Facts versus windows and beans

By: - September 16, 2009 6:28 pm

Almost two thirds of small businesses in North Carolina support national health care reform that includes a public option. Three-quarters of physicians want people to have choices that include a government plan. 

It was pretty to easy to miss that news while the saga of Rep. Joe "you lie" Wilson continued in Washington. 

There's a good chance that you also didn't hear much background about what Wilson was so rude about, his mistaken belief that undocumented immigrants would receive subsidized health care under the Democrats' reform proposals. 

Not only is that not true, very few immigrants are receiving Medicaid services now despite constant claims otherwise by demagogues on the Right.

A study by the House Oversight Committee that looked at six states to see if undocumented immigrants were on the Medicaid rolls found eight ineligible immigrants signed up. The study cost taxpayers $8.3 million.

The evidence of support for a public option by North Carolina small business owners comes from a survey released this week by the group Small Business Majority. The poll, not surprisingly, found that affordability was the biggest barrier small businesses face in providing health care to employees.

Sixty-five percent of the small business people surveyed said they supported giving people the choice of a public or private plan.  That goes a long way toward dispelling the claims that small businesses are viscerally opposed to President Obama's proposals.

A survey by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that 73 percent of doctors across the country support a reform plan with a public option.  That ought to allay a lot of the fears of rationing and access to care stoked by the insurance companies and the think thanks and front groups they support.

The Mount Sinai poll found strong support from doctors in every region of the country regardless of their field of practice.  It's difficult to understand how reform opponents can explain that away with a talking point, that the people who know the most about health care and see patients every day support the President's reform efforts, including the choice of a public plan.

That hasn't stopped them from trying of course, between efforts to make a hero out of Rep. Wilson even though many Republicans criticized his outburst and voted for the House resolution to admonish him.

Dallas Woodhouse of Americans for the Prosperous told a crowd in Johnston County recently that reform would mean that health care decisions would be made by "nameless, faceless, bean-counting bureaucrats" and railed against a plan that relied on a "spreadsheet in a windowless office."

Either Woodhouse is confusing public programs with insurance companies or he believes that everybody now knows personally the people who approve or deny their claims at the corporate headquarters of Blue Cross or whatever insurance company  covers them—all of whom apparently have an office with a window. 

And it's pretty clear that folks at private for-profit insurance companies are the ones counting beans all the time. That's their primarily goal after all, to collect as many beans as they can.

Doctors would never support a plan to put even more power in the hands of people in a faraway office—window or not. That's why they are unhappy with the current system and want things to change.

Woodhouse must know that, though you'll never hear it on his bus tour across the state designed to mislead people into opposing meaningful reform. 

They can't win the debate on the facts or by asking doctors or small businesses what they want. That leaves only empty rhetoric and celebrating Congressional outbursts. 

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066