After pushing Americans to turn in any “fishy” information, ABC-reporter-turned-White-House-communications-director Linda Douglass (left) recently led an hour-long, government-sponsored Webcast on health care reform, “to take on some of the myths you’ve heard.”
Douglass along with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other health administration officials spent most of the state-run Webcast touting the health care savings of health information technologies as well as prevention and wellness services — savings the Congressional Budget Office has refused to take into account in its scoring of current health care legislation.
“These can make the system more efficient and reduce premiums over time,” Dr. David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said on the Webcast. While health information technology certainly holds the potential to lower health system costs, former HHS Deputy Secretary Tevi Troy notes of the Obama approach:
Given the many hurdles and technical difficulties with [electronic health records or EHRs], it is not clear that rapid government-financed adoption is the best way to proceed. But that is exactly what the Obama Administration is doing: subsidizing the adoption of EHRs by doctors and hospitals for four years, after which it will likely penalize doctors and hospitals that do not have EHRs in place.
Other “myths” that the group addressed were the definitions for terms used in the health care debate, like single-payer, public option and co-op.
Repeating President Barack Obama’s promise that if you like your health coverage you’ll keep it, Sebelius claimed that a government-run health insurance plan, or the public option, creates “a new shopping option for those Americans who have no access to affordable health insurance now.”
“Nobody would be forced, signed or mandated into the public option,” Sebelius vowed. But the Lewin Group’s analysis of the House Tri-Committee bill has a vastly different projection. More than 88 million Americans could lose their private, employer-sponsored coverage if a public plan modeled on Medicare were introduced in the marketplace, the respected health consulting company found. Employers would have the financial incentive to dump these Americans into the public plan, regardless of the employees’ personal preferences on the matter.
Interestingly, Sebelius noted a “co-op is the Senate version of the same scheme,” referencing to the public option. She also explained that single-payer systems, where the government runs health care services, would stay a European initiative. “No on in Congress or the President is talking about dismantling the private insurance market and setting up a single-payer system.” But Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) have both argued that the public plan option is a way to get a single-payer system of national health insurance.
On the current congressional activity, Sebelius said, “It’s important we do [health care reform] a step at a time, but it’s also important that we get this right.” She did not address if Congress was moving at too fast of a speed to push through 1,000+ health care bills that some congressional members have said need to be divided up in sections among members to read.