CNN's Kiran Chetry's two guests -- Time magazine's Karen Tumulty and Wendell Potter of the liberal Center for Media and Democracy -- promoted the latest health care "reform" proposal by President Obama on Tuesday's American Morning. Chetry also omitted the left-of-center political affiliation of Potter's organization.
The CNN anchor began the segment, which aired just after the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour, by focusing on the cost of President Obama's latest health care plan: "[Obama] laid out his own vision online yesterday. It would cost an estimated $950 billion over 10 years, and it would extend coverage to about 31 million uninsured Americans. It would also expand Medicaid and close the so-called 'doughnut hole' in Medicare, where seniors have to pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs. So where does all the money come from?"
Chetry then introduced Potter as a "former insurance executive" who is "now with the Center for Media and Democracy," and Tumulty as the "national political correspondent for Time magazine, who has done extensive writing about the health care situation." The anchor never mentioned the Center's liberal political agenda during the segment (four previous CNN personalities did the same during 2009). She first asked Tumulty to "break down for us how the President is proposing to pay for this nearly $1 trillion proposal."
The Time correspondent did mention one "controversial" component to this latest version of ObamaCare, but outside of this, but emphasized what she saw as more beneficial components to the plan: "He's dramatically increased some of the subsidies that would be given to people to help them pay for health insurance, and he has also cut way, way back on this so-called Cadillac tax on high- on very expensive insurance plans. So the main, and I think most controversial thing, that they have done in this bill is that they are going to impose a brand-new tax on payrolls to pay for Medicare...for the first time ever, going to begin taxing investment income, to the tune of almost three percent. That's a huge new tax."
Later in the segment, Tumulty played up another proposal from the plan that would allow the federal government to control insurance premiums:
CHETRY: Karen, one of other big ideas is this regulatory board. This will be a federal regulatory board that would allow the federal government to roll back, or in some cases, even prevent insurance companies from raising premiums. How would this work?
TUMULTY: Well, this is a provision I think that was thrown in, in response to the current headlines, which are showing that people in the individual insurance market- people who do not get health care- health insurance at work- are facing huge insurance premium increases this year- 30 percent and more. So basically, this would give the federal government a chance to review this and see if they believe they are justified. Now, a lot of states already have this sort of mechanism in place, and I think the main impact it would have would be in these years before this health insurance reform plan was completely rolled into place. Because once you have absolutely everybody- healthy people, sick people, everybody- pretty much having to buy health insurance, you wouldn't have some of the problems that the insurance companies are talking about now, which is that sick people are keeping their insurance, but healthy people are dropping it in the middle of the recession.
Potter himself was enthusiastic about the increased government oversight of the health care industry proposed in this latest version of ObamaCare in his answers to Chetry's two questions to him:
CHETRY: ...Wendell, I want to ask you about this. They're- we're actually focusing on this- and [as] part of our ‘Broken Government’ series, ‘AC 360’ is doing this tonight- are the efforts, some say, are too focused on industry- insurance industry regulation and not enough on bringing the cost of health care- of the actual medical care you receive down. What do you think about that?
POTTER: I think you have to start somewhere, and this is an important place to start. It's not the ultimate health care reform, but it is important health insurance reform, and it will help to bring more people into the ranks of the insured and it will begin to help lower the cost of health care....
CHETRY: Well, Wendell, some of the critics are saying though that this federal rate control, if it indeed would be enacted, would simply mean less competition in the insurance market, and then ultimately, insurance companies would find a way around it, and one example would be that they would flee expensive states or regions, et cetera. And you've worked inside the insurance industry- do you think that they will find a way around it, or do you think that this makes sense?
POTTER: I think they'll find a way around it. The regulators need to focus on how the insurance companies are shifting the cost of health care from them and to their consumers, to people who are insured. They have been- obviously, they've been increasing premiums, but they've also been making people pay more a lot out of their own pockets, and that's what regulators need to look at. They can say that they are increasing the premiums modestly, but if you look closely, they are shifting more and more of the cost to consumers. So that's something that regulators will have to watch in the future.