Debating the President's Portsmouth pitch (part 20)

Thanks for making it all the way through this series of posts analyzing and discussing the President’s health care remarks at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire town hall.

I have converted this entire series into a memo for easy printing and reading.

If you’d like the entire series in printed form, here is a PDF of all 2o posts in one document.

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t have to explain to you that nearly 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance coverage today. In the wealthiest nation on Earth, 46 million of our fellow citizens have no coverage. They are just vulnerable. If something happens, they go bankrupt, or they don’t get the care they need.

But of those 45.7 million people:

  • 6.4 million are enrolled in Medicaid or S-CHIP and just gave the Census taker the wrong answer. I’m serious. This is called the Medicaid undercount.
  • Another 4.3 million are eligible for Medicaid or S-CHIP and have not enrolled. If they need care, the hospital or clinic generally enrolls them. They are protected against risk even though they don’t show up on the rolls as insured.
  • Another 9.3 million are non-citizens. Different people come to different conclusions about what portion of this group should receive taxpayer-subsidized health insurance.
  • Another 10.1 million have income more than three times the poverty line.
  • Leaving about 15.6 million remaining uninsured, of whom about 5 million are childless adults.

The 46 million figure is technically correct, but it dramatically overstates the size of the population that many Americans would conclude is deserving of additional taxpayer subsidies.

I wrote about this topic in early April: How many uninsured people need additional help from taxpayers?

I hope you have found this series of posts to be a positive contribution to a civil, impassioned, informed policy debate.


Here are all 20 posts in this series:

  1. The President’s overpromise that everyone can keep their health plan
  2. Putting the government in charge of your health insurance
  3. Waiting in line
  4. Government-mandated benefits
  5. Preventive care does not save money (in the aggregate)
  6. The House bill would increase short-term, 10th year, and long-term budget deficits
  7. The President was incorrect — AARP opposes the bill
  8. The bills would take Medicare savings needed for solvency and spend them on a new entitlement
  9. Medicare is not a good example of government-run health care because Medicare is fiscally unsustainable
  10. Even if the public option drops out of legislation, other parts of these bills would put private insurance under government control
  11. The President says the public option will keep private insurers honest at the same time he proposes cutting payments to private insurers competing with the Medicare public option
  12. The pending bills would move more cost-benefit decisions from insurers to people chosen by the government
  13. Guaranteed renewal and guaranteed issue
  14. The President says “we may be able to get even more than” the $80 B of budgetary savings that the pharmaceutical industry thought was a ceiling promised by the White House.
  15. The President says he’s not “promoting” a single-payer plan, but the only concern he raises is a disruptive transition.
  16. Many examples suggest that the government cannot compete on a level playing field with private firms.
  17. The President trashes the U.S. Postal Service and undermines the case that government can run a complex health system.
  18. The President understates the annual cost of new spending by a factor of two.
  19. The President says that 2/3 of the offsets come from Medicare and Medicaid spending, while the only public estimate (for the House Bill) shows 21% instead. He also advocates a tax proposal that Congressional Democrats killed last Winter.
  20. There are 46 million people who are technically uninsured, but the target population is probably one-third to one-half that size.

I agree with the President that America needs to have a vigorous and well-informed debate about the substance of health care reform. I hope this series contributes to that debate.

20 responses

  1. Thank's a ton for your analysis. I love such great free material from people who are in the know on matters that citizens really care about. Keep up the good work and best of luck!

  2. One of the 46 million is Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) who proudly announced in the Wall St. Journal that he has declined the Federal Employee Health Plan, and will do so until all Americans have access to the same plan.

    Great. So now I am going to be taxed and my health coverage regulated by Federal Bureaucrats because Sen. Brown, and millions like him who have plenty of access to insurance elect not to use it.

  3. If the socialized medicine and all health care is so good for everyone, the politicians should all get out of their insurance plan as soon as possible, including Obama. Then we would see how great this socialized healthcare really is. They will never do this, just force everyone else to use.

  4. OK, this is the second post with some actual content. This is another area that represents a potentially legitimate debate. If conservatives don't think the 46 million uninsured are worth worrying about, then stand up in public and tell us why instead of yelling about death panels.

    • There is no debate. There are no 46 million AMERICAN CITIZENS who cannot obtain and do not have health care — do a little research. Better yet, why don't you get your like-minded, liberal pals together, take your hard-earned money and pay the hospital bills for all of the illegal immigrants in your hometown who are using the emergency rooms as their primary care physician and who are getting their health care free? You reckon that's driving up the cost of health care? There's about 10 million reasons right there.

    • Read it, there are NOT 46 million uninsured, but 15 million. I don't believe that my children should work only to pay taxes because the government wants to take over health care. The government is inefficient and doesn't care about individuals. They have failed us in Medicare, the have failed us in Social Security and they fail us if they get this. The government should prove they can fix current entitlements before they start new ones.

    • Ironically, this is usually what happens when left & right debate. Left wants to talk about the uninsured — btw, I am not only one of the uninsured but I am self-employed, uninsured and with a chronic health condition. — and the Right want to talk about the consequences or what kind of health coverage we will be getting…and the idea of death panels figure into that strongly. What benefit is it to have insurance for all — if it means we're "all" getting bad medical care. But as several have pointed out, all doesn't mean all — Those who have the power to force this upon us also have the option of not being subjected to it. My position is that it's not a valid health care debate until tort reform and pharmaceutical monopoly are on the docket.

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  11. The healthcare debacle is bad enough but the THUGOCRACCY HAS ACTUALL BEATEN SOMEONE AT A TOWN HALL.THAT WAS THE seiu.We know obama was complicit with them as well as the Acorn crowd and the Black Panthers.He also knows about the tzar who called for ratting out foes of his HC proposals AND we now know that there is a tzar who will see to it that the First Amendment is violated by trying to silence conservative talk radio.
    MSNBC'S rachel maddow by the way, visciarally attacked the common man for participating in the townhalls and cowardly refused to tag along to some of them to see for herself that they are not being sponsored in any way shape or form by conservative corporate America.What a DUNCE she is !!! As if he hasn't wrought enough havoc the wants the FREEDOM OF CHOICE LEGISLATION .Not freedo0m,but abortion on demand at taxpayer expense and regardlessof whether providers agree or not.I heard he is drumming up a constitutional amendment ? WAKE UP AMERICA !!!
    Bob Guertin
    Jamestown,N.C.

    • I'm encouraged to see that so many others understand what's going on. There are tons of information on all of this in some excellent books that make great reading: Liberty & Tyranny (Mark Levine); Real Change (Newt Gingrich); Culture Warrior (Bill O'Reilly) and A Slobbering Love Affair (Bernard Goldberg) — just to name a few. If you go back and read Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand), you'll be shocked at the current-day parallels.

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  13. Where, exactly, did you derive these numbers?

    I have seen similar claims, including 12 million illegal aliens, but no citation to references, only blogs pointing to blogs.

    On claim lists a number of people who do not have insurance for four months or less. By definition, this includes almost every person over the age of 21 who graduates school and enters the job market as they are no longer dependents of their parents during this time and anyone who changes jobs. This number also does NOT account for the 30-days post coverage of insurance which is mandated.

    If this Census Bureau claim of 45.7 million (enlarged to 50 million by Obama and company) is to be properly refuted, it needs to be with reliable sources.

    The most effective method will be to show, incontrovertibly, that the actual number is very small, probably around 2 million people, less than 1% of the citizen population, and mention that all drug companies have programs to give prescriptions free to people who cannot afford them (remember the TV ads?) as well as many, many private free health care programs including the church-based hospitals. That last point is important because one aspect of Obamacare is to eliminate Presbyterian, Catholic and Jewish hospitals. “We’re God’s partners in life and death” will change into “We’re God.” under Obama.

    There was a similar use of lying by statistics in the Clinton years. You might remember the claims of the number of people who “went hungry” every year. The data set included a projection based on anyone who missed a single meal during the year.

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