Tracking talking points advanced by Republican lawmakers in response to Senator-elect Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy asserted that the election "may be a big indicator on how people across the country really feel about health care reform in the United States." However, Massachusetts is not representative of the nation as a whole since it already has a health care program that insures nearly all residents -- a unique situation that allowed Brown to argue that Massachusetts would not benefit from health care reform.
Echoing GOP talking points, Doocy suggested Brown's victory reflects nationwide attitudes toward health care
McConnell: "Message" is that "American people" are asking Congress "to stop this healthcare bill." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly stated in response to Brown's victory, "I think the message of the moment is that the American people, all across the country, are asking us, even in the most liberal state, Massachusetts, to stop this healthcare bill."
Cornyn: "American people" telling Congress "we need to stop this terrible healthcare bill." Appearing on the January 20 edition of America's Newsroom, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) stated, "I think the American people, through the voters of Massachusetts, were trying to tell us something. And that is we need to stop this terrible health care bill and start over, as Scott Brown said, and do something that will help bring down the cost, make it more affordable, and make sense."
Doocy: Brown victory "may be a big indicator" of how American people "really feel about health care reform." From the January 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: Massachusetts voters yesterday sent a Republican to Washington, D.C. Scott Brown is now the Senator-elect, and his win over Democrat Martha Coakley may be a big indicator on how people across the country really feel about health care reform in the United States.
According to a new Rasmussen poll, 78 percent of Brown voters strongly oppose the health care legislation in Congress, and 52 percent of Brown voters say it was the most important issue in determining their votes.
But Doocy ignored key factor making MA not representative of U.S.
Brown campaign: Massachusetts has "already achieved near-universal coverage." Brown stated during the final debate with Coakley, "We have insurance here in Massachusetts. We have some of the best doctors, nurses, and hospitals in the country." Brown further said of the national health care bill, "[M]y job is to be the senator from Massachusetts. I'm not going to be subsidizing for the next three, five years, pick a number, subsidizing what other states have failed to do." Politico's Ben Smith further reported that Eric Fehrnstrom, a Brown aide, stated:
In Massachusetts, 98 percent of residents are covered by insurance through our own state reforms. The plan is not perfect, and we need to get costs down, but we have already achieved near-universal coverage. There is nothing for us in a national plan except higher taxes and more spending to finance coverage expansions in other states. It's a raw deal for Massachusetts.
NY Times: Massachusetts is "unlikely place for a referendum on the health care bill." The New York Times reported on January 19 that "Massachusetts is one of the few states where the benefits promised by the national bill were expected to have little effect on how many of its residents got coverage, making it an unlikely place for a referendum on the health care bill":
Although the race has riveted the nation largely because it was seen as contributing to the success or defeat of the health care bill, the potency of the issue for voters here was difficult to gauge. That is because Massachusetts already has near-universal health coverage, thanks to a law passed when Mitt Romney, a Republican, was governor.
Thus Massachusetts is one of the few states where the benefits promised by the national bill were expected to have little effect on how many of its residents got coverage, making it an unlikely place for a referendum on the health care bill.
Byron York: "On health care, Massachusetts is in a unique position." Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York wrote on January 18 that "[o]n health care, Massachusetts is in a unique position. It already has near-universal coverage, enacted in 2006 by Republican governor Mitt Romney and the Democratic legislature, so a national measure designed to extend coverage to millions of currently-uncovered Americans means little to Bay State residents."
Massachusetts health plan, which is similar to Senate bill, enjoys support of Brown, people of MA
Jonathan Cohn: Brown supports Massachusetts' health care reform, which is similar to national plans. The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn wrote on January 18 that "Scott Brown is running on a promise to block the health care bill in Washington. But, as you may have heard, he is not running on a promise to roll back the reforms that Massachusetts implemented three years ago. In fact, he says he supports those reforms." Cohn added, "[T]he basic architecture of the coverage scheme in Massachusetts is virtually identical to what we'd do nationally if the bills before Congress pass. The big difference -- and, yes, it's a big difference -- is that the Massachusetts plan didn't really try to control costs, as the national reforms would."
Pearlstein: Massachusetts' program "has broad support among voters and the business community." Writing in The Washington Post that "the Massachusetts contest was not a referendum on health-care reform," Steven Pearlstein stated:
Massachusetts has already adopted a reform plan that, with its subsidies and individual mandate and government-run insurance exchange, looks to the naked eye not unlike the plan now before Congress. Despite some initial glitches and higher-than-expected costs, the program has broad support among voters and the business community -- so broad, in fact, that Brown himself has said he would not vote to repeal it. So why would those same voters now be rising up to defeat a national plan modeled on the Massachusetts experiment, only this time with better cost controls and special provisions to protect the state's teaching hospitals and increase its Medicaid funding?
Romney adviser Kaufman on why many MA voters oppose health care reform: "They already paid for it." From a January 13 article at The Daily Caller:
Romney adviser Ron Kaufman, a Washington lobbyist who has been working with the Brown campaign in an unofficial advisory role, said that the people of Massachusetts are "satisfied with what they got" but that they are angry about the federal bill being debated because it would force the state to pay for something they already have: nearly universal coverage.
"They already paid for it," Kaufman said.
Brown said much the same thing during his interview on Fox.
"Why would we subsidize and why would we pay more for something we already have. It makes no sense," he said.
Boston Globe: 59 percent said they favored Massachusetts' health plan. On September 28, 2009, The Boston Globe reported that "[p]ublic support for Massachusetts' closely watched health insurance overhaul has slipped over the past year, a new poll indicates, but residents still support the path-breaking 2006 law by a 2-to-1 ratio." The article further stated: "Amid a severe recession that has led to cuts in state programs and unrelenting job losses, 59 percent of those surveyed said they favored the state's multimillion-dollar insurance initiative, down from 69 percent a year ago. The poll, by the Harvard School of Public Health and The Boston Globe, found that opposition to the law stands at 28 percent, up slightly from 22 percent in a June 2008 survey." The poll also found that "[o]nly 11 percent of state residents favored repealing the law, similar to last year's finding."
Doocy reports that "52 percent of Brown voters say" health care was their "most important issue," but ignores that more Coakley supporters cited reform as number one issue
Rasmussen election night poll shows more Coakley than Brown voters said health care reform most important factor in determining their vote. A Rasmussen Reports election night poll in Massachusetts found that 63 percent of Coakley voters said health care was the most important issue in determining their vote, while 52 percent of Brown voters said it was their top issue. The poll also found that "52% of Coakley supporters Strongly Favor the health care plan," while "[a]nother 41% Somewhat Favor the legislation." As Media Matters for America has documented, pollster Scott Rasmussen previously reportedly worked for President George W. Bush's re-election campaign and for the Republican National Committee in 2003 and 2004.