CBS Keeps Misleading Viewers on Millions of Uninsured, Promotes Obama's 'Action' on Health Care

According to CBS, President Obama was busy on Feb. 25 "turning a night of words into a day of action" regarding those grand promises he made in his not-quite-State of the Union speech Feb. 24.

One of the issues Obama was taking action on was health care, according to Chip Reid's "Evening News" report.

Chip Reid told viewers: "Hoping to take advantage of any momentum from last night's speech to Congress, the president, today, forged ahead with a flurry of activity on his economic plan. On health care, the White House said the president's budget, to be released Thursday, will include $634 billion to expand health coverage. To be paid for by taxing the wealthy and trimming payments to insurance companies, hospitals and doctors."

Later in the segment, Reid misled viewers as to the number of uninsured. He said the White House was calling that enormous package "a big first step in getting health insurance to America's 48 million uninsured."

The problem is, "America's 48 million uninsured" is an overstatement. The Census Bureau puts the figure at 45.6 million, but that statistic includes non-citizens and people who choose not to have insurance because of age or income.

The Census Bureau's 2007 report on the uninsured found that of the 45.6 million people who are uninsured 9.7 million of them are non-citizens, 7.9 million of them are under 24 years old, and over 9 million could afford insurance because they make at least $75,000 a year. That leaves roughly 19 million uninsured, a much smaller problem than the media and some politicians admit.

Even those numbers do not provide a complete picture, since the Census Bureau admits that "health insurance coverage is underreported" in the survey, meaning that more people have insurance than the report suggests.

In 2007, Michael Moore claimed that "you've got 47 million people in this country with no health insurance; they don't go to the doctor because they can't afford it."

Katie Couric echoed Moore's remarks on "Evening News" May 23, 2007 saying that "People who try to buy insurance on their own often find the price beyond their reach."

Dr. David Gratzer disputed the idea that the uninsured cannot afford coverage in his book "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care." According to Gratzer, "Many Americans are uninsured by choice," as evidenced by the fact that many people lack insurance while owning homes and computers.

Yet, like the Feb. 25, "Evening News," the media have consistently repeated exaggerated claims of uninsured Americans to promote universal "health care" as the Business & Media Institute pointed out in a 2007 story: Health Care Lie: "47 Million Uninsured Americans."

The Congressional Budget Office also estimated that as many as 45 percent of the uninsured are insured within four months, according to Dr. Grace-Marie Turner, a BMI adviser and president of the Galen Institute.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.