Here is my exchange yesterday with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs during the daily briefing:
Q I just have a question about whether the administration favors something in the House bill that would mandate a health benefits advisory committee to mandate essential benefits, even for private insurance plans.
MR. GIBBS: Without having a lot of knowledge of that section, let me have one of our guys take a look at it.
Q All right, well, there’s — let me also ask just, how familiar are you with the language that some of the people are debating about — or bringing up about the stuff that Zeke Emanuel has written?
MR. GIBBS: I’m sorry, say again?
Q Zeke Emanuel has written some articles that people are using to say that the government will ration care.
MR. GIBBS: I think we’ve dealt with that as another one of the continuing misconceptions.
Q Right, but in the context of talking about universal health care, he does talk about a scenario in which somebody with dementia would not get care.
MR. GIBBS: Yes, again, that’s not what the President believes and that’s not what the President’s policy would be.
Q I know that it’s — I know that the article is theoretical, but it’s in the context of universal care and I think —
MR. GIBBS: Again, this is — the President is — I won’t use the word — but the President is the one that sets policy. I think he was pretty clear in New Hampshire that something like that is not involved in health care reform and isn’t his policy.
Q Just — I’m sorry to belabor this, but — (laughter) — we’re dealing with finite or limited or dwindling resources when it comes to health care and there are decisions that have to be made about who gets care and who doesn’t. Does the President believe that individuals and their health care providers should make those decisions or the government?
MR. GIBBS: As he said in New Hampshire, not to belabor my answer again, he was very clear in New Hampshire that those are decisions that are made by the individual patients and their health care provider. What we want to do, and I think what the President was pretty clear about, is let’s also not have those decisions made by health care bureaucrats and insurance company bureaucrats that have, as the President said, decided for 12.5 million people that they’re — they can’t get an insurance policy based on what some one of them determines a preexisting condition. Let’s not have a health insurance company decide that they get to change the rules on their premiums if somebody gets too sick.
Let’s — the President is a strong believer that those decisions should be made by the individual and their health care provider. They shouldn’t be made by the government — by a government bureaucrat, just as they shouldn’t be made by an insurance company bureaucrat.
— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times
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