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Republicans Roy Blunt and Mark Kirk Mislead on Health Care


{Originally posted at my blog Senate Guru.}

There are two current Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are presently running for seats in the U.S. Senate, Missouri's Roy Blunt and Illinois' Mark Kirk. Both have been telling easy-to-debunk lies in the health care debate.

First, friend of all corporate lobbyists Roy Blunt tries to personalize the debate:

"I'm 59," Mr. Blunt said last week during a meeting with Post-Dispatch reporters and editors. "In either Canada or Great Britain, if I broke my hip, I couldn't get it replaced."

Ooooh, scary! There must be a lot of broken-hipped Canadian and British seniors hobbling around, huh? Nope. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch did their due diligence:

We fact-checked that. At least 63 percent of hip replacements performed in Canada last year and two-thirds of those done in England were on patients age 65 or older. More than 1,200 in Canada were done on people older than 85.

Oops. Turns out Blunt had been lying the entire time. Blunt's lame excuse:

"I didn't just pull that number out of thin air," Mr. Blunt said in a subsequent interview. It came, he said, from testimony before the House Subcommittee on Health by "some people who are supposed to be experts on Canadian health care."

"I had been given that example. I was told that 59 is the cutoff," he said. "I'm glad you pointed that out to me. I won't use that example any more."

You won't use that example anymore?! How about you stop parroting all of the bogus non-statistics your right-wing corporate cronies feed you? How about you stop engaging in scare tactics to mislead voters, senior citizens especially? Roy Blunt is nothing but a dishonest corporate shill.

Second, Mark Kirk wants desperately to make a point -- he'll even use woefully out-of-date figures to make his baseless point:

In selling the Tuesday Group's health care alternative, Rep. Mark Kirk likes to bring up the comparison between New Jersey (where [he says] health insurance costs $5,326 per patient) and California (where [he says] insurance costs dip to $2,565 per patient). ...

But there is one glaring problem: Kirk is using out-of-date numbers.

In 2000, Families USA reported that the average annual premium (which is based on employer and worker premiums combined) in California was $2,365, just $200 less than Kirk's figure. Last year, Families USA updated the figures and found that the average premiums rose $1,917 over the subsequent seven years, up to $4,282. Moreover, the organization estimates that the average cost of individual health coverage in New Jersey two years ago was only $4,744, a difference of just $462. Because Kirk doesn't provide a citation (not even in the Powerpoint), it's unclear where he is getting these particular numbers. But it appears he is greatly overstating the disparity.

Interestingly enough, over the last decade premiums for publicly-purchased insurance in California rose much less slowly (between 2-4 percent per year) than premiums for employer-provided health insurance (10 percent).

Actual 2008 numbers for California and New Jersey show very little difference in health care costs. So Mark Kirk just uses numbers nearly a decade old to make a point that utterly lacks merit. (Not to mention, there's the irony of Kirk pointing to California to make his point, when what California really shows is that a public option both is more cost-stable than private options and is able to exist without eliminating private competition.)

All Mark Kirk illustrates with his presentation is that he is a partisan Republican who will disseminate misinformation on behalf of right-wing Republican leadership and corporate special interests. That dishonesty and blind partisanship is not what Illinois needs in the U.S. Senate.

Two Republican Congressmen running for U.S. Senate, two easy-to-prove liars on health care reform.