For the last 17 years, ABC's medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, has hyped various forms of government-run health care. He continued that pattern on Tuesday's Good Morning America, promoting Barack Obama's 2010 law and ignoring the its unpopular aspects.
Talking to guest co-host Chris Cuomo, he enthused, "Many issues have already gone into effect and people like them." Johnson did allow that the bill was "controversial," However, he added, "But, there's many features in this bill, that if they go into effect, could help control costs and improve quality."
However, he didn't explain that the legislation as a whole remains unpopular. According to a new CNN poll, 54 percent oppose it. Also unmentioned was a Washington Post report that few Americans are signing up for a provision of the legislation allowing sick individuals to have their medical costs covered.
The Post's Amy Goldstein described in a December 28 article:
Twenty-seven states have created their own high-risk pools. The rest used an option in the law to let their residents buy coverage through a new federal health plan.
In the spring, the Medicare program's chief actuary predicted that 375,000 people would sign up for the pool plans by the end of the year. Early last month, the Health and Human Services Department reported that just 8,000 people had enrolled. HHS officials declined to provide an update, although they collect such figures monthly, because they have decided to report them on a quarterly basis.
[Emphasis added.] Dr. Johnson has a long history of cheerleading for government run health care, going all the way back to Bill Clinton's plan in 1994.
This spin continued through to the 2008 presidential campaign. On October 19, 2007, he interviewed then-candidate Hillary Clinton and rhapsodized, "She certainly knows health care better, I think, than any other candidate....I'm very impressed with her knowledge base." Speaking of GOP members, he offered this loaded question: "Do you think the Republicans who are against it are immoral?"
(For more examples, see an October 08, 2008 NewsBusters blog.)
Viewers looking for an objective take on the President's plan probably shouldn't expect to get it from ABC's medical editor.
A partial transcript of the December 28 segment, which aired at 8:35am EST, follows:
CHRIS CUOMO: Now, as part of our countdown of to the new year, we're looking at the biggest health stories of 2010, the top medical trends and breakthroughs and what's ahead for your health in 2011. We have Dr. Marie Savard joining us here in our studio and our chief medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson joins us from West Palm Beach, Florida. Thank you to both of you. Happy New Year to both of you. Dr. Tim, let me begin with you. Talk about one of the biggest news stories of the year.
TIM JOHNSON: Well, in terms of both controversy and potential impact, the biggest story has to be the passage of the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act by President Obama on March 23rd. Many issues have already gone into effect and people like them. Mostly the insurance reforms, such as insurance companies not being able to deny people with pre-existing conditions. But the real controversy is yet to come, especially when the mandates for both individuals and businesses for their employees go into effect. As you know, this is being challenged in the courts. It's clearly going to end up at the Supreme Court, fairly soon we think. So, there's a long way to go. But there's many features in this bill, that if they go into effect, could help control costs and improve quality. So, we have to keep our eye on that bill and what happens.
CUOMO: That's right. An you're right, Dr. Tim. So much of it will be affected by what happens in the proceeding litigation. So, it's really an unfinished story there.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.