MSNBCers Insist GOP Strategist Lying About His Healthcare Costs

Some liberals refuse to believe any bad news about ObamaCare, and MSNBC contributor Angela Rye is clearly one of those people. On Saturday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, Rye got into a heated argument with Republican strategist Joe Watkins about the nature of Watkins’ own health insurance coverage, which he says is worse under ObamaCare than prior to the law going into effect.

It all started after Watkins commented that some people have to “pay more money a month for less coverage” under ObamaCare. When Rye got her turn to speak, she ripped into Watkins:


I do want to correct the record for Joe. I don't know what type of talking points Republican leadership is sending out, but you're not paying more money for less coverage. That is factually inaccurate. And if Pinocchio was present, there would be seven or eight of them.
 

Watkins, laughing, replied, “Well, I know I pay more money now than I used to pay.” But Rye thought she knew better. She even condescendingly called Watkins “honey,” saying, “You pay more money, but it’s not for less coverage, honey.”

Watkins maintained that he does, in fact, have less coverage now than he used to. The quarrel went on for a while longer, with Rye repeatedly insisting, “That’s not true.” At one point, fellow liberal panelist Goldie Taylor jumped into the argument by phone. She interjected:
 

[Watkins] may have a higher out-of-pocket expense through a higher co-payment or higher deductible, but to say that he has a smaller coverage population of health care services is simply not true. It cannot be.
 

Do these women think they know the contents of Watkins’ health coverage? If they do, they'd probably be in serious trouble for having access to confidential information. In reality, they are just making partisan guesses based on how they believe ObamaCare should work.

Rye continued to insist, despite no real evidence, that Watkins doesn’t have less coverage under ObamaCare. In another condescending move, she offered to personally show Watkins just how wrong he was about his own insurance:
 

You don't have less coverage. We can go –  I would be happy to sit down with you for hours and compare your last plan to your current plan.
 

Chalk this dramatic television moment up to liberal Republican strategist Susan Del Percio leaving the network. Alex Witt is forced to find other GOP strategists to fill out her “Big 3" panel – and those other Republicans, like Watkins, inevitably present a stronger conservative argument than Del Percio -- who has gone on to advise Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) -- did.

Below is a transcript of the exchange:

ALEX WITT: We're going to take a listen to President Obama this week talking about the 8 million people who have signed up for health insurance under Obamacare. Here it is.

[begin tape]

BARACK OBAMA: The point is, the repeal debate is and should be over. The Affordable Care Act is working, and I know the American people don't want us spending the next two and a half years refighting the settled political battles of the last five years.

[end tape]

WITT: Okay, Joe. Do you agree? Is this battle over repealing Obamacare over?

JOE WATKINS, Republican strategist: Well, the battle may not be over, but I think the White House makes a tactical error to keep reminding Americans why they're upset. All you've got to do is look at the polling numbers and see that still a large number of Americans are very unhappy about the Affordable Care Act. And the fact that 8 million people have signed up doesn't mean that all 8 million of them are happy. They're signing up because it's the law. They had to sign up to comply, to not incur a penalty to sign up. And so it's a blessing if you didn't have health insurance and now you have it because of Affordable Care Act. But for those people who thought they would be able to keep their policy because they liked it and now have to take part in  this Obamacare policy and likewise pay more money a month for less coverage, those people are not happy and they're going to go to the polls and they're going to show it in these congressional midterm elections in November.

***



WITT: Something interesting here, Angela, 8 million have signed up. And that is certainly a marked turnaround from the website's botched rollout. Do you think this allows the vulnerable Democrats who distanced themselves from Obamacare to now embrace it ahead of the midterms?

ANGELA RYE: Yeah, there are folks that have already began doing that. But one thing, Alex, I really think it's important that we talk facts here on your show. And so I do want to correct the record for Joe. I don't know what type of talking points Republican leadership is sending out, but you're not paying more money for less coverage. That is factually inaccurate. And if Pinocchio was present, there would be seven or eight of them.

WATKINS [laughs]: Well, I know I pay more money now than I used to pay, I mean –

RYE: You pay more money, but it’s not for less coverage, honey.

WATKINS: I get less coverage. I get less coverage than I got before.

WITT: Wait, wait, wait, I want to hear Joe, seriously? You're paying more money and you have less coverage?

WATKINS: Yes, I get less coverage. And I have a higher deductible –  

WITT: Can you elaborate a little bit?

WATKINS: It's a shame. I liked what I had –

RYE: But that doesn’t mean it’s less coverage.

WATKINS: – now I'm paying more money, I get less.

RYE: That’s not true.

WATKINS: Well, it's less coverage because I have a higher deductible. This is the case for lots of Americans –

RYE: No, no, no, wait! I’m sorry, that’s not – that doesn’t align. You can't say you have less coverage --

GOLDIE TAYLOR: You may have –

RYE: Sorry, go ahead, Goldie.

TAYLOR: You may have – he may have a higher out-of-pocket expense through a higher co-payment or higher deductible but to say that he has a smaller coverage population of health care services is simply not true. It cannot be.

WITT: So okay, so Joe
 
WATKINS: I mean -- go ahead.

WITT: Joe, is that the way it is? You're paying more out-of-pocket because of your deductible but what you get for your insurance coverage is the same?

WATKINS: No, I actually get a little bit less coverage than I was getting before. I pay more money per month for that less coverage. And then I have a higher deductible. So I have higher out-of-pocket costs. And this is not political. It's not -- I don't have any inbred desire to make sure that this doesn't work. I think for lots of Americans who are not political – I mean, they aren't hard Democrats or hard Republicans, they're just not happy because of this very true reality. I mean, they're paying more money. They get less. They liked what they used to have.

RYE: That’s not true.

WATKINS: If they could have kept what they used to have, they'd be fine. Well, if I could have kept what I used to have, I’d be perfectly happy. I’d leave everybody alone and I’d be happy.

RYE: I know that maybe you wanted your old plan, and you have a longer period of time to keep the old plan. But what we can't go on air saying, Joe, we have a responsibility to the American public, is to start saying things that we just heard in talking points. You don't have less coverage. We can go –  I would be happy to sit down with you for hours and compare your last plan to your current plan. You may be spending more. I'm spending more. I now have maternity coverage on my plan that I don't need right now, but I'm happy to have it and I do pay $100 more. But that's so some child can have more coverage or coverage period under their parents’ plan for longer. So I'm fine with that. But I'm not going to lie to the people. I'm just not going to do it.
 

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.