Fact Checking Obama's Health Care Claims

President Obama was on five Sunday shows this morning talking about health care reform. While most of the comments echoed what he has said previously in countless appearances, there were a few statements which deserve some scrutiny. Below is a fact check of some of his claims about health care reform and how they measure up to the Senate Finance Committee mark.

On whether the health insurance mandate is a tax: Asked whether a mandate on health insurance was a tax increase, President Obama said, “For us to say that you got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is not a tax increase.”

Fact: President Obama might be interested to read the Chairman’s mark of the Finance Committee bill, which says that, “The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax.” The mark further says that, “The excise tax would be assessed through the tax code and applied as an additional amount of Federal tax owed.” CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the government will collect $20 billion from taxing the uninsured.

On whether Medicare Advantage cuts will cause seniors to lose benefits: Asked to responds to comments from Senator Bill Nelson arguing against cuts to Medicare Advantage, President Obama said, “People currently signed up for Medicare Advantage are going to have Medicare and the same level of benefits… These folks will be able to get Medicare just as good, provide the same benefits…”

Fact: CBO has said this is plainly not true. Under current law, plans can offer about $87 per month in additional benefits. Under the proposal for competitive bidding with bonuses, plans will be able to offer an average of $42 in extra benefits in 2019. [Congressional Budget Office, “Effects of SFC Medicare Advantage Competitive Bidding Policy on Enrollment and Additional Benefits,” September, 2009]. These additional benefits can include prescription drug coverage, coverage for catastrophic illness, and routine physicals. Plans would be forced to drop many of these benefits, which traditional Medicare does not provide.

On using the savings from Medicare Advantage to close the “doughnut hole:” President Obama said that the savings from cutting Medicare Advantage could be used to pay for filling the “doughnut hole” in the Part D program. Obama said, “There's no competitive bidding in the [Medicare Advantage] process. Instead of spending $17 billion, $18 billion, over ten years on that, why wouldn't we use that to close the doughnut hole.”

Fact: Again, the Congressional Budget Office shows this isn’t true. The CBO score shows that the provision in the Finance bill to close to coverage gap, which was part of a deal reached between PHRMA and the White House, will COST the government $17.4 billion over ten. The New York Times reported that, “Under the newly proposed plan from Senator Max Baucus, the drug industry’s offer to help Medicare patients save money will end up costing Medicare itself — taxpayers, that is — a lot more money.” [New York Times, “Baucus Plan: Saving Patients Money Would Cost the Medicare Drug Program Billions,” September 17, 2009].

On using the Medicare Trust Fund to pay for reform: President Obama said, “We're not going to take a dollar out of the Medicare trust fund.”

Fact: This is a semantic argument designed to mislead voters. The Finance mark takes $400 billion out of savings from Medicare and commits that money to a new entitlement program. If these savings from Medicare were used to fix Medicare, the trust fund would be significantly better off.

On including medical liability reform in health care reform: President Obama said, “But I've said that we've got to take into account their [doctors’] concerns about medical malpractice. Now, that's not popular in my party, never has been, but I've talked to enough doctors to know that even though it is not the end-all be-all of driving down health care costs, it is important to providers to make sure that their costs are going down…”

Fact: None of the proposals in either the House nor Senate have any substantive provisions regarding medical liability reform. The only provision in the Senate Finance mark is a Sense of the Senate, which will do nothing to lower health care costs.

Via the National Review Online


Anonymous said...

No obscenities? You will elicit few comments.

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