Wash. Times reverses meaning of Obama's comments, falsely claiming he "admitted" doctors will bear brunt of spending cuts

››› ››› HANNAH DREIER

In a June 16 editorial, The Washington Times reversed the meaning of a comment President Obama made in his speech before the AMA, falsely claiming he "admitted" to the AMA that savings from health-care reform will be "coming off your backs."

In a June 16 editorial, The Washington Times doctored a quote by President Obama in his speech before the American Medical Association (AMA) to support its false claim that Obama "admitted" to the AMA that savings from health-care reform will be "coming off your backs." The Times wrote of Obama's June 15 speech, "[T]he president reiterated his promise to save '$313 billion in Medicare and Medicaid spending.' His line was greeted by stony silence from the AMA. Mr. Obama understood why and even admitted, 'Today's Medicare rates will be applied broadly in a way that means our cost savings are coming off your backs.' " In fact, Obama said: "Now, I know that there's some concern about a public option. Even within this organization there is healthy debate about it. In particular, I understand that you are concerned that today's Medicare rates, which many of you already feel are too low, will be applied broadly in a way that means our cost savings are coming off your backs. And these are legitimate concerns, but they're ones, I believe, that can be overcome" (emphasis added).

Obama then said the following:

OBAMA: With reform, we will ensure that you are being reimbursed in a thoughtful way that's tied to patient outcomes, instead of relying on yearly negotiations about the Sustainable Growth Rate formula that's based on politics and the immediate state of the federal budget in any given year.

And I just want to point out the alternative to such reform is a world where health care costs grow at an unsustainable rate. And if you don't think that's going to threaten your reimbursements and the stability of our health care system, you haven't been paying attention. So the public option is not your enemy; it is your friend, I believe.

From Obama's June 15 remarks at the AMA conference:

OBAMA: You will have a chance, under what we've proposed, to take part in what we're calling a Health Insurance Exchange. This Exchange will allow you to one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose a plan that's best for you and your family -- the same way, by the way, that federal employees can do, from a postal worker to a member of Congress. You will have your choice of a number of plans that offer a few different packages, but every plan would offer an affordable, basic package. Again, this is for people who aren't happy with their current plan. If you like what you're getting, keep it. Nobody's forcing you to shift. But if you're not, this gives you some new options. And I believe one of these options needs to be a public option that will give people a broader range of choices and inject competition into the health care market so that force -- so that we can force waste out of the system and keep the insurance companies honest.

Now, I know that there's some concern about a public option. Even within this organization there is healthy debate about it. In particular, I understand that you are concerned that today's Medicare rates, which many of you already feel are too low, will be applied broadly in a way that means our cost savings are coming off your backs. And these are legitimate concerns, but they're ones, I believe, that can be overcome. As I stated earlier, the reforms we propose to reimbursement are to reward best practices, focus on patient care, not on the current piecework reimbursements. What we seek is more stability and a health care system that's on a sounder financial footing.

And the fact is these reforms need to take place regardless of whether there's a public option or not. With reform, we will ensure that you are being reimbursed in a thoughtful way that's tied to patient outcomes, instead of relying on yearly negotiations about the Sustainable Growth Rate formula that's based on politics and the immediate state of the federal budget in any given year.

And I just want to point out the alternative to such reform is a world where health care costs grow at an unsustainable rate. And if you don't think that's going to threaten your reimbursements and the stability of our health care system, you haven't been paying attention. So the public option is not your enemy; it is your friend, I believe.

From the June 16 Washington Times editorial:

Boos and awkward silences marked President Obama's speech at Monday's American Medical Association meeting in Chicago, and for good reason.

Not only did he refuse to support caps for malpractice suits, but he said his administration would undercut how much doctors make. In Monday's AMA address and another speech on Saturday, the president reiterated his promise to save "$313 billion in Medicare and Medicaid spending." His line was greeted by stony silence from the AMA. Mr. Obama understood why and even admitted, "Today's Medicare rates will be applied broadly in a way that means our cost savings are coming off your backs."

The government is good at "saving" money by simply reimbursing Medicare and Medicaid providers for less than their cost. It is essentially a tax that the government imposes -- a tax that doctors and hospitals pay for staying in business. But this tax raises doctors' and hospitals' costs, forcing them to charge private patients more to compensate for the lost Medicare and Medicaid revenue.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
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