Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Health Care Speech: The Good and The Bad

I didn't get a chance to watch the president's speech, but I read a pretty lengthy synopsis. From what I gather, Obama did an excellent job selling his proposals and dismantling some of the more transparent lies disseminated by conservative opponents of the bill. (Here is a good roundup of some of those lies.)

If nothing else, Obama definitely deserves credit for trying to put Congress back on track.

And it goes without saying that Congressman Joe Wilson should be ashamed of himself for his awful outburst. Kudos to John McCain for calling Wilson out. Wilson's comment was even more ridiculous because his claim is false. Obama is right. The bills being considered by Congress would not cover illegal immigrants.

Having said that, I do think it's important to address some of the (relatively minor) falsehoods that the president was peddling tonight:

1) Despite what the president says, preventative care is not likely to save money -- in fact, it may end up leading to higher spending overall. I've addressed this point in a previous post.

2) The House bill would allow abortions to be covered under the public plan. The president keeps insisting that this isn't true. He's either fudging or he's genuinely ignorant.

3) It's at best misleading for the president to insist that everyone who is currently covered will be able to 'keep what they have.' The truth is much more complicated and uncertain.

4) As one of Megan McArdle's commenters pointed out, Obama's reference to the highly-concentrated Alabama health insurance market is a bit odd and incoherent. Blue Cross Blue Shield Alabama -- which has come to dominate the market in that state -- is actually a not-for-profit insurance company. Since Obama has repeatedly argued that profit motive is one of the things stifling competition in the industry, the Alabama case seems to undermine his point.

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