Who’s Telling the Truth About Obama’s Healthcare Reform?

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The debate (or shall I say campaign) for, and against President Obama’s healthcare reform has caused angst amongst both sides of the spectrum. On one hand, you have the Democrats who, for the most part, are for the overhaul of our country’s healthcare system. On the other hand, you have the Republicans who are against the overhaul because they say it’ll cost too much money. Well, who’s right (and wrong)? To help you come to some sort of decision, I’ve listed seven myths about the healthcare reform (taken from factcheck.org):

Myth #1: Government Will Decide What Care I Get (a.k.a. they won’t give grandma a hip replacement)

This untrue claim has its roots in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the stimulus bill), which called for the creation of a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. The council is charged with supporting and coordinating research that the government has been funding for years into which treatments work best, and in some cases, are most cost-effective. Supporters of this type of research say it can provide valuable information to doctors, improving care and also lowering cost.

Betsy McCaughey, a former Republican lieutenant governor of New York (and now a professing Democrat), wrote in an opinion piece that the government would actually tell doctors what procedures they could and couldn’t perform. The claim took off from there, popping up in chain e-mails and Republican press conferences. It’s not true.

Myth #2: The Bill Is Paid For

At least, it isn’t paid for yet.

President Obama has repeatedly said that a health care overhaul “will be paid for” and that he won’t sign a bill that isn’t deficit-neutral. But neither the House bill nor the Senate HELP Committee bill meets that criteria. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, the House bill as introduced would add a net $239 billion over 10 years to the deficit, while the HELP Committee bill racks up more, $597 billion over 10 years.

Myth #3: Private Insurance Will Be Illegal

In July, Investor’s Business Daily published an editorial in which it claimed that H.R. 3200 would make private insurance illegal. But IBD was mistaken. It was citing the part of the bill that ensures people with individually purchased coverage don’t have to give up that coverage unless they want to.

Under the House bill, people who want to buy new individual, nongroup coverage will have to purchase it through a new health insurance exchange. They can still buy private insurance – the exchange, in fact, would offer a range of private plans, in addition to a new federal health insurance option. However, those who were already buying their own insurance before the bill went into effect – about 14 million Americans – will have their plans grandfathered in. The part of the bill IBD cites doesn’t forbid insurers from issuing new plans. It says that new individual plans will not be considered grandfathered, and will have to be purchased through the exchange.

Myth #4: The House Bill Requires Suicide Counseling

This claim is nonsense. In an appearance on former Sen. Fred Thompson’s radio show, McCaughey also enthusiastically pushed the bogus claim that the House bill will require seniors to have regular counseling sessions on how to end their lives:

“McCaughey, July 16: The Congress would make it mandatory … that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner, how to decline nutrition, how to decline being hydrated, how to go into hospice care … all to do what’s in society’s best interest … and cut your life short.”

This is a misrepresentation. What the bill actually provides for is voluntary Medicare-funded end-of-life counseling. In other words, if seniors choose to make advance decisions about the type of care and treatments they wish to receive at the end of their lives, Medicare will pay for them to sit down with their doctor and discuss their preferences. There is no requirement to attend regular sessions, and there is absolutely no provision encouraging euthanasia.

Myth #5: Families Will Save $2,500

Proponents speak constantly of holding down rising medical costs. As recently as May 13, the president said legislation plus some voluntary measures by the private sector “could save families $2,500 in the coming years – $2,500 per family,” echoing a claim he made countless times on the campaign trail last year.

Don’t start spending that $2,500 just yet.

For one thing, Obama isn’t actually promising to reduce health care spending below current levels, only to cut the rate of growth in spending. And even that is proving to be far tougher to accomplish than Obama led voters to believe. We’ve already mentioned that the Congressional Budget Office says “savings” in Medicare spending resulting from the House bill would fall short of what is needed to pay for two-thirds of its cost, which is Obama’s goal. And those savings come only in what the government pays, not in what families pay.

Myth #6: Medicare Benefits Will Be Slashed

The claim that Obama and Congress are cutting seniors’ Medicare benefits to pay for the health care overhaul is outright false, though that doesn’t keep it from being repeated ad infinitum.

The truth is that the pending House bill extracts $500 billion from projected Medicare spending over 10 years, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office, by doing such things as trimming projected increases in the program’s payments for medical services, not including physicians. Increases in other areas, such as payments to doctors, bring the net savings down to less than half that amount. But none of the predicted savings – or cuts, depending on one’s perspective – come from reducing current or future benefits for seniors.

Myth #7: Illegal Immigrants Will Be Covered

One Republican congressman issued a press release claiming that “5,600,000 Illegal Aliens May Be Covered Under Obamacare,” and we’ve been peppered with queries about similar claims. They’re not true. In fact, the House bill (the only bill to be formally introduced in its entirety) specifically says that no federal money would be spent on giving illegal immigrants health coverage:

Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”

Also, under current law, those in the country illegally don’t qualify for federal health programs.

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