John Roberts, on the July 21 edition of American Morning, appeared to expect Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to turn in a weak performance on the issue of health care. Hilarity ensued, as Jindal, who turned down Harvard Medical and Yale Law for a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, proved to be anything but a pushover.
The would-be newsman kicked off with some misleading statistics about Jindal’s performance as governor:
Governor, it’s good to see you. You penned a rather scathing editorial for the Politico.com on the Democrats’ health care proposals. But your state ranks dead last in the United Health Foundation survey of overall health. It also had the fourth highest Medicare cost per patient in the country from 1996 through 2006, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. So some people out there might be wondering if you’re the best person to be criticizing the administration’s plans for health care reform?
Since Jindal is a classy fellow, and realizes that this debate is not about his performance as Louisiana Governor, he neglected to point out that he took office January 14, 2008. That’s at least a full year after Roberts’ statistics ended. The Rhodes scholar responded:
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: Well John, a couple of things. We’ve actually got a very aggressive waiver in front of the federal government allowing us – asking them for permission to allow us to revamp our public health care programs to put more of an emphasis on outcomes. Louisiana’s a great example of what’s wrong with many of our government-run health care programs. You look at Medicare – the Dartmouth data shows that higher spending doesn’t always correlate to better outcomes.
This is not the full quote from Jindal, but you get the idea. Roberts, finding himself uncomfortably on his heels, fires back:
ROBERTS: Okay, a couple of other points here. You said most Americans would end up being forced into government-run health care, in this editorial. What makes you think that most Americans would be forced into anything, first of all? And secondly, saying it’s government-run health care really is misleading, isn’t it? It’s actually not the government that would be running the health care system. That would still be private, it would just be providing insurance.
Jindal, instantly recognizing the advocacy, replied:
JINDAL: No, you’re talking about a government-run health option. And this is a very important point…
ROBERTS: But it’s government-run health insurance, it’s not government-run health care, which is what you said in your editorial.
JINDAL: Well, it’s government-run health care in that they’ll be deciding the rates. They’ll be deciding what benefits are covered. They’ll be deciding who they’re going to pay, what procedures you can get. That’s government-run health care. But look at the Lewin study. They estimate that as many as 100 million Americans may leave private coverage for this government-run plan. And this is a very important point…
Under Roberts’ frame of mind, since the government would not actually directly control hospitals, doctors, pharmacists, et al., it’s not a government takeover – it’s not socialism, if you will. And Roberts is technically correct. The term used for indirect government control over privately-run companies is not socialism, it’s “fascism.” A tongue-in-cheek kudos to Roberts for figuring that out.
But Roberts is still not content to simply take his lumps and move on. Jindal then is forced to explain market economics versus government-subsidized enterprise in a nutshell:
ROBERTS: But they also say that as few as 10.1 million may leave for government-run health care depending on how the plan is formulated. That 119 million was the upper level and even the people who wrote that report said that’s a worst case scenario.
JINDAL: But you’re talking about the same government that’s paying for health care, regulating health care, now competing. It’s going to be taxpayer subsidized. By their own estimates they say because the government will be shifting costs to the private sector, they’re going to be underpaying providers. They’ll be able to undercut their competition until they drive the competition out of the marketplace.
And now, the coup de grace – John Roberts, falling back on a liberal think-tank and Kos talking-points to back his claims:
ROBERTS: That is one argument. But the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center said, “Private plans would not disappear. Private plans that offer better services and greater access to providers, even at somewhat higher costs than the public plans, would survive the competition in this environment.” You also pointed out in your editorial, you said someone other than patients and doctors would make the decision on treatments and medicines that we can have. Doesn’t that already happen under private plans?
Now, let’s recap. Roberts shows up for the interview in attack mode, using left-leaning statistics from left-leaning groups, backs them with Kos talking points – and even attempts to implicate Jindal for failing, federally mandated health-care programs that predate his term as governor. And Jindal crushed him for it.
One wonders if Roberts was expecting Kenneth the Page.