Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Opinion: GOP lies, point-blank, about its health-care plan

The continued willingness of Republicans to lie, point-blank, with a straight face and without a hint of conscience, about the impact of their proposed "health-care reform" just amazes me. I have never seen anything like it since those Joe Isuzu ads of the 1980s.

The worst may be Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, the man for whom the word "unctuous" has been waiting seven centuries to describe. In an interview Sunday with CNN's Jake Tapper, the former Georgia congressman made a number of truly astonishing claims.

• According to Price, the GOP proposal to cut $880 billion from Medicaid --  the savings will be used to cut taxes for the wealthy  -- somehow does not violate President Trump's campaign promise that "I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid."

• According to Price, after cutting $880 billion from Medicaid, the government will be able to give everybody on Medicaid "a higher level of care, higher quality of care than they currently do."

• Price noted that one-third of physicians refuse to accept Medicaid today because it pays them too little. He then claimed that after $880 billion is cut from the program over the next 10 years, those non-participating doctors will decide to participate after all. He did not identify the magical means by which that will happen.

• Price pointed out that some 20 million people remain uninsured under Obamacare, and suggests that under the Republican plan those 20 million will be brought under the insurance umbrella. How? Once again, a magic wand must be involved. It is certainly astonishing news to the experts at the Congressional Budget Office, who predict that the GOP plan will do the opposite by stripping 24 million Americans of their coverage. Every other nonpartisan expert to examine the plan has reached a similar conclusion.

• Price claimed that under the GOP plan, deductibles would fall; the CBO says "deductibles and other cost-sharing would increase." He claimed that those with pre-existing conditions would be protected; they would not. Price claimed that premiums would fall; the CBO says that is true for younger, healthier Americans, but older and poorer Americans would pay a lot more, so much more that many would be unable to afford it. (Obamacare allows older Americans to be charged three times as much as younger Americans. Under the GOP plan, they can be charged five times as much.)

CNN host Jake Tapper was appropriately astonished at Price's various claims:

TAPPER: Are you actually saying that $880 billion in cuts ... is actually not going to result in millions of Americans not getting Medicaid?

PRICE: Absolutely not. And we believe strongly that the Medicaid population that will be cared for in a better way under our program, because it will be more responsive to them.

If you have to lie about what you're doing, maybe, just maybe, you're doing the wrong thing.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.