Tired Talking Points: Rep. Price Rewrites Luntz' Health Care Memo

June 10, 2009 1:45 pm ET

In a June 10, 2009 blog post at Townhall, Rep. Tom Price repeated worn-out talking points on health care from insurance industry-funded pollster Frank Luntz, and got his facts wrong in the bargain.

Talking Point: Government Takeover

Rep. Price: "This is nothing more than a backdoor path to a government takeover of health care." [Townhall.com, 6/10/09]

Luntz Memo, Rule #5: "You'll notice we recommend the phrase 'government takeover' rather than 'government run' or 'government controlled.'" [The Language of Health Care, by Frank Luntz, accessed 6/10/09, emphasis original]

Talking Point: Rationing Care, Delaying Care, Denying Care

Rep. Price: "This will be a form of rationing. More specifically: denied or delayed care, fewer choices of procedures, drugs and doctors, and decreased flexibility." [Townhall.com, 6/10/09; emphasis original]

Luntz Memo, Page 8: "It could lead to the government rationing care, making people stand in line and denying treatment like they do in other countries with national healthcare." [The Language of Healthcare 2009, by Frank Luntz, accessed 6/2/09]

Luntz Memo, Rule 3: "'Time' is the government healthcare killer...Nothing else turns people against the government takeover of healthcare that the realistic expectation that it will result in delayed and potentially even denied treatment, procedures and/or medications. 'Waiting to buy a care or even a house won't kill you.  But waiting for the healthcare you need - could.  Delayed care is denied care.'" [The Language of Healthcare 2009, by Frank Luntz, accessed 5/21/09, emphasis original]

False Claim: CER Will Be Bad For Patients

Rep. Price: "Flying under the radar in the President's trillion dollar stimulus bill was a provision creating a 'Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research.' The council has been tasked with determining the cost and effectiveness of different health care treatment options. Should this council deem that a procedure or drug is too expensive, it would not be covered regardless of its ability to save or improve a life. A patient would not be allowed to receive life-saving care that would otherwise be available because Washington said 'No!'" [Townhall.com, 6/10/09]

CER Supplements Physicians' Knowledge To Ensure The Best Treatment Is Provided To The Patient.  David Dale, MD of the American College of Physicians, testified in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing: "The availability of valid, comparative effectiveness data supplemented by the physician's clinical experience and professional knowledge, helps ensure that an effective treatment choice is made-one that meets the unique needs and preferences of the patient." [American College Of Physicians' Statement for the Record, 6/12/07]

CER "Would Fill Gaps In The Evidence Available To Doctors And Patients." The New York Times reported: "For many years, the government has regulated drugs and devices and supported biomedical research, but the goal was usually to establish if a particular treatment was safe and effective, not if it was better than the alternatives. Consumer groups, labor unions, large employers and pharmacy benefit managers supported the new initiative, saying it would fill gaps in the evidence available to doctors and patients." [The New York Times, 2/15/09]

When Patients Have Access To CER Data, "They Make Better Decisions, They're More Satisfied, And In General Their Cost Is Less."  Michelle Andrews, "On Health & Money" writer for US News & World Report, posted the following on her blog: "'We have found that if people have information about the comparative effectiveness of testing for prostate cancer, for example, or a back operation, they make better decisions, they're more satisfied, and in general their cost is less,' says Eric Larson, executive director of the Group Health Center for Health Studies." [USNews.com, 3/23/09]

False Claim: A Public Option Is A "Government Takeover"

Rep. Price: "To get around this obstacle to Washington control, many Democrats, including President Obama, have proposed the creation of a 'public option' to 'compete' with private insurers. This is nothing more than a backdoor path to a government takeover of health care." [Townhall.com, 6/10/09]

Sen. Baucus: The Reformed Health Care System "Will Be A Public/Private Hybrid." The American Prospect published a quote of Senator Baucus saying: "We need health insurer reform to get rid of preexisting conditions and other ways insurers discriminate. That's part of our plan here, and the CEOs of many larger insurance companies are on board. They know this change is coming. They may lose the current model but they pick up on volume with 46 million people coming into the system...And that will be a public/private hybrid. There may come a time when we can push for single payer. But that time is not yet, and so I'm not going to waste my time." [The American Prospect, accessed 3/6/09, emphasis added]

House Democrats Are Committed To A Public Health Care Option Which Will "Spur Competition Within The Insurance Industry." The Hill reported: "[Majority Leader] Hoyer indicated that House Democrats are committed to including a public plan option in their bill. 'We believe that a public option clearly is going to be necessary' to provide consumers with an alternative to private insurance and to spur competition within the insurance industry, Hoyer said." [The Hill, 3/26/09]

AMA President Nancy Nielson: "Health Care Reform Should Include A Public And Private Mix."  According to the New America Foundation: "Health care reform should include a public and private mix of insurance. The private insurance market must be improved for patients and health care professionals, and the public safety net must be preserved for those in need."  [New America Foundation, 3/10/09, emphasis added]