(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) both said that President Barack Obama’s description of how his proposed government-run health care plan would work was not true. DeMint added that Obama apparently thinks the American people are too dumb to realize that the government will never compete fairly with private insurance companies.
“What Obama is talking about is not true,” DeMint said Wednesday at a health care forum on Capitol Hill. “A government option will replace private health insurance. There’s no question about that.”
Further, “they think we’re stupid,” said DeMint. “They think that you don’t know that government does not work well, that the same people who cleaned up after Hurricane Katrina are the ones who can really run our health care system with that personal touch that we all want. They do. They think you’re stupid. They think you’re not paying attention.”
DeMint went on to say that what Obama and fellow Democrats are telling the public paints a false picture of the problems with health care in America.
“What the administration and the Democrats are saying now, I think, is misrepresenting everything,” said DeMint. “It’s creating a crisis. They’re trying to exaggerate the number of people who are uninsured. They’re talking about a government plan that can do things that no government plan has ever done.”
DeMint, who was asked by CNSNews.com whether a public plan might be a backdoor way to impose wage and price controls in the private health care markets, said that Americans already know what works, and the government is not the solution.
“It’s really freedom that works, choices that work, competition that works,” said DeMint. “We know what works in America, and government doesn’t. We could greatly simplify this if we move toward more consumerism in health care, allow people to buy most of their primary care from health savings accounts, eliminate the third-party administrator until you get to more expensive things.”
Price said that while he too thought Obama was being dishonest about health care, the president had come clean on the fact that a “public option” plan would cost some people their private health insurance coverage.
“I would, again, echo the senator’s comments, and that is that up until this point the president has simply not been telling the truth about his proposal,” said Price. “Yesterday, he began to march down a road that bore a little more resemblance to the truth.
“When he was pressed on this notion that he says if you like your plan, you can keep it,” said Price. “Well, in fact, that’s not what the bill says that was introduced in the House and that’s not what the president has supported. What he clarified yesterday before the press was that if you like what you have, the government will not move you out, will not force you into another plan."
“What he didn’t complete that sentence with,” said Price, “was the next clause, which is that the government may institute rules, will institute new rules that will force you out of your plan.”
Price also said that because government involvement in other areas has not worked well, there is no reason to expect anything different from a government health plan.
“The public option in other things, for example, the housing market, the secondary mortgage market looks like Fanny and Freddie,” he said. “That’s a public option. It’s a disaster. That’s what happens when the government gets involved in these kinds of things that the private market can run so much better.”
Price further said that it was impossible for the government to establish a level playing field, regardless of what the president may say, because the government will game the system and never subject its plan to the different state rules and taxes that govern private insurance companies.
“It simply isn’t the case,” Price, a former physician, said. “It’s just not true what he says. The reason that individuals would flock to a government plan is because they game the system. You can’t have a level playing field. Are these [public] plans going to be paying local taxes, state taxes, federal taxes? Answer: No. Isn’t that a subsidy for the government plan itself? Well, sure it is.
“It’s just fantasy to believe that the federal government won’t crowd out private industry and end, end private health insurance as we know it,” said Price.
DeMint again said that Obama must think the public is “stupid” if he expects it to buy the idea that a government plan will not hurt private insurers. Private provoders will be damaged because the government under Obama’s “public option” plan will underpay the doctors, he said.
As a result, the doctors will have to raise their costs in other areas to recoup their losses. This will particularly affect those people who have private health insurance (not those relying on Medicare or Medicaid). As the prices and costs go up for the people with private insurance, more people will switch over to the “public option” plan. Thus, the government intervention -- the “public option” the Obama administration is pushing -- will damage the private market and competition.
The "public option" plan will effectively raise costs for the doctors and consumers who prefer their private health insurance and subsequently drive many of these consumers into the "public option" program.
“It will definitely replace private policies because the government will subsidize those policies, they won’t pay doctors enough, there’ll be more cost shifting instead of less,” said DeMint.
“I just have to go back to what is apparently true. This administration believes the American people are stupid. They’ll sit there, they’ll say, ‘Well, we’re reporting 1.9 million jobs lost,’ and say – with a straight face – ‘We have saved or created 150,000 jobs.’ They think we’re stupid,” DeMint added.
DeMint and Price spoke at the briefing, "Real Health Care Reform: More Choices, Lower Cost, No Tax Hikes and Why Government Medicine is a Bad Idea," sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative organization.
Other speakers at the event included Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin; Merrill Matthews, director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance; Rick Scott, chairman of Conservatives for Patients Rights; Greg Scandlen, director of Consumers for Health Care Choices; and Victor Schwartz, chairman of the Public Policy Group.