On ABC’s This Week today, former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich claimed that most government-run health systems are disasters. He said that the Veterans Health Administration is “the one system that actually works reasonably well,” and dismissed Medicare as “basically a private system with a government funding.”
Gingrich also claimed that Americans really won’t have any “choice.” “One estimate by Lewin Associates [sic] is 131 million Americans will lose their private insurance and be pushed into a government plan,” he claimed.
DEAN: Look, let’s be fair. Lewin Associates is owned by a health insurance company. So let’s — let’s — let’s — the CBO, which I think is a more reasonable organization, says 5 million or 10 million people are going to end up there. [...]
Second of all, what the speaker didn’t tell you is, let’s just suppose you get forced out of your employer-based system, which I think is unlikely, but let’s suppose that you do. You’ve got a choice. The government will pay your subsidy to either go into — based on your income, either to go into the public option or a private option. Nobody is forcing you in to the public option.
Medicare is a government-run program. But conservatives have been dancing around that point because they know that the public is incredibly happy with it. A 2009 study by the Commonwealth Fund found that Medicare recipients reported greater satisfaction with their plans than those in employer-sponsored coverage by wide margins.
Later in the segment, host George Stephanopoulos had to personally call Gingrich out on one of his falsehoods. Last week, Sarah Palin said that the Obama administration was advocating “death panels” that would determine whether a person was “worthy of health care.” Gingrich tried to lend that myth credence by bringing up the writings of “Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who’s the chief adviser to the president and brother of the chief of staff.”
First, as Stephanopoulos pointed out, Emanuel is “not the chief health care adviser.” Second, Emanuel’s comments on end-of-life issues were part of “academic discussions of theoretical constructs” — not expressions of his personal beliefs on the current health care debate. Stephanopoulos noted that Emanuel had “written three articles between 1996 and 2008 that include some of those phrases.” “Those phrases appear nowhere in the bill,” he added.
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