Tapper, Hemmer too busy playing gotcha on Obama's AARP comments to report relevant facts

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Following President Obama's comments at an August 11 town hall that "AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare," ABC News' Jake Tapper and Fox News' Bill Hemmer reported that Obama was incorrect and that the AARP hadn't endorsed any specific bill. However, while the AARP did release a statement saying it hadn't endorsed a bill, it also praised Obama's "insistence that any final reform package will not reduce Medicare benefits," which neither Tapper nor Hemmer reported; moreover, Tapper and Hemmer did not note that the group has previously praised the House tri-committee bill.

During August 11 town hall, Obama referred to AARP's support of Medicare, prescription drug proposals

At the August 11 town hall meeting in New Hampshire, Obama said:

Well, first of all, another myth that we've been hearing about is this notion that somehow we're going to be cutting your Medicare benefits. We are not. AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, okay? So I just want seniors to be clear about this, because if you look at the polling, it turns out seniors are the ones who are most worried about health care reform. ... So I just want to assure we're not talking about cutting Medicare benefits."

[...]

America's doctors and nurses know firsthand how badly we need reform. We have broad agreement in Congress on about 80 percent of what we're trying to do. We have an agreement from the drug companies to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. We can cut the doughnut hole in half if we pass reform. ... We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors.

[...]

When the prescription drug plan was passed, Medicare Part D, they decided they weren't going to negotiate with the drug companies for the cheapest available price on drugs. And as a consequence, seniors are way over-paying -- there's that big doughnut hole that forces them to go out of pocket. You say you take a lot of medications; that means that doughnut hole is always something that's looming out there for you. If we can cut that doughnut hole in half, that's money directly out of your pocket. And that's one of the reasons that AARP is so supportive, because they see this as a way of potentially saving seniors a lot of money on prescription drugs.

AARP responded that it hasn't endorsed any specific bill but supports Obama's "insistence" that Medicare benefits not be cut

In an August 11 statement, AARP chief operating officer Tom Nelson said:

While the President was correct that AARP will not endorse a health care reform bill that would reduce Medicare benefits, indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate.

AARP supports specific measures that would help older Americans and their families -- including bipartisan proposals to create a new follow-up care benefit in Medicare that would help prevent hospital re-admissions, as well as to address the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole." We also support the need for lawmakers and the Administration to act this year to fix what doesn't work in the health care system.

We share the President's commitment to act this year, and our members appreciate his insistence that any final reform package will not reduce Medicare benefits for the millions of people that literally depend on that program as a lifeline.

Tapper said Obama made a "misstatement" about AARP endorsement, ignored AARP support for not cutting Medicare

From Tapper's August 11 report on ABC's World News:

TAPPER: Well, more than 200 million Americans have private health insurance, and President Obama this week is tailoring his message at them, today talking about health insurance companies holding Americans hostage by denying them coverage or dropping their coverage. President Obama also, as you said, talked about some of the charges being made about health insurance that aren't true, serving as a sort of fact-checker in chief.

[...]

TAPPER: President Obama made some misstatements of his own though, Charlie, at the town hall meeting, saying that the AARP was on board with health care reform legislation, when in fact the group has not endorsed any bill.

Hemmer read only part of AARP statement on endorsement, ignored AARP support for not cutting Medicare

From Hemmer's August 12 report on Fox News' America's Newsroom:

HEMMER: There's another statement by the president getting a bit of pushback this morning. President Obama also made a couple of bold statements about the AARP's support for reform. Listen to this.

OBAMA: We have the AARP on board because they know that this is a good deal for our seniors. [...] Well, first of all, another myth that we've been hearing about is this notion that somehow we're gonna be cutting your Medicare benefits. We are not. The AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare.

HEMMER: OK. Turns out the AARP isn't exactly on board. Right after the president's town hall meeting, it issued this statement: "Indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate." That's a quote -- Tom Nelson. We'll keep checking on that.

AARP previously praised House tri-committee bill

In a July 14 press release, AARP CEO Barry Rand praised the House health care reform bill, saying:

We are pleased by the House TriCommittee's health care reform bill, which makes important strides towards making sure that every American has access to affordable, quality health care choices.

Those without access to employer sponsored plans face serious roadblocks that block affordable insurance choices based on their age and health status. Those of our members in Medicare pay close to 30% of their incomes on out-of-pocket expenses and they deserve relief, especially in the prescription drug doughnut hole, where they get no benefit while paying premiums.

This bill would make great strides for all of our members and their families.

It would help abolish those insurance market practices that keep people on the outside looking in based only on their age and health status. It recognizes that expanding coverage means little if a person can't afford it, providing meaningful relief to those with modest incomes and capping out-of-pocket expenses for plans in the Exchange.

The House TriCommittee bill would also close over time the Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole" -- a major concern for our members.

Transcripts

From the August 11 edition of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:

TAPPER: Well, more than 200 million Americans have private health insurance, and President Obama this week is tailoring his message at them, today talking about health insurance companies holding Americans hostage by denying them coverage or dropping their coverage. President Obama also, as you said, talked about some of the charges being made about health insurance that aren't true, serving as a sort of fact-checker in chief.

[begin video clip]

TAPPER: Portsmouth High School in New Hampshire was the first of three town hall meetings this week selling health care reform to Americans with insurance.

OBAMA: Insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage because of a person's medical history.

TAPPER: Outside, the crowds were raucous; some angry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't believe anything they said.

TAPPER: Inside, the crowd was friendly, with chants of, "Yes we can."

CROWD: Yes we can!

TAPPER: Nothing like those town hall participants members of Congress have faced in recent days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going to give us classes on euthanasia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A board that would ration care and kill off the elderly and the handicapped. How do you call that improving medical care?

TAPPER: But the president took on many of those questions.

OBAMA: Where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed.

TAPPER: For instance, the Obama "death panel" rumor former governor Sarah Palin wrote of.

OBAMA: "Death panels" that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we've decided that we don't -- it's too expensive to let her live anymore.

TAPPER: The intention, the president said, was to provide voluntary counseling to seniors.

OBAMA: The intention of the members of Congress was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they're ready, on their own terms.

TAPPER: The president also explained a page on the White House website inviting Americans to email the White House questionable claims about health reform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm one of the people that turned myself in on the White House webpage the other day for being a skeptic of this bill.

OBAMA: Forward us the email and we will answer the question that's raised in the email. Suddenly, on some of these news outlets, this is being portrayed as Obama collecting an enemies list.

[end video clip]

TAPPER: President Obama made some misstatements of his own though, Charlie, at the town hall meeting, saying that the AARP was on board with health care reform legislation, when in fact the group has not endorsed any bill. The president also said that health care reform will be achieved without adding to the deficit, while independent budget experts find that claim questionable.

From the August 12 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

HEMMER: There's another statement by the president getting a bit of pushback this morning. President Obama also made a couple of bold statements about the AARP's support for reform. Listen to this.

OBAMA: We have the AARP on board because they know that this is a good deal for our seniors. [...] Well, first of all, another myth that we've been hearing about is this notion that somehow we're gonna be cutting your Medicare benefits. We are not. The AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare.

HEMMER: OK. Turns out the AARP isn't exactly on board. Right after the president's town hall meeting, it issued this statement: "Indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate." That's a quote -- Tom Nelson. We'll keep checking on that.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, ABC
Person
Jake Tapper, Bill Hemmer
Show/Publication
ABC World News Tonight, America's Newsroom
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