CNN's Gupta -- Once Obama's Candidate for Surgeon General -- Warns of Rising Health Care Costs If Mandate Is Overturned

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, was once a serious candidate to be President Obama's surgeon general – and thus a megaphone for ObamaCare – before he turned down the offer. Now he is going on CNN and sounding the alarm that health insurance premiums will probably rise if the ObamaCare mandate is overturned by the Supreme Court.

However, CNN issued no disclosure on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday about Gupta's past relationship with the President. His report on "Obamacare: 60 years in the making" aired multiple times from Sunday through Monday, and he appeared on CNN on Tuesday to explain how health care costs could rise if the law's individual mandate is overturned.

"It would be as if you bought car insurance after you got into an accident. And car insurance companies would have to absorb that cost and pass it on to everybody else. That's what it would look like if there was no mandate," Gupta asserted.

Anchor Carol Costello tossed him this rather loaded question about the public's (lack of) understanding of ObamaCare. "Do you think that many people understand the reason there's a requirement for nearly every American to buy insurance, so the insurance companies can afford to take on people with conditions, preexisting conditions?" she teed up Gupta to explain the law.

Gupta admitted that "I don't think most people understand that." He insisted that it was important to grasp, however. "But if the mandate doesn't go through, there's a good chance that all of our premiums will go up. And that's why people should pay attention to this. I think it's important."

Below is a transcript of a segment that aired on June 26 on CNN Newsroom at 10:42 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

CAROL COSTELLO: So those things cost so much because there are so many uninsured people in the world?

SANJAY GUPTA: Yeah, I mean in part because the needle they use for a biopsy is very different than the needle you'd buy at Home Depot. There's a lot more research and development. But also because people, they go the ER who are uninsured and they get care that they don't pay. That's called uncompensated care, that's how it works at a hospital like Grady. That cost is passed on to the hospital, it's passed on to your premiums, your – my premiums, as people who do have health care insurance. So it comes from somewhere. We did some analysis; you'll find that about half the hospitals in the United States are unprofitable, which I think is surprising to a lot of people. And $56 billion a year roughly is what the price tab is for uncompensated care. So this is part of the impact of all that, the consequences.

COSTELLO: So how does this connect to the health care law the U.S. Supreme Court will make its decision about on Thursday?

GUPTA: Well, the whole thing regarding a mandate, that everyone have healthcare insurance so you're not all of a sudden having this (Inaudible) of uncompensated care, is really what's at issue here. In the past, in this country, at the state level, they've had laws in place where they said look, there's not going to be a mandate, but we're going to require all people to not be discriminated against based on preexisting conditions. They can get healthcare insurance for just the same price as everybody else. And what they find is that eventually, the premiums for everybody goes up. In Kentucky, they went up 40 percent. So in this country, if you passed a healthcare law without a mandate, it's possible that it will affect everybody, not just the people who don't have healthcare insurance, an important point to keep in mind.

COSTELLO: Do you think that many people understand the reason that there's a requirement for nearly every American to buy insurance, is so the insurance companies can afford to take on people with conditions, preexisting conditions?

GUPTA: I don't think most people understand that. But you make a very good point, because in the end, insurance companies actually probably benefit from the mandate more than anybody else, because all of a sudden they're getting a bunch of people into the coffers of the insurance industry, many of whom are young and healthy and aren't using the healthcare system at all. So they're really just getting their premiums for no additional cost. So I don't think most people understand that the insurance companies are using that mandate and all that extra money to help pay for people who are ill, who are being charged way too much for premiums, or who are uninsured.

COSTELLO: Well I will say many Americans probably don't care even if they did understand, because the government's forcing you to do something that you don't need to do.

GUPTA: But if the mandate doesn't go through, there's a good chance that all of our premiums will go up. And that's why people should pay attention to this. I think it's important. 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014