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July 21st, 2009
11:11 AM ET

Jindal: Dems' plan puts govt. between doctors, patients

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Governor Bobby Jindal says the House Democrats' health care proposal would put the government between doctors and their patients."]

Key House Democrats are being summoned to the White House today for some not so subtle arm-twisting on health care reform. President Obama's looking for every vote that he can get to push health care reform through Congress by the August recess. Republicans, though, are fighting him every step of the way.

Louisiana's Republican Governor Bobby Jindal has been a vocal critic of the president’s plan. He spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.

John Roberts: You penned a rather scathing editorial for on the Democrats' health care proposals. But your state ranks dead last in the United Health Foundation survey of overall health. It also had the fourth highest Medicare cost per patient in the country from 1996 through 2006, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Some people out there might be wondering if you're the best person to be criticizing the administration's plans for health care reform?

Bobby Jindal: Well John, a couple of things. We've actually got a very aggressive waiver in front of the federal government allowing us – asking them for permission to allow us to revamp our public health care programs to put more of an emphasis on outcomes. Louisiana's a great example of what's wrong with many of our government-run health care programs. You look at Medicare – the Dartmouth data shows that higher spending doesn't always correlate to better outcomes.

Here's my concern with the House Democratic proposal, what's being discussed. You know, they say that if you like your health care, you can keep it. But that's not what this plan does. They say they're going to control costs, but even their own budget office says their plan doesn't do it. They say they’re going to expand access. Look at what their plan really does: Increases the deficit by nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars. You’ve got a plan that in reality, their own budget office says, doesn't reduce costs. It increases taxes at a time that we may be in one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression. No economist thinks we should be increasing taxes right now on employers, on small businesses, on families that don't want to participate in this health care program.

And then finally, finally you've got a plan – the House Democratic plan – that puts the government in between doctors and their patients. That's no way to improve quality. And so, if they were actually doing what they said they were doing, that'd be one thing, but that's not what their plan does. At least you've got to give Senator Kennedy credit. In Newsweek this past week, he admitted that his ideal had been to have a single-payer, government-run health care system. I don't think that's the answer for our country. I think we should actually do what the rhetoric says. Let’s focus on reducing costs. Let’s focus on increasing quality. Let's not expand the government's role in running our health care.

Roberts: You mentioned the cost. And it's true that Doug Elmendorf of the Congressional Budget Office sent shock waves through Capitol Hill when he said that over 10 years this could add $239 billion to the deficit. But at the same time, if Congress does its job it could come up with a savings of $245 billion in that same ten-year period leading to a $6 billion surplus. Do you not have faith that Congress can get that part of the job done?

Jindal: Well, I've got a lot of skepticism about some of the things coming out of this Congress. You’re looking over this plan – the score already includes over $200 billion in reductions from Medicare and Medicaid. So sure, you know, maybe they could balance this if they want to continue cutting Medicare and Medicaid programs for the elderly and the poor. But there's a better way to reduce costs than simply just cutting one provider group and raising our taxes. There are some real true bottom up solutions.

For example, why not attack frivolous lawsuits? We spend, by one estimate, over $100 billion a year on defensive medicine. Why not allow small businesses to pool their purchasing power? Instead of just expanding government-run programs like Medicaid, why not allow refundable tax credits to be used to help the uninsured, the working poor to buy coverage? Why not use portable electronic records? Why not require providers and plans to post their prices and outcomes on the Internet so patients can be in control? Why not do things that actually reduce the cost of care?

Let's address the problems with our insurance marketplace. Let’s make insurance companies cover the sick. Let’s make coverage affordable across state lines. Why should coverage be tied to your employment? You should be able to buy health care, whether it be through your church, your union, your bowling league. It shouldn't just be tied to employment.

Roberts: You said most Americans would end up being forced into  government-run health care, in this editorial. What makes you think that most Americans would be forced into anything, first of all? And saying it's government-run health care is misleading, isn't it? It's actually not the government that would be running the health care system. That would still be private, it would just be providing insurance.

Jindal: No, you're talking about a government-run health option. And this is a very important point…

Roberts: But it's government-run health insurance, it's not government-run health care, which is what you said in your editorial.

Jindal: Well, it's government-run health care in that they'll be deciding the rates. They’ll be deciding what benefits are covered. They’ll be deciding who they're going to pay, what procedures you can get. That's government-run health care. But look at the Lewin study. They estimate that as many as 100 million Americans may leave private coverage for this government-run plan. And this is a very important point…

Roberts: But they also say that as few as 10.1 million may leave for government-run health care depending on how the plan is formulated. That 119 million was the upper level and even the people who wrote that report said that's a worst case scenario.

Jindal: But you're talking about the same government that's paying for health care, regulating health care, now competing. It's going to be taxpayer subsidized. By their own estimates they say because the government will be shifting costs to the private sector, they’re going to be underpaying providers. They'll be able to undercut their competition until they drive the competition out of the marketplace.

Because it's taxpayer-backed, you know that they'll have a lower cost of debt. They will be able to artificially shift costs. That's what happens today in Medicare and Medicaid. That’s why you've got even Democratic legislators concerned. What happens today with Medicare and Medicaid is they underpay, shifting costs to the private sector. You’re going to have a government-run plan doing the same thing. They’re going to be artificially able to drive the private sector out of competition…

Roberts: That is one argument. But the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center said, “Private plans would not disappear. Private plans that offer better services and greater access to providers, even at somewhat higher costs than the public plans, would survive the competition in this environment.” You also pointed out in your editorial, you said someone other than patients and doctors would make the decision on treatments and medications that we can have. Doesn't that already happen under private plans?

Jindal: Well ... we absolutely need to empower patients. It doesn't matter whether it's government or insurance bureaucrats. And that’s why we need to reform the insurance program. Nobody is saying that what we have today is perfect. What we’re saying is more government control's not the answer. But John, let's go back to this idea of competing with the government. Why do we think you have to have a government competition to make the private sector work? We don't think that about factories or stores or newspapers or TV stations. You know, the government’s already getting involved in running banks and car companies. Why do we think more government involvement in running health care is the answer?

Here in Louisiana we saw what happens when you've got a government monopoly. We saw what happened with FEMA after Katrina and Rita. We're not convinced that a government monopoly – that a government-run health care plan is going to improve quality. I think the opposite’s true. I think you're going to have more bureaucratic, more political decisions made out of Washington about what kinds of care you can get, who can pay for it, what kinds of treatments, who's allowed to get which treatments. I don’t want the government making that decision. I as a consumer want to be able to choose my plan, my provider, my doctor, based on what's best for me and based on what's best for my family.

Filed under: Health • Politics
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Jon

    Reply to ayoung – ok, ask me as a U.S. born Canadian resident – you are drinking the kool-aid from special interests and some GOP politicians when it comes to discussing Canadian or UK Health care systems.

    Finding a disgruntled patient and then painting everyone with the same brush is not exactly fact based.

    Its just more politics of fear... but instead of national security, the target is your nation's health care.

    There are no WOMD in the Canadian health care system – most of us would prefer it to what you have down there – nearly 50 million uninsured, another 100 million or so under-insured, 68% of personal bankruptcies have a health care component and the majority of those had some form of insurance.

    Finally, who do you think wins out – your health or the claims adjuster of a for-profit insurance company when it comes time to decide what procedures you are entitled to?

    July 22, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  2. Bernice

    How funny once again!! It is NOT ONLY the Republicans that tell lies!! It is humans, pure and simple! Even the democrats said, NO HIGHER TAXES to those making under $250K per year! Withing a week (?) came the first of a long line of tax increases for those not making the $250K! One lie after the next! Hipocrits ...the whole lot of them! DO NOT allow govt. run healthcare! We will all fail! It will be up the the govt. whether they feel you are worth the spending of taxpayers moon a surgery, however will pay for abortions! I can tell him what I think he should do with his healtcare program! Use it himself, for his wife and kids... for his family! For his staff....congress ...all govt. employess! Let them try it first since they feel it is such a good program! Obama did not even draft this medical plan anyway! He does not even know for sure what is in the documents! Americans, when we have to spend over a trillion and a half dollars (to start with) ...make sure we have it right the first time! Not like his idea of the stimulas package! Lies! Lies! Lies! They irresponsibly squandered the Americans Taxdollars daily!! Oh what fun to blow other peoples money!!!

    July 22, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  3. paula

    an interviewer asked michael steele who his insurance provider was . he said, 'uh, uh, i don't know for sure'. i think it's BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD. a government plan! ! ! ! Whatever is spewing from a republicans mouth , you only have to remember one thing. Its a big, fat , manipulative,devious, dishonest LIE.

    July 22, 2009 at 1:27 am |
  4. rampart ranger

    Oh, right from the getgo, John Roberts goes straight to the ad hominem in defending Our Glorious President. Roberts states that Governor Jindal isn't the best person to be speaking up about health care when according to the Woods Foundation, Louisiana was last in health care from 1996-2006. That's definitely a negative mark on his performance, right?

    Problem is: Jindal wasn't sworn in until January 14, 2008.

    I'm available to work on your research staff, John, as soon as you fire whoever you're relying on now.

    July 21, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  5. ayoung

    It is amusing to hear charges that Jindal is "propagating falsehoods." What falsehoods? - Ask ANY American physician and she will tell that government health insurance programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, underpay the cost of care, which is then shifted to private pay patients. Ask the Congressional Budget Office and it will tell you that the Pelosi plan will increase the cost of healthcare. Ask the Mayo Clinic and it will tell you that the Pelosi plan will increase costs and decrease quality of care. Ask any Democratic governor and he will tell you that he is worried about unfunded mandates embeded within the i plan. Finally, ask any British or Canadian citizen how long she has to wait for a mamogram or an MRI or, God forbid, surgery.

    July 21, 2009 at 7:54 pm |
  6. Double A

    This man is supposed to be bright! Repeating the same old tired falsehoods being propagated by GOP, he is no different than his Chairman Steele. Looks like he wants back in the Arena after being in exile for a good long period. I wish him the best, in return he should do us a favor, back off the National scene buddy and continue fooling the gullible people of LA.

    July 21, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  7. Bill

    I'm glad to see Roberts come out of the dark and show his political stripes. This wasn't so much an interview as a debate.

    July 21, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  8. Larry

    Insurance companies are just another example how unbridled greed can destroy a system. Pay your premiums, get nothing in return. It's like have hurricane insurance but not flood insurance? We don't have to pay. GET REAL.

    Insurance companies are no different than the bankers, mortgage writers and credit card companies that led to our financial collapse.

    AIG Insurance Group is ready to give out another round of multi million dollar bonuses and they haven't paid back a dime of the $180 billion of TARP funds.

    It's the greed of the insurance companies and health care providers that are destroying our current health care system, and it needs to stop!

    July 21, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  9. lbrignac

    Someone needs to look into Louisiana's high risk health insurance plan. Since Bobby Jindal became Gov. my co-pays have become unaffordable. Before he was Gov. my co-pay for medications was approx. 700 every 3 months now they are 800 a month this change happened in January. If he is making health care worse in his own state, believe me you don't want him trying to persuade the country.

    July 21, 2009 at 11:14 am |