Eight Health Care Falsehoods: Not Just For Veterans


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With thanks to Newsweek's Brooks Jackson, Viveca Novak, Lori Robertson and Jess Henig, and the President we can debunk the following eight health care falsehoods.

01 - Government Will Decide What Care I Get (a.k.a. they won't give grandma a hip replacement): FALSE

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. The legislation specifically says that the council can't issue requirements or guidelines on treatment or insurance benefits:

02 - The Bill Is Paid For: FALSE

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. So the big questions remain. Will the president break his promise and sign a bill that piles up hundreds of billions of additional debt? Will the legislation have to be scaled back to cost less, and perhaps cover fewer of the uninsured? Who will pay additional taxes? Can pain-free reductions in other government programs be found? "

03 - Private Insurance Will Be Illegal: FALSE

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.

04 - The House Bill Requires Suicide Counseling: FALSE

This claim is nonsense. In an appearance on former Sen. Fred Thompson's radio show, Betsy McCaughey, a former Republican lieutenant governor of New York (and now a professing Democrat) also enthusiastically pushed the bogus claim that the House bill will require seniors to have regular counseling sessions on how to end their lives. 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.

05 - Families Will Save $2,500: FALSE

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.

06 - Medicare Benefits Will Be Slashed: FALSE

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. AARP says: None of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.

07 - Illegal Immigrants Will Be Covered: FALSE

One Republican congressman issued a press release claiming that "5,600,000 Illegal Aliens May Be Covered Under Obamacare." This is 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. Also, under current law, those in the country illegal don't qualify for federal health programs.

08 - Health Care Reform Will Change VA Benefits: FALSE

From President Obama's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix on 08/17: "And since there's been so much misinformation out there about health insurance reform, let me say this. One thing that reform won't change is veterans health care. No one is going to take away your benefits. That's the truth."

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt