HBO Host Propagandizes: Ending Private Health Care to Be Done ‘Carefully'

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Hard-left comedian John Oliver on Sunday devoted almost his 30-minute Last Week Tonight show to propagandizing for socialist Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All plan, downplaying problems like long wait time as “complicated.” The complete ending of private health insurance would be done “carefully.” The high costs must be considered with  “a lot of context around it.” 

The 20 minute screed was heavy on the lecture, light on problematic facts and also actual comedy. Serious, real-world problems like in Canada and Britain were dismissed as non-issues: “I get that no one likes waiting in line for anything. I get it. Most people see the line at Trader Joe's and either abandon their cart.” 

 

 

Oliver demanded that his audience not look at interminably long wait times as a big deal: “Comparisons of wait times are very complicated. For one thing, the international wait times you hear about most often are for non-emergency surgeries, such as knee replacements.” 

The HBO host threw around the eye-popping costs of Medicare for All — $34 trillion in one decade, according to some estimates — as just impossible to really know: 

Medicare for All would, undeniably, be expensive. But that fact needs a lot of context around it. For starters, it would increase the federal budget, yes. But it would also eliminate employer spending on premiums and your spending on out-of-pocket costs. Now, would those two cancel each other out? That's a good question, and the answer is, no one can possibly know for sure. There are too many variables. 

Finally, 19 minutes into his harangue, Oliver mentioned the millions who would lose their job with private health insurance ended. Predictably, he explained the whole thing would be done “carefully”:

 

 

A lot would have to be figured out, from how to impose the taxes to pay for it in an equitable way, to the consequences of eliminating the entire private health insurance industry, which by one estimate could displace 1.8 million workers. That's a legitimate thing to be concerned about, and any plan would have to be designed and rolled out very, very carefully. That's why both Warren and Sanders talk about the need for transition plans for workers in their proposals. And I get that big change is scary. It's human nature to prefer the devil you know over an uncertain alternative. But the devil you know is still a devil. 

Would this careful plan be implemented by politicians who couldn’t even run an app for the Iowa caucus? 

Let us look at the wait time claim. At one point, he acknowledged that “people in other countries do, sometimes, have to wait slightly longer.” How about 21 weeks? Here’s the Fraser Institute

Waiting times for medically necessary treatment have increased since last year. Specialist physicians surveyed report a median waiting time of 20.9 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 19.8 weeks reported in 2018. This year’s wait time is just shy of the longest wait time recorded in this survey’s history (21.2 weeks in 2017) and is 124% longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks.

Here’s what Forbes reminded readers

One Ontario woman, Judy Congdon, learned that she needed a hip replacement in 2016, according to the Toronto Sun. Doctors initially scheduled the procedure for September 2017 -- almost a year later. The surgery never happened on schedule. The hospital ran over budget, forcing physicians to postpone the operation for another year. 

None of this should be a shock coming from Oliver. After all, this is the guy who has a history of hammering “racist” and “evil” conservatives. For his worst attacks, go here.

A partial transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more: 

HBO's Last Week Tonight
02/17/2020
7:41 p.m. Eastern

JOHN OLIVER: The basic idea behind Medicare for All is that all of this would be replaced by a government-funded, single-payer program, and the goal of universal health-care coverage is extremely appealing. Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have put out versions of medicare for all. But other Democrats have been much warier of it, and conservatives absolutely hate the idea. 

 

OLIVER: So tonight, let's take a look at it: not the politics of whether it can pass, but what it actually is. And whenever the subject comes up, you tend to hear three major criticisms of it concerning cost, wait times, and choice. And let's start with cost, because critics will tell you 
that Medicare for all would simply increase the federal budget too much. 

(....)

OLIVER: Look, I know that sounds dramatic, but Sarah Palin's fourth attempt at cloning herself actually has a point there. Medicare for All would, undeniably, be expensive. But that fact needs a lot of context around it. For starters, it would increase the federal budget, yes. But it would also eliminate employer spending on premiums and your spending on out-of-pocket costs. Now, would those two cancel each other out? That's a good question, and the answer is, no one can possibly know for sure. There are too many variables. The Times asked five prominent experts to estimate national health care spending under Bernie's plan and they compared that to what we spend now, and the results ranged from "It would actually cost us less," to "It would cost about the same" to "It would cost a fuck of a lot more." And I know that extra shading doesn't look like very much, but believe me, it's a fuck of a lot. But let's say, just for argument's sake, our overall spending did go up. We would be getting a lot for that money. Remember, 27 million more people would be covered, and they would be covered well. Bernie's plan is incredibly generous -- it covers vision, dental, long-term care, and drugs. In fact, Medicare for All is a misleading title, because medicare requires some co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses.  And Bernie will excitedly tell you that his plan eliminates those. 

(....)

OLIVER: I get that no one likes waiting in line for anything. I get it. Most people see the line at Trader Joe's and either abandon their cart or pull the fire alarm and sneak out with their groceries undetected. I'm not saying I've ever done that, I'm just saying, I had a show to do tonight, and who wants some peanut butter pretzels? But, look, as with cost, comparisons of wait times are very complicated. For one thing, the international wait times you hear about most often are for non-emergency surgeries, such as knee replacements. And while, yes, people in other countries do sometimes have to wait slightly longer for some care, it's not like Americans aren't having to do that right now anyway. Americans are just forced to wait due to the expense.

(....)

OLIVER:  And I'm not saying any of this would be easy. A lot would have to be figured out, from how to impose the taxes to pay for it in an equitable way, to the consequences of eliminating the entire private health insurance industry, which by one estimate could displace 1.8 million workers. That's a legitimate thing to be concerned about, and any plan would have to be designed and rolled out very, very carefully. That's why both Warren and Sanders talk about the need for transition plans for workers in their proposals. And I get that big change is scary. It's human nature to prefer the devil you know over an uncertain alternative. But the devil you know is still a devil. 

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