And the Grand Liar of the Year Is…

The most annoying thing about Obama’s behavior during the Health care summit was his willingness to tell enormous lies.

Tom Coburn  laid out a very clear case for going after the 33% of each health care dollar that is probably wasted. He ticked off item by item that showed Obama was not serious about cutting costs.

Obama, quite surprisingly, then announced that virtually everything the Senator had said was already included in the bill. It was an amazing statement, because the Senator had specifically laid out things that were not in the bill. His whole point was that the bill was a nuclear missile pointed in the wrong direction.

Tom Coburn’s statement:

So when you break down the costs, what we know is 33 percent of the costs in health care shouldn’t be there.

And how do we go about doing that? And what are the components of that cost? And when you look at, when it’s studied, if you look at what Malcolm Sparrow from Harvard says, he says 20 percent of the cost of federal government health care is fraud. That’s his number.

If you look at Thomson Reuters, when they look at all of this, they say at least 15 percent of government-run health care is fraud.

Well, when you look at the total amount of health care that’s government run, you know, you’re talking $150 billion a year.

So tomorrow, if we got together and fixed fraud, we could cut health care 7.5 percent tomorrow for people in this country.

So what we ought to do is do the Willie Sutton thing. We ought to go for where the money is.

What’s the other area? What we do know — and I’m guilty of this, Dr. Barrasso’s guilty of it, Dr. Boustany is guilty of it — is a large portion of the tests we order every day aren’t for patients. They’re for doctors. And the reason they’re there is because we are risk averse to the tort system and extortion system that’s out there today in health care.

And there are a lot of ways to fix that. But I just went through last night, if you add up what Thomson Reuters, which looked at all the studies that have been done and combined them in, they say between $625 billion and $850 billion a year of health care dollars are wasted.

So it seems to me if cost is the number one thing that’s keeping people from getting care, then the efforts of us, as we go after cost, ought to be to go to those areas where the cost is wasted.

And there’s a philosophical difference in how we do that. One wants more government-centered approach to that. I would personally prefer a more patient-centered, market-orient approach to that. But nevertheless, there’s where we can come together, just on those two areas, where we could cut costs 15 percent tomorrow. And that’s for everybody in the country.

What would — what would happen to access in this country if tomorrow everybody’s health care costs went down 15 percent? Access would markedly increase.

So what I would hope we would do is that we would go back and concentrate on the areas that have the biggest pot of gold for us. And the biggest pot of gold is, is we don’t incentivize prevention. We don’t pay rewards for great management of chronic disease. We have a system throughout the country where we’re encouraging lawsuits that aren’t productive for the country, and what they actually do is cause the cost of health care to go through the roof.

…COBURN: So I think if — I think it’s great that we’re coming together. But the gold is in where’s the cost excesses? And what I would hope we would do is we would look at that and say, How do we come together and actually achieve a reduction in the extortion that goes on in this country in terms of medical malpractice? And there’s lots of ways to do that without us mandating states to do that. 

How do we do that in terms of creating an elimination of fraud?

 You know, when you compare the private sector fraud rates, it’s 1 percent compared to Medicare and Medicaid. You know, there’s estimates that there’s $15 billion worth of fraud in Medicaid a year in New York City alone.

 So we haven’t attacked that. We haven’t gone where the money is. And my hope would be that we would look at where the money is. And if truly it’s accurate — and I don’t know many people that will disagree that $1 in $3 doesn’t help somebody get well and doesn’t prevent it, then we ought to be going for that $1 in $3.

 And we ought to do it by not creating a whole bunch of new government programs, but by creating an incentive to reward people. In your new bill you have good fraud programs, but you lack the biggest thing to do. The biggest thing on fraud is to have undercover patients so that people know we’re checking on whether or not this is a legitimate bill. And you don’t know who’s an undercover patient and who’s not. And all of a sudden you start changing your attitude of whether or not you’re going to milk Medicare or you’re going to milk Medicaid.

Coburn was making them look like fools. What could be done? Harry Reid had the answer:

REID (?): Mr. President, if I could just say, I’m not an expert on much, but I am filibusters. And we’ve got 40 members of Congress here.

And then Obama, quite unbelievably, said it was all in his bill already:

OBAMA: Well, Tom, I appreciate what you said. I think we’re going to have Steny Hoyer go next. I just want to make this quick point: Every good idea that we’ve heard about reducing fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid system, we’ve adopted in our legislation.

So that’s an example of where we agree. We want to eliminate fraud and abuse within the government systems. 

Let’s recognize, though, that those savings in the government systems, which will help taxpayers and allow us to do more, doesn’t account for the rising costs in the private marketplace. 

Now, the private marketplace, you mentioned the issue of medical malpractice and, you know, frivolous lawsuits. And I — as you indicated, these are areas where Secretary Sebelius has already begun to try to give states some incentives to do that.

There are no serious measures against fraud, waste and abuse in Obamacare. This is his big idea: Create a database of people who have cheated on Medicare. Big Deal. Coburn had serious measures in mind, not fake ones.

It was painful to watch the President just lie.



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