Ed Feulner: Highlighting a hidden health care agenda

Published 10:14 am Friday, August 21, 2009

Before he took office, Barack Obama told CNN he’d use a BlackBerry to stay in touch with average Americans. “If I’m doing something stupid, somebody in Chicago can send me an e-mail and say, ‘What are you doing?'” Obama explained.

But some six months into his administration, many Americans are wondering just how much criticism Obama wants to hear.

Voters in both red (Texas) and blue (Pennsylvania) states are challenging lawmakers at town hall meetings.

They’re angry about the proposed health care “reform” being debated in Washington.
Yet an Obama spokesman dismissed the protesters.

“The Brooks Brothers brigade,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “appears to have rented a similar bus and [is] appearing at town hall events throughout the country.”

Actually, you won’t find many suits and ties at these meetings. But you will hear real concerns. People are upset because they recognize a hidden agenda.

Take one of President Obama’s key provisions: a “public option.” It’s a government-run health care plan that would, supposedly, compete with private insurance companies.

Sounds benign, but the government doesn’t compete on a level playing field. Bureaucrats write the regulations that insurance companies must follow. Lawmakers mandate procedures that companies must cover. Medicare underpays for procedures, forcing private payers to pick up the slack.

And while the president insists that if you’re happy with your current coverage you can keep it, the Lewin Group, a highly respected, non-partisan health research company, reports that due in part to the new public plan, many employers would stop offering coverage, dumping some 88.1 million Americans out of their current health plan.
No wonder the White House and lawmakers are defensive.

“There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there,” wrote Macon Phillips, White House director of new mMedia. “If you get an e-mail or see something on the Web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”

Fishy? Maybe someone should send along the op-ed from the Aug. 10 USA Today by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

“Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American,” they wrote. Or the comment made by Sen. Barbara Boxer. “This is just all organized,” she told MSNBC. “It’s to hurt our president and it’s to change the Congress.” The horror. American citizens who dare to think they have the power to “change” the Congress? It’s an idea Sen. Boxer didn’t mind a year ago.

It’s also odd that Pelosi and Hoyer add, “Reform will also mean higher-quality care by promoting preventive care so health problems can be addressed before they become crises. This, too, will save money.”

However, a Congressional Budget Office study released on Aug. 7 noted that preventative care increases – not decreases – costs. Fishy.

Americans are nervous, and rightly so, because lawmakers tried to rush their bills through before the August recess – 1,000-page proposals that even supporters admit they haven’t read.

They accuse critics of “scaring” seniors. But consider an article Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of presidential aide Rahm Emanuel and a White House adviser on health care, recently co-authored in the British medical journal The Lancet.

“When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated,” it said. Will such ideas be part of the final bill? Good question.

We know they won’t be outlawed. Before recess, the Senate and the House quietly voted down several amendments in committee that would have banned the rationing of health care. So lawmakers have left themselves plenty of room for restrictions down the road.
“I want to be able to have voices – other than the people who are immediately working for me – be able to reach out and send me a message about what’s happening in America,” Obama told CNN in January.

We’re speaking. Will he listen?

Ed Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).