NPR's Nina Totenberg: Insurance Companies Have Us By The...(Can't Say It On TV)

NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg criticized conservative opposition to socialized medicine on Friday’s edition of the talk-show Inside Washington, distributed to PBS stations. She suggested that Republican delays are "mischief-making," proclaimed "the misinformation on what’s in the bill is astonishing," and even suggested she was about to use a crude metaphor for the overwhelming power of insurers: "The insurance companies have – unless there’s a very aggressive regulator, they have – I was about to use an expression one shouldn’t use on television."

First, she complained that Republican leaders are obstructing progress on health care:

And the reason that the Gang of Six, so-called, in the Senate Finance Committee didn’t produce something is that the Republican leadership intervened and said ‘Don’t do this. Leave us August to do what we can do.’ You can call it mischief-making, you can call it obstructionism, you can call it constructive criticism, but that’s what happened.

From there, the longtime NPR star went on the attack against the overwhelming power of insurers. I’d guess she was going to say insurers have Americans by the family jewels:

TOTENBERG: One thing that nobody mentions is the insurance companies have an antitrust exemption. And if – you can’t talk to a doctor or a small business insurer who isn’t sort of presented with the rates they’re going to pay. Where it’s the doctor and liability, or the small business insurer wants to buy for their employees. The insurance companies have – unless there’s a very aggressive regulator, they have – I was about to use an expression one shouldn’t use on television.

GORDON PETERSON, host: Let’s try to stay on the air.

Just like the PBS show Washington Week in the half-hour preceding it on Washington PBS station WETA, Inside Washington talked about Speaker Nancy Pelosi telling Judy Woodruff on the NewsHour that the insurance companies made "immoral profits," and Rep. Virginia Foxx suggesting the new talk from Team Obama about Medicare sending "end-of-life" specialists to discuss medical wishes with the elderly is akin to execution:

PETERSON: Republican Congressman [sic] Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, she said on the House floor that the Republican plan would not put seniors in the position of being put to death by their government. I just wanna say, as someone in that age group, I support that. (Laughter.)

TOTENBERG: The misinformation about what’s in the bill is astonishing. The misinformation – some of it, you know, by error, and some of it, a great deal of it by deliberation -- is really astonishing.

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer replied to Totenberg that in single-payer health systems like Britain's, the elderly are not granted organ transplants or other life-extending therapies, and they die because of a government decision.

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