Mark Mardell, the BBC’s US President editor, has published his first post of the new year, and it’s as awful as we’ve come to expect. Doesn’t anyone read this stuff for him before he published it? (H/T George R in the open thread)
A big year for Obama and the Democrats
First he says that making everyone purchase health insurance is the President’s greatest achievement.
The plan to make all Americans take out health insurance is Mr Obama’s main achievement in office, and it is the biggest change he has made to American society.
Actually, the President’s main achievement has been to divide the country and fan the flames of political and ideological hatred. But Mardell and the BBC have always blamed the Tea Party movement and anyone he can think of on the Right for that, so never mind.
He sets up his explanation with this bit of ideological and class war talking points:
At the end of last year I saw the Obamacare sign-up in action in two very different states, Mississippi and Kentucky.
They are both in the South and both of a conservative disposition. But in Mississippi the Republican governor will have nothing to do with the plan, whereas the Democratic governor in Kentucky has embraced its possibilities.
I hope I will get the chance this year to look at other examples but these trips have left me with the strong feeling the healthcare changes will play very differently in different states – and within social classes.
He went to Mississippi, of course, to hoe his usual race row. Helping poor black people is the legacy of ObamaCare, and anyone who objects to the plan is racist. He doesn’t say it out loud, but that’s been his theme since 2009: those who object to ObamaCare as wealth redistribution are really objecting to redistributing wealth to people not like them. He’s said that over and over again.
Then Mardell explains how ObamaCare is playing out in different States. The Democrats, he says, believe all will be mostly well once the website is fixed.
That may well be true in some places – those states which have chosen to embrace expanding Medicaid, a US healthcare programme for the poor, and run their own exchange websites.
Er, if the State is running its own exchange website, that has nothing to do with the ObamaCare national website being fixed. Hello? Ideology has clearly muddled his thinking here.
Note to Mardell and the BBC: Going on Medicaid IS NOT purchasing health insurance.
Like all intellectually honest people have been saying from the very beginning, the goal of ObamaCare is to pave the way towards Socialist, government-provided health care for all. I’ve only been saying it for more than three years. If a political junkie like Mardell can’t tell the difference between buying health insurance and being a ward of the State, he has no business being a journalist.
And then he blames evil Republicans for the reason why insurance premiums are much higher in the ObamaCare exchanges.
But in Republican states where they do neither (and so people have to rely on the glitchy federal website), it could end up being very expensive for individuals and firms, and have a very low take-up.
This is, of course, a total lie. Okay, a partial lie. Yes, expenses for the insurance companies will go up if they don’t get enough young people and middle class and wealthy people to pay into the system. That’s why some insurance companies are already preparing to line up for a bailout. Actually, a bailout was sneakily written into the damn law in the first place, and a bill has been introduced to stop it. They knew all along that this wouldn’t be sustainable, and wrote themselves some taxpayer cash handouts. Did the BBC ever tell you that?
However – and here’s where the lie comes in – the premiums are higher for people who are paying for it because the whole purpose is to get them to subsidize and cover costs of insurance companies being forced to cover everyone with pre-existing conditions who would otherwise be paying a lot more, as well as being forced to pay for birth control pills and maternity care for everyone, men included. Plus taxes are being stuck on top of it. In short, the premiums will in general be higher anyway, regardless of how many people sign up in a world where the website was launched without a hitch. In fact, premiums are already higher. Insurance companies didn’t start out with high prices and will lower them once more people sign up. They’re higher because that’s what it’s going to cost even if everybody signs up, and they will remain so. What he’s saying simply isn’t true.
Here’s a good explanation from Forbes (not Fox News, not Breitbart, not the Right-wing echo chamber), which was written 10 months before we found out that the website was screwed up. No blame on a glitchy website preventing it from working was possible. The actual premium figures still remain to be seen, but there’s no denying the underlying mess. Well, Mardell is denying it, but he’s wrong, and has to be dishonest in order to do it.
Even when people in the US are trying to defend against this charge, it’s framed as “Why the premiums are lower than expected”, which is clever way to say they’re higher but it’s not as bad as the doomsayers said. Not much of a defense. And this is from California, one of those Democrat States running its own exchange that Mardell claims would work out well. The reason the premiums aren’t as high as expected? Some of the biggest insurance companies are staying out. They know keeping costs down isn’t going to happen, and they’ll be screwed. There’s a whole other cluster@#$% waiting to happen there with limited provider networks and limited options for care, but that’s for another time. In any case, notice that even someone defending against the charge that ObamaCare is making premiums higher isn’t actually showing that they’re lower than they would have been if it didn’t happen.
The system is mathematically unsustainable, and was never intended to be otherwise. Think it’s just me? Think I’m simply echoing red meat falsehoods tossed to me by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh? Think again. Even Mardell’s fellow far-Left Progressives are admitting it.
How Obamacare Actually Paves the Way Toward Single Payer
Last week the liberal documentary-maker Michael Moore prompted indigestion across the progressive wonk community by pronouncing Obamacare “awful.” In a New York Times op-ed, he bemoaned the way the president’s law preserved the health insurance industry rather than replacing it with a Medicare-for-all style single-payer system. The good news, Moore conceded, is that the previously uninsured (and often previously uninsurable) can get finally get coverage. The bad news is that their coverage will often be lousy and pose an enormous financial burden. He ended by calling for activists to lean on state politicians in an effort to beef the law up.
And yet I’m still much more sympathetic to Obamacare than Moore. He thinks it’s awful. I consider it a deceptively sneaky way to get the health care system both of us really want.
Mark Mardell is a liar, for purely ideological purposes. He’s made it very clear in the past that he thinks government-provided health care is analogous to the government providing police and fire departments. At the same time he made it obvious that he sees no difference between the government requiring people to buy health insurance and requiring people to buy car insurance. His personal ideology colors his thinking and his reporting, in this case to the point of dishonesty and misleading his readers.
My opinion of ObamaCare is irrelevant here. I’m not demanding that Mardell reflect my opinion instead of the one that ObamaCare is correct. These are facts. It’s not ideology to say that going on Medicaid is not the same thing as buying insurance. It’s not ideology to point out the actual reasons why premiums are high. Mardell is not impartial: he is biased. That’s the whole point of his job as a titled BBC “editor”, and I think it’s wrong.