No lie, Obamacare offers foundation for government system

CAT fights among media outlets seldom are worth mention, but a dust-up last week between The Wall Street Journal's opinion page and the watchdog website PolitiFact over the new federal health insurance program is a rare exception.

The Oklahoman Editorial Modified: December 29, 2010 at 5:47 am •  Published: December 29, 2010
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CAT fights among media outlets seldom are worth mention, but a dust-up last week between The Wall Street Journal's opinion page and the watchdog website PolitiFact over the new federal health insurance program is a rare exception.

As its “lie of the year,” PolitiFact crowned the phrase “a government takeover of health care” — referring to rhetoric used by opponents of Obamacare to fight its passage in Congress. It got PolitiFact's big gong because nowhere in the legislation does it say the government will nationalize hospitals, impress the services of doctors or herd Americans into government-run insurance. In fact, the site said, the program is based on private insurance.

The Journal countered that Obamacare is a “vast expansion” of federal control over health care. “The regulations that PolitiFact waves off are designed to convert insurers into government contractors in the business of fulfilling political demands, with enormous implications for the future of U.S. medicine,” it said in an editorial. “All citizens will be required to pay into this system, regardless of their individual needs or preferences. Sounds like a government takeover to us.”

Cue the Department of Health and Human Services, which last week issued new premium guidelines under Obamacare, essentially telling private insurers that if they raise rates 10 percent or more next year, they'll face increased regulatory scrutiny. The rules stop just short of giving the feds the power to block premium increases — but just short.

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