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.
Here’s the second-to-last post in this series discussing the President’s remarks on health care reform in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:
THE PRESIDENT: About two-thirds of those costs we can cover by eliminating the inefficiencies that I already mentioned. So I already talked about $177 billion worth of subsidies to the insurance companies. Let’s take that money, let’s put it in the kitty. There’s about $500 billion to $600 billion over 10 years that can be saved without cutting benefits for people who are currently receiving Medicare, actually making the system more efficient over time.
That does still leave, though, anywhere from $300 billion to $400 billion over 10 years, or $30 billion to $40 billion a year. That does have to be paid for, and we will need new sources of revenue to pay for it. And I’ve made a proposal that would — I want to just be very clear — the proposal, my preferred approach to this would have been to take people like myself who make more than $250,000 a year, and limit the itemized deductions that we can take to the same level as middle-class folks can take them.
Maybe the President knows something about the Baucus bill that isn’t public. In the House bill only 21% of the savings come from Medicare and Medicaid, not two-thirds.
Congressional Democrats rejected the President’s proposal to limited itemized deductions last winter. The House bill would instead raise income tax rates on high-income individuals and successful small business owners.
This is #18 in a series of 20 posts discussing the President’s remarks on health care reform in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:
THE PRESIDENT: So it’s about a hundred billion dollars a year to cover everybody and to implement some of the insurance reforms that we’re talked about.
I assume this is just an honest arithmetic error, in which he assumed that a trillion dollars of new spending would be spread out over 10 years. Since the spending doesn’t start until year 4, and isn’t fully phased-in until year 6, the actual spending is much higher. The House bill would increase federal spending by $202 B in 2019, the 10th year of the estimate, twice the President’s stated figure.
THE PRESIDENT: I mean, if you think about — if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.
I think the President was using this example to demonstrate that private firms can compete with the government. It came out wrong. He undermined the case for more government control, and especially for a public option, by pointing out that the government cannot deliver the mail and stay on budget.
We continue to review the President’s Portsmouth, New Hampshire remarks on health care:
THE PRESIDENT: A single-payer plan would be a plan like Medicare for all, or the kind of plan that they have in Canada, where basically government is the only person — is the only entity that pays for all health care. Everybody has a government-paid-for plan, even though in, depending on which country, the doctors are still private or the hospitals might still be private. In some countries, the doctors work for the government and the hospitals are owned by the government. But the point is, is that government pays for everything, like Medicare for all. That is a single-payer plan.
I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter because, frankly, we historically have had a employer-based system in this country with private insurers, and for us to transition to a system like that I believe would be too disruptive. So what would end up happening would be, a lot of people who currently have employer-based health care would suddenly find themselves dropped, and they would have to go into an entirely new system that had not been fully set up yet. And I would be concerned about the potential destructiveness of that kind of transition.
All right? So I’m not promoting a single-payer plan.
This is interesting – he seems not to object to government being “the only entity that pays for all health care” as a desirable endstate. The only concern he raises is that the transition would be disruptive. He also does not say that he opposes single-payer, merely that he is not promoting it.
We continue reviewing the President’s remarks on health care reform in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:
THE PRESIDENT: Now, in terms of savings for you as a Medicare recipient, the biggest one is on prescription drugs, because the prescription drug companies have already said that they would be willing to put up $80 billion in rebates for prescription drugs as part of a health care reform package.
Now, we may be able to get even more than that. But think about it.
Huh. So much for that secret deal that the drug companies had with the White House that their savings would not exceed $80 B over 10 years. “We may be able to get even more than that.” Hmm…
Even after 15 years of working in economic policymaking, I continue to be surprised at the naivete of some American business leaders. Almost three weeks ago I sounded an initial warning:
Hospitals: You’re the deep pockets. Insurers, Business and Pharma: They can make you villains again if they need to cut you more to make the budget numbers work.
Here’s more from the President’s health care reform town hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:
THE PRESIDENT: We also want to make sure that everybody has some options. So there’s been talk about this public option. This is where a lot of the idea of government takeover of health care comes from.
The President is correct that “a lot of the idea of government takeover of health care comes from” the public option. Many of the critics are missing that, even if the public option drops out of legislation, other provisions in these bills will effectively put insurance under government control, even while it is offered by private firms.