ABC’s Cuomo Hits Obama From Left on Health Care

August 26th, 2008 2:48 PM
All week (and apparently next week during the Republican convention), ABC’s Good Morning America will use its liberal prism to evaluate how the candidates’ policy proposals might help families with the last name of Jones, with a segment entitled “Meet the Joneses.” On Monday, as MRC’s Justin McCarthy pointed out, reporter Chris Cuomo hit Barack Obama’s tax proposals from the left, suggesting that even his tax hikes on “the rich” might not leave enough money for the government.

Tuesday, Cuomo found a family that was willing to go on camera and whine about having to spend $160 per month -- yes, just one-hundred sixty dollars and no cents -- on their daughter’s health care without being reimbursed by their evil HMO. After not being reassured that Obama’s “reforms” could guarantee that this specific family would save the average $2,500 per year, Cuomo pressed Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee from the left: “Why not take the big step and say universal health care? Or is that just too ugly a word?”

And again, Cuomo cited only liberal think tanks as his source for data. Today it was the Urban Institute; yesterday it was the Tax Policy Center, a joint endeavor of the Urban Institute and Brookings.

If Obama’s plans are not liberal enough for ABC, how will they react to McCain’s platform? And do you think they’ll turn to conservative or free market think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute or the American Enterprise Institute for data and expertise?

Here’s the transcript of Tuesday’s “Meet the Joneses” segment on health care, as transcribed by the MRC’s Justin McCarthy:
CHRIS CUOMO: Welcome back to Denver. We want to introduce you now to another Jones family. Here's some information we just got from the Urban Institute. People without insurance are expected to spend $30 billion out of pocket this year. Health care is a huge issue for Americans all over the country. So the question is, what could a President Obama do for the Joneses? Meet Lourdes and William Jones of California. They're homeowners, both working, their lives full raising three children.
LOURDES JONES: We're busy with the kids and just playing sports and living a normal life.

CUOMO: The average American family with the average commute to work, 25 minutes. They even exercise the average amount of every day, 28 minutes. And in this election their top concern is health care because their young daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Her treatment costs $160 a month and their insurance won't cover it. The Joneses say they've had to cut back on doctor visits as a result.

LOURDES JONES: We realized with the HMO, it's kind of hard to get the support we needed. We have to pay out of pocket.

WILLIAM JONES: We try to find solutions to help her and to eventually, you know, be less stressful for her and also our family.

CUOMO: Health care is a key issue in this election.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): We will guarantee health care for anyone who needs it, make it affordable for everyone who wants it.

CUOMO: But would Senator Barack Obama's health care plan keep up with the Joneses? Obama's campaign told us their plan would help the Joneses by giving them the option of purchasing different insurance through their proposed national health exchange. And they are promising the Joneses $2,500 a year in overall savings by, quote, "eliminating waste and improving the effectiveness of the health care system." Austin Goolsbee is Obama's senior economic adviser. [to Goolsbee] How under the Obama plan does a family like the Jones get out from underneath the HMO that they don't like and have choice injected into their health care reality?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: The main way that it helps them is by directly reducing the cost of care to get their premiums down. We're making clear what should be covered in the plans ought to be determined by doctors and health professionals not by some bureaucrat in the business division of the insurance companies.

CUOMO: You don't guarantee that everybody gets covered, just kids, right?

GOOLSBEE: It does not mandate adults to get covered.

CUOMO: Why not take the big step and say universal health care? Or is that just too ugly a word?

GOOLSBEE: As Senator Obama has said, if you're going to start from scratch and build a health system you would never build a health system we have, that's clear but getting from where we are to something different is always the hardest thing to do.

CUOMO: But that's leadership.

GOOLSBEE: For the average family, the specific cost reduction things he does, the emphasis on preventive care and specific steps to get costs down would reduce premiums by about $2,500.

CUOMO: But would those steps really guarantee a savings of $2,500 for families like the Joneses or is it a campaign promise that will be hard to keep? We asked ABC's medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson who studied the Obama plan.

DR. TIM JOHNSON: I tend to be skeptical when I hear a very specific amount being offered for all families or across the board. On the whole the idea that we're going to be able to easily cut $2,500 for all families I think is an unproven idea. We don't have the details. I think it's going to be harder than it is to say.

CUOMO: The Jones family, if I'm elected, here's $2,500. You don't know that for sure.

GOOLSBEE: No, not the full $2,500 is not going to be in the first three months of the Obama administration.

CUOMO: How realistic is this? This is a tall task.

GOOLSBEE: Yes, it's ambitious. I'm not disputing it and, yes, we're going to have to sit a lot of people down around the table and hammer out a program, but if you look at his program its primary focus is getting the cost down and getting everyone covered and we have to do that.

CUOMO: Getting the insurance industry to change the way they do business will certainly take a new and bold kind of leadership.