Ken Klukowski: President Blames Doctors for Health Care Costs
July 26, 2009
This column originally appeared on Townhall.com on July 24, 2009.
There were too many falsehoods in President Obama’s healthcare press conference to cram into one column. But three of them show just how far this president is willing to ignore the truth to push his political agenda. And people are starting to catch on.
Obama said that doctors order procedures based on how much money they’d pocket. It’s an outrage–nothing short of pathetic–that this politician of all of people would dare impugn the character and medical judgment of our nations doctors. Yet that’s exactly what Barack Obama did.
The president actually blames doctors, citing how they “test, test, test.” Doctors test because of predatory trial lawyers that Barack Obama refuses to rein in. Doctors practice defensive medicine, often based not on medical needs but instead on their risk management’s advice on what tests are needed to shield them from lawsuits if the patient has any complications or ongoing problems. A doctor often needs to run a test again, even if they see the previous doctor’s results, because if not they can still be sued for medical malpractice. This costs over $75 billion a year, driving up costs and making insurance less affordable.
The way to fix that is tort reform, capping damage awards for non-economic damages (pain and suffering) and punitive damages, and stopping junk lawsuits. Yet Obama won’t, because the trial lawyers oppose it and they are the single largest financial contributor to the Democratic Party.
President Obama also said that there are 47 million Americans without health coverage. That number is wrong, and grossly misleads the public about the scope of this problem.
There are about 47 million uninsured people, but not all of them are Americans. In fact, over 10 million of them are illegal aliens. Obama doesn’t talk about this, but almost a quarter of the uninsured in this country are here illegally and are not entitled anything.
Many more are here legally, but are not Americans. Many people here from other countries with family or on a temporary visa don’t have insurance, and go to the emergency room when they get sick because federal law requires every emergency room to treat everyone regardless of whether they have insurance.
Beyond that, around 14 million of the uninsured are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP, and simply don’t bother to sign up. How does a government takeover help people who don’t even avail themselves of a free program that already covers them?
And over 9 million of the uninsured make over $75,000 a year. If you make $100,000 or $150,000 a year and don’t have health insurance, it’s because you choose to spend your money on a bigger house, long vacations, or good restaurants. It’s ridiculous to suggest that anyone should have pay for healthcare for those who deliberately choose to go without it so they can spend money elsewhere.
That means that total number of the uninsured Americans that truly need help is less than 14 million. That’s still a big number, to be sure, but we can’t effectively tackle the problem until we’re all working with accurate numbers.
Why isn’t the president acknowledging these facts? Because the politics are better for him if he cites bigger numbers, and not acknowledge that most of these people are either breaking the law, refusing to take the free help being offered to them, or are well-off and could buy insurance if they wanted it.
So who’s to blame for all this? According to Obama, it’s all Republicans’ fault. The math belies that statement. Democrats have an overwhelming majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Democrats could pass President Obama’s plans without a single Republican vote. They can’t because some in his own party refuse to go along with this socialist takeover of our world-class healthcare system.
Around 70% of Americans like their healthcare. Somehow the president failed to mention that number. Whatever changes are needed can’t be allowed to take away what most Americans already like. And that’s why Obama’s poll numbers on healthcare are dropping like a rock, with only 44% approving of his performance.
Didn’t the president tell us all in his press conference that this isn’t about politics? Yet that’s exactly what’s going on. Politics from this White House, using false and misleading numbers and ignoring the undisputed facts, is driving this whole charade. And the American people are catching on.