative groups have continued to claim that the bill institutes a system like the one in the United Kingdom, or Canada, or otherwise amounts to a government takeover. It doesn’t. A pure government-run system was never among the leading Democratic proposals, much to the chagrin of single-payer advocates. Instead, the bill builds on our current system of private insurance, and in fact, drums up more business for private companies by mandating that individuals buy coverage and giving many subsidies to do so.So when we read:
Constitutional questions have dogged the health care bill since its introduction. But rather than address these issues head on, supporters of the legislation have shrugged them off. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when asked where the Constitution grants the power to impose an individual mandate to buy insurance, famously replied, "Are you serious?"We know that this is a lie - there is no federal takeover of health care.
This is the same tactic being used by defenders of the federal takeover of health care in response to the lawsuit against the new law.
By the way, the writer of that above passage, Nathan Benefield is the director of policy research at the Commonwealth Foundation. The same Commonwealth Foundation that's received about $2.2 million over the past 2 decades or so from the foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife (including $50,000 in "start up" funds in 1988).
No matter who pays for it, it's still a lie.