What We Would Ask: Questions about Obama's health care plan

The Business & Media Institute asked several conservatives and free market health care proponents to offer questions they’d like to see asked of President Obama at the ABC "Prescription for America" town hall June 24.

The experts were concerned with people being forced onto the public plan by employers, potential tax increases, individual or employer mandates for health insurance and enforcement of those mandates, cost containment measures and the flaws of current government-run programs like Medicare.


Here are their questions:

Grace-Marie Turner, President of the Galen Institute. The Galen Institute is a non-profit research group devoted exclusively to health policy which supports individual freedom, consumer choice and competition. 


120 million would lose private coverage

“Mr. President, How do you justify the fact that you keep telling people they can keep the health coverage they have now if they like it but studies prove that 120 million Americans would lose the private coverage they have today, many of them involuntarily, if a public plan were introduced?”

Robert E. Moffit, Director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy. The Heritage Foundation is a public policy research institute that supports free enterprise, limited government and individual freedom among other things. 


Federal regulation might impinge on doctor/patient relationship

“You say people will have a right to their relationship with their doctor. Will there be any kind of practice guidelines from the federal government accompanied by either regulations or reimbursement reductions? And if there are how does that not interfere with the doctor patient relationship?”


Tax increases?

“You have said that typical Americans will receive a reduction on average of $2,500. Can you guarantee that that $2,500 reduction in their health care will not be offset by any tax increases?”


Against individual mandates before he was for them

 “You’ve said you’re open to the idea of an individual mandate. You’ve reversed your position (since you opposed Hillary Clinton’s proposal for a mandate during the campaign). Why would a mandate be enforceable now when it wasn’t when you were running against Mrs. Clinton?”


Fines for not purchasing insurance?

 “What kind of penalties should Americans be subjected to if they do not comply with an individual mandate to buy insurance?”


Taxing employers for not providing insurance

“If we have a pay or play (employer mandate) what should be the right level of taxation that will be imposed on employers who do not offer health insurance to their employees?”


Job losses from insurance mandates

 “Has OMB [Office of Management and Budget] done any estimation of what the additional unemployment would follow from the imposition of an employer mandate?”


Government-run health care no matter what you call it

 “If the federal government runs an insurance plan, runs a national health insurance exchange, designs the benefits that Americans will have and imposes penalties on Americans that do not comply with federal health policy why is this not government-run health care?”

Ryan Ellis, Director of Tax Policy for Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). ATR is a tax policy group that opposes all tax increases because the government’s power to control is derived from it’s power to tax.


Falling costs

 “President Obama, can you name one example of the government taking over an industry and costs falling as a result?”


Medicare is going bankrupt

 “President Obama, the best example we have of a government option in health care is Medicare. Medicare is projected to bankrupt the federal budget in the 21st century so why are we to believe that another government health care plan with do any better?”


Cost containment means rationing

 “President Obama, in Europe and Canada cost containment has often taken the form of rationing of health care. In the United Kingdom, government bureaucrats decide whether or not a person is worthy of receiving certain medical procedures based on their value to society. Is that the type of cost containment you would envision in your type of health care?”


Rigged competition

 “President Obama, you say that a public plan will merely compete with existing public sector private health plans. What steps will be taken to ensure that the system is not rigged in favor of the public plan winning these competitions?”

Peter Fotos, Director of Consumers for Health Care Choices at Heartland Institute. Heartland is a non-profit that seeks to develop and promote free-market solutions to many social and economic problems including health care. 


Runaway Medicare

 “Presumably this thing is going to be run like Medicare so how does that actually keep costs down? Medicare has runaway costs. The federal government doesn’t deal with fraud. In 2007, Medicaid had $32 billion in improper payments which is giving out reimbursements for services that didn’t happen. Both Medicare and Medicaid are fee for service programs.”


A free-market solution

 “Why wouldn’t it be better for a program of tax credits or tax deductions be better than a public plan option at getting care to the people who need it?”


Fix the tax code

 “Why don’t we address the inequities in the tax code that favor employer-based health care?”

 Amy Menefee, Director of Communications for Americans for Prosperity and policy adviser for Patients First. AFP is a grassroots organization that seeks to engage the public for limited government and free markets on all levels of government.


Forced out of private insurance

“Studies show 120 million Americans would be switched onto a government plan by their employers, not of their own choosing. In light of that, why do you keep telling people nothing has to change regarding their health coverage?”


Cost of non-compliance

 “How much do you think Americans should have to pay if they don’t comply with a health insurance mandate?”