Fox attempts to rewrite health care reform history

While guest-hosting Fox & Friends, former Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino repeatedly portrayed President Obama and Democrats as unwilling to compromise with Republicans during the health care debate, while also touting GOP health care “ideas.” In fact, Democrats attempted to compromise with Republicans on numerous occasions and incorporated conservative proposals into the bill.

Perino repeatedly suggests Republicans were shut out of health care reform debate

Perino claims health care summit was an attempt to “embarrass” Republicans and was “all just for show.” On the November 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Perino said: “Remember, we had to have that big summit where President Obama called the Republicans down and then basically tried to embarrass them in front of the nation -- embarrass John McCain, and then it didn't do them any favors. And it was all just for show that they were going to move on anyway.”

Perino: “Cooperation” on health care reform “would be reaching out” to incorporate GOP ideas. Later on Fox & Friends, Perino again attacked Obama's interview, saying: “When he talks about that he couldn't get cooperation from Republicans -- cooperation isn't necessarily Republicans capitulating to what you want. It would be reaching out and saying you have some ideas. The fact that they couldn't politically figure out a way just to even pick off one or two Republicans so that they could have called this a bipartisan bill is astounding to me.”

In fact, the bill included several GOP ideas and amendments

Obama: "[W]hen you say I ought to be willing to accept Republican ideas on health care, let's be clear: I have." During Obama's question-and-answer period of his House GOP retreat visit on January 29, Obama stated some of the GOP ideas on health care reform that are included in the Senate bill, such as: "[C]reating a high-risk pool for uninsured folks with preexisting conditions"; “Allowing insurance companies to sell coverage across state lines”; “creating pools where self-employed and small businesses could buy insurance”; “let[ting] kids remain covered on their parents' insurance until they're 25 or 26”; “incentivizing wellness”; and “creating an affordable catastrophic insurance option for young people”:

This is a big problem, and all of us are called on to solve it. And that's why, from the start, I sought out and supported ideas from Republicans. I even talked about an issue that has been a holy grail for a lot of you, which was tort reform, and said that I'd be willing to work together as part of a comprehensive package to deal with it. I just didn't get a lot of nibbles.

Creating a high-risk pool for uninsured folks with preexisting conditions, that wasn't my idea, it was Senator McCain's. And I supported it, and it got incorporated into our approach. Allowing insurance companies to sell coverage across state lines to add choice and competition and bring down costs for businesses and consumers -- that's an idea that some of you I suspect included in this better solutions; that's an idea that was incorporated into our package. And I support it, provided that we do it hand in hand with broader reforms that protect benefits and protect patients and protect the American people.

A number of you have suggested creating pools where self-employed and small businesses could buy insurance. That was a good idea. I embraced it. Some of you supported efforts to provide insurance to children and let kids remain covered on their parents' insurance until they're 25 or 26. I supported that. That's part of our package. I supported a number of other ideas, from incentivizing wellness to creating an affordable catastrophic insurance option for young people that came from Republicans like Mike Enzi and Olympia Snowe in the Senate, and I'm sure from some of you as well. So when you say I ought to be willing to accept Republican ideas on health care, let's be clear: I have.

Klein: “I don't think it's well understood how many of the GOP's central health-care policy ideas” are in Senate bill. In a February 8 blog post, Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein wrote that the “four planks” on health care laid out on the House Republican Conference's website are all included in the Senate bill, specifically the website's call to “Let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines”; “Allow individuals, small businesses, and trade associations to pool together and acquire health insurance at lower prices, the same way large corporations and labor unions do”; “Give states the tools to create their own innovative reforms that lower health care costs”; and “End junk lawsuits.” Klein also wrote that the excise tax included in the Senate bill “does virtually the same thing” as President Bush's 2007 proposal to cap the tax break for employer-sponsored insurance, and that the bill is “a private-market plan” that does not include the public option.

Senate bills had numerous GOP amendments and reflected bipartisan meetings. According to a HELP Committee document about bipartisan aspects of the health reform bill the committee passed July 15, 2009, its final bill included “161 Republican amendments,” including “several amendments from Senators [Mike] Enzi [R-WY], [Tom] Coburn [R-OK], [Pat] Roberts [R-KS] and others [that] make certain that nothing in the legislation will allow for rationing of care,” and reflected the efforts of “six bipartisan working groups” that “met a combined 72 times” in 2009 as well as “30 bipartisan hearings on health care reform” since 2007, half of which were held in 2009 [HELP Committee document, 7/09]. And according to the Senate Finance Committee's September 22, 2009, document detailing the amendments to the Chairman's Mark considered, at least 13 amendments sponsored by one or more Republican senators were included in the bill.

Several prominent Republicans indicated their unwillingness to negotiate in good faith

GOP senators made clear they didn't intend to negotiate with Democrats in good faith. For instance, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) asserted during a July 17, 2009, conference call organized by the anti-health care reform group Conservatives for Patients Rights while discussing health care reform: “If we're able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” Similarly, Minority Whip Jon Kyl (AZ) reportedly admitted on August 18, 2009, that “almost all Republicans” will oppose Democratic health care reform efforts, regardless of the compromises Democrats might make in attempting to win their support. And Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley during an August 2009 town hall meeting told the audience they “have every right to fear” the end-of-life counseling provision in the House bill, adding that the “government-run plan” could " could lead to “decide when to pull the plug on grandma.” During an August 2009 interview, Grassley also admitted he wouldn't vote for his own bill if the GOP remained opposed. The Senate Finance Committee also held 31 “bipartisan meetings to discuss the development of a health care reform bill.”

Perino touted GOP health care “ideas”

Perino: “When it comes to the Republicans, they did have ideas. They laid them out there.” Later on Fox & Friends, Perino reacted to a clip of Obama saying he thought there could have been “common ground” on health care but that Republicans wouldn't cooperate, by calling his statement “a little bit stunning,” claiming: “Because -- first of all, when it comes to the Republicans, they did have ideas. They laid them out there. Even though Democrats -- their favorite line is to say that the Republicans didn't have any ideas.”

Fox News figures previously touted the GOP plan. On the November 5, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Caroline Shively parroted a GOP press release, falsely claiming that their plan “means premiums for millions of families will be almost $5,000 lower under their plan, compared to the cheapest plan in the Democrats' exchange.” On the November 5, 2009, edition of America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum claimed: “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is saying that the Republican bill ... will carry lower costs for Americans. The CBO estimates that health insurance premiums would be nearly $5,000 cheaper under the Republican reforms than the Democratic ones.”

In fact, GOP plan wouldn't cover uninsured, or lower premiums, and would lead to less deficit reduction

CBO: GOP plan leaves 52 million people uninsured. According to CBO estimates, the GOP plan would not cover most uninsured Americans. Despite a reported claim made by a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner that the Republican alternative “will cover millions more Americans” than the Democrats' plan, the CBO estimated that the plan will only cover 3 million uninsured Americans over the next 10 years, 33 million less than the House Democrats' newly released bill. According to the CBO, the GOP plan would leave 52 million people still uninsured. By 2019, CBO predicts that under the GOP plan, "[t]he share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage" would be “roughly in line with the current share.”

CBO: GOP plan would lower most premiums by “zero to 3 percent.” The CBO estimated that for 80 percent of the insured population, the Republican alternative would “lower average insurance premiums in 2016 by zero to 3 percent.” In addition, CBO estimated that some of the bill's provisions “would tend to increase the premiums paid by less healthy enrollees.”

CBO concluded GOP plan would result in less deficit reduction. CBO estimates indicate that House Democrats' bill lowers the deficit more than the GOP's proposal. The Republican alternative is estimated to reduce the federal deficit by $68 billion over 10 years. By comparison, the Democrats' bill would reduce the federal deficit by $104 billion, according to the CBO.