On State of the Union, CNN's John King allowed Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to baselessly claim that "the vast majority of people" don't support the creation of a public health insurance option, and that the public option would cost "four to five hundred billion dollars" which would be taken "out of Medicare." In fact, most recent polls indicate that a plurality or majority of respondents support a public option, and the Congressional Budget Office has found that the public option proposed in health reform legislation by the Senate health committee -- on which Hatch sits -- would "not have a substantial effect on the cost" of the bill.
From the August 30 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
HATCH: You know, it's interesting to be on with Senator Dodd, who is, I think, Senator Kennedy's greatest Democrat friend. I consider myself his best Republican friend. And Chris and I, we have been able to work together as Teddy and I used to work together. But it's gonna take a lot of work because, you know, many of the so-called progressives in the Democratic Party are insisting on this public or Washington government-run plan, and the vast majority of people out there in the public, they don't want that. They're scared to death knowing that Medicare has $38 trillion in unfunded liability as we sit here and that in order to get that public plan and pay for it, they're gonna take four to five hundred billion dollars out of Medicare. I mean, that's crazy.
KING: Senator Dodd, we're going to talk more about the policy of health care as we move on, but on the question of Vicki Kennedy.
Hatch's claim that the "vast majority" oppose public option undermined by polling
Kaiser Family Foundation: 59 percent favor creating "government-administered public health insurance option." The August 4-11 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll asked if respondents would favor or oppose "[c]reating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private insurance plans." 59 percent of respondents said they would favor a public option, while 38 percent said they were opposed.
Washington Post/ABC News: 52 percent support "new health insurance plan" created by government. An August 13-17 Washington Post/ABC News poll asked, "Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?" 52 percent of respondents said they would support the plan, while 46 percent said they were opposed.
NBC News/Wall Street Journal: 43 percent favor creating "public health care plan administered by the federal government." An August 15-17 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked, "Would you favor or oppose creating a public health care plan administered by the federal government that would compete directly with private health insurance companies?" 43 percent of respondents said they would favor the plan, while 47 percent said they would oppose the plan.
SurveyUSA: 58 percent said having choice of both public and private plans is "Extremely Important." An August 19 SurveyUSA poll commissioned by MoveOn.org asked, "In any health care proposal, how important do you feel it is to give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance--extremely important, quite important, not that important, or not at all important?" 58 percent said the choice is "Extremely Important" and 19 percent said the choice is "Quite Important." 7 percent said the choice is "Not That Important" and 15 percent said it is "Not At All Important."
Several major polls have recently showed that a majority support a public option. July polling from Washington Post/ABC News, Time, and McClatchy all found greater than 50 percent support for a public option; two Quinnipiac polls and a New York Times/CBS News poll found greater than 60 percent support. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found respondents divided with 46 percent of respondents supporting a public option and 44 percent opposed.
King lets Hatch pin $400-$500 billion in Medicare cuts on public option
Hatch: "In order to get that public plan and pay for it," reform takes 400-500 billion "out of Medicare." Hatch stated that the people are "scared to death knowing that Medicare has $38 trillion in unfunded liability as we sit here and that in order to get that public plan and pay for it, they're gonna take four to five hundred billion dollars out of Medicare. I mean that's crazy." [State of the Union, 8/30/09]
CBO: Senate bill's public plan does "not have a substantial effect on the cost or enrollment projections." In its July 2 preliminary analysis of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee's bill, the CBO found that, in the words of CBO director Douglas Elmendorf, the public option "did not have a substantial effect on the cost or enrollment projections largely because the public plan would pay providers of health care at rates comparable to privately negotiated rates -- and thus was not projected to have premiums lower than those charged by private insurance plans in the exchanges." Hatch sits on the HELP committee.