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In the Healthcare Debate, O’Reilly’s Main Concern Seems To Be the Privacy of His Own Medical Records

Reported by Ellen - July 23, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

On last night’s O’Reilly Factor (7/22/09) in his Talking Points Memo, Bill O’Reilly trumpeted about the President's press conference, “Tonight, the President faced a rather docile press corps and buried them with rhetoric.” And also last night, while engaging in run-of-the-mill fear-mongering, O’Reilly demonstrated his primary fear – almost panic – over the assumption that his medical records may not be private any more if President Obama passes some version of his healthcare bill. But first, to calm his fears, O’Reilly had to do a little therapeutic President-bashing. With video.

Roll the clip.

President Obama: “. . . You may not see it because if you have health insurance right now it’s just being sent to the insurance company, but that’s raising your premiums, it’s raising everybody’s premiums, and that money one way or another is coming out of your pocket, although we are also subsidizing some of that because there are tax breaks for health care.”

“I think my head is going to explode,” O’Reilly cried. “I don’t know what he said . . . and I’m not being a wise guy . . . After another hour of Barack Obama explaining his program I still don’t know what it is . . . The man is incapable of breaking it down . . . It’s crazy!”

On a side note, accusing Barack Obama of being incoherent is about as ridiculous as accusing Sarah Palin of being eloquent. O'Reilly complained in the next segment (not shown in any of the videos below), " I have a Master’s degree from Harvard University . . . I do not understand what the man is saying.” Well, that just goes to show you, an Ivy League education isn’t everything – I don’t have one, and I understood President Obama perfectly.

Enter Dick Morris -- plug the book, go.

O’Reilly led off, “I don’t want to be obnoxious about this . . . I don’t understand what he’s talking about. Do you understand what he’s talking about?”

Morris said he did, and said you have to “read into his vocabulary.”

O’Reilly and Morris headed down the Path of Fear, with O’Reilly hypothesizing that he’s “a guy from Levittown” making $55,000 a year who just wants to insure his family.

“Obama’s plan gonna help me?” he asked.

Morris replied, “Obama’s plan is gonna kill you . . . Because it will take away your doctor’s ability to decide what care to give you.” Wrong-o, Morris. As noted by Congressman Bill Pascrell, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee on health, “Everyday, insurance company bureaucrats stand between Americans and their doctors, and the ever-growing costs of premiums, co-pays, and deductibles prevent people from seeking the care that they need. Health reform will bring competition and choice to the insurance market and reign in health care costs so that individuals can seek the care they need and the treatments their doctors prescribe.”

Hooking right in, O’Reilly proposed that he would lose control over what procedures can be performed by his doctor because the government has the ultimate say. Morris assured O’Reilly that yes, his health insurance premiums would go up, “Because you have to pay for the cost one way or another of insuring 50 million people that aren’t covered . . . your employer either has to give you health insurance or he has to pay 8% . . . .” This is, in fact, another right-wing-driven myth. As noted on The Seminal’s website, “If we don't reform our health care system and bring down skyrocketing costs, the average family will be paying almost $10,000 more per year for health care by 2016 than they do now.”

Morris agreed that O’Reilly could go to the doctor of his choice, but “Your doctor can’t make the decisions . . . [it will be] the Federal Health Board, which has never met you . . . .” Wrong again, Morris. As noted on USA Today’s website, “. . . (The public has) concerns that the government aims to dictate what doctors do and cut costs by limiting access to care. These notions are wrong. Rather, what Obama and both Democratic and Republican leaders want to do is aggressively measure the quality of care that doctors and hospitals deliver and change the way those providers get paid so quality of care — rather than quantity — is rewarded.”

But enough with the foreplay -- O’Reilly dived right into his main fear. “My health records which are now in the hands of my private physician . . . they’re gonna be in Washington, right, so every malady that I have is gonna be seen by people in Washington. I don’t want that, do you want that?”

After a little back and forth on the issue, O’Reilly repeated, “On a computer disk in D.C. will be what’s wrong with me . . . based on my medical history. It makes me very, very nervous.” Yes, we noticed.

Morris and O’Reilly spent a few minutes engaged in fear tactics, agreeing that there’s no way President Obama’s plan will pay for itself, that doctors and nurses will leave the practice because they won’t be paid well enough, that there’ll be rationing of medical care, that life expectancy may drop in the United States -- fear, fear, fear. Morris was in and out, quick and dirty.

Enter Fox News analyst, Dr. Marc Lemont Hill, as the next guest. Finally, someone who had something besides fear to bring to the table.

Hill said that President Obama was “responding to the broader public discourse, there’s no fear-mongering going on . . . .”

“I guarantee you that the polls that come out tomorrow and Friday are gonna drive his numbers even further down,” O’Reilly promised. “. . . It’s 55% now Americans don’t like his healthcare approach, according to Gallup this week. That’s a huge reversal . . . after tonight it’s going into the high 50’s, maybe 60 . . . .”

O’Reilly agreed with Hill that 72% of Americans favor the public option, but O’Reilly went on to say, “. . . But not the way Barack Obama was delivering it to them . . . .”

O’Reilly, again, focused worriedly on the privacy issue.

“Let me ask you this,” O’Reilly posited. “It worries me that my medical history and your medical history is now gonna be on a disk in Washington, D.C., rather than the confidentiality of a doctor-patient, which we have had in this country for decades – that’s gone.”

Hill disagreed, saying it isn’t necessarily true.

“The data is going to go to a bank in Washington, D.C.,” O’Reilly fretted. “ . . . I’m talking about you, Dr. Marc Lemont Hill, having a condition . . . with his program, it goes to D.C. and the bureaucracy decides how to treat you, not your physician. Doesn’t that worry you?”

Hill said it didn’t worry him at all, citing the private versus public option, but O’Reilly kept at it, like a terrier after a rat.

“So you don’t mind having your condition – whatever it may be – leave your doctor’s office and go to D.C. . . ,” O’Reilly said.

“It’s not going to Congress, it’s going to a healthcare system,” Hill argued.

O’Reilly hammered the privacy issue, once again, saying, “It’s going to a database that can be accessed . . . okay, if you don’t mind it, I do, and that’s a big concern of mine. We don’t have any privacy as it is in this country . . . .”

Hill pointed out the bigger issue than the privacy of medical records (to most Americans, but not to O’Reilly) is 50 million uninsured Americans – and said that President Obama addressed that in the press conference.

O’Reilly disagreed, saying that in an hour of prime-time “he goes out and bloviates in general terms . . . when are you going to start challenging the President to do his job and to tell the American people, here’s what it is, here’s what’s gonna happen . . . .”

O’Reilly admitted that the current system is chaos and it needs an overhaul, but he wants to do it through “private savings accounts and strict government oversight, with a safety net for the poor . . . I can make that system work.”

Hill argued that the President talked about efficiency, oversight, regulation – all the things O’Reilly just enumerated.

Heavens no, we wouldn’t want chaos . . . such as the kind O'Reilly envisioned and promulgated tonight, while engaging in irrational fear-mongering about how helping the 50 million uninsured Americans is going to be one big cluster-f**k. But the biggest question of all – what’s O’Reilly’s medical condition? The one O’Reilly is terrified might fall into the hands of the government? Is it really so awful that O'Reilly (not usually one to worry about privacy) is willing to kill health care reform just to protect it?

If you can't view any of the videos below, here's a link to Talking Points Memo, Dick Morris and Marc Lamont Hill.