Twisting the Truth: Senate Republicans' Deceptions on Health Insurance Reform

Another debate over health insurance reform, another weekend of Republicans inventing reasons to just say "no." Locked into their defense of the status quo, most Senate Republicans spent the debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act spouting nonsensical, often already debunked, claims.

With so many distortions to correct from so many Republican Senators, we've gathered the facts (and the charges they refute) in one place. It's a long read, no question — and that goes to show how obstructionist Republicans have become.

Read the fact checks (39 of them in all) on Senate Republicans below:

FACT CHECK McCain: Check The Bill, Senator

FACT CHECK MCCONNELL: Cost Of Legislation Distortions

FACT CHECK GRASSLEY: Grassley Confuses Up With Down

FACT CHECK KYL: Scare Tactics On Increasing Premiums

FACT CHECK HATCH: Health Care Will Not Be Rationed

FACT CHECK MCCAIN: Medicare

FACT CHECK HATCH: Distorting the Debate

FACT CHECK CORNYN: State Budgets and Medicaid

FACT CHECK BURR: Small Businesses

FACT CHECK CORKER: Misleading on Medicare

FACT CHECK AEI: Cost of Reform

FACT CHECK: Palin Damages Credibility Again

FACT CHECK JOHANNS, HATCH, BROWNBACK: Abortion

Fact Check Thune: Small Business

Fact Check Bond: Debunked Health Insurance Industry Study

Fact Check Bond: Bond's Arguments Against Health Care Amount To A Pig In A Poke

Fact Check Gregg: Gregg's Hypocrisy On The Debt

Fact Check Enzi: Premiums, Medicare And Medicaid

Fact Check Coburn: Rationing

Fact Check: Senator Pat Roberts Uses Falsehoods And Fear-Mongering to Claim Health Insurance Reform Will Lead To Rationing

Fact Check: Sen. Gregg Lies About Price Of Health Insurance Reform...Again

Fact Check Sen. Ensign: Rationing And GOP Plan

Fact Check Barrasso: Repeats Already Debunked Lie About Medicare

Fact Check: Sen. Jon Kyl Defends Status Quo Of Rising Premiums

Fact Check Kyl: Kyl Praises Republican Plan That Worsens Healthcare Crisis

Fact Check Lemieux: Siding With Insurance Companies

Fact Check Kyl: Medicare

Fact Check Burr: Burr Repeats Multiple Debunked Lies On Insurance Reform

Fact Check Hutchison: "Government Takeover"

Fact Check Chambliss/Brownback: Revisionist History

Fact Check Barrasso: Medicare

Fact Check Gregg: Gregg Ignores CBO

That Was Fast...

Fact Check Enzi: Cost Of Reform

Gregg Complains About Debt He Helped Create

Hatch Hatches More Distortions on Health Care

Boehner's Abortion Distortion

Well Senator, That’s Just Not True

FACT CHECK McCain: Check The Bill, Senator

Please see below for a fact check on Senator McCain’s false claims about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on the floor of the Senate this evening:

Senator McCain said: “[t]he disconnect between what President Obama says and what he is doing is so glaring that most people could not abide it. Now that's strong language from an economist. And so I think that what the senator from Tennesseeis saying, and what we're trying to say is let's go forward. Why don't we let people go across state lines to get health insurance policies of their choice? Why don't we reward wellness and fitness? Why don't we have -- there's a long list of -- of amendments – of – of fixes to the long-term cost of health care that we could control that we can act tomorrow in a bipartisan basis.”

REALITY: SENATE HEALTH BILL DELIVERS COMPETITION TO MARKETPLACE

Wall Street Analyst To Health Insurance Industry: Public Option “Looks Like A [Blue Cross Blue Shield] Plan,” Which Are “Strong Competitors For Private Insurers.” The New York Times Prescriptions Blog wrote, “[i]n a report sent to investors earlier this week, a Wall Street analyst, Richard Evans, concludes that the health insurance industry should probably not worry much about the prospect of a government-run health plan — at least not as it now is taking shape in Congress. As things stands now, Mr. Evans notes, the proposed legislation does not call for the new government-run plan, or public option, to be able to demand the same low prices that Medicare gets from doctors and hospitals. Private insurers have argued that Medicare-pegged rates would give the public option an unfair advantage over their plans… ‘It appears the public option would be required to negotiate price with providers, pay back its start-up capital, cover its operating costs, and earn sufficient reserves,’ wrote Mr. Evans, a managing partner for Sector & Sovereign. ‘In other words, it looks like a Blues plan.’ Mr. Evans writes that the not-for-profit Blue Cross plans may be strong competitors for private insurers, but not deadly ones. Where they operate, he notes, they tend to have the largest share of the market but seem to be able to co-exist with for-profit insurance companies. ‘This suggests that a not-for profit public option has some enrollment advantages over for-profit commercial insurers, but that the effect is modest,’ he wrote.” [New York Times Prescriptions Blog, 11/3/09]

CBO On Senate Bill: 94% Coverage, 31 Million Newly Insured. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured would be reduced by about 31 million, leaving about 24 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants). Under the legislation, the share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage would rise from about 83 percent currently to about 94 percent. About 25 million people would purchase their own coverage through the new insurance exchanges, and there would be roughly 15 million more enrollees in Medicaid and CHIP than is projected under current law.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

REALITY: CURRENT SENATE BILL ALREADY REWARDS HEALTHY BEHAVIOR

Senate Finance Committee Approved Bipartisan Amendment To Health Bill That Encourages Healthy Behavior Through Financial Incentives. “U.S. Senate panel on [in September] adopted a measure aimed at rewarding healthy behavior in a sweeping healthcare overhaul sought by President Barack Obama as lawmakers pushed to complete the legislation. The Senate Finance Committee voted for an amendment offered by Republican Senator John Ensign and Democrat Thomas Carper that would allow health plans to provide financial incentives for people to quit smoking, exercise more and engage in other healthy activities. ‘I believe that the key to achieving savings is to provide rewards for people who engage in healthy behaviors,’ Ensign argued. The measure passed on a 18-4 vote.” [Reuters, 9/30/09]

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Includes Provisions to Reward Health Behavior.The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes provisions for rewarding healthy behavior such as participation in smoking cessation, weight management, physical fitness, and nutrition programs. [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Full Text, pg. 29]

FACT CHECK MCCONNELL: Cost Of Legislation Distortions

Please see below for a fact check on Senator McConnell’s false claims about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on the floor of the Senate this evening:

Senator McConnell said “At a moment when more than one out of 10 working Americans is looking for a job, at a time when the Chinese are lecturing us about our debt, this bill – this bill right $5 trillion government doesn't have. And can't afford. It imposes punishing taxes on almost everyone. It raises health insurance premiums on the 85% of Americans who already have health insurance. And if that were not bad enough, it slashes Medicare by half a trillion dollars. Anyone who votes aye tonight, president, is voting for all of these things.”

REALITY: THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL WOULD SLASH THE DEFICIT BY OVER $750 BILLION IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS DESPITE WHAT THE REPUBLICANS' CLAIM

WSJ: CBO’s Estimate Of Senate Bill Is $848 Billion, Cuts Deficit By $130 Billion. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set the stage for a climactic debate in the Senate over health care by unveiling a 10-year, $848 billion bill that would extend insurance to 31 million Americans without coverage…In a boost for the bill's prospects, the CBO estimated the Senate measure would reduce the federal budget deficit by $130 billion over the next decade, and additional amounts over the second 10 years of the program. It achieves that in part through a new Medicare payroll tax and a tax on high-value insurance plans, which has aroused strong opposition…To help ease the financial burden on workers, Mr. Reid lowered the maximum amount the bill would require them to spend on premiums, capping premiums at 9.8% of income, down from 12%.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/19/09]

Roll Call On CBo Score: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years,” Sen. Kent Conrad Said Sen. Reid Did “An Exceptionally Good Job.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

REALITY: MEDICARE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT BENEFITS, THEY STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

FactCheck.org: “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits’ Under [Health Reform Legislation], And In Fact Have Done Our Best To Debunk [Those] Claims.” FactCheck.org wrote: “We never have said that seniors would suffer ‘massive cuts to Medicare benefits’ under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect.” [FactCheck.org, 11/3/09]

AARP Applauded The Senate For Bill: “Makes Progress Towards Achieving Meaningful Relief For Millions Of Older Americans…Makes Improvements To The Medicare Program.” AARP said in a press release: “We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services. The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage.” [AARP, 11/18/09]

AARP Warned Seniors Against “Myths and Scare Tactics” In Health Reform Debate, Said “None Of The Health Care Reform Proposals Being Considered By Congress Would Cut Medicare Benefits.” AARP wrote in a myth-vs.-fact health reform website that, “There are special interest groups trying to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics. Like the notion that health care reform would ration your care, hurt Medicare or be a government takeover. Actually, these are false statements.” AARP concluded about the Medicare claim that, “[n]one of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.” [AARP, Myths Vs. Facts]

REALITY: SENATE BILL DOES NOT INCREASE PREMIUMS

From 1999-2009, Health Insurance Premiums For Families Rose 131%, General Inflation Was 28%. USA Today reported on a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation: “Since 1999, health insurance premiums for families rose 131%, the report found, far more than the general rate of inflation, which increased 28% over the same period. Overall, health care in the United States is expected to cost $2.6 trillion this year, or 17% of the nation's economy, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.” [USA Today, 9/15/09]

Chamber Of Commerce On Baucus Proposal: A Bill “That Will Actually…Get Health-Care Costs Under Control.” The Wall Street Journal reported that, “[t]he U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents about three million businesses of all sizes, has run television ads opposing the Democratic-led health-care push. And the chamber, like many other big business groups in Washington, has many concerns about the Baucus bill, particularly the taxes it proposes to help pay for its $774 billion Congressional Budget Office price tag over 10 years. But the chamber applauded much of the Baucus bill as the first proposal ‘that will actually...get health-care costs under control.’” [Wall Street Journal, 9/25/09]

Conservative Tax Foundation Was Outraged: House Health Reform Proposal Would Net Middle-Class Families “An Average Benefit Of About $1,900.” The Tax Foundation decried the “income redistribution” facilitated by the House health reform legislation: “[t]he biggest beneficiaries of HR 3200's redistribution would not be low-income families, but middle-class families, especially those making between $65,704 and $112,721, who would see an average benefit of about $1,900. In fact, even in the 60 percent to 70 percent income group, earning up to $141,101, the average family would gain almost $1,000.” [Tax Foundation Press Release, 10/6/09]

MIT Health Economist: Based On CBO Model, Premiums Under SFC Proposal For A Family Could Be At Least $2,430 Lower, Up To $8,550 Lower Than Without Reform. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein reported on estimated impact on premiums of the Senate Finance Committee proposal, finding that under current law, premiums would stay at $10,770 under current law, while premiums under the new proposal could be as low as $2,220 and would rise to only $8,340. He further wrote that, “[t]he analysis comes from MIT health economist Jon Gruber. Gruber is, undoubtedly, pro-reform. He's advised the Senate Finance Committee and served as one of the architects of the Massachusetts plan. But he's also one of the most-respected health economists in the country. Gruber runs the numbers for an average family, a 25-year-old and a 60-year-old, looking at different income levels for each, and paying close attention to the role subsidies will play. In each case, he finds the people likely to save money under the Senate Finance Committee's plan. You can download his analysis, which is based on Congressional Budget Office data, here… Gruber certainly has a lot less incentive to twist the facts than the insurance industry does, and his numbers, at least, are free from any glaring deficiencies.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 10/12/09]

FACT CHECK GRASSLEY: Grassley Confuses Up With Down

Please see below for a fact check on Senator Grassley’s false claims about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on the floor of the Senate this evening:

Senator Grassley said: “I'd like to show you a chart on federal spending, federal health spending. As this chart here illustrates, this bill bends the federal spending curve further upward by $160 billion over the next decade.”

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years. “At first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

FACT CHECK KYL: Scare-tactics On Increasing Premiums

Please see below a fact check of Senator Kyl’s false claim on the Senate floor just now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would lead to higher health insurance premiums:

Senator Kyl said, “[i]s it the case that the Joint Committee on Taxation which reported to the Finance Committee and the Congressional Budget Office both said that not only would the increased taxes on the pharmaceutical industry, the medical device industry, and the insurance industry be passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums, but that overall under the legislation that was before us, that for the average family, as compared to what the prices are today, that insurance premiums would actually go up, and that this was one of the two major reasons, the other being mandated benefits?”

REALITY: REFORM WILL LOWER COSTS, AND PREVENT PREMIUMS FROM SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL

MIT Health Economist: Based On CBO Model, Premiums Under SFC Proposal For A Family Could Be At Least $2,430 Lower, Up To $8,550 Lower Than Without Reform. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein reported on estimated impact on premiums of the Senate Finance Committee proposal, finding that under current law, premiums would stay at $10,770 under current law, while premiums under the new proposal could be as low as $2,220 and would rise to only $8,340. He further wrote that, “[t]he analysis comes from MIT health economist Jon Gruber. Gruber is, undoubtedly, pro-reform. He's advised the Senate Finance Committee and served as one of the architects of the Massachusetts plan. But he's also one of the most-respected health economists in the country. Gruber runs the numbers for an average family, a 25-year-old and a 60-year-old, looking at different income levels for each, and paying close attention to the role subsidies will play. In each case, he finds the people likely to save money under the Senate Finance Committee's plan. You can download his analysis, which is based on Congressional Budget Office data, here… Gruber certainly has a lot less incentive to twist the facts than the insurance industry does, and his numbers, at least, are free from any glaring deficiencies.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 10/12/09]

23 Of Nation’s Most Well-Respected Health Economists: “We Believe That It Is Important To Enact Health Reform…[It] Will Lower Health Care Costs And Help Reduce Deficits Over The Long Term.” In a letter to the President, 23 of the nation’s most well-respected health economists said: “As economists, we believe that it is important to enact health reform, and it is essential that health reform include these four features [deficit neutrality, excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, independent Medicare commission, delivery system reforms] that will lower health care costs and help reduce deficits over the long term.” [Letter from 23 economists, 11/17/09]

NYT: “The Bill Just Approved By The House…Would Implement Or Test Many Reforms That Should Help Slow The Rise In Medical Costs…The New England Journal Of Medicine Concluded, ‘Pretty Much Every Proposed Innovation Found In The Health Policy Literature These Days Is Encapsulated In These Measures.’” The New York Times Editorial board issues a point-by-point analysis of the health reform measures contained in House and Senate bills: “The good news is that the bill just approved by the House and a bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee would implement or test many reforms that should help slow the rise in medical costs over the long term. As a report in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded, ‘Pretty much every proposed innovation found in the health policy literature these days is encapsulated in these measures.’… Republican critics say, correctly, that the health care bills would saddle the government with large new costs to cover the uninsured by expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies to help low- and middle-income people buy insurance. And they say, incorrectly, that the effort should not move ahead until a sure-fire way is found to rein in rising health care costs. Their arguments overlook the fact that the government is already paying many of these costs, through special payments to hospitals, each time a person without insurance, and with no means to pay, goes to an expensive emergency room for treatment. It also overlooks the fact that both bills are designed to keep deficits from increasing over the next decade or two.” [New York Times Editorial, 11/15/09]

Conservative Tax Foundation Was Outraged: House Health Reform Proposal Would Net Middle-Class Families “An Average Benefit Of About $1,900.” The Tax Foundation decried the “income redistribution” facilitated by the House health reform legislation: “[t]he biggest beneficiaries of HR 3200's redistribution would not be low-income families, but middle-class families, especially those making between $65,704 and $112,721, who would see an average benefit of about $1,900. In fact, even in the 60 percent to 70 percent income group, earning up to $141,101, the average family would gain almost $1,000.” [Tax Foundation Press Release, 10/6/09]

AP On House Plan: “The Typical Family Would Be Spared Higher Taxes…And Their Low-Income Neighbors Could Come Out Ahead.” The Associated Press reported that from the newly unveiled House Democratic health reform bill, “[t]he typical family would be spared higher taxes from the House Democratic plan to overhaul health care, and their low-income neighbors could come out ahead.” [Associated Press, 11/2/09]

House Bill Provides Rebates If Premiums Far Exceed Cost Of Covering Medical Expenses, Insurers Would Have To Justify Premium Increases To State And Federal Government, Lifetime Limits On Coverage Are Eliminated. Reuters listed many of the major provisions contained in the newest version of the House health reform bill. It listed a few consumer protections, including: “Provides for consumer rebates if premiums far exceed the cost of covering their medical expenses…Sets up a state/federal process under which insurers would have to justify premium increases…Eliminates lifetime limits on coverage.” [Reuters, 10/30/09]

Chamber Of Commerce On Baucus Proposal: A Bill “That Will Actually…Get Health-Care Costs Under Control.” The Wall Street Journal reported that, “[t]he U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents about three million businesses of all sizes, has run television ads opposing the Democratic-led health-care push. And the chamber, like many other big business groups in Washington, has many concerns about the Baucus bill, particularly the taxes it proposes to help pay for its $774 billion Congressional Budget Office price tag over 10 years. But the chamber applauded much of the Baucus bill as the first proposal ‘that will actually...get health-care costs under control.’” [Wall Street Journal, 9/25/09]


FACT CHECK HATCH: Health Care Will Not Be Rationed

Please see below for a fact check responding to Senator Hatch's commentson “rationing”this afternoon on the Senate floor:

Senator Hatch said: “Zero. The number of provisions prohibiting the rationing of health care, zero. Not one word prohibiting the rationing of health care.”

REALITY: REFORM WILL NOT MEAN RATIONING OF HEALTH CARE

Dr. Sanjay Gupta On Rationing: “It’s Not True…A Look At The Reform Bill In Congress There Is No Mention Of That. No Mention Of Rationing, No Mention Of The Government Making So-Called End-Of-Life Decisions For Seniors.” “GUPTA: Tell me why. MCCOY: I try not to worry. Well, I have read some things that says that as you get older you are liable to wait and wait and wait before you can have surgery. I've heard that they're going to look at the older people and you're going to wait longer than the younger people. GUPTA (voice-over): It's not true, though a lot of people think so. A look at the reform bill in Congress there is no mention of that. No mention of rationing, no mention of the government making so-called end-of-life decisions for seniors.” [CNN Anderson Cooper 360, 11PM, 8/14/09]

Scarborough Called Out Gov. Pawlenty: “With All Due Respect, This Does Not Give Us A System Like The United Kingdom,” And Incredulously Asked Pawlenty, “How Does This Bill Get Us To ‘Death Panels?” You Don’t Believe It Does, Do You?” Gov. Pawlenty made an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where he was challenged about claims that health reform would lead to death panels and would “pull the plug on granny:” Gov. Pawlenty said, “there’s concerns that this thing is going to be so expensive they’re not going to be able to afford all that’s promise, and somebody’s going to have to make a decision to cut back, and people are concerned that if the federal government does that—have them rationing care, that’s a real problem. And so those are not irrational concerns.” Then the following exchange occurred: “MR. SCARBOROUGH: [b]ut but, there are no death panels here, though. Counseling is one thing. Having three people lining up and saying 'granny dies, grandpa lives,' that's quite another. You can't get there from here. GOV. PAWLENTY: Well what happens--Joe, what you call it or label it, but I think the facts are these: if you have a system like the United Kingdom where—MR. SCARBOROUGH: But we don't. We don't governor. With all due respect, this does not give us a system like the United Kingdom. I'm talking specifically about this bill. How does this bill get us to ‘death panels?’ You don't believe it does, do you?” [MSNBC Morning Joe, 9/11/09]

Politifact:The Claim That HealthCare Reform Will Lead To Callous Decisions That Would Allow People To Die If They Face A Costly Treatment Is "False.""In the ad, a man weeps over someone lying in a hospital bed while the announcer says, '$22,750. In England, government health officials decided that's how much six months of life is worth. Under their socialized system if a medical treatment costs more, you're out of luck. That's wrong for America.' That footage is interspersed with shots of the Capitol building and the whole thing is set to some very ominous music. You can watch it here. The carefully worded ad doesn't directly say that the government is planning to put a price on our lives, but the implication is clear: The reform plan will lead to callous decisions that would allow people to die if they face a costly treatment. So that's what we're going to check — whether the reform plan would impose those kind of caps on treatment. ... So, back to the Club for Growth ad. Although our experts agree that it gets the NICE statistic correct about the British practice, the ad's main point about cost limits is incorrect. There is no such practice in the comparative effectiveness program, nor is it part of the current health reform proposals pending in Congress. The House and Senate bills under consideration would not require the government to decide how much a person's life is worth. As a result, we give the Club for Growth a False." [PolitiFact, 8/6/09]

FACT CHECK MCCAIN: Medicare

Please see below for a fact check on Senator McCain's misleading statements on Medicarethis afternoon:

McCain said, “I don't think Americans really understand the scam that's going on here of beginning to collect taxes, tax increases and Medicare cuts of approximately $1 trillion beginning 40 days from now. In other words, the 1st of January, according to this plan, Americans will begin experiencing cuts in Medicare and increases in taxes 40 days from now. Now, is there anybody would -- who would agree that that – that that's any kind of a – nothing but a scam on the American people?”

McCain said “the real costs of this [bill is] $2.5 trillion bill.”

McCain also claimed, “In 40 days from now, Happy New Year, America, [in]40 Days it will cut $135 billion from hospitals, it will cut $120 billion from 11 million seniors on Medicare Advantage.”

REALITY: MEDICARE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT BENEFITS, THEY STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

FactCheck.org: “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits’ Under [Health Reform Legislation], And In Fact Have Done Our Best To Debunk [Those] Claims.” FactCheck.org wrote: “We never have said that seniors would suffer ‘massive cuts to Medicare benefits’ under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect.” [FactCheck.org, 11/3/09]

AARP Applauded The Senate For Bill: “Makes Progress Towards Achieving Meaningful Relief For Millions Of Older Americans…Makes Improvements To The Medicare Program.” AARP said in a press release: “We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services. The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage.” [AARP, 11/18/09]

AARP Warned Seniors Against “Myths and Scare Tactics” In Health Reform Debate, Said “None Of The Health Care Reform Proposals Being Considered By Congress Would Cut Medicare Benefits.” AARP wrote in a myth-vs.-fact health reform website that, “There are special interest groups trying to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics. Like the notion that health care reform would ration your care, hurt Medicare or be a government takeover. Actually, these are false statements.” AARP concluded about the Medicare claim that, “[n]one of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.” [AARP, Myths Vs. Facts]

REALITY: THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL WOULD SLASH THE DEFICIT BY OVER $750 BILLION IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS DESPITE WHAT THE REPUBLICANS CLAIM

Claim That Senate Bill Would Cost $2.5 Trillion Was Generated By Senate Budget Committee Republicans. Fox News reported that, “Republicans have countered the CBO estimate with a figure of their own: $2.5 trillion, an estimate that comes out of the Senate Budget Committee minority's analysis of Reid's plan.” [Fox News, 11/19/09]

Claim That Senate Bill Would Cost $2.5 Trillion Was Generated By Senate Budget Committee Republicans. Fox News reported that, “Republicans have countered the CBO estimate with a figure of their own: $2.5 trillion, an estimate that comes out of the Senate Budget Committee minority's analysis of Reid's plan.” [Fox News, 11/19/09]

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years. “At first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

REPUBLICANS ARE DEFENDINGWASTEFUL SUBSIDIES TO HEALTH INSURERS TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGETHAT PROVIDE PERKS LIKE FREE GYM MEMBERSHIPS

Medicare Advantage Provides Extra Perks, Like Free Gym Memberships,That Are Subsidized By The Government And The High Costs Of The Plans Are Passed On To Seniors. "Seniors in this Sun Belt retirement haven and across the country revel in the free perks that private insurance companies bundle with legally mandated benefits to entice people 65 and older to forgo traditional Medicare and sign up for private Medicare Advantage policies. The trouble is, the extra benefits are not exactly free; they are subsidized by the government. And some of the plans pass their costs on to seniors, who pay higher co-pays and additional fees to get care. ... In a health-care debate defined by big numbers and confusing details, the prospect of losing benefits such as a free gym membership through the Silver Sneakers program is tangible, and it has spooked some seniors, who are the nation's most reliable voters and have been most skeptical about reform." [Washington Post, 10/15/09]

REPUBLICANSARE CRITICIZING A PLAN TOFORCE INSURERS TO COMPETE...

Health Insurance Reform Would Reduce The Difference In Costs Between Medicare And Medicare Advantage Through A Competitive Bidding System. “Federal subsidies to private Medicare plans average about 14 percent higher than those involved in fee-for-service coverage. The health care bills pending in Congress would reduce or eliminate the difference in part by introducing a competitive bidding system to pay the plans. ‘Health insurance reform will strengthen Medicare for seniors, not diminish it,’ said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin. ‘Even under the competitive bidding proposal in the legislation, Medicare Advantage plans will still be paid more than traditional Medicare plans. Yes, they'll need to compete, and they'll need to be more efficient, but they'll still have more money to work with than traditional Medicare.’” [AP, 9/22/09]

FACT CHECK HATCH: Distorting the Debate

Please see below for a fact check on the numerous misleading statements made by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) this afternoon on the Senate floor:

Senator Hatch claimed “[t]his bill will now massively expand the level of Medicaid coverage to 133% for everyone. Who's going to pay for that? Our colleagues say, well, the federal government will. Well, what are they going to pay for it with? We're running the federal government right into bankruptcy.”

Senator Hatch claimed that expanding Medicaid was meant tolead to a single-payer system, saying “[e]ver since I've been here there's been a push to have more and more people moved into Medicaid. Why is that? Because if they can push more and more people into Medicaid, then ultimately we'll have a single-payer system. In other words socialized medicine in this country where the government will control everything. And that's what's behinds lot of this bill.”

Finally, Senator Hatch repeated the thoroughly-debunked claims of the Lewin Group, saying “if you look at the Lewin group, they say if you go to a government plan, we'll have 1 million people in Medicaid. What's it going to be the 10 million or 119.1 million? I guarantee you that it's going to a lot closer to the 1 million than it will be to the 10 million…If you had to choose between the 10 million and 119 million as far as the way people figure things around here, you know it will be closer to the 119 million, then it will be 10 million.”

REALITY: REFORM WILL BE PAID FOR, AND WILL NOT INCREASE THE DEFICIT

WSJ: CBO’s Estimate Of Senate Bill Is $848 Billion, Cuts Deficit By $130 Billion. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set the stage for a climactic debate in the Senate over health care by unveiling a 10-year, $848 billion bill that would extend insurance to 31 million Americans without coverage…In a boost for the bill's prospects, the CBO estimated the Senate measure would reduce the federal budget deficit by $130 billion over the next decade, and additional amounts over the second 10 years of the program. It achieves that in part through a new Medicare payroll tax and a tax on high-value insurance plans, which has aroused strong opposition…To help ease the financial burden on workers, Mr. Reid lowered the maximum amount the bill would require them to spend on premiums, capping premiums at 9.8% of income, down from 12%.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/19/09]

Roll Call On CBo Score: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years,” Sen. Kent Conrad Said Sen. Reid Did “An Exceptionally Good Job.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

REALITY: THE PUBLIC OPTION WON'T PUT PRIVATE INSURERS OUT OF BUSINESS

Politifact: “Obama Health Plan Does Not Call For Government-Run Health Care.” “Obama health plan does not call for government-run health care.” [Politifact, 3/5/09]

Factcheck.org: "President Obama Hasn’t Proposed A Government-Run [Health Care] Plan And, In Fact, Has Rejected The Idea." FactCheck.org: "President Obama hasn’t proposed a government-run [health care] plan and, in fact, has rejected the idea." [FactCheck.org, 5/6/09]

Factcheck.org: President Obama Hasn’t Proposed Government-Run Health Care. FactCheck.org: "We’ve written before about conservatives claiming that Congress, or Obama, or Washington, or Democrats in general want the U.S. to have a Canadian-style, government-run health care system. The truth of the matter is that the president has repeatedly said he doesn’t." [FactCheck.org, 8/10/09]

AMA President-Elect Reassured: Physicians And Patients Don’t Need To Fear The Rise Of A Monolithic Health System With No Choice From President Obama. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that “American Medical Association president-elect Dr. James Rohack told Mississippi doctors Friday…Physicians and patients don't need to fear the rise of a monolithic health system with no choice, because it's not something the American people would accept, Rohack said. The president didn't advocate a single-payer system for the United States at the meeting, Rohack said. Obama said he believes in access to health care for all with a system that is a mix of public and private sources with patients still able to see the physicians of their choice.” [Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 5/30/09]

REALITY THE EXPERTS AGREE THAT REPUBLICANS AND THE LEWIN CANT GET THEIR FACTS STRAIGHT

Lewin Group: Unbridled Public Plan, Which Was Not Proposed By President Obama, Would Result In 119 Million Americans Leaving Private Insurers To Join Public Insurance Option, Cover 28 Million Uninsured. According to the Lewin Group estimates, instituting a public plan option that is open to all firms and all individuals without exception could lead to 119 million Americans un-enrolling from private coverage options, and 131.2 million Americans enrolling in the public plan. It would reduce the ranks of the uninsured by 28 million. The Lewin Group also noted that this estimate did not match the President’s proposed limitations to a public plan option: “The President’s campaign proposal would have limited enrollment to individuals, the self-employed and small employers. Large employers would not be permitted to cover their workers through the public plan. Under this scenario, about 42.9 million people would be enrolled in the public plan (figure 3). The number of people with private coverage would fall by about 32 million people.” [Lewin Group - Impacts Of Public Plan, 4/8/09]

Politifact Called Claim “False” That Democrats Propose “A Government-Controlled Health Care Plan That Will Deprive Roughly 120 Million Americans Of Their Current Health Care Coverage.” According to PolitiFact’s truth-o-meter, Rep. Mike Pence, in an email, wrote that Democrats propose “a government-controlled health care plan that will deprive roughly 120 million Americans of their current health care coverage.” PolitiFact wrote in response how misleading Rep. Pence was, saying, “we rated Pence’s statement that the government would ‘deprive’ 120 million of their ‘current health care coverage’ False.” [PolitiFact, 5/19/09]

FactCheck.org Called It “Misleading”: CPR Ad Claimed “119 Million Off Their Current Insurance Coverage.” FactCheck.org wrote, “[a] new ad from Conservatives for Patients' Rights says that a public health insurance plan now being proposed in Congress ‘could crush all your other choices, driving them out of existence, resulting in 119 million off their current insurance coverage.’ That's misleading.”[FactCheck.org, 6/11/09]

FactCheck.org On New CPR Ad: Better Than Their Last One, “But Still Misleading,” And “Falsely Cites The New York Times.” FactCheck.org did an in-depth analysis of the claims made by Conservatives for Patients Rights’ new ad, “Bulldozer,” and said, “[w]e wrote about one of CPR's ads in April. The new TV spot is a step up from the last effort, but still misleading …The ad also falsely cites the New York Times as the source of a statement that what's being proposed would leave no consumer choices and ‘government in control of your health care.’ The Times didn't say that at all. The newspaper was just quoting claims made by insurance companies and members of Congress.” [Fact Check, 6/11/09]

NPR: 120 Million Figure “Hardly Represent The Entirety Of The Report”; Lewin Group Study Writer: “Stops Short Of Saying That Opponents Of A Public Plan Were Misusing His Statistics.” John Sheils, senior vice president of the Lewin Group, was interviewed by NPR. NPR reported on the use of a 120 million people figure used by opponents of health care reform: “that number hardly represents the entirety of the report Sheils and colleague Randy Haught put out in April…Sheils stops short of saying that opponents of a public plan were misusing his statistics, because while ‘this is the extreme case, I don't think it has been stricken from everyone's agenda, as far as I can tell.’ But he did add that in general, the mood in Congress seems to be moving toward a more constrained sort of public insurance program; most likely one that would pay somewhat more than Medicare and limit enrollment.” [NPR, 6/10/09]

CBO: The Health Care Plan Would Increase Employer-Based HealthCare ByNet3 Million. "In 2016, nearly 3 million people who would be covered under an employment-based plan under current law—and who could be covered by that plan under the proposal—would choose instead to obtain coverage in the exchanges because the employer’s offer would be deemed unaffordable and they would therefore be eligible to receive subsidies through the exchanges. In addition, some part-time employees, who could receive subsidies via an exchange even though they had an employer’s offer of coverage, would choose to do so. All told, we estimate that, in 2016, about 9 million people who would otherwise have had employer coverage would not be enrolled in an employment-based plan under the proposal.The net effect of the proposal on employment-based health insurance reflects larger changes in the other direction, however. We estimate that about 12 million people who would not be enrolled in an employment-based plan under current law would be covered by one in 2016, largely because the mandate for individuals to be insured would increase workers’ demand for insurance coverage through their employer. On net, therefore, about 3 million more people would have their primary coverage through an employer under the proposal than under current law (as shown in the attached table)." [CBO, 7/26/09]

FACT CHECK CORNYN: State Budgets and Medicaid

Please see below for a fact checkon several misleading statements from Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) from his speech on the Senate floor this afternoon regarding Medicaid:

Senator Cornyn falsely claimed that the Senate health care bill “imposes [an] unfunded mandate” on states “to pick up another $20 billion over ten years,” claiming that funding for law enforcement, higher education would be impacted. Cornyn claimed “it shoves" other programs "to the side, because the federal government is going to jam this down the states' throats, another unfunded mandate, and disrupt those states which, as the senator says, they're operating on balanced budgets.”

REALITY: HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM WOULD COVER LARGE PORTION OF MEDICAID EXPENDITURES FOR STATES, MORE THAN THEY DO NOW

CBO On Senate Bill: Federal Government Would Cover On Average 90% Of Additional Medicaid Costs, Up From 57% Currently; Federal Money Would Cover Higher Proportion Of CHIP Costs, Increasing From An Average Of 70 Percent To 93 Percent. The CBO concluded that the Senate reform legislation affected Medicaid in the following way: “Starting in 2014, most nonelderly people with income below 133 percent of the FPL would be made eligible for Medicaid. The federal government would pay all of the costs of covering newly eligible enrollees through 2016; in subsequent years, the share of federal spending would vary somewhat from year to year but ultimately would average about 90 percent. (Under current rules, the federal government usually pays about 57 percent, on average, of the costs of Medicaid benefits.)…Beginning in 2014, states would receive higher federal reimbursement for CHIP beneficiaries, increasing from an average of 70 percent to 93 percent. CBO estimates that state spending on Medicaid would increase by about $25 billion.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Barbour Said He Was “Encouraged” By The Senate Finance’s Health Care Bill That Would Increased Medicaid Funding For States. “States may receive more money from the U.S. government for the Medicaid program for the poor under the Senate Finance Committee chairman's healthcare reform proposal released on [September 16, 2009]. The $856 billion legislation, which may form the basis of compromise in the U.S. Congress on giving all Americans health coverage, would ‘increase federal Medicaid funding for states that cover recommended preventive services and immunizations at no extra cost,’ according to a summary from Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana …While a key Republican governor, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, was encouraged by the call, he said he was still worried about other provisions in the committee's proposal. ‘It is clear the Senators are trying to reduce or eliminate the unfunded mandate, and I appreciate their effort,’ said Barbour, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, in a statement. ‘Nevertheless, Mississippi's small businesses and our Medicare beneficiaries have too much at risk.’” [Reuters, 9/16/09]

Senate Bill Includes Provision To Help States Affected By Disasters To Cover Half Of Increased Medicaid Spending. Politico Live Pulse reported that, “it's no surprise that the health bill includes a 50 percent boost in federal Medicaid money for states that have been declared disaster areas in the past seven years. Hurricane Katrina, of course, hit the Pelican State in 2005. You can find the provision on page 432 of the bill…Turns out, the provision is a bit more nuanced than I first reported. Essentially, it provides federal money to help the state shoulder its share of increased Medicaid spending. For instance, if Louisiana's share of Medicaid spending is increased by more than 3 percent, the federal government would pick up half of that tab in the first year. Bottom line, CBO estimates the provision would cost the federal government about $100 million.” [Politico Live Pulse, 11/18/09]

STATES WOULD NOT HAVE TO BEGIN ACCEPTING NEW MEDICAID ENROLLEES UNTIL 2015 AND THEN ONLY HAVE TO PAY 9 PERCENT OF THE COSTS OF NEW ENROLLEES

CBO On Senate Bill: Federal Government Would Cover On Average 90% Of Additional Medicaid Costs, Up From 57% Currently; Federal Money Would Cover Higher Proportion Of CHIP Costs, Increasing From An Average Of 70 Percent To 93 Percent. The CBO concluded that the Senate reform legislation affected Medicaid in the following way: “Starting in 2014, most nonelderly people with income below 133 percent of the FPL would be made eligible for Medicaid. The federal government would pay all of the costs of covering newly eligible enrollees through 2016; in subsequent years, the share of federal spending would vary somewhat from year to year but ultimately would average about 90 percent. (Under current rules, the federal government usually pays about 57 percent, on average, of the costs of Medicaid benefits.)…Beginning in 2014, states would receive higher federal reimbursement for CHIP beneficiaries, increasing from an average of 70 percent to 93 percent. CBO estimates that state spending on Medicaid would increase by about $25 billion.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

“Senate Staff Members Say The Governors Are Being Heard, And That Measures To Cut Other Health Care Costs In The Legislation Will Eventually Alleviate Their Concerns” On Added Medicaid Burden. The New York Times reported on nervousness from state governors based on concerns that some of the costs of Medicaid expansion would be shouldered by beleaguered states: “Senate staff members say the governors are being heard, and that measures to cut other health care costs in the legislation will eventually alleviate their concerns.” [New York Times, 8/7/09]

REALITY: COST OF FAILURE IS JUST TOO GREAT FOR STATES

Study: If Reform Fails, “All States Would See Their Medicaid/CHIP Costs Rise By More Than 75 Percent From 2009 To 2019. Half The States Would Face Cost Increases Of More Than 100 Percent.” The Robert-Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute completed a study on the potential costs to states if health reform failed. The main findings for health care spending were: “In the worst case, all states would see their Medicaid/CHIP costs rise by more than 75 percent from 2009 to 2019. Half the states would face cost increases of more than 100 percent. Even in the best case, 13 states would experience Medicaid/CHIP cost growth of more than 65 percent. In the worst case, uncompensated care costs would more than double from 2009 to 2019 in 45 states. Even in the best case, uncompensated care would increase by more than 50 percent in 48 states.” [RWJF: The Cost Of Failure, 9/28/09]

FACT CHECK BURR: Small Businesses

Please see belowfor a fact checkon Senator Burr’s claim on the Senate floor just now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would lead to a new tax on small businesses:

RHETORIC: “For a company that today can't afford because of their competition to offer health care, the day they hire the 51st employee, the federal government will send them a tax bill of $38,250. 2% unemployment, 11% in north carolina, small business is going to be the engine of job creation in this country and we're saying as soon as you're successful enough that you hire the 51st person, if you don't offer the health care we tell you you have to offer, we're going to send you a tax bill of of $38,250.”

REALITY: SMALL BUSINESSES WILL BENEFIT UNDER HEALTH CARE REFORM - THE STATUS QUO IS UNSUSTAINABLE CBO On Senate Bill: Certain Employers Would Be Allowed To Give Employees Access To Exchanges, Covering An Additional 5 Million People. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Under the legislation, certain employers could allow all of their workers to choose among the plans available in the exchanges, but those enrollees would not be eligible to receive subsidies via the exchanges…CBO and JCT expect that approximately 5 million people would obtain coverage that way in 2019, bringing the total number of people enrolled in exchange plans to about 30 million in that year.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

CBO On Senate Bill Included $27 Billion Small Business Tax Credit For Providing Coverage. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “The other main element of the coverage provisions that would increase federal deficits is the tax credit for small employers who offer health insurance, which is estimated to reduce revenues by $27 billion over 10 years.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Business Roundtable: Without Reform, Health Care Costs Rise To $28,530 Per Employee, 166% Higher; With Reform, Businesses Could Save $3,000 Per Employeee. A report from the Business Roundtable concluded that: “If the cost trends of the past 10 years repeat, by 2019, employment-based spending on health care at large employers will be 166% higher than today on a per-employee basis. This equates to an average of $28,530 per employee when employer subsidies, employee contributions, and employee out-of-pocket costs are combined. We estimate that if enacted properly, the right legislative reforms could potentially reduce that trend line by more than $3,000 per employee, to $25,435.” [Business Roundtable - Health Care Reform, 11/12/09] Small Business Majority Study: With Reform, Small Business Will Save As Much As $855 Billion Over The Next 10 Years. Small Business Majority Study: “Without reform, small businesses will pay nearly $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years in healthcare costs for their workers. With reform, the study shows that small businesses can save as much as $855 billion, a reduction of 36 percent, money that can be reinvested to grow the economy.” [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

Small Business Majority Study: Reform Will Reduce The Cost To Small Businesses Of Providing Health Care. "Comprehensive healthcare reform... will reduce the cost to small businesses of providing health insurance to their employees." [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09] Small Business Majority Study: Small Businesses Will “Likely Fare Better” Under The Reforms Being Debated In Washington. "Small businesses in the United States are suffering great harm under our current healthcare system will likely fare far better under a substantially reformed system along the lines of what is currently being debated in Washington." [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

FACT CHECK CORKER – Misleading on Medicare

Please see belowfor a fact checkon Senator Corker’s claim on the Senate floor just now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would lead to cuts to Medicare:

RHETORIC: “It's hard for me to believe that anybody could suggest that taking $464 billion out of medicare, which is insolvent, would be a way to fund a new entitlement or pushing down unfunded mandate states, which we're going to talk about in just one moment, makes any sense at all.”

Medicare Savings Do Not Cut Benefits They Strengthen Medicare

FactCheck.org: “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits’ Under [Health Reform Legislation], And In Fact Have Done Our Best To Debunk [Those] Claims.” FactCheck.org wrote: “We never have said that seniors would suffer ‘massive cuts to Medicare benefits’ under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect.” [FactCheck.org, 11/3/09]

AARP Applauded The Senate For Bill: “Makes Progress Towards Achieving Meaningful Relief For Millions Of Older Americans…Makes Improvements To The Medicare Program.” AARP said in a press release: “We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services. The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage.” [AARP, 11/18/09]

AARP Warned Seniors Against “Myths and Scare Tactics” In Health Reform Debate, Said “None Of The Health Care Reform Proposals Being Considered By Congress Would Cut Medicare Benefits.” AARP wrote in a myth-vs.-fact health reform website that, “There are special interest groups trying to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics. Like the notion that health care reform would ration your care, hurt Medicare or be a government takeover. Actually, these are false statements.” AARP concluded about the Medicare claim that, “[n]one of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.” [AARP, Myths Vs. Facts]

FACT CHECK AEI: Cost of Reform

Please see below for a fact check of the false claim made by the conservative think tank AEI on the cost of the Patient Care And Affordable Care Act.

RHETORIC: American Enterprise Institute's Joseph Antos Said ThatThe Patient Care And Affordable Care Act WasActually $1.6 Trillion."It is widely believed that Senator Reid's bill will cost $848 billion over the next 10 years. That is incorrect, points out AEI's [Joseph] Antos. Under the proposal, the federal government will spend additional sums for long-term care, payments to the public insurance plan, and other initiatives. Moreover, the bill includes hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid savings that will never be collected. Antos explains that the Reid bill is likely to cost $1.6 trillion over the next decade, and substantially more than that in the future." [American Enterprise Institute release, 11/20/09]

REALITY: THE CBO FOUND THAT THE PATIENT CARE AND AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE ACT WOULD COST $848 BILLION OVER THE NEXT TEN YEARS AND CUT THE DEFICIT BY $130B IN THE FIRST TEN YEARS AND BY MORE THAN $750 BILLION INFIRSTTWENTY YEARS

CBO: The Cost Of The Patient Care And Affordable Care Act Is $848B. "CBO and JCT estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would yield a net reduction in federal deficits of $130 billion over the 2010-2019 period. ... The estimate includes a projected net cost of $599 billion over 10 years for the proposed expansions in insurance coverage. That net cost itself reflects a gross total of $848 billion in subsidies provided through the exchanges, increased net outlays for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and tax credits for small employers; those costs are partly offset by $149 billion in revenues from the excise tax on high-premium insurance plans and $100 billion in net savings from other sources." [CBO, 11/18/09]

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years. “At first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

Palin Damages Credibility Again

In a recentFacebook posting, Sarah Palinfalsely claimed that the PatientProtection and AffordableCare Actwould negatively affect the disabled.Coming off writing a book so riddled with lies that even her own former running mate had to call her out, Sarah Palin seems to be going for broke in finishing off her damaged credibility with more lies about health insurance reform.

RHETORIC - Sarah Palin: "Among the provisions in this bill will be a $2500 cap on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). The IRS allows families with special needs children to use FSAs to cover educational expenses. This new $2500 cap will hit these families especially hard and cost them hundreds of dollars in new taxes every year." [http://www.facebook.com/notes/sarah-palin/in-the-midnight-hour/178974418434]


THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL INCLUDES THE CLASS ACT, WHICH WOULD ALLOW DISABLED CITIZENS TO STAY AT HOME AND RECEIVE GOVERNMENT-FUNDED LONG TERM CARE

The Senate Health Care Bill Includes The CLASS Act, Which Would Give The Disabled At Least $50 A Day For Long Term Care And Allow Them To Stay At Home If They Want. "The legislation that top Senate Democrat Harry Reid unveiled Wednesday night includes a bill that Kennedy had championed for years. Known as the CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) Act, it would give the elderly at least $50 a day for long term care and allow them to stay at home if they want. 'The CLASS Act was immensely important to Senator Kennedy because, as he said, ‘It makes a simple pact with all Americans - if you work hard and contribute, society will take care of you when you fall on hard times.’ The Act gives the elderly and people with disabilities opportunities to continue living at home, function in their communities, and obtain the long-term care and support they need,' Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr., who is carrying the health care baton for Kennedy as his temporary replacement, said in a statement today. ... For all of these reasons, the CLASS program can be expected to generate long-term savings, while also enabling the growing population of older and disabled citizens to continue enjoying functional lives in their homes and communities." [Boston Globe, 11/19/09]

The CEO Of The American Association Of Homes And Services For The Aging Supports The Class Act. AndIt Was "All About Helping Older People And Young People With Disabilities.""Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, supports the CLASS Act. Private long-term care insurance plans are great products for the people who can afford them and who aren’t disqualified because of pre-existing conditions, Minnix said. 'This is all about helping older people and young people with disabilities,' he said."[Roll Call, 7/29/09]

DISABLED ORGANIZATIONS PRAISED THE HOUSE AND SENATE HEALTH CARE BILLS

The American Association Of People With Disabilities Endorsed The Senate Health Care Bill. "The undersigned 50 national organizations representing older adults, people with disabilities, and those who serve them thank you for including the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program in the Senate Patient Protection and Affordability Act. As you continue to move forward in your historic effort to reshape health care in this country, we applaud you for recognizing that long-term services and supports need to be addressed. Older individuals and people with disabilities should have the right to live as independently as possible in their own homes and communities, and to receive the help they need without having to spend down into poverty. Your legislation will help them to do just that. The voluntary CLASS insurance program will promote independence, choice, dignity and personal responsibility. It is self-funded and fiscally responsible. It will also strengthen the economy and business productivity." The American Association of People with Disabilities was included in the list that endorsed the Senate health care bill. [Release, 11/20/09]

JFAAN, The Coalition Of Disability-Led Organizations And Allies Applauded The Reforms In The Health Care Bill. "The Justice for All Action Network (JFAAN), a coalition of disability-led organizations and allies, applauds health care legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Passed Saturday in a House vote, the legislation increases the number of people with disabilities covered by health care and increases service options for people with disabilities. Key points of the legislation supported by JFAAN include: expanding coverage to millions of people currently uninsured; a provision that makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage based upon pre-existing conditions; and the inclusion of the CLASS ACT and the Community First Choice Option (CFC).'People with disabilities have much at stake as health care reform gets one step closer to passage,' said Andrew Imparato, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities. 'A good barometer of the new system that emerges from health reform will be the extent to which it works well for people when they need it the most--whether people with disabilities and chronic health conditions can obtain acute care and long-term services and supports without incurring financial hardship or being forced into a nursing home or other institution.' Under the current system of health care, people with disabilities have no legal protection if they are denied coverage based upon their disability." [Justice for All release, 11/9/09]

FACT CHECK JOHANNS, HATCH, BROWNBACK: Abortion

Please see belowfor a fact checkon Senators Hatch, Johann and Brownback's claim on the Senate floor just now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act wouldallow federal subsidies to be used to pay for an abortion:

RHETORIC:Hatch Said That Federal Subsidies Would Be Used To Cover Abortions In The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act. Senator Orrin Hatch: "It should be abundantly clear to each member of the body that the House of Representatives passed pro-life language exactly two weeks ago marketedly different from that contained in the Reid proposal. The House provisions in contrast to the terribly flawed provisions in the Reid bill contain language that would not only safeguards the rights of the unborn, but also prevent medical providers from being coerced into performing procedures that violate their conscience. ... The Reid language authorizes abortion in the government-operated health plan, or the public option, and federal subsidies for insurance coverage that include abortion." [Senate Floor, 11/21/09]

RHETORIC:JohannsSaid That Federal Subsidies Would Be Used To Pay For An Abortion.Senator Mike Johanns: "As you know the language in the Senate bill explicitly authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services includedabortion in the public option and permits government subsidies for plans that pay for an abortion." [Senate Floor, 11/21/09]

RHETORIC: Brownback Said That Taxpayer Dollars Would Be Used To Fund Abortion. Senator Sam Brownback: "But what we are saying here today is that we shouldn't have this as part of the federal government, we shouldn't have it as part of the federal funding program, we shouldn't be using taxpayer dollars to fund for abortion." [Senate Floor, 11/21/09]

REALITY: NO FEDERAL FUNDS WILL BE USED TO FUND ABORTION

Senate Bill: Plans Will Not Be Allowed To Offer Abortion Unless It Can Be Confirmed That “No Federal Funds Are Used For Such Coverage.” The Senate health reform bill stated clearly: “PROHIBITION ON FEDERAL FUNDS FOR ABORTION SERVICES IN COMMUNITY HEALTH INSURANCE OPTION. - …The Secretary [of Health and Human Services] may not…provide coverage of services…unless the Secretary - … assures, in accordance with applicable provisions of generally accepted accounting requirements, circulars on funds management of the Office of Management and Budget, and guidance on accounting of the Government Accountability Office, that no Federal funds are used for such coverage.” [PPACA, 11/18/09]

Roll Call On Senate Abortion Section: “The Procedure Would Have To Be Paid For With MoneyDerived From Premiums Instead Of Federal Taxes…Allows The Public Insurance Option To Pay For Abortions, But Only If The Money Could Be Segregated So No Federal Tax Dollars Are Used For The Services.” Roll Call reported that, “[t]he Senate version, unveiled Wednesday evening by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), would allow women receiving federal subsidies the option to choose insurance plans covering abortion in a new health insurance exchange. The procedure would have to be paid for with money derived from premiums instead of federal taxes. And the Senate bill allows the public insurance option to pay for abortions, but only if the money could be segregated so no federal tax dollars are used for the services.” [Roll Call, 11/19/09]

TIME: Same Standard Used To Claim Reform Funds Abortions Could Be Applied To Focus On The Family To Determine That It Too Funds Abortions. Time Magazine’s Amy Sullivan asked, “Does Focus on the Family Fund Abortions?” She noted that, “[i]t does if you hold the organization to the same standard is uses to insist that health reform would result in publicly funded abortions. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fungibility argumentthat many pro-life groups and politicians have employed to oppose health reform. The problem, they say, is that if any insurance plan that covers abortion is allowed to participate in a public exchange, then premiums paid to that plan in the form of taxpayer-funded subsidies help support that abortion coverage even if individual abortion procedures are paid for out of a separate pool of privately-paid premium dollars. You can debate about whether it makes sense to use this strict standard, but that's the argument. But are those pro-life organizations holding themselves to the same strict standard? As it happens, Focus on the Family provides its employees health insurance through Principal, an insurance company that covers ‘abortion services.’”[Time – Swampland, 10/28/09]

Politifact: There Is Nothing To Support The Claim That Taxpayers Would Subsidize Abortion And The Statement Is "False." "The word 'abortion' was never mentioned in the initial health care plans released by the House and Senate. The decision of whether to offer abortion coverage in the proposed public plan, then, would be left up to the health and human services secretary. Abortion opponents said that would allow Democrats to slip abortion into the plan as part of the standard coverage. In an op-ed piece on July 23, House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio repeated the concerns of many who oppose abortion that the Democratic-backed health care reform plan 'will require (Americans) to subsidize abortion with their hard-earned tax dollars.' ... Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, which opposes abortion, said his group doesn't want to see an important health care plan derailed by a 'misleading campaign' that claims the health care plan would mean taxpayer-subsidized abortions. 'The goal should be to maintain the current policies,' Korzen said. 'That Capps Amendment accomplishes just that. It specifically prohibits taxpayers funding of abortions. It disappoints me that there are people who are still making that claim.' ... In fact, in a key version of the bill- the one passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee - members went to great pains to include an amendment to ensure that federal money is not used for abortion coverage. Again, things could change as the health reform package works its way through Congress, but for now, we don't see anything to support Boehner's claim that taxpayers would subsidize abortions. And so we rule his statement False." [Politifact, 8/7/09]

FACT CHECK THUNE: Small Business

Please see belowfor a fact check to Thune's claim on the Senate floor just now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act wouldhurt small business:

RHETORIC:Thune Said That The Senate Health Care Plan Would Cut Medicare By $1.1 Trillion.Senator John Thune: "The best way to get health care coverage to more people in America today, as long as we continue to have an employer-based health care system, is to get people a job, people in this country who are struggling with the economy right now, losing jobs, the thing that we ought to be doing is figuring out how can we provide incentives for small businesses to put people back to work, not how can we kill jobs by raising taxes on small businesses. And that is exactly what we are doing right here. That is why every business organization from the national federation of independent business to the chamber of commerce, the national association of wholesale distributors and right down the list is opposed to this bill." [Senate Floor, 11/21/09]

REALITY: SMALL BUSINESSESWILL BENEFIT UNDER HEALTH CARE REFORM - THE STATUS QUO IS UNSUSTAINABLE

CBO On Senate Bill: Certain Employers Would Be Allowed To Give Employees Access To Exchanges, Covering An Additional 5 Million People. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Under the legislation, certain employers could allow all of their workers to choose among the plans available in the exchanges, but those enrollees would not be eligible to receive subsidies via the exchanges…CBO and JCT expect that approximately 5 million people would obtain coverage that way in 2019, bringing the total number of people enrolled in exchange plans to about 30 million in that year.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

CBO On Senate Bill Included $27 Billion Small Business Tax Credit For Providing Coverage. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “The other main element of the coverage provisions that would increase federal deficits is the tax credit for small employers who offer health insurance, which is estimated to reduce revenues by $27 billion over 10 years.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Business Roundtable: Without Reform, Health Care Costs Rise To $28,530 Per Employee, 166% Higher; With Reform, Businesses Could Save $3,000 Per Employee. A report from the Business Roundtable concluded that: “If the cost trends of the past 10 years repeat, by 2019, employment-based spending on health care at large employers will be 166% higher than today on a per-employee basis. This equates to an average of $28,530 per employee when employer subsidies, employee contributions, and employee out-of-pocket costs are combined. We estimate that if enacted properly, the right legislative reforms could potentially reduce that trend line by more than $3,000 per employee, to $25,435.” [Business Roundtable – Health Care Reform, 11/12/09]

Small Business Majority Study: With Reform, Small Business Will Save As Much As $855 Billion Over The Next 10 Years. Small Business Majority Study: “Without reform, small businesses will pay nearly $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years in healthcare costs for their workers. With reform, the study shows that small businesses can save as much as $855 billion, a reduction of 36 percent, money that can be reinvested to grow the economy.” [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

Small Business Majority Study: Reform Will Reduce The Cost To Small Businesses Of Providing Health Care. "Comprehensive healthcare reform... will reduce the cost to small businesses of providing health insurance to their employees." [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

Small Business Majority Study: Small Businesses Will “Likely Fare Better” Under The Reforms Being Debated In Washington. "Small businesses in the United States are suffering great harm under our current healthcare system will likely fare far better under a substantially reformed system along the lines of what is currently being debated in Washington." [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

FACT CHECK BOND: Debunked Health Insurance Industry Study

Please see belowfor a fact check of Sen. Kit Bond's use just now of the widely panned and debunked Price Water House Coopers health care study during Senate debate of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act:

RHETORIC: Bond Cites Health Insurance Industry Study To Attack The Senate Health Care Bill. Sen. Kit Bond: "Because of the tax on health insurers, section 9010, the and the joint committee has said these taxes will be passed on in the form of higher health care premiums. Price Waterhouse Coopers says that's $487 a year per family." [Senate Floor, 11/21/09]

REALITY: THE PRICE WATERHOUSE COOPERS AHIP REPORTWAS PANNED BY THE MEDIA AND INDEPENDENT FACT-CHECKERS

The Plum Line: “AHIP Again Cites Widely-Criticized “Study” — After Its Author(PriceWaterhouseCoopers)Undercut It.” “Looks like the saga surrounding the widely criticized study funded by the insurance industry has taken another turn, this time into low tragicomedy, if such a genre exists. It was bad enough that America’s Health Insurance Plans, the leading industry group, took a big hit for essentially purchasing a study supposedly showing that the reform proposals would result in hiked premiums. Things got worse when the study’s hired-gun author, PricewaterhouseCoopers, released a statement undercutting its own client by admitting it had only evaluated a small chunk of the bill. It’s kind of a perfect coda to this whole affair for AHIP to cite the study after its own author undercut it (and no reiteration of the fact that AHIP funded it, either). This points to an interesting subplot of the health care wars: The transformation of the health insurance industry from a fearsomely powerful interest group — one that helped torpedo reform in the 1990s — into a seemingly less influential force that’s piggybacking onto history and even comes across at times as a figure of derision. It’s another sign of the march of time — and of reform.” [Washington Post, “The Plum Line,” 10/13/09]

ABC News: “Health Care Experts With Whom ABC News Spoke Overwhelmingly Rejected The Methodology Of The Insurance Industry Study By Accounting And Consulting Firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.” On ABC News, Jake Tapper reported that, “Health care experts with whom ABC News spoke overwhelmingly rejected the methodology of the insurance industry study by accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.” [ABC News, 10/12/09]

Politifact: AHIP Report Ignores Key Facts, Managed To “Isolated Aspects Of The Bill Without Considering The Overall Effects…The Report Even Acknowledges That.” Politifact wrote, “The Obama administration attacked the [AHIP] report as a last-ditch effort to derail reform. ‘I was disappointed to see that the health insurance industry had contrived a report like this at the last minute, right on the eve of a historic vote,’ said Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform. The report ‘ignores some of the key policies that are part of the Senate Finance Committee bill, such as the health insurance exchange, which is really a central feature that allows people to be pooled together to save administrative costs and to lower people's cost in achieving getting coverage,’ DeParle said…DeParle's criticism is that the report doesn't consider other parts of the bill that would lower costs for consumers. In particular, she points to health insurance exchanges, online marketplaces where people could comparison-shop for policies that meet their preferences for coverage and cost. We read the report and found that DeParle is correct. The report does isolate aspects of the bill without considering the overall effects. It does not appear to consider how incentives or administrative efficiencies could result in reduced costs. The report even acknowledges that…DeParle criticized the health insurance industry report on the grounds that it was an incomplete analysis. She said it ‘ignores some of the key policies that are part of the Senate Finance Committee bill.’ The report itself admits as much. We rate her statement True.” [Politifact, 10/13/09]

Associated Press: “Health Insurers Cherry-Pick Facts.” The Associated Press wrote a fact check on AHIP’s study and associated TV ad attacking health reform efforts, with the heading, “Health Insurers Cherry-Pick Facts.” The AP wrote that, “[i]n its assaults on a Democratic health care overhaul bill, the insurance industry uses facts selectively and mixes accurate assertions with misleading spin and an embrace of worst-case scenarios. Take the 30-second TV spot that America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's trade group, was running this week in six states as the Senate Finance Committee approved overhaul legislation…the announcer adds, ‘The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says many seniors will see cuts in benefits.’ Words flash on the screen for three seconds saying, ‘50 percent reduction in extra benefits.’ The announcer's words are true — but could be easily misunderstood to mean that basic Medicare coverage is at risk. The ad also fails to mention the reason senators targeted Medicare Advantage for savings: The program is expensive for the government to administer, costing about 14 percent more per recipient than regular Medicare…Yet concluding that providers will pass the full cost of these changes to their customers ignores a basic assumption of the health overhaul effort. The goal is to increase competition and reduce the rate of growth currently assumed in medical costs. If the overall legislation succeeds in doing that, there would be less incentive for providers to pass on those costs — and more incentives for them to compete by keeping prices low.” [Associated Press, 10/15/09]

REALITY: THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL LOWERS HEALTH CARE COSTS AND REDUCE DEFICITS OVER THE LONG TERM

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

23 Of Nation’s Most Well-Respected Health Economists: “We Believe That It Is Important To Enact Health Reform…[It] Will Lower Health Care Costs And Help Reduce Deficits Over The Long Term.” In a letter to the President, 23 of the nation’s most well-respected health economists said: “As economists, we believe that it is important to enact health reform, and it is essential that health reform include these four features [deficit neutrality, excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, independent Medicare commission, delivery system reforms] that will lower health care costs and help reduce deficits over the long term.” [Letter from 23 economists, 11/17/09]

Group Of 23 Economists Included “Republicans, Democrats, Former Bush Administration Officials And Nobel Laureates,” All Of Their Recommendations Are Included In Legislation. In a Washington Post Op-Ed, Peter Orszag noted that, “the Office of Management and Budget reached out to 23 of the nation's most prominent economists -- a group that included Republicans, Democrats, former Bush administration officials and Nobel laureates -- to get views on the four elements critical to reducing long-term health-care costs while improving the quality of care for all Americans. Each of the steps endorsed by this bipartisan group is embodied in the legislation under consideration.” [Washington Post Op-Ed, 11/19/09]

FACT CHECK BOND: Bond's Arguments Against Health Care Amount To APig In A Poke

Please see belowfor a fact check on Sen. Kit Bond's claim on the Senate floor just now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would cut Medicare by over one trillion dollars:

RHETORIC: Bond Said That The Senate Health Care Plan Would Cut Medicare By $1.1 Trillion. Sen. Kit Bond: "Those are total expenditures represented to be offset by cuts in Medicare, increased fees and increased taxes. How much are the cuts in Medicare? When it is fully phased in, in the ten-year period 2014 to 2023, the Medicare cuts are $1.1 trillion." [Senate Floor, 11/21/09]

REALITY: MEDICARE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT BENEFITS, THEY STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

FactCheck.org: “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits’ Under [Health Reform Legislation], And In Fact Have Done Our Best To Debunk [Those] Claims.” FactCheck.org wrote: “We never have said that seniors would suffer ‘massive cuts to Medicare benefits’ under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect.” [FactCheck.org, 11/3/09]

AARP Applauded The Senate For Bill: “Makes Progress Towards Achieving Meaningful Relief For Millions Of Older Americans…Makes Improvements To The Medicare Program.” AARP said in a press release: “We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services. The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage.” [AARP, 11/18/09]

AARP Warned Seniors Against “Myths and Scare Tactics” In Health Reform Debate, Said “None Of The Health Care Reform Proposals Being Considered By Congress Would Cut Medicare Benefits.” AARP wrote in a myth-vs.-fact health reform website that, “There are special interest groups trying to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics. Like the notion that health care reform would ration your care, hurt Medicare or be a government takeover. Actually, these are false statements.” AARP concluded about the Medicare claim that, “[n]one of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.” [AARP, Myths Vs. Facts]

FACT CHECK GREGG: Gregg's Hypocrisy On The Debt

Please see belowfor the DNC’s response to Sen. Gregg's claim that the health care bill cost "a lot of money," in light of his years of support for the Bush administration policies that exploded the debt.

RHETORIC: Gregg Complained That The Health Care Bill Cost "A Lot Of Money."Sen. Judd Gregg: "How they get to this number of $890 Billion this bill, which by the way that's a lot of money, money, $800 billion. ... It's a lot of money, $800 billion-plus." [Senate Floor, 11/21/09]

REALITY: THE SENATE HEALTH CAREBILL WOULD SLASH THE DEFICIT BY OVER $750 BILLION IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS AND BEND THE COST CURVE OVER THE LONG RUN

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years,” Sen. Kent Conrad Said Sen. Reid Did “An Exceptionally Good Job.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

REALITY: GREGG SUPPORTED THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AGENDA THAT EXPLODED THE DEBT, AND LEFT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WITH A $1.3 TRILLION BUDGET DEFICIT

Gregg Voted for 5 of 5 Bush Budgets Totaling $12 Trillion In Spending. Senator Judd Gregg voted five times for President Bush’s budget plan, supporting five of the five budgets under a Republican controlled Congress and presidency and totaling $12 trillion in government spending.[2001 Senate Vote #98, 5/10/01, 2003 Senate Vote #134, 4/11/03; 2004 Senate Vote #58, 3/12/04; 2005 Senate Vote #114, 4/28/05; 2006 Senate Vote #74, 3/16/06]

The Bush Administration Added More Than $4 Trillion To The National Debt, Almost Doubling It. "With no fanfare and little notice, the national debt has grown by more than $4 trillion during George W. Bushs presidency. Its the biggest increase under any president in U.S history. On the day President Bush took office, the national debt stood at $5.727 trillion. The latest number from the Treasury Department shows the national debt now stands at more than $9.849 trillion. Thats a 71.9 percent increase on Mr. Bushs watch." [CBS News, 9/29/08]

CBO: Obama Administration Inherited $1.2 Trillion Budget Deficit From Bush Administration-Largest Ever. For fiscal year 2009, which began on October 1st of 2008, the federal government will run $1.2 trillion in the red, said the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in a “dire projection” on Jan. 7th 2009. As a percentage of gross domestic product, the 2009 budget deficit is the largest since WWII, but in dollar terms it is the largest ever. [Christian Science Monitor, 1/7/09; Washington Post, 2/26/09; Associated Press, 1/7/09]

  • Cantor Admitted That During The Bush Administration They Blew It "In Terms Of Restoring Fiscal Sanity." When asked why he voted "yes" for 46,000 Bush-era earmarks, Cantor said he had "clearly" made mistakes and a delivered a moderate mea culpa on deficit spending during Bush times. "Did we blow it in terms of restoring fiscal sanity? Absolutely," he said, explaining, "We were in a time, I think, when the responsibility then was to make sure we could provide the money for the troops." [Politico, 3/15/09]

FACT CHECK ENZI - Premiums, Medicare and Medicaid

Please see below for a fact checkon several misleading statements from Sen. Enzi (R-WY) from his speech on the Senate floor tonight:

Enzi falsely claimed that premiums will rise if the Senate health care bill passes. Enzi said, "Wellpoint, the largest blue cross/blue shield plan in the nation looked at their actual claims experiences in the 14 states in which they operate and concluded that the premiums for healthier small businesses will increase in all 14 states."

Enzi also repeated the thoroughly debunked claim that the Senate bill would affect Medicare by saying, "The bill cuts over $460 billion from Medicare over the next ten years."

Finally, Enzi said Medicaid will also be a huge costs to states. He said, "In addition to doctors an hospitals, states cannot afford to pay for this expansion of the Medicaid program. The Reid bill imposes approximately $25 billion in new unfunded medicaid costs on state budgets."

REALITY: REFORM WILL LOWER COSTS, AND PREVENT PREMIUMS FROM SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL

MIT Health Economist: Based On CBO Model, Premiums Under SFC Proposal For A Family Could Be At Least $2,430 Lower, Up To $8,550 Lower Than Without Reform. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein reported on estimated impact on premiums of the Senate Finance Committee proposal, finding that under current law, premiums would stay at $10,770 under current law, while premiums under the new proposal could be as low as $2,220 and would rise to only $8,340. He further wrote that, “[t]he analysis comes from MIT health economist Jon Gruber. Gruber is, undoubtedly, pro-reform. He's advised the Senate Finance Committee and served as one of the architects of the Massachusetts plan. But he's also one of the most-respected health economists in the country. Gruber runs the numbers for an average family, a 25-year-old and a 60-year-old, looking at different income levels for each, and paying close attention to the role subsidies will play. In each case, he finds the people likely to save money under the Senate Finance Committee's plan. You can download his analysis, which is based on Congressional Budget Office data, here… Gruber certainly has a lot less incentive to twist the facts than the insurance industry does, and his numbers, at least, are free from any glaring deficiencies.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 10/12/09]

23 Of Nation’s Most Well-Respected Health Economists: “We Believe That It Is Important To Enact Health Reform…[It] Will Lower Health Care Costs And Help Reduce Deficits Over The Long Term.” In a letter to the President, 23 of the nation’s most well-respected health economists said: “As economists, we believe that it is important to enact health reform, and it is essential that health reform include these four features [deficit neutrality, excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, independent Medicare commission, delivery system reforms] that will lower health care costs and help reduce deficits over the long term.” [Letter from 23 economists, 11/17/09]

NYT: “The Bill Just Approved By The House…Would Implement Or Test Many Reforms That Should Help Slow The Rise In Medical Costs…The New England Journal Of Medicine Concluded, ‘Pretty Much Every Proposed Innovation Found In The Health Policy Literature These Days Is Encapsulated In These Measures.’” The New York Times Editorial board issues a point-by-point analysis of the health reform measures contained in House and Senate bills: “The good news is that the bill just approved by the House and a bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee would implement or test many reforms that should help slow the rise in medical costs over the long term. As a report in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded, ‘Pretty much every proposed innovation found in the health policy literature these days is encapsulated in these measures.’… Republican critics say, correctly, that the health care bills would saddle the government with large new costs to cover the uninsured by expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies to help low- and middle-income people buy insurance. And they say, incorrectly, that the effort should not move ahead until a sure-fire way is found to rein in rising health care costs. Their arguments overlook the fact that the government is already paying many of these costs, through special payments to hospitals, each time a person without insurance, and with no means to pay, goes to an expensive emergency room for treatment. It also overlooks the fact that both bills are designed to keep deficits from increasing over the next decade or two.” [New York Times Editorial, 11/15/09]

Conservative Tax Foundation Was Outraged: House Health Reform Proposal Would Net Middle-Class Families “An Average Benefit Of About $1,900.” The Tax Foundation decried the “income redistribution” facilitated by the House health reform legislation: “[t]he biggest beneficiaries of HR 3200's redistribution would not be low-income families, but middle-class families, especially those making between $65,704 and $112,721, who would see an average benefit of about $1,900. In fact, even in the 60 percent to 70 percent income group, earning up to $141,101, the average family would gain almost $1,000.” [Tax Foundation Press Release, 10/6/09]

AP On House Plan: “The Typical Family Would Be Spared Higher Taxes…And Their Low-Income Neighbors Could Come Out Ahead.” The Associated Press reported that from the newly unveiled House Democratic health reform bill, “[t]he typical family would be spared higher taxes from the House Democratic plan to overhaul health care, and their low-income neighbors could come out ahead.” [Associated Press, 11/2/09]

House Bill Provides Rebates If Premiums Far Exceed Cost Of Covering Medical Expenses, Insurers Would Have To Justify Premium Increases To State And Federal Government, Lifetime Limits On Coverage Are Eliminated. Reuters listed many of the major provisions contained in the newest version of the House health reform bill. It listed a few consumer protections, including: “Provides for consumer rebates if premiums far exceed the cost of covering their medical expenses…Sets up a state/federal process under which insurers would have to justify premium increases…Eliminates lifetime limits on coverage.” [Reuters, 10/30/09]

Chamber Of Commerce On Baucus Proposal: A Bill “That Will Actually…Get Health-Care Costs Under Control.” The Wall Street Journal reported that, “[t]he U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents about three million businesses of all sizes, has run television ads opposing the Democratic-led health-care push. And the chamber, like many other big business groups in Washington, has many concerns about the Baucus bill, particularly the taxes it proposes to help pay for its $774 billion Congressional Budget Office price tag over 10 years. But the chamber applauded much of the Baucus bill as the first proposal ‘that will actually...get health-care costs under control.’” [Wall Street Journal, 9/25/09]

REALITY: MEDICARE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT BENEFITS, THEY STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

FactCheck.org: “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits’ Under [Health Reform Legislation], And In Fact Have Done Our Best To Debunk [Those] Claims.” FactCheck.org wrote: “We never have said that seniors would suffer ‘massive cuts to Medicare benefits’ under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect.” [FactCheck.org, 11/3/09]

AARP Applauded The Senate For Bill: “Makes Progress Towards Achieving Meaningful Relief For Millions Of Older Americans…Makes Improvements To The Medicare Program.” AARP said in a press release: “We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services. The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage.” [AARP, 11/18/09]

AARP Warned Seniors Against “Myths and Scare Tactics” In Health Reform Debate, Said “None Of The Health Care Reform Proposals Being Considered By Congress Would Cut Medicare Benefits.” AARP wrote in a myth-vs.-fact health reform website that, “There are special interest groups trying to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics. Like the notion that health care reform would ration your care, hurt Medicare or be a government takeover. Actually, these are false statements.” AARP concluded about the Medicare claim that, “[n]one of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.” [AARP, Myths Vs. Facts]

REALITY: HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM WOULD COVER LARGE PORTION OF MEDICAID EXPENDITURES FOR STATES, MORE THAN THEY DO NOW

CBO On Senate Bill: Federal Government Would Cover On Average 90% Of Additional Medicaid Costs, Up From 57% Currently; Federal Money Would Cover Higher Proportion Of CHIP Costs, Increasing From An Average Of 70 Percent To 93 Percent. The CBO concluded that the Senate reform legislation affected Medicaid in the following way: “Starting in 2014, most nonelderly people with income below 133 percent of the FPL would be made eligible for Medicaid. The federal government would pay all of the costs of covering newly eligible enrollees through 2016; in subsequent years, the share of federal spending would vary somewhat from year to year but ultimately would average about 90 percent. (Under current rules, the federal government usually pays about 57 percent, on average, of the costs of Medicaid benefits.)…Beginning in 2014, states would receive higher federal reimbursement for CHIP beneficiaries, increasing from an average of 70 percent to 93 percent. CBO estimates that state spending on Medicaid would increase by about $25 billion.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Barbour Said He Was “Encouraged” By The Senate Finance’s Health Care Bill That Would Increased Medicaid Funding For States. “States may receive more money from the U.S. government for the Medicaid program for the poor under the Senate Finance Committee chairman's healthcare reform proposal released on [September 16, 2009]. The $856 billion legislation, which may form the basis of compromise in the U.S. Congress on giving all Americans health coverage, would ‘increase federal Medicaid funding for states that cover recommended preventive services and immunizations at no extra cost,’ according to a summary from Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana …While a key Republican governor, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, was encouraged by the call, he said he was still worried about other provisions in the committee's proposal. ‘It is clear the Senators are trying to reduce or eliminate the unfunded mandate, and I appreciate their effort,’ said Barbour, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, in a statement. ‘Nevertheless, Mississippi's small businesses and our Medicare beneficiaries have too much at risk.’” [Reuters, 9/16/09]

Senate Bill Includes Provision To Help States Affected By Disasters To Cover Half Of Increased Medicaid Spending. Politico Live Pulse reported that, “it's no surprise that the health bill includes a 50 percent boost in federal Medicaid money for states that have been declared disaster areas in the past seven years. Hurricane Katrina, of course, hit the Pelican State in 2005. You can find the provision on page 432 of the bill…Turns out, the provision is a bit more nuanced than I first reported. Essentially, it provides federal money to help the state shoulder its share of increased Medicaid spending. For instance, if Louisiana's share of Medicaid spending is increased by more than 3 percent, the federal government would pick up half of that tab in the first year. Bottom line, CBO estimates the provision would cost the federal government about $100 million.” [Politico Live Pulse, 11/18/09]

REALITY: COST OF FAILURE IS JUST TOO GREAT FOR STATES

Study: If Reform Fails, “All States Would See Their Medicaid/CHIP Costs Rise By More Than 75 Percent From 2009 To 2019. Half The States Would Face Cost Increases Of More Than 100 Percent.” The Robert-Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute completed a study on the potential costs to states if health reform failed. The main findings for health care spending were: “In the worst case, all states would see their Medicaid/CHIP costs rise by more than 75 percent from 2009 to 2019. Half the states would face cost increases of more than 100 percent. Even in the best case, 13 states would experience Medicaid/CHIP cost growth of more than 65 percent. In the worst case, uncompensated care costs would more than double from 2009 to 2019 in 45 states. Even in the best case, uncompensated care would increase by more than 50 percent in 48 states.” [RWJF: The Cost Of Failure, 9/28/09]

FACT CHECK COBURN: Rationing

On the Senate floor this evening, Senator Coburn (R-OK) falsely claimed that there will be a rationing of care if the Senate health care bill passes. He said "There's no provisions in here prohibiting the rationing of health care. You will see rationing of health care with this bill. We're seeing it now in medicare more every day." [Coburn Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: REFORM WILL NOT MEAN RATIONING OF HEALTH CARE

Dr. Sanjay Gupta On Rationing: “It’s Not True…A Look At The Reform Bill In Congress There Is No Mention Of That. No Mention Of Rationing, No Mention Of The Government Making So-Called End-Of-Life Decisions For Seniors.” “GUPTA: Tell me why. MCCOY: I try not to worry. Well, I have read some things that says that as you get older you are liable to wait and wait and wait before you can have surgery. I've heard that they're going to look at the older people and you're going to wait longer than the younger people. GUPTA (voice-over): It's not true, though a lot of people think so. A look at the reform bill in Congress there is no mention of that. No mention of rationing, no mention of the government making so-called end-of-life decisions for seniors.” [CNN Anderson Cooper 360, 11PM, 8/14/09]

Scarborough Called Out Gov. Pawlenty: “With All Due Respect, This Does Not Give Us A System Like The United Kingdom,” And Incredulously Asked Pawlenty, “How Does This Bill Get Us To ‘Death Panels?” You Don’t Believe It Does, Do You?” Gov. Pawlenty made an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where he was challenged about claims that health reform would lead to death panels and would “pull the plug on granny:” Gov. Pawlenty said, “there’s concerns that this thing is going to be so expensive they’re not going to be able to afford all that’s promise, and somebody’s going to have to make a decision to cut back, and people are concerned that if the federal government does that—have them rationing care, that’s a real problem. And so those are not irrational concerns.” Then the following exchange occurred: “MR. SCARBOROUGH: [b]ut but, there are no death panels here, though. Counseling is one thing. Having three people lining up and saying 'granny dies, grandpa lives,' that's quite another. You can't get there from here. GOV. PAWLENTY: Well what happens--Joe, what you call it or label it, but I think the facts are these: if you have a system like the United Kingdom where—MR. SCARBOROUGH: But we don't. We don't governor. With all due respect, this does not give us a system like the United Kingdom. I'm talking specifically about this bill. How does this bill get us to ‘death panels?’ You don't believe it does, do you?” [MSNBC Morning Joe, 9/11/09]

Politifact:The Claim That HealthCare Reform Will Lead To Callous Decisions That Would Allow People To Die If They Face A Costly Treatment Is "False.""In the ad, a man weeps over someone lying in a hospital bed while the announcer says, '$22,750. In England, government health officials decided that's how much six months of life is worth. Under their socialized system if a medical treatment costs more, you're out of luck. That's wrong for America.' That footage is interspersed with shots of the Capitol building and the whole thing is set to some very ominous music. You can watch it here. The carefully worded ad doesn't directly say that the government is planning to put a price on our lives, but the implication is clear: The reform plan will lead to callous decisions that would allow people to die if they face a costly treatment. So that's what we're going to check — whether the reform plan would impose those kind of caps on treatment. ... So, back to the Club for Growth ad. Although our experts agree that it gets the NICE statistic correct about the British practice, the ad's main point about cost limits is incorrect. There is no such practice in the comparative effectiveness program, nor is it part of the current health reform proposals pending in Congress. The House and Senate bills under consideration would not require the government to decide how much a person's life is worth. As a result, we give the Club for Growth a False." [PolitiFact, 8/6/09]

FACT CHECK: Senator Pat Roberts Uses Falsehoods and Fear-Mongering to Claim Health Insurance Reform will Lead to Rationing

RHETORIC: ROBERTS CLAIMED MAMMOGRAM REPORTWAS EVIDENCE OF RATIONING

Sen. Roberts Pointed to Recent Mammogram Recommendations as Evidence of Rationing. “The Preventive Services Task Force is yet another panel of appointed experts -- a lot of those -- that makes recommendations on what preventive services patients should receive. Currently, the task force recommendations are optional, but the Reid bill bequeaths this unelected and unaccountable body with new powers to determine insurance benefit requirements in Medicare, Medicaid and even in the private market. And the task force has already revealed the types of recommendations that it will be making. Just last week, it decided to reverse its long-standing recommendation that women get regular, routine mammograms to detect breast cancer starting at age 40.” [Roberts Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: MAMMOGRAM REPORT IS NOT AT ALL INVOLVED IN HEALTH REFORM, CANNOT BE PART OF RATIONING

NYT: “The Only Part Of The Reform Bills That Could Affect Mammography Would Only Make Them More Accessible.” The New York Times wrote in an editorial: “Opponents of the health care reform bills moving through Congress have seized on the new recommendations as evidence that the government is seeking to put bureaucrats between you and your doctor or that it would ration care by denying coverage for some mammograms that are now covered. There is virtually no chance that any insurers, either public or private, will deny coverage to anyone based on these recommendations. Government and industry officials have said that explicitly and, in fact, every state but Utah requires private insurers to pay for mammograms for women starting in their 40s…The only part of the reform bills that could affect mammography would only make them more accessible. Under the legislation, the secretary of health and human services might be given authority to waive Medicare co-payments for prevention services that rank highly in the opinion of this task force. Since the task force gave a low grade to screening women in their 40s, the secretary could not waive cost-sharing for them.” [New York Times Editorial, 11/20/09]

Sec. Sebelius: Mammogram Recommendations Come From “An Outside Independent Panel Of Doctors And Scientists…They Do Not Set Federal Policy And They Don’t Determine What Services Are Covered By The Federal Government.” In a statement, Sec. Kathleen Sebelius said, “[t]here is no question that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations have caused a great deal of confusion and worry among women and their families across this country. I want to address that confusion head on. The U.S. Preventive Task Force is an outside independent panel of doctors and scientists who make recommendations. They do not set federal policy and they don’t determine what services are covered by the federal government…My message to women is simple. Mammograms have always been an important life-saving tool in the fight against breast cancer and they still are today. Keep doing what you have been doing for years – talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you.” [Politico, 11/19/09]

Task Force’s Recommendations on Mammograms Had Nothing to Do With Cost—And They Are Prohibited from Considering Cost When Evaluating Treatments. Members of the Preventive Services Task Force “said politics and questions of cost were never part of their discussions of the risks and benefits of mammograms — in fact they are prohibited from considering costs when they make guidelines. It was the scientific evidence, they said, that led them to conclude that women in their 40s should carefully consider whether they want to be screened rather than assuming they should start screening then. And it was the evidence, they said, that led them to conclude that screening every other year provides all the benefits of screening annually.” [New York Times, 11/20/09]

RHETORIC: ROBERTS CLAIMED DR. EMANUEL COULD BE THE "RATIONING CZAR"

Roberts Claimed Ezekiel Emanuel Could Be Called the “Rationing Czar.” “One of those special advisors to the president, perhaps he could actually be the rationing czar. Emanuel has published some very disturbing ideas on how to ration care, which can be summed up by this brave new world humpback whale graph that we have here along with ages groups of the population. Emmanuel complete lives the more -- the more or less that you deserve in health care. I'd like to point out that the senator is 62, just something for all of you to think about as you look at where the money is available for health care under the complete lives system, which is the blueprint for the bill that we are considering. They will destroy the American health care system if allowed to go through this context of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel.” [Roberts Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: ATTACKS AGAINST EZEKIEL EMANUEL HAVE BEEN CALLED “FALSE” AND “RED HERRINGS”

Bush Administration Health Care Expert: Attacking Ezekiel Emanuel and Other Arguments Against Reform Are “Red Herrings At Best.” In an article about conservative health policy experts lamenting the flood of “specious” arguments against reform from opponents instead of raising serious concerns, the New York Times interviewed Gail Wilensky, “a veteran health care expert who oversaw the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs for the first President George Bush and advised Senator John McCain in his presidential campaign last year.” She said, “there’s frustration because so much of the discussion is around issues like the death panels and Zeke Emanuel that I think are red herrings at best.” [New York Times, 9/3/09]

PolitifactSaid The Bachmann’s Claim That Ezekiel Emanuel Opposes Health Care for the Disabled WasA "Gross Distortion" And Is "False.""But to make the sensational claim that Emanuel says health care should not be extended to the disabled is a gross distortion of his position, lifted out of context from an academic paper in which he poses philosophical ideas but doesn't necessary endorse them. Emanuel's hefty medical record also counts for something, as well his unequivocal public position against euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. We rule Bachmann's statement False."" [Politifact]

FACT CHECK: SEN. GREGG LIES ABOUT PRICE OF HEALTHINSURANCEREFORM...AGAIN

This evening on CNN Senator Judd Gregg again repeated his earlier debunked claim that the actual cost of Health Insurance Reform is $2.5 trillion, which he earlier made this morning:

“Igenuinely believe we need health care reform but it has to be done on a step-by-step basis and thought fully, not in a way that expands the size of the government by $2.5 trillion. That's how much it will cost when it's fully implemented... that's not debatable. it comes out of the cbo... that number is a 10-year number with the program starting in the fourth and fifth year. if you take ten years when the program is fully implemented throughout the whole ten years, it's $2.5 trillion so that number is sort of a bait and switch number.” [Gregg CNN Interview, 11/20/09]

Despite praising the CBO as “objective” and “non-partisan”, New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, speaking against health care reform on the Senate floor today,cited skewed data crafted by Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee which drastically and inaccurately inflates the cost of the bill over data from the independent Congressional Budget Office he previously praised. See below for more on Senator Gregg's distortions:

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed Actual Cost Was $2.5 Trillion, From CBO: “That's a lot of money, $897 billion or or $800 billion-plus. But that's not a real number. That's a phony number. That's a bait-and-switch number… well, when that occurs, this bill costs by CBO's estimate $2.5 trillion.” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Used “CBO’s Objective, Non-Partisan Analysis” To Criticize President Obama’s 2010 Budget.In a press release, Sen. Gregg said, “[t]oday’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the President’s complete Fiscal Year 2010 budget as submitted to Congress on May 7th again paints a bleak picture for the U.S. economy in the years ahead, as spending and borrowing result in publicly-held debt tripling by 2019…’CBO’s objective, non-partisan analysis again raises red flags that we cannot continue to ignore. The President’s economic agenda is unrealistic, unsustainable, and will crush economic opportunities for our children and grandchildren unless we take action to get our fiscal house in order.’” [Press Release, 6/17/09]

REALITY: SEN. GREGG HAS NO PROBLEM MAKING UP NUMBERS FOR CBO, EVEN THOUGH HE SAID THEY WERE “OBJECTIVE, NON-PARTISAN.”

Claim That Senate Bill Would Cost $2.5 Trillion Was Generated By Senate Budget Committee Republicans, Not CBO. Fox News reported that, “Republicans have countered the CBO estimate with a figure of their own: $2.5 trillion, an estimate that comes out of the Senate Budget Committee minority's analysis of Reid's plan.” [Fox News, 11/19/09]

CBO On Senate Bill: “Net Cost Itself Reflects A Gross Total Of $848 Billion”—Not $2.5 Trillion. [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed States Would Lose Out Under Reform Because Of Medicaid Expansion: “The states, the states are just going to be taken to the cleaners by this bill. The allegation that you're going to expand Medicaid by 20 million to 30 million people and the states aren't going to end up paying a huge bill as a result of that?” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: STATE MEDICAID PROGRAMS BENEFIT UNDER REFORM

CBO On Senate Bill: Federal Government Would Cover On Average 90% Of Additional Medicaid Costs, Up From 57% Currently; Federal Money Would Cover Higher Proportion Of CHIP Costs, Increasing From An Average Of 70 Percent To 93 Percent. The CBO concluded that the Senate reform legislation affected Medicaid in the following way: “Starting in 2014, most nonelderly people with income below 133 percent of the FPL would be made eligible for Medicaid. The federal government would pay all of the costs of covering newly eligible enrollees through 2016; in subsequent years, the share of federal spending would vary somewhat from year to year but ultimately would average about 90 percent. (Under current rules, the federal government usually pays about 57 percent, on average, of the costs of Medicaid benefits.)…Beginning in 2014, states would receive higher federal reimbursement for CHIP beneficiaries, increasing from an average of 70 percent to 93 percent. CBO estimates that state spending on Medicaid would increase by about $25 billion.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

“Senate Staff Members Say The Governors Are Being Heard, And That Measures To Cut Other Health Care Costs In The Legislation Will Eventually Alleviate Their Concerns” On Added Medicaid Burden. The New York Times reported on nervousness from state governors based on concerns that some of the costs of Medicaid expansion would be shouldered by beleaguered states: “Senate staff members say the governors are being heard, and that measures to cut other health care costs in the legislation will eventually alleviate their concerns.” [New York Times, 8/7/09]

REALITY: WITHOUT REFORM, STATE BUDGETS WILL COLLAPSE

Study: If Reform Fails, “All States Would See Their Medicaid/CHIP Costs Rise By More Than 75 Percent From 2009 To 2019. Half The States Would Face Cost Increases Of More Than 100 Percent.” The Robert-Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute completed a study on the potential costs to states if health reform failed. The main findings for health care spending were: “In the worst case, all states would see their Medicaid/CHIP costs rise by more than 75 percent from 2009 to 2019. Half the states would face cost increases of more than 100 percent. Even in the best case, 13 states would experience Medicaid/CHIP cost growth of more than 65 percent. In the worst case, uncompensated care costs would more than double from 2009 to 2019 in 45 states. Even in the best case, uncompensated care would increase by more than 50 percent in 48 states.” [RWJF: The Cost Of Failure, 9/28/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed That Senate Bill Would Force Everyone Into Public Plan Eventually: “Well, it does what this bill is basically intended to do. It will force employers to drop private insurance and push people over onto the public plan, and that when you get down to it is what this is all about. This is an exercise at having the federal government basically get control over all health care, and it's being done in a -- in an incremental way.” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: CBO SAID PUBLIC OPTION WOULD ENROLL ONLY 3 TO 4 MILLION

CBO On Senate Bill: Public Plan Would Enroll Between 3 And 4 Million. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Roughly one out of eight people purchasing coverage through the exchanges would enroll in the public plan, CBO estimates, meaning that total enrollment in that plan would be 3 million to 4 million.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Wall Street Analyst To Health Insurance Industry: Public Option “Looks Like A [Blue Cross Blue Shield] Plan,” Which Are “Strong Competitors For Private Insurers, But Not Deadly Ones.” The New York Times Prescriptions Blog wrote, “[i]n a report sent to investors earlier this week, a Wall Street analyst, Richard Evans, concludes that the health insurance industry should probably not worry much about the prospect of a government-run health plan — at least not as it now is taking shape in Congress. As things stands now, Mr. Evans notes, the proposed legislation does not call for the new government-run plan, or public option, to be able to demand the same low prices that Medicare gets from doctors and hospitals. Private insurers have argued that Medicare-pegged rates would give the public option an unfair advantage over their plans… ‘It appears the public option would be required to negotiate price with providers, pay back its start-up capital, cover its operating costs, and earn sufficient reserves,’ wrote Mr. Evans, a managing partner for Sector & Sovereign. ‘In other words, it looks like a Blues plan.’ Mr. Evans writes that the not-for-profit Blue Cross plans may be strong competitors for private insurers, but not deadly ones. Where they operate, he notes, they tend to have the largest share of the market but seem to be able to co-exist with for-profit insurance companies. ‘This suggests that a not-for profit public option has some enrollment advantages over for-profit commercial insurers, but that the effect is modest,’ he wrote.” [New York Times Prescriptions Blog, 11/3/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed Reform Was All About A Washington Takeover Of Health Care: “And this bill is all about moving power here to Washington. That's what this legislation is about. It's about centralizing the decision process, the national decision process on health care.” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: SUCH FEARS ARE BASELESS AND IRRESPONSIBLE

Fox’s Shep Smith To Sen. John Barrasso: “It’s Not A Government Takeover, Senator! That’s Not Fair And We Both Know It.” Fox News’ Shep Smith confronted Sen. John Barrasso over his boilerplate GOP talking points calling health reform a “government takeover,” and said: “SMITH: It’s not a government takeover, Senator! That’s not fair and we both know it. It’s not a government takeover because what it would be is a government option if you have insurance now and you like it you can keep it…That’s not a government take over if we’re being fair is it, Senator?...As the costs have gone up, the insurance industry’s profits on average have gone up more than 350 percent and it’s the insurance companies which have paid and have contributed to Senators and congressman on both sides of the aisle to the point where now, we can’t get…what more than 60 percent of Americans say they support, is a public option. This has been an enormous win for the health care industry. That is an unquestioned fact.” [FOX News, 10/6/09]

Sen. Frist Now Makes “Three Former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Who Have Endorsed The Sorts Of Reforms President And His Allies Are Pushing…For All Of The Crazy Talk About A Radical Government Takeover, Health Care Reform 2009 Is An Amalgam Of Compromises.” Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic noted that, “[f]or those keeping a tally, that's three former Republican Senate Majority Leaders who have endorsed the sorts of reforms President Obama and his allies are pushing. Previously, Howard Baker and Bob Dole signed on to a plan they negotiated with Tom Daschle and George Mitchell, former Democratic counterparts, through the auspices of the Biparitsan Policy Center. And this is as it should be. For all of the crazy talk about a radical government takeover, health care reform 2009 is an amalgam of compromises, many based on ideas taken straight from former Republican proposals--the kind of proposal, in other words, at least a few Republicans should be able to embrace in good faith. Now if only some currently serving members of the party could take a cue from the retired elder statesmen.” [The New Republic, 10/2/09]

Sen. Dole: “I Want This To Pass…I Don’t Agree With Everything Obama Is Presenting, But We’ve Got To Do Something…I Don’t Want The Republicans Putting Up A ‘No’ Sign And Saying, ‘We’re Not Open For Business.’” Former Senate Majority Leader Bob “Dole, to his credit, is having none of it. ‘I want this to pass,’ he said. ‘I don't agree with everything Obama is presenting, but we've got to do something.’ He added: ‘I don't want the Republicans putting up a “no” sign and saying, “we're not open for business.”’” [Kansas City Star, 10/7/09]

FactCheck.org: Under Obama’s Health Care Plan, “Nobody Would Be Forced To Drop His Or Her Current Insurance.” “Obama has long said he would allow individuals or small businesses to buy insurance through a public plan – like the one now available to members of Congress. But nobody would be forced to drop his or her current insurance, and private plans would exist as they do now. This was the health care plan he promoted as a presidential candidate.” [FactCheck.org, 5/1/09]

AMA President-Elect Reassured: Physicians And Patients Don’t Need To Fear The Rise Of A Monolithic Health System With No Choice From President Obama. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that “American Medical Association president-elect Dr. James Rohack told Mississippi doctors Friday…Physicians and patients don't need to fear the rise of a monolithic health system with no choice, because it's not something the American people would accept, Rohack said. The president didn't advocate a single-payer system for the United States at the meeting, Rohack said. Obama said he believes in access to health care for all with a system that is a mix of public and private sources with patients still able to see the physicians of their choice.” [Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 5/30/09]

FACT CHECK SEN. ENSIGN: Rationing and GOP Plan

Please see below for a fact check correcting misleading statements from Sen. Ensign, who continues to tout the so-called Republican health care bill, even though it would slash consumer protections, continue to allow insurers to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and continue to allow insurers to kick people off their coverage when they get sick. Sen. Ensign also insists in calling health insurance reform “rationing,” even though this myth has been debunked time and again.

Sen Ensign: “But when we look at the American people and the actual costs that they're going to be paying for health care, their cost curve continues to go up and up and up into the future.This will also lead to more rationing.” [Senate floor, 11/20/09]

REALITY: THERE WILL BE NO RATIONING

Dr. Sanjay Gupta On Rationing: “It’s Not True…A Look At The Reform Bill In Congress There Is No Mention Of That. No Mention Of Rationing, No Mention Of The Government Making So-Called End-Of-Life Decisions For Seniors.” “GUPTA: Tell me why. MCCOY: I try not to worry. Well, I have read some things that says that as you get older you are liable to wait and wait and wait before you can have surgery. I've heard that they're going to look at the older people and you're going to wait longer than the younger people. GUPTA (voice-over): It's not true, though a lot of people think so. A look at the reform bill in Congress there is no mention of that. No mention of rationing, no mention of the government making so-called end-of-life decisions for seniors.” [CNN Anderson Cooper 360, 11PM, 8/14/09]

Scarborough Called Out Gov. Pawlenty: “With All Due Respect, This Does Not Give Us A System Like The United Kingdom,” And Incredulously Asked Pawlenty, “How Does This Bill Get Us To ‘Death Panels?” You Don’t Believe It Does, Do You?” Gov. Pawlenty made an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where he was challenged about claims that health reform would lead to death panels and would “pull the plug on granny:” Gov. Pawlenty said, “there’s concerns that this thing is going to be so expensive they’re not going to be able to afford all that’s promise, and somebody’s going to have to make a decision to cut back, and people are concerned that if the federal government does that—have them rationing care, that’s a real problem. And so those are not irrational concerns.” Then the following exchange occurred: “MR. SCARBOROUGH: [b]ut but, there are no death panels here, though. Counseling is one thing. Having three people lining up and saying 'granny dies, grandpa lives,' that's quite another. You can't get there from here. GOV. PAWLENTY: Well what happens--Joe, what you call it or label it, but I think the facts are these: if you have a system like the United Kingdom where—MR. SCARBOROUGH: But we don't. We don't governor. With all due respect, this does not give us a system like the United Kingdom. I'm talking specifically about this bill. How does this bill get us to ‘death panels?’ You don't believe it does, do you?” [MSNBC Morning Joe, 9/11/09]

Politifact:The Claim That HealthCare Reform Will Lead To Callous Decisions That Would Allow People To Die If They Face A Costly Treatment Is "False.""In the ad, a man weeps over someone lying in a hospital bed while the announcer says, '$22,750. In England, government health officials decided that's how much six months of life is worth. Under their socialized system if a medical treatment costs more, you're out of luck. That's wrong for America.' That footage is interspersed with shots of the Capitol building and the whole thing is set to some very ominous music. You can watch it here. The carefully worded ad doesn't directly say that the government is planning to put a price on our lives, but the implication is clear: The reform plan will lead to callous decisions that would allow people to die if they face a costly treatment. So that's what we're going to check — whether the reform plan would impose those kind of caps on treatment. ... So, back to the Club for Growth ad. Although our experts agree that it gets the NICE statistic correct about the British practice, the ad's main point about cost limits is incorrect. There is no such practice in the comparative effectiveness program, nor is it part of the current health reform proposals pending in Congress. The House and Senate bills under consideration would not require the government to decide how much a person's life is worth. As a result, we give the Club for Growth a False." [PolitiFact, 8/6/09]

FACT CHECK BARRASSO: Repeats already debunked lie about Medicare

Please see below for a fact check of the claims made by Senator Barrasso on the floor of the Senate just now on how thePatients Protection and Affordable Care Act would affect Medicare:

Sen. Barrasso: “When you look at the details of this bill, this is going to cut almost $500 billion. $500 Billion from our seniors who depend on Medicare for their health care.” [Barrasso Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: MEDICARE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT BENEFITS

AARP: Statement That Reform Would Cut Medicare Benefits Is “Misleading And Alarmist,” And “The Proposed Medicare Savings Do Not Limit Benefits, They Do Not Impose Rationing.” The Wall Street Journal reported that, “[t]he Republican Party issued a new salvo in the health debate Monday with a ‘seniors' health care bill of rights’ that opposed any moves to trim Medicare spending or limit end-of-life care to seniors. Intended as a political shot at President Barack Obama, the Republican National Committee manifesto marks a remarkable turnaround for a party that had once fought to trim the health program for the elderly and disabled, which last year cost taxpayers over $330 billion…The country's largest lobbying group for seniors, AARP, said it welcomed the RNC's commitment to protect Medicare. But the group, which supports efforts to overhaul the health-care system, also dismissed the RNC statement as misleading and alarmist. ‘Change by itself is anxiety producing, but as we have analyzed the various bills [before Congress], the proposed Medicare savings do not limit benefits, they do not impose rationing and they do not put the government between patients and their doctors,’ said John Rother, AARP's executive vice president.” [Wall Street Journal, 8/25/09]

Hospitals Group Refuted CMS Actuary Report: “Hospitals Always Will Stand By Senior Citizens. This Summer, Hospitals Agreed To Contribute Substantial Medicare Savings Are Part Of Our Shared Sacrifice To Reform Health Care.” Politico Live Pulse reported: “The following statement was released today by Chip Kahn, President of the Federation of American Hospitals: Hospitals’ commitment to our mission of serving the health care needs of seniors in communities across America is steadfast. A memorandum recently issued by the CMS Actuary analyzing the effects of “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009” (H.R. 3962) concludes that some providers may end their participation in the Medicare program. Hospitals always will stand by senior citizens. This summer, hospitals agreed to contribute substantial Medicare savings as part of our shared sacrifice to reform health care and achieve near universal coverage for all Americans. We are pleased with the legislative progress as well as the movement towards market-based solutions. And we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to enact legislation that will enable hospitals to continue to provide our patients, including seniors, with ready access to the highest quality health care possible.” [Politico Live Pulse, 11/16/09]

Medicare Advantage Health Economist: 86 Percent Of Extra MA Payments Went To Profits, Only 14 Percent Went To Extra Benefits – “Cuts To MA Should Be A No Brainer.” Health Economist Austin Frakt, a professor at Boston University, has studied Medicare Advantage plans extensively and wrote on his blog about his findings: “Payment to MA plans has gone way up since 2003. Did the payment increase largely benefit beneficiaries or not? This is a current political and policy debate, about which much has been written in the media (both traditional and blogospheric). It turns out the answer is known and quantifiable. Mywork (with Steve Pizer and Roger Feldman) shows that for each additional dollar spent by the federal government (taxpayers) on the program since 2003, just $0.14 of it can be attributed to additional value (consumer surplus) to beneficiaries (see also: findings brief). What do we make of the other $0.86? That goes to the insurance companies but doesn’t come out “the other end” in the form of value to beneficiaries. In part it is accounted for by the costs of the additional benefits and in part it is captured as additional insurer profit. So, do higher MA paymentsproduce little value to beneficiaries, as Obama claims, or are the benefits they fund important to maintain, as Republicans would have us believe? The balance of the evidence is on Obama’s side. In fact, it is a landslide: for each dollar spent, 14% of the value reaches beneficiaries and 86% ofit goeselsewhere (profit or cost). Cuts to MA should be a no brainer.” [Incidental Economist - Austin Frakt, 9/28/09]

REALITY: REFORM WOULD STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

CBO On Senate Bill: Medicare Savings Amount To $491 Billion. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Other components of the legislation would alter spending under Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs…In total, CBO estimates that enacting those provisions would reduce direct spending by $491 billion over the 2010-2019 period.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Senate Bill Includes $500 Shrinkage Of Medicare Prescription Drug Donut Hole In 2010. Politico Live Pulse reported that, “[i]n what can be viewed as an election-year sweetener for senior citizens, the coverage gapin the Medicare prescription drug program would shrink by $500 in 2010 only under the Senate bill. A Senate leadership aide described it as a ‘downpayment’ on closing the donut hole. ‘Our goal is to get it closer to the House bill,’ which would eliminate the coverage gap over the next decade, the aide said.” [Politico Live Pulse, 11/18/09]

AARP CEO: House Bill “Includes Critical Priorities For Seniors…Provides And Strengthens Medicare For Today’s Seniors And Future Generations.” The Hill reported on AARP’s endorsement of House Democratic health reform. AARP CEO A. Barry Rand said, “[t]his bill includes critical priorities for seniors – critical – ensures quality, affordable health coverage options for all Americans, provides and strengthens Medicare for today’s seniors and future generations and puts us on a path to improving our long-term health system.” [The Hill, 11/5/09]

New York Times: Reform Will Enhance Drug Coverage, Reduce Premiums, and Help Keep Medicare Solvent. “Far from harming elderly Americans, the various reform bills now pending should actually make Medicare better for most beneficiaries — by enhancing their drug coverage, reducing the premiums they pay for drugs and medical care, eliminating co-payments for preventive services and helping keep Medicare solvent, among other benefits.” [New York Times, Editorial, 9/27/09]

FACT CHECK: Sen. Jon Kyl Defends Status Quo Of Rising Premiums

On the Senate floor today, Senator Kyl claimed that premiums would rise if the Senate health care bill passes. See below for a recent study done by the Republican-friendly Business Roundtable and the a letter signed by 23 prominent economists of all political stripes who claim that the reforms in the Senate health care bill would lower premiums and overall costs.

RHETORIC: Kyl Said That New Requirements On The Health Insurance Industry Would Force Premiums To Rise For Many Americans. Senator Jon Kyl: "New insurance requirements and new taxes on the insurance industry will force premiums to rise for many Americans, particularly the young and healthy. According to an independent analysis that studied the effect of the new insurance reforms and new taxes on the insurance industry, insurance premiums in my home state of Arizona could skyrocket by as much as $2,619 per individuals and $7,426 for families." [Senate Floor, 11/20/09]

REALITY: STUDY RUN BY PROMINENT BUSINESS LEADERS' GROUP AND A BIPARTISAN GROUP OF ECONOMISTS HAVE SAID THE REFORMS IN THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL WOULD LOWER PREMIUMS

Business Roundtable: Without Reform, Health Care Costs Rise To $28,530 Per Employee, 166% Higher; With Reform, Businesses Could Save $3,000 Per Employee. A report from the Business Roundtable concluded that: “If the cost trends of the past 10 years repeat, by 2019, employment-based spending on health care at large employers will be 166% higher than today on a per-employee basis. This equates to an average of $28,530 per employee when employer subsidies, employee contributions, and employee out-of-pocket costs are combined. We estimate that if enacted properly, the right legislative reforms could potentially reduce that trend line by more than $3,000 per employee, to $25,435.” [Business Roundtable – Health Care Reform, 11/12/09 (http://www.businessroundtable.org/sites/default/files/Hewitt_BRT_Sustainable%20Health%20Care%20Marketplace_Final.pdf )]

23 Of Nation’s Most Well-Respected Health Economists: “We Believe That It Is Important To Enact Health Reform…[It] Will Lower Health Care Costs And Help Reduce Deficits Over The Long Term.” In a letter to the President, 23 of the nation’s most well-respected health economists said: “As economists, we believe that it is important to enact health reform, and it is essential that health reform include these four features [deficit neutrality, excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, independent Medicare commission, delivery system reforms] that will lower health care costs and help reduce deficits over the long term.” [Letter from 23 economists, 11/17/09 (http://links.mkt2079.com/ctt?kn=5&m=2556903&r=MTIzMTk1OTcxMDIS1&b=0&j=MTYzNjE2ODI3S0&mt=1&rt=0 )]

Group Of 23 Economists Included “Republicans, Democrats, Former Bush Administration Officials And Nobel Laureates,” All Of Their Recommendations Are Included In Legislation. In a Washington Post Op-Ed, Peter Orszag noted that, “the Office of Management and Budget reached out to 23 of the nation's most prominent economists -- a group that included Republicans, Democrats, former Bush administration officials and Nobel laureates -- to get views on the four elements critical to reducing long-term health-care costs while improving the quality of care for all Americans. Each of the steps endorsed by this bipartisan group is embodied in the legislation under consideration.” [Washington Post Op-Ed, 11/19/09 ( http://links.mkt2079.com/ctt?kn=9&m=2556903&r=MTIzMTk1OTcxMDIS1&b=0&j=MTYzNjE2ODI3S0&mt=1&rt=0 )]

FACT CHECK KYL - Kyl Praises Republican Plan That Worsens HealthCare Crisis

On the Senate floor today, Senator Kyl praised the Republican health care alternative in the House of Representatives that was defeated earlier this month that would shred consumer protections, continue to allow insurers to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, continue to allow insurers to kick people off their coverage when they get sick and reduce the deficit less while covering tens of millions less people. See below for why Kyl is wrong:

RHETORIC: KylPraised Republican House Of Representatives HealthCare Plan. Senator Jon Kyl: Republicans have proposed a variety of solutions to target specific problems and, in particular, the problem of cost. I specifically want to conclude by mentioning the Republican health care alternative in the House of Representatives. A majority voted it down but the truth is it would, in fact, lower premiums for individuals, families and small businesses." [Senate Floor, 11/20/09]

THE REPUBLICAN ALTERNATIVE WOULD ALLOW INSURERSTO CONTINUE TO DENY COVERAGEBASED ONPRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS AND KICK PEOPLE OFF THEIR COVERAGE WHEN THEY GET SICK

NYT: “The House Republican Bill Would Not Explicitly Prohibit Insurers From Denying Coverage To People Because Of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions, Even Though Many Republicans Have Said They Agree With Democrats That The Federal Government Should Outlaw Such Denials.” The New York Times reported on the House Republicans’ alternative health legislation: “It is almost surely cheaper than the House Democrats’ bill because, unlike that proposal, it would not expand Medicaid or offer federal subsidies to low- and middle-income people to help them buy insurance. Nor would the Republican bill impose new taxes. The House Republican bill would not explicitly prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people because of pre-existing medical conditions, even though many Republicans have said they agree with Democrats that the federal government should outlaw such denials.” [

New York Times, 11/4/09]

Roll Call On GOP Alternative: “People With Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Would Pay Up To 50 Percent More Than Average For Insurance Coverage…States Would Face A Massive, Partially Funded Mandate.” Roll Call reported on the GOP alternative health reform legislation: “People with pre-existing medical conditions would pay up to 50 percent more than average for insurance coverage under a draft version of House Republicans’ health care plan…According to the draft, states would face a massive, partially funded mandate to subsidize high-risk insurance pools to cover people denied coverage by insurance companies with ‘a stable funding source.’ Those rates would be capped at 50 percent higher than average premiums for standard-risk insurance in a given state.” [Roll Call,

11/3/09]

GOP Alternative Doesn’t Prohibit Rescissions; Asks Insurers To Notify The Patient They Are Being Dropped, And Offers Third Party Board To Hear Appeals After Being Dropped By Insurer. “If a health insurance issuer determines to nonrenew or not continue in force, including rescind, health insurance coverage for an individual in the individual market on the basis described in section 2742(b)(2) before such nonrenewal, discontinuation, or rescission, may take effect the issuer shall provide the individual with notice of such proposed nonrenewal, discontinuation, or rescission and an opportunity for a review of such determination by an independent, external third party under procedures specified by the Secretary. (b) INDEPENDENT DETERMINATION – If the individual requests such review by an independent, external third party of a nonrenewal, discontinuation, or rescission of health insurance coverage, the coverage shall remain in effect until such third party determines that the coverage may be nonrenewed, discontinued, or rescinded under section 2742(b)(2).” [GOP Reform Alternative, 11/3/09]

THE REPUBLICAN ALTERNATIVE WOULD LEAVE MORE PEOPLE UNINSURED BY 2019 AND REDUCE THE DEFICIT LESS THAN THEDEMOCRATIC PLAN

WP: "Budget Analysts Say GOP Bill Would Do Little To Expand Health Insurance Coverage." "The long-awaited Republican entry in the health care debate received its assessment late Wednesday from congressional budget analysts, who concluded that the proposal would barely dent the ranks of the uninsured. The measure would cover only 3 million additional people at a cost of $60 billion through 2019, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. It would leave more than 52 million Americans uninsured a decade from now." [Washington Post, 11/4/09]

CBO: The Number Of Uninsured Under The Republican Plan In 2019 Would Be "Roughly In Line With The Current Share." CBO: "By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 3 million relative to current law, leaving about 52 million nonelderly residents uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, roughly in line with the current share." [CBO, 11/4/09]

Ezra Klein: The Democratic Bill Covers 12 Times As Many People As The Republican Plan And Saves $36 Billion More. "According to CBO, the GOP's alternative will shave $68 billion off the deficit in the next 10 years. The Democrats, CBO says, will slice $104 billion off the deficit. The Democratic bill, in other words, covers 12 times as many people and saves $36 billion more than the Republican plan." [Ezra Klein, Washington Post, 11/5/09]

THE REPUBLICAN ALTERNATIVE OFFERS NO NEW IDEAS

NPR: “In A Lot Of Ways, The House GOP Health Bill Reads Like A Compilation Of Greatest Hits From When Republicans Ran The House From 1995 Through 2006.” Morning Edition’s Julie Rovner reported that, “[i]n a lot of ways, the House GOP health bill reads like a compilation of greatest hits from when Republicans ran the House from 1995 through 2006.” [NPR Morning Edition, 11/4/09]

GOP Alternative “Includes Several Bills That Passed [The House] Repeatedly During [1995-2006], But Never Made It Through The Senate.” Morning Edition’s Julie Rovner reported on the House GOP health reform alternative, and noted that, “[i]t includes several bills that passed the chamber repeatedly during those years, but never made it through the Senate. Florida Republican Congressman Adam Putnam conceded as much in describing the measure yesterday: ‘It is a much more simple approach to bringing down costs in health care, along the lines of ideas that we’ve been talking about for a long time.’” [NPR Morning Edition,

11/4/09]

Boston Globe: “Republicans Offer Familiar Health Proposals,” Offering “Tried – And Democrats Would Argue Tired – Prescriptions.” In an article titled, “Republicans Offer Familiar Health Proposals,” The Boston Globe reported that, “the GOP plan incorporates some tried -- and Democrats would argue tired -- prescriptions: more health savings accounts, limits on pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice cases, and more leeway to sell health insurance to be sold across state lines.” [Boston Globe, 11/4/09]

FACT CHECK LEMIEUX: SIDING WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES

Please see below for a fact check responding to Senator George LeMieux's hypocritical attackon the Senate floor today on thebill's provision to endwasteful subsidies to health insurers under Medicare Advantageand force them to compete for patients through competitive bidding. Sen. LeMieux's comments today prove that he is willing to side with theinsurance companiesand against the American people despite the fact that ending such subsidies has support even from members of his own party.

LeMieuxDefendedWasteful Subsidies ToHealth Insurance Companies ThroughMedicare Advantage. Senator George LeMieux: "I think I understand that you're saying that states that have these folks that are on Medicare Advantage now are going to have big reductions in the benefits that they receive. ... You'll hear some say medicare benefits aren't being cut by these proposals. That is a real stretch. But when you look at medicare advantage, it's an outright misrepresentation. Because the benefits they get are vision benefits, dental benefits, the kinds of preventive medicine and the tests and the other types of things that we have found now help you to dramatically increase your health if you pursue these kinds of preventive medicine options are the ones that will be deprived through these benefits." [Senate Floor, 11/20/09]

REPUBLICANS ARE DEFENDINGWASTEFUL SUBSIDIES TO HEALTH INSURERS TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGETHAT PROVIDE PERKS LIKE FREE GYM MEMBERSHIPS

Medicare Advantage Provides Extra Perks, Like Free Gym Memberships,That Are Subsidized By The Government And The High Costs Of The Plans Are Passed On To Seniors. "Seniors in this Sun Belt retirement haven and across the country revel in the free perks that private insurance companies bundle with legally mandated benefits to entice people 65 and older to forgo traditional Medicare and sign up for private Medicare Advantage policies. The trouble is, the extra benefits are not exactly free; they are subsidized by the government. And some of the plans pass their costs on to seniors, who pay higher co-pays and additional fees to get care. ... In a health-care debate defined by big numbers and confusing details, the prospect of losing benefits such as a free gym membership through the Silver Sneakers program is tangible, and it has spooked some seniors, who are the nation's most reliable voters and have been most skeptical about reform." [Washington Post, 10/15/09]

GOP Opposition To Medicare Advantage Competitive Bidding Is Interesting: “Republicans Have Mounted A Ferocious Defense Of The Market’s Right To Continue Burning Through Taxpayer Dollars.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein commented on Republican anger at the prospect of competitive bidding to lower overpayments to Medicare Advantage programs: “[i]t is also an interesting moment of insight into the conservative philosophy on these matters. The problem with government programs, we're often told, is that they are expensive and wasteful, and the private market could do better. But faced with an instance where the government program proved relatively lean and efficient, and the private market expensive and wasteful, Republicans have mounted a ferocious defense of the market's right to continue burning through taxpayer dollars.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 9/24/09]

REPUBLICANSARE CRITICIZING A PLAN TOFORCE INSURERS TO COMPETE...

Health Insurance Reform Would Reduce The Difference In Costs Between Medicare And Medicare Advantage Through A Competitive Bidding System. “Federal subsidies to private Medicare plans average about 14 percent higher than those involved in fee-for-service coverage. The health care bills pending in Congress would reduce or eliminate the difference in part by introducing a competitive bidding system to pay the plans. ‘Health insurance reform will strengthen Medicare for seniors, not diminish it,’ said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin. ‘Even under the competitive bidding proposal in the legislation, Medicare Advantage plans will still be paid more than traditional Medicare plans. Yes, they'll need to compete, and they'll need to be more efficient, but they'll still have more money to work with than traditional Medicare.’” [AP, 9/22/09]

AARP Lead Lobbyist On Medicare Advantage Competitive Bidding: “We Think The Proposals Actually Will Improve Access And Quality,” Not Cut Benefits. The Boston Globe reported that, “[t]he $120 billion cut to Medicare Advantage is part of spending reductions in Medicare totaling $460 billion to $540 billion over 10 years that have been proposed by Democrats. The cuts would fall on the government reimbursement rates for a broad variety of providers such as hospitals and home health agencies, which could probably absorb them without affecting the services elderly Americans receive, many specialists said in interviews. Though some industry groups complain the spending reductions are too severe, adjustments could be made if problems arose because they would be phased in gradually. Most are aimed at making the programs more efficient. ‘We think the proposals actually will improve access and quality,’ John Rother, a leading lobbyist for the AARP, the large lobbying organization for senior citizens, said in an e-mail.” [Boston Globe, 9/24/09]

... THAT THEY SUPPORTED EARLIERTHIS YEAR

Senate Republicans Introduced an Alternative Health Care Reform Bill that Included Similar Provisions to the Finance Committee Bill to Introduce Competitive Bidding into Medicare Advantage to Eliminate Inefficiencies. Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would include competitive bidding in Medicare Advantage to eliminate inefficiencies and increasing choice. The bill was sponsored by Senator Coburn, and co-sponsored by Senators Alexander, Bunning, Burr, Chambliss, Graham, Inhofe and Isakson. [S. 1099, Introduced 5/20/09, Title V, Subtitle A.]

FACT CHECK KYL: Medicare

Please see below for a fact check on Senator Kyl's claim that the Senate health care bill would "cut" Medicare benefits. AARP and independent fact-checkers disagree and note that the bill would strengthen Medicare:

RHETORIC: Kyl Said That Health Insurance Reform Would "Cut" Medicare By Almost $500 Billion. Senator Jon Kyl: "The fact that it cuts medicare by almost $500 -- half of a trillion dollars --almost $500 billion in Medicare cuts. ... And our seniors have been told that under both bills, their benefits are going to be cut about $500 billion, and that is enough to scare them." [Senate Floor, 9/20/09]

REALITY: MEDICARE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT BENEFITS, THEY STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

FactCheck.org: “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits’ Under [Health Reform Legislation], And In Fact Have Done Our Best To Debunk [Those] Claims.” FactCheck.org wrote: “We never have said that seniors would suffer ‘massive cuts to Medicare benefits’ under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect.” [FactCheck.org, 11/3/09]

AARP Applauded The Senate For Bill: “Makes Progress Towards Achieving Meaningful Relief For Millions Of Older Americans…Makes Improvements To The Medicare Program.” AARP said in a press release: “We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services. The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage.” [AARP, 11/18/09]

AARP Warned Seniors Against “Myths and Scare Tactics” In Health Reform Debate, Said “None Of The Health Care Reform Proposals Being Considered By Congress Would Cut Medicare Benefits.” AARP wrote in a myth-vs.-fact health reform website that, “There are special interest groups trying to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics. Like the notion that health care reform would ration your care, hurt Medicare or be a government takeover. Actually, these are false statements.” AARP concluded about the Medicare claim that, “[n]one of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.” [AARP, Myths Vs. Facts]

FACT CHECK BURR: Burr Repeats Multiple Debunked Lies On InsuranceReform

Please see below for a fact check of Senator Burr'sclaims on how thePatients Protection and Affordable Care Act would affect Medicare, small businesses, the deficit and the health care system overall:

Burr: This bill is yet another attempt by Washington Democrats to take over our nation's health care system. The bill cuts Medicare benefits for seniors, increases taxes on small businesses, dramatically increases federal spending, and puts government bureaucrats between patients and their doctors.[Burr Press Release, 11/19/09]

REALITY: HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM DOES NOT CREATE GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE

Politifact: “Obama Health Plan Does Not Call For Government-Run Health Care.” “Obama health plan does not call for government-run health care.” [Politifact, 3/5/09]

Factcheck.org: "President Obama Hasn’t Proposed A Government-Run [Health Care] Plan And, In Fact, Has Rejected The Idea." FactCheck.org: "President Obama hasn’t proposed a government-run [health care] plan and, in fact, has rejected the idea." [FactCheck.org, 5/6/09]

Factcheck.org: President Obama Hasn’t Proposed Government-Run Health Care. FactCheck.org: "We’ve written before about conservatives claiming that Congress, or Obama, or Washington, or Democrats in general want the U.S. to have a Canadian-style, government-run health care system. The truth of the matter is that the president has repeatedly said he doesn’t." [FactCheck.org, 8/10/09]

AMA President-Elect Reassured: Physicians And Patients Don’t Need To Fear The Rise Of A Monolithic Health System With No Choice From President Obama. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that “American Medical Association president-elect Dr. James Rohack told Mississippi doctors Friday…Physicians and patients don't need to fear the rise of a monolithic health system with no choice, because it's not something the American people would accept, Rohack said. The president didn't advocate a single-payer system for the United States at the meeting, Rohack said. Obama said he believes in access to health care for all with a system that is a mix of public and private sources with patients still able to see the physicians of their choice.” [Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 5/30/09]

REALITY: MEDICARE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT BENEFITS, THEY STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

Hospitals Group Refuted CMS Actuary Report: “Hospitals Always Will Stand By Senior Citizens. This Summer, Hospitals Agreed To Contribute Substantial Medicare Savings Are Part Of Our Shared Sacrifice To Reform Health Care.” Politico Live Pulse reported: “The following statement was released today by Chip Kahn, President of the Federation of American Hospitals: Hospitals’ commitment to our mission of serving the health care needs of seniors in communities across America is steadfast. A memorandum recently issued by the CMS Actuary analyzing the effects of “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009” (H.R. 3962) concludes that some providers may end their participation in the Medicare program. Hospitals always will stand by senior citizens. This summer, hospitals agreed to contribute substantial Medicare savings as part of our shared sacrifice to reform health care and achieve near universal coverage for all Americans. We are pleased with the legislative progress as well as the movement towards market-based solutions. And we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to enact legislation that will enable hospitals to continue to provide our patients, including seniors, with ready access to the highest quality health care possible.” [Politico Live Pulse, 11/16/09]

AARP Applauded The Senate For Bill: “Makes Progress Towards Achieving Meaningful Relief For Millions Of Older Americans…Makes Improvements To The Medicare Program.” AARP said in a press release: “We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services. The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage.” [AARP, 11/18/09]

REALITY: SMALL BUSINESSES WIN UNDER REFORM

CBO:Senate Bill Includes $27 Billion Small Business Tax Credit For Providing Coverage. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “The other main element of the coverage provisions that would increase federal deficits is the tax credit for small employers who offer health insurance, which is estimated to reduce revenues by $27 billion over 10 years.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Business Roundtable: Without Reform, Health Care Costs Rise To $28,530 Per Employee, 166% Higher; With Reform, Businesses Could Save $3,000 Per Employeee. A report from the Business Roundtable concluded that: “If the cost trends of the past 10 years repeat, by 2019, employment-based spending on health care at large employers will be 166% higher than today on a per-employee basis. This equates to an average of $28,530 per employee when employer subsidies, employee contributions, and employee out-of-pocket costs are combined. We estimate that if enacted properly, the right legislative reforms could potentially reduce that trend line by more than $3,000 per employee, to $25,435.” [Business Roundtable – Health Care Reform, 11/12/09]

Small Business Majority Study: With Reform, Small Business Will Save As Much As $855 Billion Over The Next 10 Years. Small Business Majority Study: “Without reform, small businesses will pay nearly $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years in healthcare costs for their workers. With reform, the study shows that small businesses can save as much as $855 billion, a reduction of 36 percent, money that can be reinvested to grow the economy.” [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

Small Business Majority Study: Reform Will Reduce The Cost To Small Businesses Of Providing Health Care. "Comprehensive healthcare reform... will reduce the cost to small businesses of providing health insurance to their employees." [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

REALITY: THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL WOULD SLASH THE DEFICIT BY OVER $750 BILLION IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS AND BEND THE COST CURVE OVER THE LONG RUN

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years,” Sen. Kent Conrad Said Sen. Reid Did “An Exceptionally Good Job.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

FACT CHECK HUTCHISON: "Government Takeover"

Willing to try anything to revive her floundering campaign, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is pandering desperately to the extreme right wing of her party, politicizing health insurance reform and calling it a “government takeover of health care.”

Problem is, experts have already debunked this myth. And while she is playing politics with Texans’ health, one in four of her constituents remains uninsured.

Sen. Hutchison: “I’m going to do everything I can to stop the govt. takeover of health care. It’s why I’m staying in the Senate through the primary, at risk to my political future.”

Politifact: “Obama Health Plan Does Not Call For Government-Run Health Care.” “Obama health plan does not call for government-run health care.” [Politifact, 3/5/09]

Factcheck.org: "President Obama Hasn’t Proposed A Government-Run [Health Care] Plan And, In Fact, Has Rejected The Idea." FactCheck.org: "President Obama hasn’t proposed a government-run [health care] plan and, in fact, has rejected the idea." [FactCheck.org, 5/6/09]

Factcheck.org: President Obama Hasn’t Proposed Government-Run Health Care. FactCheck.org: "We’ve written before about conservatives claiming that Congress, or Obama, or Washington, or Democrats in general want the U.S. to have a Canadian-style, government-run health care system. The truth of the matter is that the president has repeatedly said he doesn’t." [FactCheck.org, 8/10/09]

AMA President-Elect Reassured: Physicians And Patients Don’t Need To Fear The Rise Of A Monolithic Health System With No Choice From President Obama. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that “American Medical Association president-elect Dr. James Rohack told Mississippi doctors Friday…Physicians and patients don't need to fear the rise of a monolithic health system with no choice, because it's not something the American people would accept, Rohack said. The president didn't advocate a single-payer system for the United States at the meeting, Rohack said. Obama said he believes in access to health care for all with a system that is a mix of public and private sources with patients still able to see the physicians of their choice.” [Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 5/30/09]

FACT CHECK CHAMBLISS/BROWNBACK: Revisionist History

On the Senate floor today, Senators Chambliss and Brownback agreed with each other that they had never seen a federal program that had come in "on budget." Not only does history prove otherwise, but the non-partisan CBO just found that the Senate Health Care bill would reduce health care costs for families and small businesses and reduce the deficit. See below for a fact check on the Senators’ claim:

RHETORIC: Sens. Chambliss And Brownback Said They Had Never Seen A Federal Program That Had Come In "On Budget." Sen. Saxby Chambliss: "Have you ever seen a federal program that was projected to be at "x" number of dollars of expenditure and had come in on time and on budget?" Sen. Sam Brownback: "No, I haven't." Sen. Saxby Chambliss: "I haven't seen that take place." [Senate Floor, 11/20/09]

REALITY: THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL WOULD SLASH THE DEFICIT BY OVER $750 BILLION IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS AND BEND THE COST CURVE OVER THE LONG RUN

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years,” Sen. Kent Conrad Said Sen. Reid Did “An Exceptionally Good Job.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

REALITY:THREE MAJORFEDERAL HEALTH CARE POLICIESPASSED BY CONGRESS SINCE THE 80s CAME IN UNDER-BUDGET

Savings Were UnderestimatedIn The Federal Health Program Change That WasMade By Congress In The 1980s ThatChanged The Way Medicare Paid Hospitals. "In the early 1980s, Congress changed the way Medicare paid hospitals so that payments would no longer be based on costs incurred. Instead, hospitals would receive a predetermined amount per admission, based on the patient’s primary medical problem. This encouraged shorter stays, led to fewer diagnostic services and reduced administrative costs. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that, from 1983 to 1986, this change would slow Medicare hospital spending (which had been rising much faster than the rate of inflation) by $10 billion, and that by 1986 total spending would be $60 billion. Actual spending in 1986 was $49 billion. The savings in 1986 alone were as much as three years of estimated savings." [Jon Gabel, New York Times op-ed, 8/26/09]

Medicare Savings Were UnderestimatedIn The Balanced Budget Act Of 1997 By 50 Percent In 1998 And 113 Percent In 1999."In the 1990s, the biggest change in Medicare came with the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, a compromise between a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democratic administration. At the time, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that, from 1998 to 2002, the act would reduce Medicare spending by $112 billion — a 9.1 percent reduction. Part of that — $36 billion worth — would come from paying skilled nursing facilities and home health care services a set fee per patient. But only a tiny fraction of the savings, about $100 million, would come from better monitoring of fraud and abuse on the part of health care providers, according to budget office projections. The actual savings turned out to be 50 percent greater in 1998 and 113 percent greater in 1999 than the budget office forecast. Overall spending increased just 1.2 percent from 1998 to 2000, rather than 5.6 percent, as was projected." [Jon Gabel, New York Times op-ed, 8/26/09]

TheCost Of The Medicare Prescription Drug Bill Overestimated By 40 Percent. "In the current decade, the major legislative change to the system was the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which added a prescription drug benefit. In assessing how much this new program would cost, the Congressional Budget Office assumed that prices would rise as patients demanded more drugs, and estimated that spending on the drug benefit would be $206 billion. Actual spending was nearly 40 percent less than that. Spending on drugs declined from fiscal year 2007 to 2008. Seniors proved more willing to buy lower-cost generic drugs than expected, fewer people participated in the program than expected, and competition held premiums down." [Jon Gabel, New York Times op-ed, 8/26/09]

FACT CHECK BARRASSO: Medicare

Please see below for a fact check of the claims made by Senator Barrasso on the floor of the Senate just now on how thePatients Protection and Affordable Care Act would affect Medicare:

Sen. Barrasso: “When you look at the details of this bill, this is going to cut almost $500 billion. $500 Billion from our seniors who depend on Medicare for their health care.” [Barrasso Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: MEDICARE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT BENEFITS

AARP: Statement That Reform Would Cut Medicare Benefits Is “Misleading And Alarmist,” And “The Proposed Medicare Savings Do Not Limit Benefits, They Do Not Impose Rationing.” The Wall Street Journal reported that, “[t]he Republican Party issued a new salvo in the health debate Monday with a ‘seniors' health care bill of rights’ that opposed any moves to trim Medicare spending or limit end-of-life care to seniors. Intended as a political shot at President Barack Obama, the Republican National Committee manifesto marks a remarkable turnaround for a party that had once fought to trim the health program for the elderly and disabled, which last year cost taxpayers over $330 billion…The country's largest lobbying group for seniors, AARP, said it welcomed the RNC's commitment to protect Medicare. But the group, which supports efforts to overhaul the health-care system, also dismissed the RNC statement as misleading and alarmist. ‘Change by itself is anxiety producing, but as we have analyzed the various bills [before Congress], the proposed Medicare savings do not limit benefits, they do not impose rationing and they do not put the government between patients and their doctors,’ said John Rother, AARP's executive vice president.” [Wall Street Journal, 8/25/09]

Hospitals Group Refuted CMS Actuary Report: “Hospitals Always Will Stand By Senior Citizens. This Summer, Hospitals Agreed To Contribute Substantial Medicare Savings Are Part Of Our Shared Sacrifice To Reform Health Care.” Politico Live Pulse reported: “The following statement was released today by Chip Kahn, President of the Federation of American Hospitals: Hospitals’ commitment to our mission of serving the health care needs of seniors in communities across America is steadfast. A memorandum recently issued by the CMS Actuary analyzing the effects of “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009” (H.R. 3962) concludes that some providers may end their participation in the Medicare program. Hospitals always will stand by senior citizens. This summer, hospitals agreed to contribute substantial Medicare savings as part of our shared sacrifice to reform health care and achieve near universal coverage for all Americans. We are pleased with the legislative progress as well as the movement towards market-based solutions. And we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to enact legislation that will enable hospitals to continue to provide our patients, including seniors, with ready access to the highest quality health care possible.” [Politico Live Pulse, 11/16/09]

Medicare Advantage Health Economist: 86 Percent Of Extra MA Payments Went To Profits, Only 14 Percent Went To Extra Benefits – “Cuts To MA Should Be A No Brainer.” Health Economist Austin Frakt, a professor at Boston University, has studied Medicare Advantage plans extensively and wrote on his blog about his findings: “Payment to MA plans has gone way up since 2003. Did the payment increase largely benefit beneficiaries or not? This is a current political and policy debate, about which much has been written in the media (both traditional and blogospheric). It turns out the answer is known and quantifiable. Mywork (with Steve Pizer and Roger Feldman) shows that for each additional dollar spent by the federal government (taxpayers) on the program since 2003, just $0.14 of it can be attributed to additional value (consumer surplus) to beneficiaries (see also: findings brief). What do we make of the other $0.86? That goes to the insurance companies but doesn’t come out “the other end” in the form of value to beneficiaries. In part it is accounted for by the costs of the additional benefits and in part it is captured as additional insurer profit. So, do higher MA paymentsproduce little value to beneficiaries, as Obama claims, or are the benefits they fund important to maintain, as Republicans would have us believe? The balance of the evidence is on Obama’s side. In fact, it is a landslide: for each dollar spent, 14% of the value reaches beneficiaries and 86% ofit goeselsewhere (profit or cost). Cuts to MA should be a no brainer.” [Incidental Economist - Austin Frakt, 9/28/09]

REALITY: REFORM WOULD STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

CBO On Senate Bill: Medicare Savings Amount To $491 Billion. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Other components of the legislation would alter spending under Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs…In total, CBO estimates that enacting those provisions would reduce direct spending by $491 billion over the 2010-2019 period.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Senate Bill Includes $500 Shrinkage Of Medicare Prescription Drug Donut Hole In 2010. Politico Live Pulse reported that, “[i]n what can be viewed as an election-year sweetener for senior citizens, the coverage gapin the Medicare prescription drug program would shrink by $500 in 2010 only under the Senate bill. A Senate leadership aide described it as a ‘downpayment’ on closing the donut hole. ‘Our goal is to get it closer to the House bill,’ which would eliminate the coverage gap over the next decade, the aide said.” [Politico Live Pulse, 11/18/09]

AARP CEO: House Bill “Includes Critical Priorities For Seniors…Provides And Strengthens Medicare For Today’s Seniors And Future Generations.” The Hill reported on AARP’s endorsement of House Democratic health reform. AARP CEO A. Barry Rand said, “[t]his bill includes critical priorities for seniors – critical – ensures quality, affordable health coverage options for all Americans, provides and strengthens Medicare for today’s seniors and future generations and puts us on a path to improving our long-term health system.” [The Hill, 11/5/09]

New York Times: Reform Will Enhance Drug Coverage, Reduce Premiums, and Help Keep Medicare Solvent. “Far from harming elderly Americans, the various reform bills now pending should actually make Medicare better for most beneficiaries — by enhancing their drug coverage, reducing the premiums they pay for drugs and medical care, eliminating co-payments for preventive services and helping keep Medicare solvent, among other benefits.” [New York Times, Editorial, 9/27/09]

FACT CHECK GREGG – GREGG IGNORES CBO

Despite praising the CBO as “objective” and “non-partisan”, New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, speaking against health care reform on the Senate floor today,cited skewed data crafted by Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee which drastically and inaccurately inflates the cost of the bill over data from the independent Congressional Budget Office he previously praised. See below for more on Senator Gregg's distortions:

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed Actual Cost Was $2.5 Trillion, From CBO: “That's a lot of money, $897 billion or or $800 billion-plus. But that's not a real number. That's a phony number. That's a bait-and-switch number… well, when that occurs, this bill costs by CBO's estimate $2.5 trillion.” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Used “CBO’s Objective, Non-Partisan Analysis” To Criticize President Obama’s 2010 Budget.In a press release, Sen. Gregg said, “[t]oday’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the President’s complete Fiscal Year 2010 budget as submitted to Congress on May 7th again paints a bleak picture for the U.S. economy in the years ahead, as spending and borrowing result in publicly-held debt tripling by 2019…’CBO’s objective, non-partisan analysis again raises red flags that we cannot continue to ignore. The President’s economic agenda is unrealistic, unsustainable, and will crush economic opportunities for our children and grandchildren unless we take action to get our fiscal house in order.’” [Press Release, 6/17/09]

REALITY: SEN. GREGG HAS NO PROBLEM MAKING UP NUMBERS FOR CBO, EVEN THOUGH HE SAID THEY WERE “OBJECTIVE, NON-PARTISAN.”

Claim That Senate Bill Would Cost $2.5 Trillion Was Generated By Senate Budget Committee Republicans, Not CBO. Fox News reported that, “Republicans have countered the CBO estimate with a figure of their own: $2.5 trillion, an estimate that comes out of the Senate Budget Committee minority's analysis of Reid's plan.” [Fox News, 11/19/09]

CBO On Senate Bill: “Net Cost Itself Reflects A Gross Total Of $848 Billion”—Not $2.5 Trillion. [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed States Would Lose Out Under Reform Because Of Medicaid Expansion: “The states, the states are just going to be taken to the cleaners by this bill. The allegation that you're going to expand Medicaid by 20 million to 30 million people and the states aren't going to end up paying a huge bill as a result of that?” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: STATE MEDICAID PROGRAMS BENEFIT UNDER REFORM

CBO On Senate Bill: Federal Government Would Cover On Average 90% Of Additional Medicaid Costs, Up From 57% Currently; Federal Money Would Cover Higher Proportion Of CHIP Costs, Increasing From An Average Of 70 Percent To 93 Percent. The CBO concluded that the Senate reform legislation affected Medicaid in the following way: “Starting in 2014, most nonelderly people with income below 133 percent of the FPL would be made eligible for Medicaid. The federal government would pay all of the costs of covering newly eligible enrollees through 2016; in subsequent years, the share of federal spending would vary somewhat from year to year but ultimately would average about 90 percent. (Under current rules, the federal government usually pays about 57 percent, on average, of the costs of Medicaid benefits.)…Beginning in 2014, states would receive higher federal reimbursement for CHIP beneficiaries, increasing from an average of 70 percent to 93 percent. CBO estimates that state spending on Medicaid would increase by about $25 billion.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

“Senate Staff Members Say The Governors Are Being Heard, And That Measures To Cut Other Health Care Costs In The Legislation Will Eventually Alleviate Their Concerns” On Added Medicaid Burden. The New York Times reported on nervousness from state governors based on concerns that some of the costs of Medicaid expansion would be shouldered by beleaguered states: “Senate staff members say the governors are being heard, and that measures to cut other health care costs in the legislation will eventually alleviate their concerns.” [New York Times, 8/7/09]

REALITY: WITHOUT REFORM, STATE BUDGETS WILL COLLAPSE

Study: If Reform Fails, “All States Would See Their Medicaid/CHIP Costs Rise By More Than 75 Percent From 2009 To 2019. Half The States Would Face Cost Increases Of More Than 100 Percent.” The Robert-Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute completed a study on the potential costs to states if health reform failed. The main findings for health care spending were: “In the worst case, all states would see their Medicaid/CHIP costs rise by more than 75 percent from 2009 to 2019. Half the states would face cost increases of more than 100 percent. Even in the best case, 13 states would experience Medicaid/CHIP cost growth of more than 65 percent. In the worst case, uncompensated care costs would more than double from 2009 to 2019 in 45 states. Even in the best case, uncompensated care would increase by more than 50 percent in 48 states.” [RWJF: The Cost Of Failure, 9/28/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed That Senate Bill Would Force Everyone Into Public Plan Eventually: “Well, it does what this bill is basically intended to do. It will force employers to drop private insurance and push people over onto the public plan, and that when you get down to it is what this is all about. This is an exercise at having the federal government basically get control over all health care, and it's being done in a -- in an incremental way.” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: CBO SAID PUBLIC OPTION WOULD ENROLL ONLY 3 TO 4 MILLION

CBO On Senate Bill: Public Plan Would Enroll Between 3 And 4 Million. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Roughly one out of eight people purchasing coverage through the exchanges would enroll in the public plan, CBO estimates, meaning that total enrollment in that plan would be 3 million to 4 million.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Wall Street Analyst To Health Insurance Industry: Public Option “Looks Like A [Blue Cross Blue Shield] Plan,” Which Are “Strong Competitors For Private Insurers, But Not Deadly Ones.” The New York Times Prescriptions Blog wrote, “[i]n a report sent to investors earlier this week, a Wall Street analyst, Richard Evans, concludes that the health insurance industry should probably not worry much about the prospect of a government-run health plan — at least not as it now is taking shape in Congress. As things stands now, Mr. Evans notes, the proposed legislation does not call for the new government-run plan, or public option, to be able to demand the same low prices that Medicare gets from doctors and hospitals. Private insurers have argued that Medicare-pegged rates would give the public option an unfair advantage over their plans… ‘It appears the public option would be required to negotiate price with providers, pay back its start-up capital, cover its operating costs, and earn sufficient reserves,’ wrote Mr. Evans, a managing partner for Sector & Sovereign. ‘In other words, it looks like a Blues plan.’ Mr. Evans writes that the not-for-profit Blue Cross plans may be strong competitors for private insurers, but not deadly ones. Where they operate, he notes, they tend to have the largest share of the market but seem to be able to co-exist with for-profit insurance companies. ‘This suggests that a not-for profit public option has some enrollment advantages over for-profit commercial insurers, but that the effect is modest,’ he wrote.” [New York Times Prescriptions Blog, 11/3/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed Reform Was All About A Washington Takeover Of Health Care: “And this bill is all about moving power here to Washington. That's what this legislation is about. It's about centralizing the decision process, the national decision process on health care.” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: SUCH FEARS ARE BASELESS AND IRRESPONSIBLE

Fox’s Shep Smith To Sen. John Barrasso: “It’s Not A Government Takeover, Senator! That’s Not Fair And We Both Know It.” Fox News’ Shep Smith confronted Sen. John Barrasso over his boilerplate GOP talking points calling health reform a “government takeover,” and said: “SMITH: It’s not a government takeover, Senator! That’s not fair and we both know it. It’s not a government takeover because what it would be is a government option if you have insurance now and you like it you can keep it…That’s not a government take over if we’re being fair is it, Senator?...As the costs have gone up, the insurance industry’s profits on average have gone up more than 350 percent and it’s the insurance companies which have paid and have contributed to Senators and congressman on both sides of the aisle to the point where now, we can’t get…what more than 60 percent of Americans say they support, is a public option. This has been an enormous win for the health care industry. That is an unquestioned fact.” [FOX News, 10/6/09]

Sen. Frist Now Makes “Three Former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Who Have Endorsed The Sorts Of Reforms President And His Allies Are Pushing…For All Of The Crazy Talk About A Radical Government Takeover, Health Care Reform 2009 Is An Amalgam Of Compromises.” Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic noted that, “[f]or those keeping a tally, that's three former Republican Senate Majority Leaders who have endorsed the sorts of reforms President Obama and his allies are pushing. Previously, Howard Baker and Bob Dole signed on to a plan they negotiated with Tom Daschle and George Mitchell, former Democratic counterparts, through the auspices of the Biparitsan Policy Center. And this is as it should be. For all of the crazy talk about a radical government takeover, health care reform 2009 is an amalgam of compromises, many based on ideas taken straight from former Republican proposals--the kind of proposal, in other words, at least a few Republicans should be able to embrace in good faith. Now if only some currently serving members of the party could take a cue from the retired elder statesmen.” [The New Republic, 10/2/09]

Sen. Dole: “I Want This To Pass…I Don’t Agree With Everything Obama Is Presenting, But We’ve Got To Do Something…I Don’t Want The Republicans Putting Up A ‘No’ Sign And Saying, ‘We’re Not Open For Business.’” Former Senate Majority Leader Bob “Dole, to his credit, is having none of it. ‘I want this to pass,’ he said. ‘I don't agree with everything Obama is presenting, but we've got to do something.’ He added: ‘I don't want the Republicans putting up a “no” sign and saying, “we're not open for business.”’” [Kansas City Star, 10/7/09]

FactCheck.org: Under Obama’s Health Care Plan, “Nobody Would Be Forced To Drop His Or Her Current Insurance.” “Obama has long said he would allow individuals or small businesses to buy insurance through a public plan – like the one now available to members of Congress. But nobody would be forced to drop his or her current insurance, and private plans would exist as they do now. This was the health care plan he promoted as a presidential candidate.” [FactCheck.org, 5/1/09]

AMA President-Elect Reassured: Physicians And Patients Don’t Need To Fear The Rise Of A Monolithic Health System With No Choice From President Obama. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that “American Medical Association president-elect Dr. James Rohack told Mississippi doctors Friday…Physicians and patients don't need to fear the rise of a monolithic health system with no choice, because it's not something the American people would accept, Rohack said. The president didn't advocate a single-payer system for the United States at the meeting, Rohack said. Obama said he believes in access to health care for all with a system that is a mix of public and private sources with patients still able to see the physicians of their choice.” [Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 5/30/09]

That Was Fast...

Not even three full hours have passed on the Senate’s first day of debate on health insurance reform and ALREADY Arizona Senator Jon Kyl is promising zero support for the Senate’s bill from the Party of NO. Speaking moments ago on Fox News, Sen. Kyl stated unequivocally that “every single republican will oppose this bill.” As the second-in-command of Senate Republicans we’re inclined to believe Kyl’s promise that the Party of NO will maintain its record of opposition, despite the fact that his GOP colleagues continue to feign an interest in bipartisanship on the Senate floor.

While the GOP may think it’s a politically expedient to just-say-no to health reform and bet on its failure, Democrats in the Senate and the President are working hard to achieve the best possible legislation to address the problems plaguing our health care system including skyrocketing health care costs, out-of-pocket expenses that are bankrupting American families and businesses and discriminatory insurance company practices that deny care to those who need it most.

For more on how the Senate’s bill benefits all Americans – and what Republicans are willing to deny the American people for the sake of politics - see below:

CBO On Senate Bill: 94% Coverage, 31 Million Newly Insured. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured would be reduced by about 31 million, leaving about 24 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants). Under the legislation, the share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage would rise from about 83 percent currently to about 94 percent. About 25 million people would purchase their own coverage through the new insurance exchanges, and there would be roughly 15 million more enrollees in Medicaid and CHIP than is projected under current law.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

CBO On Senate Bill: Medicare Savings Amount To $491 Billion. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Other components of the legislation would alter spending under Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs…In total, CBO estimates that enacting those provisions would reduce direct spending by $491 billion over the 2010-2019 period.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Senate Bill Includes $500 Shrinkage Of Medicare Prescription Drug Donut Hole In 2010. Politico Live Pulse reported that, “[i]n what can be viewed as an election-year sweetener for senior citizens, the coverage gapin the Medicare prescription drug program would shrink by $500 in 2010 only under the Senate bill. A Senate leadership aide described it as a ‘downpayment’ on closing the donut hole. ‘Our goal is to get it closer to the House bill,’ which would eliminate the coverage gap over the next decade, the aide said.” [Politico Live Pulse, 11/18/09]

CBO On Senate Bill: Public Plan Would Enroll Between 3 And 4 Million. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Roughly one out of eight people purchasing coverage through the exchanges would enroll in the public plan, CBO estimates, meaning that total enrollment in that plan would be 3 million to 4 million.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

FACT CHECK ENZI - Cost of Reform

Please see below for a fact check responding to Senator Enzi’s claims on the Senate floor just now that the proposed health insurance reforms would raise taxes and increase premiums for millions of Americans. In reality, numerous independent sources have documented that this legislation would slow the growth of health care costs and provide a net-benefit to American families without raising taxes.

RHETORIC: Sen. Mike Enzi Claimed Costs & Taxes Would Be Increased Under Reform: “The authors of the bill clearly believe that the greatest problem in our current health care system is that we don't pay enough taxes for our health care…The problem with our current health system is not that we don't pay enough taxes. Americans actually want to lower their health care costs…Taken together, these insurance changes will increase costs for millions of Americans.” [Enzi Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: COSTS & TAXES ARE NOT RAISED BY REFORM, AMERICAN FAMILIES WOULD COME OUT AHEAD

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

After First Decade, Senate Bill Savings Of Reform Would Amount To $650 Billion. The Washington Post reported that, “Democratic leaders were jubilant that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office determined that the Senate bill would cut federal deficits by $130 billion over the next decade. That projection, released shortly before midnight Wednesday, represents the biggest cost savings of any legislation to come before the House or Senate this year, but the measure's effective date also was pushed back by one year, to 2014. Democrats said the savings could prove more significant in the long run, though the CBO said they ‘would probably be small,’ amounting to around 0.25 percent of the overall economy, or no more than $650 billion between 2019 and 2029.” [Washington Post, 11/19/09]

CBO On Senate Bill: Medicare Savings Amount To $491 Billion. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Other components of the legislation would alter spending under Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs…In total, CBO estimates that enacting those provisions would reduce direct spending by $491 billion over the 2010-2019 period.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The [Cost] Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

23 Of Nation’s Most Well-Respected Health Economists: “We Believe That It Is Important To Enact Health Reform…[It] Will Lower Health Care Costs And Help Reduce Deficits Over The Long Term.” In a letter to the President, 23 of the nation’s most well-respected health economists said: “As economists, we believe that it is important to enact health reform, and it is essential that health reform include these four features [deficit neutrality, excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, independent Medicare commission, delivery system reforms] that will lower health care costs and help reduce deficits over the long term.” [Letter from 23 economists, 11/17/09]

Group Of 23 Economists Included “Republicans, Democrats, Former Bush Administration Officials And Nobel Laureates,” All Of Their Recommendations Are Included In Legislation. In a Washington Post Op-Ed, Peter Orszag noted that, “the Office of Management and Budget reached out to 23 of the nation's most prominent economists -- a group that included Republicans, Democrats, former Bush administration officials and Nobel laureates -- to get views on the four elements critical to reducing long-term health-care costs while improving the quality of care for all Americans. Each of the steps endorsed by this bipartisan group is embodied in the legislation under consideration.” [Washington Post Op-Ed, 11/19/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Enzi: “In looking at more modest provisions included in the senate finance bill, nationally recognized accounting and business consulting firms found that these changes would increase insurance premiums by 20% to 50%.” [Enzi Floor Speech, 11/20/09]

REALITY: Sen. Enzi Continued To Cite Widely Discredited And Derided “Studies” Funded By Insurance Industry.

Newer BCBS Study Is “Not As Deceptive As The Last One,” But Left Out Key Parts Of Analysis To Change The Outcome, Which Is Exactly What PriceWaterhouseCoopers Study Did Too. New Republic writer Jonathan Cohn wrote that insurance companies, “seem to be trying the same stunt again, with a brand new study. It's not as deceptive as the last one. But it's not going to win any points for intellectual honesty, either. This time the study's sponsor is the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), rather than America's Health InsurancePrograms. The hired gun accounting firm is Oliver Wyman, instead of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. But the message is the same as before:Pass reform, as currently envisioned, and insurance premiums will go way up…The big problem with the PriceWaterhouseCoopers study, you may recall, was that it treated certain elements of reform in isolation, leaving out key parts that would have changed the outcome. Unbelievably--or, perhaps, all too believably--Oliver Wyman does the exact same thing.” [The New Republic, 10/15/09]

The Plum Line: “AHIP Again Cites Widely-Criticized “Study” — After Its Author Undercut It.” “Looks like the saga surrounding the widely criticized study funded by the insurance industry has taken another turn, this time into low tragicomedy, if such a genre exists. It was bad enough that America’s Health Insurance Plans, the leading industry group, took a big hit for essentially purchasing a study supposedly showing that the reform proposals would result in hiked premiums. Things got worse when the study’s hired-gun author, PricewaterhouseCoopers, released a statement undercutting its own client by admitting it had only evaluated a small chunk of the bill. It’s kind of a perfect coda to this whole affair for AHIP to cite the study after its own author undercut it (and no reiteration of the fact that AHIP funded it, either). This points to an interesting subplot of the health care wars: The transformation of the health insurance industry from a fearsomely powerful interest group — one that helped torpedo reform in the 1990s — into a seemingly less influential force that’s piggybacking onto history and even comes across at times as a figure of derision. It’s another sign of the march of time — and of reform.” [Washington Post, “The Plum Line,” 10/13/09]

ABC News: “Health Care Experts With Whom ABC News Spoke Overwhelmingly Rejected The Methodology Of The Insurance Industry Study By Accounting And Consulting Firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.” On ABC News, Jake Tapper reported that, “Health care experts with whom ABC News spoke overwhelmingly rejected the methodology of the insurance industry study by accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.” [ABC News, 10/12/09]

Politifact: AHIP Report Ignores Key Facts, Managed To “Isolated Aspects Of The Bill Without Considering The Overall Effects…The Report Even Acknowledges That.” Politifact wrote, “The Obama administration attacked the [AHIP] report as a last-ditch effort to derail reform. ‘I was disappointed to see that the health insurance industry had contrived a report like this at the last minute, right on the eve of a historic vote,’ said Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform. The report ‘ignores some of the key policies that are part of the Senate Finance Committee bill, such as the health insurance exchange, which is really a central feature that allows people to be pooled together to save administrative costs and to lower people's cost in achieving getting coverage,’ DeParle said…DeParle's criticism is that the report doesn't consider other parts of the bill that would lower costs for consumers. In particular, she points to health insurance exchanges, online marketplaces where people could comparison-shop for policies that meet their preferences for coverage and cost. We read the report and found that DeParle is correct. The report does isolate aspects of the bill without considering the overall effects. It does not appear to consider how incentives or administrative efficiencies could result in reduced costs. The report even acknowledges that…DeParle criticized the health insurance industry report on the grounds that it was an incomplete analysis. She said it ‘ignores some of the key policies that are part of the Senate Finance Committee bill.’ The report itself admits as much. We rate her statement True.” [Politifact, 10/13/09]

Associated Press: “Health Insurers Cherry-Pick Facts.” The Associated Press wrote a fact check on AHIP’s study and associated TV ad attacking health reform efforts, with the heading, “Health Insurers Cherry-Pick Facts.” The AP wrote that, “[i]n its assaults on a Democratic health care overhaul bill, the insurance industry uses facts selectively and mixes accurate assertions with misleading spin and an embrace of worst-case scenarios. Take the 30-second TV spot that America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's trade group, was running this week in six states as the Senate Finance Committee approved overhaul legislation…the announcer adds, ‘The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says many seniors will see cuts in benefits.’ Words flash on the screen for three seconds saying, ‘50 percent reduction in extra benefits.’ The announcer's words are true — but could be easily misunderstood to mean that basic Medicare coverage is at risk. The ad also fails to mention the reason senators targeted Medicare Advantage for savings: The program is expensive for the government to administer, costing about 14 percent more per recipient than regular Medicare…Yet concluding that providers will pass the full cost of these changes to their customers ignores a basic assumption of the health overhaul effort. The goal is to increase competition and reduce the rate of growth currently assumed in medical costs. If the overall legislation succeeds in doing that, there would be less incentive for providers to pass on those costs — and more incentives for them to compete by keeping prices low.” [Associated Press, 10/15/09]

Gregg Complains About Debt He Helped Create

On Fox News this morning, Senator Judd Gregg continued his hypocritical assaults on the Senate health care billand the deficit. Gregg called the CBO numbers a "game of bait and switch" even though the CBO found that the bill would not only be deficit neutral in the first 10 years but it would also significantly reduce the rate of growth in health care spending, leading to more than $750 billion in savingsover the next 20 years. WhileGregg seems to enjoycomplaining aboutthe debt and about a bill that would not add a dime to the deficit in the first 10 years, we'd love to hearhim explainhissupport forthe Bush administrationagenda thatexploded the debt and left the Obama administration with the worth economic crisis since the Great Depression.

RHETORIC: Gregg Called The CBO A "Game Of Bait And Switch" And Said "The Country Is Headed Toward Insolvency If We Continue To Spend Money That We Do Not Have." Sen. Judd Gregg, on the bill being deficit neutral over 10 years, said"That is actually theCBO numbers. There is a game of bait and switch going on. ... This country is headed toward insolvency if we continue to spend money that we do not have. We are about to raise the debt ceiling here. We are about to go past 80% of GDP. That is basically a situation that is not sustainable. So what happens is, our children will be given a country where they have a lesser quality of life because they will either have to inflate the money supply or massively have to raise taxes, both of which reduces productivity, job growth, and quality of life." [Fox News, 11/20/09]

REALITY: THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL WOULD SLASH THE DEFICIT BY OVER $750 BILLION IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS AND BEND THE COST CURVE OVER THE LONG RUN

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years,” Sen. Kent Conrad Said Sen. Reid Did “An Exceptionally Good Job.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

REALITY: GREGG SUPPORTED THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AGENDA THAT EXPLODED THE DEBT, AND LEFT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WITH A $1.3 TRILLION BUDGET DEFICIT

Gregg Voted for 5 of 5 Bush Budgets Totaling $12 Trillion In Spending. Senator Judd Gregg voted five times for President Bush’s budget plan, supporting five of the five budgets under a Republican controlled Congress and presidency and totaling $12 trillion in government spending. [2001 Senate Vote #98, 5/10/01, 2003 Senate Vote #134, 4/11/03; 2004 Senate Vote #58, 3/12/04; 2005 Senate Vote #114, 4/28/05; 2006 Senate Vote #74, 3/16/06]

The Bush Administration Added More Than $4 Trillion To The National Debt, Almost Doubling It. "With no fanfare and little notice, the national debt has grown by more than $4 trillion during George W. Bushs presidency. Its the biggest increase under any president in U.S history. On the day President Bush took office, the national debt stood at $5.727 trillion. The latest number from the Treasury Department shows the national debt now stands at more than $9.849 trillion. Thats a 71.9 percent increase on Mr. Bushs watch." [CBS News,

9/29/08]

CBO: Obama Administration Inherited $1.2 Trillion Budget Deficit From Bush Administration-Largest Ever. For fiscal year 2009, which began on October 1st of 2008, the federal government will run $1.2 trillion in the red, said the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in a “dire projection” on Jan. 7th 2009. As a percentage of gross domestic product, the 2009 budget deficit is the largest since WWII, but in dollar terms it is the largest ever. [Christian Science Monitor, 1/7/09; Washington Post, 2/26/09; Associated Press, 1/7/09]

    • Cantor Admitted That During The Bush Administration They Blew It "In Terms Of Restoring Fiscal Sanity." When asked why he voted "yes" for 46,000 Bush-era earmarks, Cantor said he had "clearly" made mistakes and a delivered a moderate mea culpa on deficit spending during Bush times. "Did we blow it in terms of restoring fiscal sanity? Absolutely," he said, explaining, "We were in a time, I think, when the responsibility then was to make sure we could provide the money for the troops." [Politico, 3/15/09]

Hatch Hatches More Distortions on Health Care

For the second time today, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (R) has taken to the airwaves to peddle more Republican distortions on health insurance reform - this time from the Senate floor. Speaking on the floor tonight, Hatch claimed that Republcians supported ending the unfair insurance industry practice of denying people coverage based on pre-existing conditions even though House Republcians offered an alternative recently that failed to do just that. Hatch also said that the Senate bill would spennd $5 trillion while the Congrssional Budget Office concluded that it would reduce the budget deficit by as much as $777 billion over 20 years and would bend the cost curve on health care spending over the long haul. See below for more on Hatch's health reform distortions.

RHETORIC: Hatch Said That Republicans Agree With Democrats That Reform Should Stop Insurers From Denying Coverage Based On Pre-Existing Conditions. Sen. Orrin Hatch: "There are several areas of consensus that can form the basis for a sustainable, fiscally responsible, and bipartisan reform. These include reforming the health insurance for every American by making sure no American is denied coverage based on a preexisting condition." [Senate Floor, 11/19/09]

RHETORIC: Hatch Said That Spending $5 Trillion To Reform The Health Care System “Doesn’t Make Sense.” “Republicans in Congress agree with the majority of Americans who believe that throwing more hard-earned taxpayers dollars at a problem will not deliver meaningful reform. Simply telling the American people that the solution for solving a $2 trillion health care system is to simply spend $5 trillion, it just doesn't make sense.” [Senate Floor, 11/19/09]

REALITY: THE REPUBLICAN ALTERNATIVE WOULD ALLOW INSURERSTO CONTINUE TO DENY COVERAGEBASED ONPRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS AND KICK PEOPLE OFF THEIR COVERAGE WHEN THEY GET SICK

NYT: “The House Republican Bill Would Not Explicitly Prohibit Insurers From Denying Coverage To People Because Of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions, Even Though Many Republicans Have Said They Agree With Democrats That The Federal Government Should Outlaw Such Denials.” The New York Times reported on the House Republicans’ alternative health legislation: “It is almost surely cheaper than the House Democrats’ bill because, unlike that proposal, it would not expand Medicaid or offer federal subsidies to low- and middle-income people to help them buy insurance. Nor would the Republican bill impose new taxes. The House Republican bill would not explicitly prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people because of pre-existing medical conditions, even though many Republicans have said they agree with Democrats that the federal government should outlaw such denials.” [New York Times, 11/4/09]

Roll Call On GOP Alternative: “People With Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Would Pay Up To 50 Percent More Than Average For Insurance Coverage…States Would Face A Massive, Partially Funded Mandate.” Roll Call reported on the GOP alternative health reform legislation: “People with pre-existing medical conditions would pay up to 50 percent more than average for insurance coverage under a draft version of House Republicans’ health care plan…According to the draft, states would face a massive, partially funded mandate to subsidize high-risk insurance pools to cover people denied coverage by insurance companies with ‘a stable funding source.’ Those rates would be capped at 50 percent higher than average premiums for standard-risk insurance in a given state.” [Roll Call, 11/3/09]

GOP Alternative Doesn’t Prohibit Rescissions; Asks Insurers To Notify The Patient They Are Being Dropped, And Offers Third Party Board To Hear Appeals After Being Dropped By Insurer. “If a health insurance issuer determines to nonrenew or not continue in force, including rescind, health insurance coverage for an individual in the individual market on the basis described in section 2742(b)(2) before such nonrenewal, discontinuation, or rescission, may take effect the issuer shall provide the individual with notice of such proposed nonrenewal, discontinuation, or rescission and an opportunity for a review of such determination by an independent, external third party under procedures specified by the Secretary. (b) INDEPENDENT DETERMINATION – If the individual requests such review by an independent, external third party of a nonrenewal, discontinuation, or rescission of health insurance coverage, the coverage shall remain in effect until such third party determines that the coverage may be nonrenewed, discontinued, or rescinded under section 2742(b)(2).” [GOP Reform Alternative, 11/3/09]

REALITY: THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL WOULD SLASH THE DEFICIT BY OVER $750 BILLION IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS AND BEND THE COST CURVE OVER THE LONG RUN

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years,” Sen. Kent Conrad Said Sen. Reid Did “An Exceptionally Good Job.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]

Boehner's Abortion Distortion

After his failed attempt to distort and derail health insurance reform in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner is now turning his attention to the Senate bill where his distortions are, and we can barely believe it’s possible to say this, even farther removed from reality. Writing on the GOP Leader Blog today, John Boehner falsely stated that the Senate health reform bill would lead to a “monthly abortion fee” – a notion as ridiculous as it is inaccurate. In fact, the Senate bill specifically states that insurance plans will not be allowed to offer abortion services without proof that “no federal funds are used for such coverage.” And as Roll Call reported today, under Senator Reid's plan abortions will not be paid for with federal taxes and public insurance planswill only pay for abortions “…if the money could be segregated so no federal tax dollars are used for the services.”

With such clear evidence to the contrary, we’d like to believe that this is the last time we’ll hear this scare-tactic from Boehner and the Party of NO… but since all Republicans have to offer are more lies, we’re not counting on it.

Rep. Boehner Claimed “Sen. Reid’s Government-Run Health Plan Requires A Monthly Abortion Fee.” Rep. Boehner wrote on his GOP Leader blog a post titled, “Sen. Reid’s Government-Run Health Plan Requires A Monthly Abortion Fee,” writing that, “[b]eginning on line 7, p. 118, section 1303 under ‘Voluntary Choice of Coverage of Abortion Services’ the Health and Human Services Secretary is given the authority to determine when abortion is allowed under the government-run health plan. Leader Reid’s plan also requires that at least one insurance plan offered in the Exchange covers abortions (line 13, p. 120). What is even more alarming is that a monthly abortion premium will be charged of all enrollees in the government-run health plan. It’s right there beginning on line 11, page 122, section 1303, under ‘Actuarial Value of Optional Service Coverage.’ The premium will be paid into a U.S. Treasury account – and these federal funds will be used to pay for the abortion services. Section 1303(a)(2)(C) describes the process in which the Health Benefits Commissioner is to assess the monthly premiums that will be used to pay for elective abortions under the government-run health plan and for those who are given an affordability credit to purchase insurance coverage that includes abortion through the Exchange. The Commissioner must charge at a minimum $1 per enrollee per month.” [GOP Leader Blog, 11/19/09]

REALITY: BOEHNER IS LYING OR JUST WRONG ON ABORTION FUNDING IN SENATE BILL

Senate Bill: Plans Will Not Be Allowed To Offer Abortion Unless It Can Be Confirmed That “No Federal Funds Are Used For Such Coverage.” The Senate health reform bill stated clearly: “PROHIBITION ON FEDERAL FUNDS FOR ABORTION SERVICES IN COMMUNITY HEALTH INSURANCE OPTION. - …The Secretary [of Health and Human Services] may not…provide coverage of services…unless the Secretary - … assures, in accordance with applicable provisions of generally accepted accounting requirements, circulars on funds management of the Office of Management and Budget, and guidance on accounting of the Government Accountability Office, that no Federal funds are used for such coverage.” [Patient Protection Affordable Care Act, HR 3590, 11/18/09]

Roll Call On Senate Abortion Section: “The Procedure Would Have To Be Paid For With Money Derived From Premiums Instead Of Federal Taxes;" Public Insurance Option Could Pay For Abortions "Only If The Money Could Be Segregated So No Federal Tax Dollars Are Used For The Services.” Roll Call reported that, “[t]he Senate version, unveiled Wednesday evening by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), would allow women receiving federal subsidies the option to choose insurance plans covering abortion in a new health insurance exchange. The procedure would have to be paid for with money derived from premiums instead of federal taxes. And the Senate bill allows the public insurance option to pay for abortions, but only if the money could be segregated so no federal tax dollars are used for the services.” [Roll Call, 11/19/09]

THE ARGUMENT THAT HEALTH CARE FUNDS WILL PAY FOR ABORTIONS BECAUSE OF FUNGIBILITY HAS BEEN SHOT DOWN REPEATEDLY

TIME: Same Standard Used To Claim Health Care Reform Would Fund Abortions Could Be Applied To Focus On The Family To Determine That It Too Funds Abortions. Time Magazine’s Amy Sullivan asked, “Does Focus on the Family Fund Abortions?” She noted that, “[i]t does if you hold the organization to the same standard is uses to insist that health reform would result in publicly funded abortions. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fungibility argumentthat many pro-life groups and politicians have employed to oppose health reform. The problem, they say, is that if any insurance plan that covers abortion is allowed to participate in a public exchange, then premiums paid to that plan in the form of taxpayer-funded subsidies help support that abortion coverage even if individual abortion procedures are paid for out of a separate pool of privately-paid premium dollars. You can debate about whether it makes sense to use this strict standard, but that's the argument. But are those pro-life organizations holding themselves to the same strict standard? As it happens, Focus on the Family provides its employees health insurance through Principal, an insurance company that covers ‘abortion services.’” [Time – Swampland, 10/28/09]

Politifact: There Is Nothing To Support The Claim That Taxpayers Would Subsidize Abortion And The Statement Is "False." "The word 'abortion' was never mentioned in the initial health care plans released by the House and Senate. The decision of whether to offer abortion coverage in the proposed public plan, then, would be left up to the health and human services secretary. Abortion opponents said that would allow Democrats to slip abortion into the plan as part of the standard coverage. In an op-ed piece on July 23, House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio repeated the concerns of many who oppose abortion that the Democratic-backed health care reform plan 'will require (Americans) to subsidize abortion with their hard-earned tax dollars.' ... Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, which opposes abortion, said his group doesn't want to see an important health care plan derailed by a 'misleading campaign' that claims the health care plan would mean taxpayer-subsidized abortions. 'The goal should be to maintain the current policies,' Korzen said. 'That Capps Amendment accomplishes just that. It specifically prohibits taxpayers funding of abortions. It disappoints me that there are people who are still making that claim.' ... In fact, in a key version of the bill- the one passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee - members went to great pains to include an amendment to ensure that federal money is not used for abortion coverage. Again, things could change as the health reform package works its way through Congress, but for now, we don't see anything to support Boehner's claim that taxpayers would subsidize abortions. And so we rule his statement False." [Politifact, 8/7/09]

NYT Editorial Pointed Out Hypocrisy: Reform Critics Don’t Want Government Between Patients And Doctors To Dictate Treatment, Except When It Comes To Abortion; Proposed Compromise Is More Restrictive Than Current Law. “Critics of pending health care reforms claim they want to ensure that the government does not thrust itself between patients and doctors to dictate what medical procedures can be performed. Yet many are trying to do just that when it comes to one legal and medically valid service: abortion…[Sen. Baucus’ Compromise] proposal would prohibit the use of federal tax subsidies to pay for almost all abortions. Health plans could provide abortion coverage provided they used only the premium money and co-payments contributed by beneficiaries and kept that money segregated from the subsidy. In every state, there would have to be at least one plan that covers abortions and one that does not. This compromise is still far more restrictive than the rules for other tax-subsidy programs. The subsidy for employees’ contributions to their health coverage at work, for example, can be used to buy insurance that covers abortion. Roughly half of the employer-provided policies cover the procedure. Nor are there any restrictions on paying for abortions with the tax-favored health savings accounts so beloved by conservatives.” [New York Times, 10/1/09]

Rep. Boehner Repeated Claim PolitiFact Called “False” A Month Ago; Anti-Abortion Group On Taxpayer-Subsidized Abortions: “It Disappoints Me That There Are People Who Are Still Making That Claim.” PolitiFact on July 23rd reported on Rep. John Boehner’s statement that the health reform plan “will require [Americas] to subsidize abortion with their hard-earned tax dollars,” and deemed it “false.” In its discussion on the merits of the claim, it noted that, “Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, which opposes abortion, said his group doesn't want to see an important health care plan derailed by a ‘misleading campaign’ that claims the health care plan would mean taxpayer-subsidized abortions. ‘The goal should be to maintain the current policies,’ Korzen said. ‘That Capps amendment accomplishes just that. It specifically prohibits taxpayers' funding of abortions. It disappoints me that there are people who are still making that claim.’” [Politifact, 7/23/09]

Well Senator, That’s Just Not True

During a floor speech today attacking health insurance reform, Senator Tom Coburn erroneously claimed that the Senate’s health reform bill would tax breast reconstruction surgery for cancer patients who’ve had a mastectomy. This, of course, is plainly false. In fact, the Senate’s bill explicitly excludes taxing breast reconstructive surgery resulting from cancer, birth defects or deformities resultingfrom accidents or diseases, including cancer.

Sadly, Senator Coburn’s false statement today is indicative of the same lies and scare-tactics we’ve seen from Congressional Republicans since the beginning of this health insurance debate and is likely a good indicator of the distortions to come.

Sen. Coburn Claimed Breast Cancer Reconstruction Would Be Elective Plastic Surgery, And Would Be Taxed. "Also in this bill is a 5% tax on the breast reconstruction surgery after they had a mastectomy. They're going to tax having your breast rebuilt after your breast is taken off because it is elective plastic surgery. It is elective cosmetic surgery. We're going to have a tax on it because we've taxed elective cosmetic surgery." [Coburn Floor Speech, 11/19/09]

REALITY: TAXABLE ELECTIVECOSMETIC SURGERY WOULDN'T INCLUDE BREAST RECONSTRUCTION FOR CANCER, BIRTH DEFECTS, OR FOR DEFORMITIES FROM ACCIDENTS OR DISEASE

Surgeries Exempted From Tax In Senate Bill: Procedures “Not Necessary To Ameliorate A Deformity Arising From, Or Directly Related To, A Congenital Abnormality, A Personal Injury Resulting From An Accident Or Trauma, Or Disfiguring Disease.” On its section covering a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery, the Senate health reform bill said procedures taxed are those “not necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or disfiguring disease.” [PPACA, 11/18/09]

IRS Said “Reconstructive Surgery Due To Cancer Or Laser Eye Surgery Would Be Allowed,” 1990 Deficit-Reduction Law Prohibited Taking Tax Deductions For Cosmetic Surgery Using Exact Same Definition As Senate Bill. The National Journal’s Congress Daily reported on a proposed tax on elective cosmetic surgery and found that: “The 1990 deficit-reduction law prohibited taxpayers from taking deductions for cosmetic surgery ‘unless the surgery or procedure is necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or a disfiguring disease.’… According to the IRS, deductions for procedures such as reconstructive surgery due to cancer or laser eye surgery would be allowed. But nose jobs, liposuction, teeth-whitening procedures and Botox injections to smooth wrinkles would be prohibited under Sec. 213 and subject to the new tax.” [National Journal Congress Daily, 7/27/09]

Hatch Tries Health Care Hatchet Job And Hatchets Own Reputation

On Fox News today, Sen. Orrin Hatch demonstrated why the Republican Party is more interested in their political gain than in passing health insurance reform that would provide quality, affordable care to millions of Americans and lower health care costs for families and small businesses. Hatch maliciously attacked the Senate health care bill and said itwould cut Medicare and "cost taxpayers like mad for the rest of our lives," even though the CBO, just yesterday, said it would provide 31 million Americans quality, affordable health care while lowering the deficit and the AARP praised the bill for making "improvement to the Medicare program." Earlier this year, Hatch said it was the "perfect year" for health care reform and said he was "prepared to work on a final bill right now." It appears that the only thing Hatch is"prepared" to do is to spread false propaganda about the Senate health care bill in an attempt to improve the Republican Party's political fortunes.

RHETORIC: Hatch Said That Health Insurance Reform Would Cut Medicare, Called It A "Lousy Bill" And Said It Was "Cost The American Taxpayers Like Made For The Rest Of Our Lives."Sen. Orrin Hatch:"They are going to take a half Trillion from Medicare. I do not know how they are going to vote for the bill, especially because of the size of it. If you cannot get 75 votes on something that affects one sixth of the economy, you know it is a lousy bill. I'm telling ya this is a lousy bill, and this going to cost the American taxpayers like mad for the rest of our lives, if they pass it. I hope the American people rebel!" [Fox News, 11/19/09]

  • FLASHBACK -Orrin Hatch: This Year “Is The Perfect Year” For Health Care Reform; “Our Economic Crisis Is Not An Impediment But Rather A Reason To Accomplish This Important Reform.” [Salt Lake Tribune, 3/11/09]
  • FLASHBACK -Orrin Hatch: “As Important As CHIP Is, [Health Care Reform] Is Even More Important…I’m Prepared To Work On A Final Bill Right Now.” [The New Republic, 4/1/09]
  • FLASHBACK -OrrinHatch: “I Would Like To Do [Health Care Reform] As A Legacy Issue For [Kennedy], If I Can--This Would Mean A Lot To Him.” [The New Republic, 4/1/09]

REALITY: HEALTH INSURANCE REFORMWON'T CUT MEDICARE BENEFITS

AARP Applauded The Senate For Bill: “Makes Progress Towards Achieving Meaningful Relief For Millions Of Older Americans…Makes Improvements To The Medicare Program.” AARP said in a press release: “We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services. The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage.” [AARP, 11/18/09]

AARP CEO: House Democrats’ Bill “Includes Critical Priorities For Seniors…Provides And Strengthens Medicare For Today’s Seniors And Future Generations.” The Hill reported on AARP’s endorsement of House Democratic health reform. AARP CEO A. Barry Rand said, “[t]his bill includes critical priorities for seniors – critical – ensures quality, affordable health coverage options for all Americans, provides and strengthens Medicare for today’s seniors and future generations and puts us on a path to improving our long-term health system.” [The Hill, 11/5/09]

FactCheck.org: “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits’ Under [Health Reform Legislation], And In Fact Have Done Our Best To Debunk [Those] Claims.” FactCheck.org wrote: “We never have said that seniors would suffer ‘massive cuts to Medicare benefits’ under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect.” [FactCheck.org, 11/3/09]

REALITY: HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM WOULD IMPROVE AND STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

New York Times: Reform Will Enhance Drug Coverage, Reduce Premiums, and Help Keep Medicare Solvent. “Far from harming elderly Americans, the various reform bills now pending should actually make Medicare better for most beneficiaries — by enhancing their drug coverage, reducing the premiums they pay for drugs and medical care, eliminating co-payments for preventive services and helping keep Medicare solvent, among other benefits.” [New York Times, Editorial, 9/27/09]

Finance Committee Bill Will Provide Medicare Beneficiaries Significant Help in Purchasing Prescription Drugs When They Hit the Coverage Gap or “Donut Hole.” “Medicare beneficiaries who enroll in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program will receive significant help purchasing prescription drugs when they hit the coverage gap portion, or ‘donut hole’ of the benefit. Instead of paying 100 percent of their drug costs in the gap, Part D beneficiaries with low to moderate incomes will receive a 50 percent discount on the price of brandname drugs covered by their plan. The discount makes expensive medicines more affordable and helps beneficiaries stay on treatments that their doctors prescribe” [Finance Committee Press Release, 9/16/09]

The Finance Committee Bill Will Encourage Preventive Medicine, Eliminate Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Recommended Preventive Services and Incentivize Healthy Lifestyles Among Medicare Beneficiaries. “The Chairman’s Mark provides Medicare beneficiaries with a free visit to their primary care provider every year to create and update a personalized prevention plan to address health risks and chronic health problems and to design a schedule for regular recommended preventive screenings… The Mark eliminates outofpocket costs for recommended preventive services for Medicare beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will no longer face financial deterrents for seeking preventive care… The Mark establishes an initiative that will reward Medicare and Medicaid participants for healthier choices. Funding will be available to provide participants with incentives for completing evidencebased, healthy lifestyle programs and improving their health status. Programs will focus on lowering certain risk factors linked to chronic disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity.” [Finance Committee Press Release, 9/16/09]

The Finance Committee Bill Will Move Medicare Toward Paying for Quality and Value of Care, Rather Than Volume. “Medicare currently reimburses health care providers on the basis of the volume of care they provide. For every test, scan or procedure conducted, providers receive payment – regardless of whether the treatment contributes to helping a patient recover. Medicare must move to a system that reimburses health care providers based on the quality of care they provide. The Chairman’s Mark includes various proposals to move the Medicare feeforservice system towards paying for quality and value.” [Finance Committee Press Release, 9/16/09]

REALITY: THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL WOULD SLASH THE DEFICIT BY OVER $750 BILLION IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS AND BEND THE COST CURVE OVER THE LONG RUN

Roll Call: Senate Bill “Slash[es] The Deficit By A Whopping $777 Billion Over The Next 20 Years,” Sen. Kent Conrad Said Sen. Reid Did “An Exceptionally Good Job.” Roll Call reported that, “[a]t first blush, Reid scored a coup with his $849 billion bill, because Democrats said the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would slash the deficit by a whopping $777 billion over the next 20 years while providing insurance for an additional 31 million Americans. The price tag is also less than the $900 billion President Barack Obama had called for and the $1.2 trillion cost of the House-passed version… ‘He was applauded. His staff was applauded,’ said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a deficit hawk who said Reid did ‘an exceptionally good job.’” [Roll Call, 11/18/09]

Ezra Klein On Senate Bill: CBO Statements Confirm That, “The Curve, As They Say, Is Bent.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate health reform bill: “One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, ‘CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.’ In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says ‘is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums’) and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff. And it implies, of course, that in the third decade, the federal commitment actually goes down relative to expectation. The curve, as they say, is bent.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/19/09]