The PJ Tatler

Clyburn Offers VA as Example of How Government Can Run a Big Program 'Well'

Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Americans needn’t fear about Obamacare because of the government’s stellar track record in running other big-government programs.

On MSNBC this morning, Clyburn was asked about whether the 39 Democrats who broke ranks and voted for the Upton bill last week to let people keep their health insurance were reflecting the views of their constituents.

“Well, you know, I think that may be current thought amongst some people, but Social Security seemed to be run pretty well to me. Medicare runs pretty well. The Veterans Administration runs pretty well. So the government can, in fact, run big programs,” Clyburn said.

The VA has been struggling with a massive claims backlog and doctor shortages, with the Virgin Islands still missing any doctor at its VA center. (Last week, Del. Donna Christensen said at least the VA is now interviewing for the position, after she pushed the agency and had to give them referrals of local physicians.)

“And when the American people had an opportunity to let their feelings be known as to whether or not we should privatize Social Security, they said with a loud resounding no, we do not want to see Social Security privatized. So they must want the government to run it,” Clyburn continued.

“So we’re having a rollout problem. I think it will get fixed. I think the Affordable Care Act allowing people to stay on their insurance policies once they get sick. I think the real big problem to the American people is for you to pay your premium for decades and then all of a sudden something shows up on your X-ray or you go for your second treatment and you get a letter from the insurance company canceling your policies.”

“Cancellation letters,” he added, “are not new.”

“Ever since I’ve been in Congress for 21 years I’ve been hearing from my constituents about getting cancellation letters from insurance companies as soon as they got sick or because they’ve reached some limit for the year or for their lifetime,” Clyburn said. “So I think that we ought to keep plugging along, get this thing fixed, and I think the American people are going to like the Affordable Care Act once they get a chance to use it.”

Like the Obama administration, Clyburn tried to shift much of the burden onto insurance companies.

“If we’re going to be in bed with them, let’s bring them into this process, because a lot of these insurance companies could be signing people up, they could be informing their policy holders,” he said.

“This letter they are sending out — don’t just cancel the policies, let them know what the alternatives are. You’re going to benefit from this in the long run because you’ll get more business. So you ought to be saying to your policy holders these are the alternatives. The policy you got, it will not cover a child born with diabetes, or it has lifetime limit that you may not be aware of. So, here’s what the alternatives are and how we can make your life much better and sell you a policy that may be cheaper and will cover more. I think that burden is on the insurance companies and they ought to go out and sort of man and woman up and get it done.”