The McKinsey Health Insurance Study and Gabon — Today’s Q’s for O’s WH: 6/8/2011

By Eliza

Jun 8, 2011 3:15pm

TAPPER:  I have two questions for you.  First of all, the study by McKinsey company noting that the health care requirements that take effect in 2014 (will ?), quote, increase medical costs for many companies. And in their survey of 1,300 employers, they note that a significant  percentage will definitely or probably drop coverage or pursue alternatives to employer-based insurance.  And I'm wondering what the White House response is.

CARNEY:  Sure.  We saw that report.  And I can simply say that that report is pretty starkly at odds with the experts from the Congressional Budget Office, the RAND Corporation, the Urban Institute, and it is also starkly at odds with history.  History has shown that reforms motivates more businesses to offer insurance.

Health reform in Massachusetts, for example, uses a similar structure as the Affordable Care Act with an exchange, a personal responsibility requirement and an employer responsibility requirement. And the number of individuals with employer-sponsored insurance in Massachusetts has increased.  We are confident the Affordable Care Act will strengthen our existing system, employer-based system going forward.  So we simply just disagree with those conclusions.

TAPPER:  Do you, do you think –

REPORTER: What state is that?

CARNEY:  The Bay State, home of my beloved Boston Red Sox. (Laughter.)

REPORTER:  Romney says that it's totally different –

CARNEY:  Let me continue with Jake.  Yes, sir.

TAPPER: Thanks.  Do you take issue with the report's conclusion that the requirements of the law will increase medical costs for many companies?  Is that something you take issue with?

CARNEY:  We believe that the Affordable Care Act will reduce costs overall.  It is one of the reasons why the president pursued insurance reform, because he wanted to address the burden that costs were placing on individuals as well as businesses.  So yes, we disagree with the conclusions of the report.

TAPPER:  OK.  And then, in light of tomorrow's meeting with the president of Gabon, is it appropriate for President Obama to honor Ali Bongo at the White House, given the fact that the State Department recently reported the country is home to widespread government  corruption, and in light on an ongoing criminal investigation in France about the source of money to buy President Bongo's homes in France?

CARNEY:  Well, Jake, as you know, Gabon is holding a rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council.  It's an important position. Moreover, Gabon has voted in ways that we consider very helpful on issues like Cote d'Ivoire, Libya and Iran.  It's been an important ally in our efforts in those countries through the United Nations. So, yes, we do think it is appropriate for the president to meet with the leader of Gabon.

And we're obviously — as we are in a number of countries, we're concerned about human rights issues.  And President Bongo has made a number of reforms in his country.  And that country, Gabon, is increasingly playing a more important role as a regional and global leader on such issues as the ones I mentioned:  Libya, Cote d'Ivoire and Iran.  So we're obviously — we think it's definitely a worthwhile meeting.

TAPPER: But there are a lot of people in that country who look at President Bongo as seriously corrupt.  And he is going to be able to use this visit at the White House with President Obama as a way of building up his popular support.

CARNEY:  Well, look, I think that the president of the United States is meeting with the president, as he does with other heads of state who have less than sterling, perhaps, records, because of the — first of all, that — the president of Gabon is making reform efforts, which we support.  Secondly, as I said, Gabon has been an important partner in some of the issues that are very important to the American national security — U.S. security interests, regarding Cote d'Ivoire, Libya and Iran and other issues.  And it's very important for the president to have this meeting for that reason.

-Jake Tapper

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