Fox's Henneberg falsely claimed Democrats in White House "want government-run health-care programs"

››› ››› HANNAH DREIER

On Special Report, Molly Henneberg reported that "Democrats control the White House and Congress, and they want government-run health-care programs." In fact, the White House health-care Web page states: "On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes -- government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules. President Obama and Vice President Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong."

During the March 3 edition of Fox News' Special Report, correspondent Molly Henneberg reported on the opposition President Obama's health-care reform plan faces from the nonprofit organization Conservatives for Patients' Rights and stated: "Democrats control the White House and Congress, and they want government-run health-care programs. Republicans may need groups like Conservatives for Patients' Rights -- and their ads -- to encourage public support for free-market solutions." In fact, the Democrats who "control the White House" have not proposed "government-run health-care programs." Indeed, according to the White House health-care Web page: "On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes -- government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules. President Obama and Vice President Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong."

The White House website further states:

The Obama-Biden plan provides affordable, accessible health care for all Americans, builds on the existing health care system, and uses existing providers, doctors, and plans. Under the Obama-Biden plan, patients will be able to make health care decisions with their doctors, instead of being blocked by insurance company bureaucrats.

Under the plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year. If you don't have health insurance, you will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options.

Further, one of the "eight principles" for the health-care reform plan put forward in Obama's budget outline is "Guarantee Choice," about which the outline states: "The plan should provide Americans a choice of health plans and physicians. They should have the option of keeping their employer-based health plan."

As Media Matters for America has documented, during the 2008 presidential campaign, the media frequently advanced former Republican presidential candidate John McCain's repeated accusation that Obama supported "government-run health care." In fact, as PolitiFact.com noted at the time, "Obama's plan keeps the free-market health care system intact, particularly employer-based insurance. It is not a goverment-run [sic] program and is very different from the health care systems run by the government in some European countries." Indeed, Obama's plan as described during the campaign would allow individuals to keep their private health insurance if they so choose, while establishing "a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage."

Host Bret Baier introduced Henneberg's report by stating that Conservatives for Patients' Rights is launching "a multimillion-dollar advertising offensive." The report included a video clip of the group's chairman, Richard Scott, saying, "What ultimately happens is, the government always runs out of money, because they offer too much, and they offer -- and so they always run out of money, so then they end up having to ration." Henneberg reported that Scott "started the Solantic urgent care centers in Florida," but did not note that according to a July 26, 1997, Los Angeles Times article, Scott resigned from his former position as chairman of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. "amid a massive federal investigation into the Medicare billing, physician recruiting and home-care practices of" Columbia/HCA, "the nation's largest for-profit health care company." According to a December 18, 2002, Justice Department press release describing a tentative settlement with HCA to resolve civil litigation, "When added to the prior civil and criminal settlements reached in 2000, this settlement would bring the government's total recoveries from HCA to approximately $1.7 billion."

From the March 3 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BAIER: Republicans and others opposed to President Obama's health-care reform ideas are hoping to duplicate the campaign that derailed the last serious attempt at universal coverage 16 years ago. Correspondent Molly Henneberg reports the first step is a multimillion-dollar advertising offensive.

[begin video clip]

HENNEBERG: Rick Scott, chairman of Conservatives for Patients' Rights, wants Americans to pay careful attention to what President Obama plans to do to the nation's health-care system and insist on four outcomes.

SCOTT [narrating ad]: Choice: that means choosing your own doctor. Competition: disclose prices and performance up front. Accountability: to give you the same tax breaks for insurance that employers get. And personal responsibility: reward healthy choices.

HENNEBERG: Scott says the ad campaign is meant to ensure that the government doesn't, quote, "take over the system." President Obama has offered few specifics for reforming health care, although in his budget, he proposes increasing taxes on the wealthy to raise $634 billion to get the process started.

OBAMA: It includes a historic commitment to comprehensive health-care reform -- a down payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American.

HENNEBERG: Scott, who started the Solantic urgent care centers in Florida, says when government gets involved, it leads to higher prices and restricted access.

SCOTT: What ultimately happens is, the government always runs out of money, because they offer too much, and they offer -- and so they always run out of money, so then they end up having to ration.

[begin clip of "Harry and Louise" ad]

LOUISE: Having choices we don't like is no choice at all.

HARRY: They choose.

LOUISE: We lose.

[end clip]

HENNEBERG: Health-care ads have worked in the past. Remember the "Harry and Louise" commercials in 1993 from the Health Insurance Association? They helped tank then-first lady Hillary Clinton's attempt to overhaul health care. The White House clearly would like to avoid that public relations debacle this time.

But this is going to be a battle. Democrats control the White House and Congress, and they want government-run health-care programs. Republicans may need groups like Conservatives for Patients' Rights -- and their ads -- to encourage public support for free-market solutions. In Washington, Molly Henneberg, Fox News.

[end video clip]

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Molly Henneberg
Show/Publication
Special Report with Bret Baier
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