Old jokes tend to hang around because they contain a large measure of truth. For example, everyone knows the punch line to “How can you tell that a politician is lying?” Of course, it’s “because his lips are moving.”
There have been plenty of moving lips across the country this summer, as politicians in red states (Texas), blue states (New York) and violet states (Iowa, New Hampshire) held town hall meetings and heard from angry voters.
Rep. Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, managed to squeeze one two-hour meeting into his busy summer schedule, and my, were his lips ever moving. He spent about an hour talking, devoting the other hour or so to audience questions.
As the Falls Church News-Press, basically a transcript service for Democratic party talking points, reported, “Twelve major ‘myths’ circulated by opponents of health care reform were systematically dispelled, and a strong case for the ‘public option’ made, by U.S. Rep. Jim Moran and former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean in front of over 2,500 rowdy citizens and national TV cameras at a town hall meeting in Herndon Tuesday night.”
Let’s not take that reporter’s word for it. Let’s look at some of the specific points the proponents made.
“No one will lose their current health coverage,” Moran said several times. “That means, regardless of what health insurance plan you’re in, you will stay in that plan.” But that’s not true. The Lewin Group, a respected consulting firm, ran the numbers, and found that if the bill became law, “48 percent of privately insured Americans would transition out of private insurance.” That means about 83 million of the 172 million people who currently have private insurance would lose it.
That only makes sense. If the government is offering to provide insurance (the “public option”) many employers are obviously going to decide to stop paying for the coverage they provide now and allow Uncle Sam to pick up the tab. And, as Lewin also found, “56 percent of Americans with employer-based coverage would lose their current insurance.” That’s 88 million people (out of an estimated 158 million with private coverage now) who would have no choice: They’d lose their current plan.