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CNN's Cuomo: Is Uproar Over 'One Slice' Losing Insurance a GOP 'Straw Man' to 'Distract' the Media?

CNN's Chris Cuomo was in full ObamaCare-apologist mode on Friday's New Day, asking if the uproar over millions losing their insurance wasn't a "straw man" that Republicans were "distracting" the media with.

"So it comes to are we being distracted in the media into this political play by opponents of President Obama and making this more than it is?" Cuomo said of the "five percent" who lost or were set to lose their insurance on the individual market before President Obama promised a "fix."

Cuomo said that Obama "took the bait that five percent meant everything" and called the millions who received insurance cancellation notices "one slice of the people."

"You cannot measure the law by what's happening with this one slice of the people potentially," Cuomo stated. He offered this defense of the law: "Some people are going to have to pay some more, but over time it evens out."

Avik Roy argues here that much more than "five percent" will lose their insurance plans on the individual market, not to mention the looming employer mandate and the Medicare cuts that will affect even more of the population.

Cuomo accused Republicans and conservatives of a "straw man" fallacy for using the current problems to argue the law is rotten at the core. Conservative guest Will Cain countered that it is a harbinger of greater problems to come:

"One year from now we'll be doing the same thing because the employer mandate comes in and all the people that are on employer plans will be upset. So you think this is the end? This is the beginning of the end of Obamacare."

And in his interview with Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon in the 8 a.m. ET hour, Cuomo cited "economists" he talked to who weren't fretting over the current problems:

"Economists that are in the business of measuring this law and measuring health care, they have a hard time seeing the urgency that's been raised politically about this issue, Mr. Donelon, which I'm sure you're not surprised to hear. They say this has been priced in. They say they knew it would take healthy, young people longer to come in. They say a lot of these policies needed to be canceled because they were substandard. And when those people get sick, it puts a strain on the system and that insurers know this better than anyone else. How much of this is a straw horse?"

When Cuomo argued that insurance companies are "flush with cash" and "change rules on policyholders all the time," Donelon responded that "there are plenty of local, smaller companies that are providing health insurance all across the land."

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on November 15 on New Day at 7:08 a.m. EDT:

[7:08]

CHRIS CUOMO: It's his fault for jumping into this. Because he took the bait that the five percent meant everything. Even though they are good reasons, I'll tell you, talk to market economists, not political commentators, and they say I knew this was coming. They're going to have to adjust this. Some people are going to have to pay some more, but over time it evens out.

(...)

CAIN: He'll extend it to 2015 if he has to. Look Chris, in the end, I want to address what you said about the market, that may help stock traders but it doesn't help the insurance regulators or insurance companies. They are saying right now they are not prepared to do this in 32 days' time. That's real –

(Crosstalk)

CUOMO: You have created a straw horse, though. Because you're saying that this five percent shows this law doesn't work. And it simply doesn't. People who analyze the law say they already knew this was coming. They knew the numbers were low.

CAIN: We don't disagree. This five percent shows exactly how the law was intended to work.

CUOMO: No, of course it doesn't. Of course it doesn't.

(Crosstalk)

HILL: But that's a different argument than saying the Obamacare law does not work as such, that it's a fundamentally dysfunctional law.

CUOMO: I hope you guys both understand this, that regular people are sitting back watching what you're doing and they get it. You're not talking about the debt ceiling, you're not talking about the budget, you're not talking about immigration, because this is easy. But just because it's easy doesn't mean people are impressed by it.

CAIN: This is hugely important. One-fifth of the economy is attempting to be restructured and it was intended to push people off their current existing plans. They didn't like it, and now here we are trying to  –  

CUOMO: You cannot measure the law by what's happening with this one slice of the people potentially. You know that that's true.

CAIN: You're right. The problems are bigger than this.

HILL: But there are problems beyond that, but they are not bigger than that. For example, the website is beyond that but it's not bigger than that. It's something that can be fixed.

CAIN: One year from now we'll be doing the same thing because the employer mandate comes in and all the people that are on employer plans will be upset. So you think this is the end? This is the beginning of the end of Obamacare.

(...)

[8:06]

CUOMO: But it's such an important issue, because there's such a need for health care and for change in the country as you well know, Candy. So it's how much do you consider the source of the criticism? I have been trying, and it is not easy to find an economist who's examined the law who's worried about this five percent issue, that it was priced in, that they knew it would happen, that letting people getting their policies back probably isn't smart in terms of the plan at all. So it comes to are we being distracted in the media into this political play by opponents of President Obama and making this more than it is?

(...)

[8:31]

CUOMO: Economists that are in the business of measuring this law and measuring health care, they have a hard time seeing the urgency that's been raised politically about this issue, Mr. Donelon, which I'm sure you're not surprised to hear. They say this has been priced in. They say they knew it would take healthy, young people longer to come in. They say a lot of these policies needed to be canceled because they were substandard. And when those people get sick, it puts a strain on the system and that insurers know this better than anyone else. How much of this is a straw horse?

JIM DONELON, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner: There's a lot of disagreement over the litany of things that you just clicked off. Some agree with it, some disagree. But what I do know for sure is, you can't change the rules at the last minute. And if you do, to the benefit of one group over another, you threatened the solvency of companies doing business in the system.

CUOMO: But they're so flush with cash. Health care is one of the most profitable industries we have. They change rules on policyholders all the time, as you well know as commissioner.

DONELON: For the big national companies, I would tell you that's true. They can absorb this. But there are plenty of local, smaller companies that are providing health insurance all across the land. And our first duty as regulators is to protect policyholders. And the first part of that is to monitor for solvency, which we do quite well I might add, the companies that are selling insurance products in our state.

— Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matt Hadro on Twitter.