Hannity falsely claimed Obama has proposed UK-style nationalized health care

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

Sean Hannity claimed that President Obama has proposed "nationalized health care," similar to programs in Great Britain and Canada. In fact, earlier that day, Obama explicitly rejected scrapping the U.S. health-care system in favor of the British or Canadian model.

During the March 26 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity claimed that President Obama "wants to lay down $634 billion for nationalized health care. Well, we've had nationalized health care in Great Britain, and we've had it in France, and we've had it -- single-payer in Canada." Interviewing European Parliament member Daniel Hannan, Hannity later asserted, "So your advice to America is stay away from nationalized health care." In fact, during an online town hall discussion earlier that day, Obama explicitly rejected scrapping the U.S. health-care system in favor of the British or Canadian model.

During the online event, a participant asked: "Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs, rather than financial resources?" Obama replied in part: "A lot of people think that in order to get universal health care, it means that you have to have what's called a single-payer system of some sort. And so, Canada is the classic example: Basically, everybody pays a lot of taxes into the health-care system, but if you're a Canadian, you're automatically covered. And so you go in -- you know, England has a similar -- a variation on this same type of system. You go in and you just say, 'I'm sick,' and somebody treats you, and that's it." He later added:

OBAMA: [W]hat evolved in America was an employer-based system. It may not be the best system if we were designing it from scratch, but that's what everybody is accustomed to. That's what everybody is used to. It works for a lot of Americans, and so, I don't think the best way to fix our health-care system is to suddenly completely scrap what everybody is accustomed to and the vast majority of people already have. Rather, what I think we should do is to build on the system that we have and fill some of these gaps.

As Media Matters for America has documented, media figures and outlets have previously advanced the false characterization that Obama's health-care reform proposal constitutes "nationalize[d] health care," "government-run health care" or "socialized medicine."

From Obama's March 26 online town hall:

DR. BERNSTEIN: After the last recession ended in 2001, the unemployment rate went up for another 19 months before it started coming back down.

This next question -- an area close to your heart -- health care reform: From Richard in California: "Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs, rather than financial resources?"

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I was in this room last month in what we called a health-care forum, and we brought all the members of Congress -- Republicans and Democrats -- who were interested in this issue. We brought together various constituency groups, insurance companies, drug companies, you name it. And my message to them was: Now is the time to reform the health care system -- not four years from now, not eight years from now, not 20 years from now. Now.

[...]

OBAMA: Now, the question is, if you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health-care system like the European countries? I actually want a universal health-care system. That is our goal. I think we should be able to provide health insurance to every American that they can afford and that provides them high quality.

So I think we can accomplish it. Now, whether we do it exactly the way European countries do or Canada does is a different question, because there are a variety of ways to get to universal health-care coverage.

A lot of people think that in order to get universal health care, it means that you have to have what's called a single-payer system of some sort. And so, Canada is the classic example: Basically, everybody pays a lot of taxes into the health-care system, but if you're a Canadian, you're automatically covered. And so you go in -- you know, England has a similar -- a variation on this same type of system. You go in and you just say, "I'm sick," and somebody treats you, and that's it.

The problem is, is that we have what's called a legacy, a set of institutions that aren't that easily transformed. Let me just see a show of hands: How many people here have health insurance through your employer? OK, so the majority of Americans, sort of -- partly for historical accident -- I won't go into -- FDR had imposed wage controls during war time in World War II. People were -- companies were trying to figure out how to attract workers, and they said, well, maybe we'll provide health care as a benefit.

And so, what evolved in America was an employer-based system. It may not be the best system if we were designing it from scratch, but that's what everybody is accustomed to. That's what everybody is used to. It works for a lot of Americans, and so, I don't think the best way to fix our health-care system is to suddenly completely scrap what everybody is accustomed to and the vast majority of people already have. Rather, what I think we should do is to build on the system that we have and fill some of these gaps.

And I'm looking to Congress to work with me to find that optimal system. I made some proposals during the campaign about how we can lower costs through information technologies; how we can lower costs through reforms in how we reimburse doctors so that they're not getting paid just for the number of operations they're doing, but for whether they're quality outcomes; investing in prevention so that kids with asthma aren't going to the emergency room, but they're getting regular checkups.

From the March 26 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: You know, one of the things, Mr. Hannan, that we're debating in America, and -- Barack Obama wants to lay down 634 billion for nationalized health care. Well, we've had nationalized health care in Great Britain, and we've had it in France, and we've had it -- single-payer in Canada.

My question to you is, based on what you said, I would like you to explain to the American people if this is a good idea through this prism: I read in The Daily Mail last week that the -- that your health system, the NHS, literally has a group of people that decided, government bureaucrats, that they weren't going to give drugs to women with breast cancer and a certain rare form of stomach cancer -- the "rationing body" is what they call it.

Is it a good idea for the U.S. to invest in nationalized health care?

HANNAN: Now, first of all, it's important that you understand that that's a true story, and it's a typical story. It's not in the newspapers because it's unusual. We have a rationing body that's called the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. It's known as NICE -- N-I-C-E -- which, coincidentally, there was an adult novel by C.S. Lewis in the 1940s where the NICE was this kind of satanic conspiracy. And in terms of them [unintelligible] effects, you can sort of see the connection.

I mean, it's a terrible thing to put anyone in this situation, any bureaucrat in this situation of having to make those life and death decisions, because they are literally life and death decisions.

HANNITY: So, your --

HANNAN: The worst thing is for you as the recipient of health care because you've got no control over what you get. There's no contractual relationship between you and the suppliers, so, you know, if they treat you today or next week or six weeks from now, or it's too late because your --

HANNITY: So, your advice --

HANNAN: -- condition has already deteriorated, there is nothing you can do about it. You are expected to queue up with a big smile and be grateful for what you have. And, you know, it is -- it's the last survivor of the kind of socialist post-war conspiracy -- sorry -- socialist post-war -- sorry, I'm tired; it's midnight here - the socialist post-war consensus --

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you.

HANNAN: -- in the UK.

HANNITY: So your advice to America is stay away from nationalized health care. I think you're very clear on that.

Posted In
Economy, Health Care
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sean Hannity
Show/Publication
Hannity
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.