Opinion: Tom Price is a poor huckster

Few things anger or frustrate me more than somebody who will look you in the eye, smile disarmingly and then tell you an outrageous lie that he expects you to believe. It’s not just the lying that gets me; it’s the fundamental disrespect for the intelligence of his or her audience.

In that light, the performance by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on a CNN town hall last night went badly from the very beginning and never improved. The first question asked from the audience came from a man named Brian Kline, who last year was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, was able to get treatment because Pennsylvania had expanded its Medicaid program, and is now cancer-free:

“Medicaid expansion saved my life, and saved me from medical bankruptcy,” Kline told Price. “I earn $11.60 an hour at my retail job, so obviously I can’t afford to pay for my cancer care out of my pocket…. My question to you, Secretary Price, is pretty straightforward: Why do you want to take away my Medicaid expansion?”

“The fact of the matter is that we don’t,” Price responded, which is a lie. “We don’t want to take care away from anybody. What we want to make certain, though, is that every single American has access to the kind of coverage and care that they want for themselves.”

(Somebody making $23,200 a year, as Kline does, has no chance whatsoever of getting “the kind of coverage and care that they want” without financial assistance. But continue, Secretary Price.)

“If you look at the Medicaid program right now, we have one-third of the physicians in this country, Brian, who are not seeing Medicaid patients. So if we want to be honest with ourselves as a society, it’s important that we step back and ask ourselves, why is that? Why are those doctors not seeing Medicaid patients? Let me just suggest that it’s because the Medicaid program itself has real problems.”

Many Americans watching that exchange might believe that Price is genuinely perplexed that more than 30 percent of physicians in this country refuse to see Medicaid patients, a fact that makes it difficult for those patients to find doctors. They might also believe that Price honestly wants to correct those problems, whatever they are. Certainly, he intended to give that impression.

Yet neither is remotely true.

1.) We already know the primary reason that so many doctors either refuse to see Medicaid patients or limit the number they treat: Medicaid pays them so little. It is a particular problem here in Georgia, where Price practiced for 20 years, because Georgia has some of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the country.

According to a factsheet published last year by the Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “On average, the Georgia Medicaid program currently pays only about 65 percent of what Medicare pays for the same service and only about 50 percent of what regular commercial insurance pays.”

The GCAAP factsheet provides five examples of that payment differential that it describes as typical:

So it ain’t brain surgery, or even orthopedics. If you were a doctor with a busy practice, forced to decide which new patient to accept, would you choose the Medicaid patient or the patient with private insurance that will pay you twice as much?

2.) In his response to Kline, Price strongly implies that the “Medicaid reform” plan that he’s touting would somehow address the problem of physicians who refuse to take Medicaid. In a perverse way, it’s true. It addresses the problem by making it much, much worse. The GOP bill would slash federal funding for state Medicaid programs by $880 billion over the next decade, giving states little choice but to push patients such as Kline off the program and to also further restrict Medicaid reimbursement rates. In short, the plan to “reform Medicaid” is to reform it right out of existence.

Over the hour-long town hall, Price continued to evade and deceive. For example, he repeatedly condemned Obamacare for still leaving 20 million Americans without insurance, and repeatedly claimed that the goal of the GOP plan “is to make sure that every single American has coverage.” Yet he offered no explanation of the magic by which that might happen, given the CBO’s conclusion that his plan would leave 54 million uninsured by 2026.

However, my favorite moment of the night came when Dana Bash of CNN asked Price about a controversial provision in the bill giving a tax break to health-insurance companies that pay their executives more than $500,000 a year. In a White House press briefing more than a week ago, Price had been asked that same question but had successfully ducked it, claiming “I’m not aware of that; I’ll look into that.”

This time, Bash was prepared.

Watch that again. Watch how Price tries to feign ignorance, but when caught shifts suddenly, with not a hint of shame, into a detailed, emphatic defense of a provision that a millisecond earlier he had tried to deny altogether.

This is not a man operating in good faith; this is a huckster, and a poor one at that.

Reader Comments 0

1627 comments
C_Casselberry
C_Casselberry

Typical slime "evangelical christian" fraud of a sack of excrement. Tom Price is slime.

Jack Warner
Jack Warner

Ajc..you are really sick . This is why I am stopped your subscription. Jay bookman Is the lowest. wonder whe jay is going to run for office instead of pontificating from his high chair?

HowdyJune
HowdyJune

You know, I watched on CBS News tonight a lady who receives her only meals from Meals-on-Wheels who also voted for Donald Trump.  Her next statement just shocked me:  She still supports Donald Trump!  I just shook my head in disbelief.  The same thing is true in health care.  The very people who will lose their health insurance are the very people who voted for this man and continue to support him.  

Sceptical
Sceptical

Jay, your opening paragraph read, "Few things anger or frustrate me more than somebody who will look you in the eye, smile disarmingly and then tell you an outrageous lie that he expects you to believe. It’s not just the lying that gets me; it’s the fundamental disrespect for the intelligence of his or her audience."

Then you write an article where you blatantly lie to your readers and insult their intelligence. Your a liberal Democrat, so there is nothing wrong with you lying. Democrats are allowed to lie. You will always be backed up by your fellow members of the media. But for God's sake don't tell your readers, in your first paragraph, you disrespect their intelligence. You are counting on their stupidity to believe what you say. If they weren't stupid, they would never believe you. If they were intelligent, they would realize you are lying to them

Remember, every idiot that believes your lies is one more vote we didn't have before. But just don't remind them how stupid you think they are.

Tim Hotle
Tim Hotle

One of the biggest problems is that the media is in collusion with Democrats.

JKToole
JKToole

Look at the picture of Tom Price. Can't you just hear the voice of Thurston Howell lll saying: "Healthcare for all? Lovey, make me an Old Fashioned."

carterjoseph1950
carterjoseph1950

We have to stand up to these liars. The reason health care is such a mess is that it is market-based and profit driven. ANY Republican plan will only make it worse. Think it's bad now? Just wait until Republicans get their way, heaven forbid. People will be dying on the street , including Republican voters.


Resist Trump
Resist Trump

SHEETZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Kamchak
Kamchak

Serving Bushmill's, a protestant whisky, on a Catholic holiday?

LOL!

Vinnie-poo, you're a riot!

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

"Trump is shrugging off the very serious accusations against Obama, which were blatant lies, as a simple “mistake” that will soon be forgotten because the rest of his tweets are “good.” 


He also went Sarah Palin with his form of media comment, she could not name one paper when asked and replied "all of them".


“I have my own form of media. So if I tweet two or three or four or five times a day, and if most of them are good, and I really want them all to be good, but if I make one mistake in a month — this one I don’t think is going to prove to be a mistake at all.”

gotalife
gotalife

Dear world,


Sorry for the clown.

BuzzBelle
BuzzBelle

This is sooooo embarrassing!!!!  We have lost all credibility and will be the laughing stock of the world, all within a few short months.  

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

The inability or unwillingness to own your screw ups is a sign of poor character.


gotalife
gotalife

They apologized to the British for lies so where is the apology for President Obama trumpy.

gotalife
gotalife

The Irish coming off the boats in New York were treated very badly by the white locals.

Some things never change in America.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@gotalife 

"We'll give some land to the n!66ers and the chlnks, but we DON"T want the Irish!"

- Olson Johnson

TBS
TBS

It was an AMC show I think but now on Netflix - hell on wheels

About building the railroad after the civil war

Elements of left over Yankee - Rebel resentment as well as Blacks, Irish and Chinese working the railroad.

Decent show. Not a true story but based on what was taking place at that time.

gotalife
gotalife

@TBS One of my favorite movies is Gangs of New York.

JKToole
JKToole

@gotalife The people coming off the boats in New York were treated very badly by the white, already immigrated, Irish  locals who worked at Ellis Island.

There fixed that for you.

TBS
TBS

DP

Month or so back a blogger was telling PaulinNH, you and myself how socialism was the biggest problem in Western Europe/ EU.

I posted an article which showed several of these nations being ranked higher for doing business than the US. Of course it was ignored.

Earlier this week that same blogger was bragging how the current conservative PM of the Netherlands won the election.

Those countries were all of a socialistic nature just a month ago, we were told.

Damn the contradictions and lies that dude will say just about anything to push his narrative.

I read his comment earlier this week and couldn't stop laughing

honested
honested

@TBS 

Now it's France's turn to affirm civilization.

TBS
TBS

Almost like a robot programmed with talking points.

Not much thought taking place. If there is any thought it is pushed to the back for the talking points.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@TBS

I know. We can patiently point out that "European Conservative" equals "American Libtard" 'til the cows come home, but it ain't gonna do any good.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Donnie_Pinko


So our intelligence agency and now Britian's communication agency is mad at Trump.


Guess we don't need them for such important matters

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Visual_Cortex @Donnie_Pinko The Obama wiretap lie is straight from breitbarf, they ran a story the day before his tweet.  The British lie came from fixed news but was spread by breitbarf.  Trump uses right wing trash for his sources.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Donnie_Pinko

And all they'd have to do to avoid such unpleasantries would be to stop using whatever Fox "News" rent-a-goon happened to be on the TeeVee that day as a source for some crazy accusation.

I've never been a White House flack, but I think I'd know enough not to do that if I were.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@StraightNoChaser @Visual_Cortex @Donnie_Pinko

I guess as long as he can fill an arena with clappy-happy supporters for his Bund rallies, it's still all good.

But I imagine before too long you're going to start getting more than a few "boos" at these events, no matter how carefully they pat people down for Liberal paraphernalia.

JKToole
JKToole

St. Patrick's day is like Valentine's Day for people who drink blended whiskey and make bad decisions.

TBS
TBS

Crackdown

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Donnie_Pinko ACLU is already preparing to fight against it, will go all the way to SCOTUS for violation of 1st amendment.  Citizens have a right to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

skydog12
skydog12

@StraightNoChaser @Donnie_Pinko


........and if 20,000 people show up to excersise our 1st amendment rights.........it`s not our fault you didn`t build the sidewalks wide enough.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Trumps apology tour 2017. Even McMasters personally apologized to the Brits. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Well, what matters is he didn't still hasn't apologized to the Halfrican.

I don't think his fan base could handle that.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

"didn't still hasn't".

Good God. I'm sorry, all those teecherz who tried to get me to rite good.

OldJacketFan
OldJacketFan

@TBS

LMAO! Thanks I just spewed coffee all over my keyboard! 

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

The White House has apologized to the British government after alleging that a UK intelligence agency spied on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@BuckeyeGa Did Trump personally apologize?  My guess is no he is some where shrugging his shoulders like he always does after he, Spicer or Kellyanne lies.

TBS
TBS

No

Someone on behalf of the WH called to extend the apology