Is voter confusion over the differences between Medicare For All, a public option, and other policies done by design? CNN health care policy writer, Tami Luhby, reports that support for Medicare For All has waned. While the Kaiser Foundation poll Luhby cites shows a slight drop in overall support for Medicare For All, a look at biased polling questions and the financial ties of those behind the polls present some important realities that Luhby often omits or overlooks in her reporting.

Luhby acknowledges that support changes depending on the information that respondents receive, but her bias towards profit-driven health care is evident as she focuses on the ACA and adding a public option without addressing important key factors of Medicare for All. She also omits the connection between the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) who funded the poll to the corporations and organizations that fund the KFF.

Luhby has a history of opposing Medicare For All and her biases are often reflected in her reporting. As a CNN policy expert on health care, she has a duty to accurately and objectively report the facts. The reality is, even in polls that routinely misrepresent Medicare For All, and despite corporate media consistently misreporting the facts, Medicare For All is still supported by over 50 percent of all voters polled and over 70 percent of Democratic voters.


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What You Need to Know

  1. Support for Medicare For All is over 50 percent of all voters polled, and over 70 percent of Democratic voters. This is in spite of polls funded by institutions opposing Medicare For All, which routinely misrepresent the policy and inaccurately report the facts.
  2. Implementing a single payer system such as Medicare For All would have a positive effect on the delivery of healthcare, which would remain largely in the private sector. It would allow health care providers more time to spend on patient care rather than the bureaucracy of filling out paperwork for multiple insurance companies.
  3. While the evidence shows that expanding the ACA by adding a public option could possibly drive down overall healthcare costs, it would not drive prices down for all individuals and would still leave millions of Americans unable to afford healthcare.
  4. Tami Luhby, a senior writer for CNN, has a history of writing articles that subtly attack Medicare For All. In an era when many only read headlines, she has mastered the art of crafting her headlines to frame Medicare For All as unpopular and unrealistic while repeating corporate talking points and making conflated and unchecked assertions. While Luhby does not appear to have any direct financial ties to the healthcare industry, she does have indirect ties through the financial interests of CNN and its board members.

Fact 1: Support for Medicare For All is over 50 percent of all voters polled, and over 70 percent of Democratic voters. This is in spite of polls funded by institutions opposing Medicare For All, which routinely misrepresent the policy and inaccurately report the facts.

  • “Sanders’ version of Medicare for All would poll better if voters understood that it would abolish premiums and deductibles and bring down overall health-care costs.” –Eric Levitz, Intelligencer
  • “The fact that Medicare for All still attracted majority support in Kaiser’s poll,  even as a majority of voters believed that the policy would raise middle-class taxes without eliminating monthly premiums, suggests that voters might welcome the actual trade-offs offered by single-payer.” –Eric Levitz, Intelligencer
  • Even Tami Luhby writes in a CNN article about the confusion among poll respondents regarding Medicare For All: “Nearly seven in 10 Americans think they would continue to pay deductibles and co-pays under Medicare for All, Kaiser found, when in fact they would not. And some 54% wrongly believe that individuals and employers would continue to pay premiums.”
  • While the poll that Luhby refers to appears to be reliable (ex: methodology is easy to find, number of people polled), the questions are loaded with bias against Medicare for All Single-Payer. This naturally leads those responding to the poll to answer in a specific way, while also spreading misinformation to the public.
    • “National health plan” or “National health care” is mentioned three times. These phrases can be incorrectly interpreted to mean that the government will administer health care. Medicare For All Single-Payer, in fact, provides more options for patients and is better for the public and private sector. Click here for more information.
    • Medicare For All is combined with “socialism,” a word that has been stigmatized. This can serve to reinforce misinformation/biases where people may respond negatively to “socialism” and over time respond negatively to “Medicare for All.” Or, it can cause people to respond poorly on the poll simply due to one term and not the other.
      • Question CP9a: “What is it about health care that would make you more likely to vote for President Trump?”
        • Answer option: “Opposition to National Health care/Single-payer/Medicare For All/‘Socialism’”
    • A “public option” that would compete with private insurance (as opposed to Medicare for All that would replace private insurance) has its own question with several potential answers to describe it, but there are no items asking respondents to rate a single-payer plan that would eliminate all deductibles, premiums, and copays. This is “bias by omission.”
      • Q1: “I am going to read you some arguments some people have made for or against a public health insurance option. Would you favor or oppose a public health insurance option if you heard that it would (INSERT ITEM)? How about (INSERT ITEM)? [IF NEEDED: Would you favor or oppose a public health insurance option if you heard that it would (INSERT ITEM)?] 
        • a. Cause doctors and hospitals to be paid less
        • b. Lead to too much government involvement in health care 
        • c. Provide more choice to people getting insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces 
        • d. Help drive down costs because private insurers would be competing with the public plan”
  • While the poll was self-funded by KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit) and so appears to be objective, KFF is funded by institutions that oppose Medicare for All and have a lot to gain from private insurance companies.

Fact 2: Implementing a single payer system such as Medicare For All would have a positive effect on the delivery of healthcare, which would remain largely in the private sector. It would allow health care providers more time to spend on patient care rather than the bureaucracy of filling out paperwork for multiple insurance companies.

  • A single-payer Medicare For All system will simplify the payment system and remove the financial barriers to care. Private industry would still be in charge of providing healthcare, but not determine the cost or what is covered. 1, 2, 3, 4  
  • Medicare For All would implement the same pay structure currently used for Medicare, which 95% of providers already accept, and would expand coverage to everyone while covering more healthcare services. 1, 2, 3, 4  
  • Patients would have expanded care for services not covered under most private insurance plans such as dental, vision, hearing, mental health, and long-term care. 1, 2, 3, 4  
  • Patients will also have the choice of which doctor to go to throughout the country, thereby increasing competition amongst facilities, and won’t lose their health coverage if they move, change jobs, or retire. 1, 2, 3, 4

Fact 3: While the evidence shows that expanding the ACA by adding a public option could possibly drive down overall healthcare costs, it would not drive prices down for all individuals and would still leave millions of Americans unable to afford healthcare.

  • Evidence shows that expanding the ACA by adding a public option could drive down overall premiums and prices, but it would not drive prices down for all individuals and the majority of those who would enroll in the public option would be high-cost enrollees. 1 
  • A public option is unlikely to have a large impact on the total number of uninsured, but it would significantly impact how much the insured members are paying for their coverage. 1
  • Millions will continue to be uninsured, leaving many issues of the U.S. healthcare system and healthcare costs unaddressed. 1

Fact 4: Tami Luhby, a senior writer for CNN, has a history of writing articles that subtly attack Medicare For All. In an era when many only read headlines, she has mastered the art of crafting her headlines to frame Medicare For All as unpopular and unrealistic while repeating corporate talking points and making conflated and unchecked assertions. While Luhby does not appear to have any direct financial ties to the healthcare industry, she does have indirect ties through the financial interests of CNN and its board members.

  • Headlines of Luhby’s articles include:
    • “Opponents Line up to Quash Medicare for All” 1, which was sent with the promo tweet: “Industry opponents–including insurers, employers, and drugmakers–are lining up to quash Medicare for All.” 2
    • “Free College and Health care: How Would Bernie Sanders Pay for It?” 3
    • “What Medicare for All Means for Doctors and Hospitals.” 4 which was sent with the promo tweet: “Here’s why doctors and hospitals don’t like Medicare for all — they don’t want to get rid of private insurance.” 5
    • “Many Americans support Medicare for All, but it’s not universal” 6
  • “Opponents Line up to Quash Medicare for All” explains the rise of Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future (PAHCF) which is funded by Big Pharma. Luhby does not analyze or fact-check quotes from people inside the for-profit industry. 1 
    • The article cites the Kaiser poll claiming American affection for private insurance and closes with a quote from Neil Bradley, the chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “As folks begin to understand what that actual policy [Medicare for All] is, it turns out they don’t like it.” 
    • Evidence shows that when people learn that Medicare for All would eliminate out-of-pocket expenses such as premiums, deductibles, and copays–and can keep their healthcare providers–support for Medicare For All increases.
  • On December 4, 2014, Luhby tweeted an article by Mary Alice Carey from Kaiser Health News entitled “Think Health Care Costs are Soaring? Think Again.” 1, 2 Carey explains how the 3.6% growth in health care expenditures in 2013 was actually “the lowest annual increase since 1960.” Three months earlier, Consumer Reports took a different approach, addressing why out-of-pocket health care expenses are so high in the United States and how increases in health care costs outpace net income growth. 3 Luhby does not address this.
  • January 23, 2019: Luhby’s article about a Kaiser Family Foundation poll claimed that support for Medicare For All “received the lowest favorability score” (56%) among several choices: Medicare buy-in for people ages 50-64 (77%), Medicaid buy-in for people without employer-based insurance (75%), and Government health care plan with private insurance option (74%). However, Medicare buy-in, Medicaid buy-in, and  Medicaid (Governmental Health Plan) are all part of Medicare, a publicly funded program that would be absorbed by Medicare For All. Luhby also excludes private, employer-based insurance from the comparison, and doesn’t mention the comparison at all in her tweet promoting the article.
  • On January 29, 2019, Luhby tweeted a CNN article by Caroline Kelly and Christina Alesci, entitled “Michael Bloomberg: Medicare for All would ‘Bankrupt us for a Very Long Time.” Bloomberg condemns Medicare for All as socialist. Kelly and Alesci close the article with this quote: “If you want to look at [a] system that’s not capitalistic, just take a look at what was once one of the wealthiest countries in the world and now people are starving to death: it’s called Venezuela.” 1, 2 This conflicts with the findings of both the Peri and CBO reports on Medicare For All. Luhby does not address this.
  • Follow the Money – who has what to gain, or lose?
    • CNN regularly runs pharmaceutical ads, as well as PAHCF ads that fear-monger against Medicare for All. Additionally, several board members of Warner Media and AT&T, CNN’s parent companies, also sit on the boards of insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and the anti-single-payer U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 
    • In June 2018, AT&T acquired Warner Media, CNN’s parent company, making AT&T’s dealings with the for-profit health care industry from June 20, 2018, to the present day relevant.
    • AT&T board member Glenn H. Hutchins served as a special advisor on the economy and health care during the Clinton administration.
    • AT&T board member William E. Kennard sat on the board of MetLife Insurance until 2015. 1, 2
    • AT&T board member Michael McCalister has the following relationships with the for-profit health care industry:
    • AT&T board member and Lead Director Matthew K. Rose also sit on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is a vocal opponent of Medicare For All and a Medicare buy-in program.
    • In 2012, when Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s (FAIR) list of interlocking directorates was last updated, CNN/Time Warner shared board members with Community Health Systems, Pfizer, and Pharmacyclics.

Goals

  • Author and/or publication to issue a correction
  • Help people to understand the objective facts about Single-Payer Medicare For All, the ACA, and private health insurance.

Who To Contact

Tami Luhby, authorTwitter:@Luhby

Ask for a follow-up story about all facts around M4A, biased polls, and Big Pharma connections
CNN, publicationTwitter:@CNN
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/cnn/
Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/cnn/
Ask for a follow-up story about all facts around M4A, biased polls, and Big Pharma connections
Kaiser Family Foundation, conducts healthcare pollsTwitter:@KFF
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/KaiserFamilyFoundation
Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/KaiserFamilyFoundation/
Email:https://www.kff.org/contact-us/
Ask for clear polling questions that accurately and objectively describe M4A and the ACA

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