Sen. Shelby Misinforms On Health Care

June 08, 2009 3:53 pm ET

In a June 7, 2009 appearance on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Richard Shelby proved he is out of touch and uninformed on the health care crisis.

Sen. Shelby: A Public Option Will "Destroy The Marketplace For Health Care"

Sen. Shelby: "Because government -- when the government's involved more and more in the details, and you start the one pay deal, and you've got the government competing with private enterprise, with all the incentives government has and the power, they will destroy the marketplace for health care, and it will be a mistake..." [CQ Transcript, 6/7/09]

Does Sen. Shelby believe American businesses cannot thrive with competition?

Public Plans Already Compete With Private Plans And "Set A Benchmark" For Care. The Los Angeles Times said: "The federal government already provides health insurance to about 83 million Americans through Medicare, Medicaid and other public programs, including those offered by the military. Private insurers, meanwhile, face growing criticism for refusing to cover people with preexisting conditions and dropping coverage for sick customers. 'This is a benchmark that will set a high standard that private plans have to meet,' said Jacob Hacker, a political scientist at UC Berkeley who advocates a public option." [Los Angeles Times, 5/10/09]

In Uncertain Economic Times, A Public Plan Is "Backup Insurance" For The United States' Largely Employer-Based Insurance System. According to the Economic Policy Institute: "Another reason that the health system needs a public health insurance option is that it serves as backup insurance for all Americans. While a majority of Americans are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance, many do not have access. Even among full-time workers, 17% do not have insurance. Furthermore, many people lose coverage each year when they leave their jobs and then pick it up again at a later time, spending at least brief time periods without insurance. Aside from the risks of being uninsured, these individuals and families also must deal with the disruption of changing providers, and the lack of continuity in their care. Though employer-sponsored health insurance is the backbone of the American health insurance system, it is not an effective backstop particularly in this time of high unemployment. A public health insurance option would offer a plan Americans could depend on." [, 5/13/09]

Fears Of A Public Plan Putting Private Plans Out Of Business Are "Overblown." According to the New York Times: "What many critics seem to fear most is that a new public plan would sweep away its private competitors and evolve over time into a full-fledged single-payer system (sometimes called Medicare for all). No matter how fair the competition between public and private plans might be at the start, they warn that the government would find it irresistible to rig the outcome through its regulatory and pricing powers and its ability, in a pinch, to subsidize the public plan with taxpayers' money. That fear seems overblown. Innovative, nimble private plans with well-integrated service systems might outperform any government plan, just as some now outperform Medicare through better coordination of services, stronger preventive care and broader benefits. A new public plan is neither the cornerstone of health care reform nor the death knell of private insurance. It should be tried as one element of comprehensive reform." [New York Times, 4/6/09, emphasis added]

Sen. Shelby: Public Option Will Destroy "The Best Health Care System The World Has Ever Known"

Sen. Shelby: [A public option] will be the first steps in the -- destroying the best health care system the world has ever known [...]

Does Sen. Shelby believe our system is best for the tens of millions of Americans who have no health insurance?

46 Million Americans Have No Health Insurance. According to the National Coalition for Health Care: "Nearly 46 million Americans, or 18 percent of the population under the age of 65, were without health insurance in 2007, the latest government data available." [, accessed 6/8/09]

1 Out Of Every 10 American Children Has No Health Insurance. The National Coalition for Health Care stated: "The number of uninsured children in 2007 was 8.1 million - or 10.7 percent of all children in the U.S." [, accessed 6/8/09]

Sen. Shelby: Letting Americans Know What He Thinks They Should Want

Sen. Shelby: "the American people better be careful in what they want." [CQ Trancript, 6/7/09]

Is Sen. Shelby so presumptuous as to tell the American people that they should want what only suits his political agenda?

Plurality Of Americans Polled Think Health Care Is The Most Pressing Issue For Congress And The President.  According to a New York Times/CBS News Poll conducted February 18-22, 2009 and based on 1,112 respondents, when asked "Beside the economy, which of these domestic policy areas do you want the President and Congress to concentrate on MOST right now - health care, global warming, education, or Social Security?" the respondents answers were: 40% Health Care, 5% Global Warming, 27% Education, 22% Social Security, 4% Something Else/Combination, and 1% Didn't Know.  [New York Times/CBS Poll, 2/09]

More Than 70% Of Americans Polled Want An Increased Governmental Role In Health Care.  According to CNN, "seventy-two percent of those questioned in recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say they favor increasing the federal government's influence over the country's health care system in an attempt to lower costs and provide health care coverage to more Americans, with 27 percent opposing such a move. Other recent polls show six in 10 think the government should provide health insurance or take responsibility for providing health care to all Americans." [, 3/5/09]

More Than 60% Of Americans Think The Federal Government "Should Guarantee" Health Care For All Americans.  When asked, "Do you think the federal government should guarantee health care for all Americans, or don't you think so?" during a CNN/Opinion Research poll, a majority of Americans, 62 %, said "should guarantee," 38% said "don't think so," and 1% "unsure." [CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll, 5/14-17/09]