WASHINGTON – Critics of the mainstream media often claim news reporters exist in a bubble in which they can hear only their own opinions echoed off its walls.
That critique appeared to be reflected in a remark White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made to CNN reporter Jim Acosta at Tuesday’s daily briefing.
During a back and forth on the administration’s attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, Spicer noted Americans are “paying higher and higher premiums” because “government-mandated, government-run healthcare has actually gone amuck.”
Acosta noted, “Medicare is government run,” and charged, “You don’t have senior citizens screaming that they want you to get rid of their Medicare.”
Shot back Spicer, “Yes, they are. I think you need to maybe get outside and talk to some of them because more and more Medicaid recipients — in fact, more and more Medicare recipients aren’t able to get coverage.”
He continued, “It’s one thing to have a card. It’s another thing to walk into a doctor’s office and them to tell you we no longer accept Medicaid anymore. That’s not care.”
Acosta pressed on with a theme echoed more than once by his colleagues: “But the President is okay that there are going to be millions of people who aren’t going to have coverage?”
Spicer explained it was the president’s goal to make affordable healthcare coverage available to everyone, but under Obamacare they are not getting that because, “The costs are going up, the choices are going down, and deductibles are going up.”
But reporters seemed under the impression that Trump had promised to provide universal health care coverage.
One asked, “Can you stand here today and say that the President will keep his promise of insurance for everybody?”
Another asked, “President Trump has said that under his plan there will be insurance for everybody … Is that a promise he can really keep?”
Spicer made the key clarification a number of times that the president’s goal was not to provide government-guaranteed coverage for every American, but to make affordable healthcare available to every American who wants it.
He said Obamacare was doomed to collapse and that doing nothing was not an option.
That meant, “The question is, what can we do instead and what can we replace that with that gives people greater choice and lowers cost?”
In so many words, Spicer also explained the difference between what the president was proposing and universal coverage.
“I think in most cases, of course some people are always going to choose in a free society to not purchase something — I mean, we live in a country of 320 million people — at some point, you can’t force a product or a good down people in a free society.”
Spicer added, “But I think if you can give them a quality product that serves their needs, that they have the time, at a price that they can afford, there’s a greater likelihood under every economic model that that suggests that that will work.”
He pointed to Obamacare’s increasing unpopularity with consumers, noting, “You’ve got almost 20 million people in America who have said that they don’t want Obamacare and they’ll either pay a penalty or will apply for a hardship.”
Perhaps to counter the media narrative that Americans would suffer under the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, the White House issued a series of statements from people who have suffered because of it.
On Tuesday, Spicer’s office released this statement:
Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Meeting with Obamacare Victims
On Monday, President Donald J. Trump welcomed to the Roosevelt Room individuals who have experienced significant hardship as a result of Obamacare’s poor coverage and rising prices.
The individuals in attendance included:
Ms. Kim Sertich of Arizona, whose health insurance has been cancelled three times since Obamacare became law. The plans now available to her have limited networks and high deductibles. Even worse, she will only have one insurer to choose from in 2017.
Mrs. Carrie Couey of Colorado, a mother of six from a cattle ranching family whose youngest son is autistic. The pre-Obamacare cost for her family’s insurance was $17,000 per year. After Obamacare became law, her insurance costs skyrocketed to $52,500 per year for a lower quality plan. Additionally, the cost for workers’ compensation insurance for her business’s employees increased from approximately $17,000 per year to more than $70,000 per year.
Mr. Elias Seife of Florida, who has had to change his and his wife’s health insurance every year for the past few years because his premiums have increased 30-40 percent annually, and the deductibles have risen even more sharply. Mr. Seife said that the middle class has been particularly hard-hit by Obamacare.
Ms. Brittany Ivey of Georgia, a working mother whose family has struggled under Obamacare. Ms. Ivey was working part-time at a small business that provided her family with health insurance until Obamacare raised her premiums sharply. This drove the Ivey family into the individual market, where a mid-level plan cost 65 percent of her monthly gross income, even accounting for a federal subsidy.
Mr. Greg Knox of Ohio, the owner of Knox Machinery and Chairman of the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association. The businesses in Mr. Knox’s association have been significantly affected by Obamacare’s rising prices. Mr. Knox expressed optimism that President Trump will return free market principles to our Nation’s healthcare system, which will benefit consumers by increasing options and lowering costs.
Mr. Joel Brown of Tennessee, a farmer whose costs for catastrophic coverage has spiked in the wake of Obamacare, from $119 per month to more than $500 per month. As a result, Mr. Brown was forced to settle for a much less desirable plan provided through his church, which cost him $280 per month.
Dr. Manny Sethi of Tennessee, founder of Healthy Tennessee, a non-profit organization designed to promote preventative healthcare. Dr. Sethi has seen first-hand Obamacare’s negative effects on the medical profession. As an orthopedic trauma surgeon and Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Sethi is well aware of how Obamacare has harmed patient care across the country.
Dr. Robin Armstrong of Texas, a medical doctor whose wife is a breast cancer survivor. Dr. Armstrong strongly opposes Obamacare because its rising premiums and deductibles have hurt his patients. Dr. Armstrong told President Trump that he is excited about the reforms the President is pursuing, and believes they will drastically improve America’s healthcare system.
Hon. Stan Summers of Utah, a local county commissioner whose family has endured significant hardship as a result of Obamacare. Mr. Summers’ wife has been very sick and his son has struggled with a rare disease. Their insurance costs have skyrocketed as a result of Obamacare.
Mr. Louis Brown of Virginia, a 35-year-old attorney who currently works for the Christ Medicus Foundation, a Catholic healthcare foundation. In 2009, as Obamacare was moving through Congress, Mr. Brown was a staffer at the Democratic National Committee. He told President Trump that after much prayer and soul searching, he resigned from the DNC because he could not support a party that wanted to include taxpayer funding of abortion in Obamacare. Today, Mr. Brown supports the reforms in the American Health Care Act.
Ms. Gina Sell of Wisconsin, a young nurse who has had to work much longer hours to afford her increased health insurance premium under Obamacare. In fact, her premium now costs her more than her mortgage.
After hearing these stories, President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price each committed to fighting for reforms that will bring costs down and increase access to care for all Americans.