There were many lies coming from the right wing (and insurance industry) during the health care debates, including claims of death panels (last year’s top lie), that Medicare benefits would be cut, and that everyone would be paying for the public option out of tax revenues. PolitiFact has named the false claim that health care reform amounted to a government takeover of health care as the top lie of the year:
The phrase is simply not true.
Said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: “The label ‘government takeover” has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in health care as a ‘takeover.’ “
The claim is especially absurd considering that health care reform will result in an increased number of people being covered by private insurance companies. As PolitiFact says, “it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market.”
This isn’t even a new lie. The same claim was made about John Kerry’s health care plan in 2004 which was far more modest than the plan which passed this year. Republicans stuck with this lie because it sounds good, and Frank Luntz found it would benefit the Republicans politically. They couldn’t care less whether there’s any truth to what they say.
PolitiFact provides further arguments against the validity of this claim. The lack of any government take over can also be seen in the American Medical Association’s endorsement of health care reform back in November, 2009 which debunked similar claims. This was from their statement in support of the House bill, with the AMA also endorsing the Senate bill:
Preserving the power of patients and their physicians to make health care decisions–rather than insurance companies or government officials–is of paramount importance to all physicians and to the AMA. While H.R. 3962 includes a number of new government oversight bodies, the AMA has not identified any new authority that would overpower the relationship between patients and their physicians. Furthermore, expanded coverage and choice should help empower patient and physician decision making.
This hardly sounds like a situation where government would be taking over.
Update: More on The Lie of the Year