Facing mounting criticism from the American people over President Obama’s proposed trillion-dollar government takeover of health care, the White House has responded this morning by launching a “reality check” website, featuring videos and preloaded messages that purportedly debunk “health care myths.” In reality, the website simply recycles the same false claims that the Administration and its allies in Congress have been pedaling for weeks.
After no fewer than five polls released at the end of July showed increasing, if not outright, opposition to government-run health care, and with Members of Congress taking heat from constituents during the August district work period, it’s understandable that the White House is getting nervous about the prospects for its health care experiment.
The following are some of the discredited claims the Administration’s new website repeats:
CLAIM: If You Like It, You Can Keep Your Health Care Plan. Kavita Patel, who works with Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, said “if you like your insurance, if you like the kind of health care you have right now and the plan you have, you can keep it.” She also stated that “the notion that the government will interfere with what you have…really is laughable.” Linda Douglass of the White House Office of Health Reform also played a clip of President Obama’s June 23, 2009 press conference where he stated that: “If you like your plan and you like your doctor, you won't have to do a thing. You keep your plan. You keep your doctor. If your employer is providing you good health insurance, terrific, we're not going to mess with it.”
FACT: That’s simply not true. Both the Associated Press and ABC News have already debunked this pledge, noting that White House officials have acknowledged the president’s rhetoric shouldn’t be taken “literally.” An independent study conducted by the Lewin Group predicted that 114 million Americans may be forced out of their current health care coverage, including more than 106 million Americans who currently have employer-provided health care. The point is, this White House cannot guarantee that Americans will be able to keep their plan – because they don’t know how many employers are going to drop their coverage altogether if their plan goes into effect.
Lastly, the Wall Street Journal noted in a July 20, 2009 editorial:
“The House bill says that after a five-year grace period all Erisa [Employee Retirement Income Security Act] insurance offerings will have to win government approval—both by the Department of Labor and a new ‘health choices commissioner’ who will set federal standards for what is an acceptable health plan. This commissar—er, commissioner—can fine employers that don’t comply and even has ‘suspension of enrollment’ powers for plans that he or she has vetoed, until ‘satisfied that the basis for such determination has been corrected and is not likely to recur.’ In other words, the insurance coverage of 132 million people—the product of enormously complex business and health-care decisions—will now be subject to bureaucratic nanomanagement.”
CLAIM: Reform Will Benefit Small Business – Not Burden It. Christina Romer, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers stated that, “The facts are very clear. The system doesn’t work for small businesses now, and reform is very much aimed at easing the burdens, making it easier for this crucial sector of our economy.”
FACT: A broad coalition of job-creating groups – representing small businesses to homebuilders and manufacturers – has come together to oppose the Democrats’ government takeover of health. In a letter to Congress, this coalition wrote: “We are specifically concerned with a proposal to mandate that employers either provide health insurance or pay a new eight percent payroll tax. The House ‘pay or play’ proposal is even more troublesome because employers are also mandated to pay the majority of employee premiums. Exempting some micro-businesses will not prevent this provision from killing many jobs.”
And the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), representing small businesses across the country, also weighed in, saying it would destroy jobs and reduce access to affordable health care: “NFIB opposes the [Democrats’ bill] because it threatens the viability of our nation’s job creators, fails to increase access and choice to all small businesses, destroys choice and competition for private insurance and fails to address the core challenge facing small businesses – cost.”
CLAIM: Medicare Will Not Face Cuts Under Democrats’ Plan. Robert Kocher of the National Economic Council repeated president Obama’s claim that “nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits.”
FACT: Today’s New York Times rebuts this claim: “To help finance coverage for the uninsured, Congress would squeeze huge savings out of Medicare, the program for older Americans and the disabled. These savings would pay nearly 40 percent of the bills’ cost. The legislation would trim Medicare payments for most services, as an incentive for hospitals and other health care providers to become more efficient. The providers make a plausible case that the cutbacks could inadvertently reduce beneficiaries’ access to some types of care.” An independent analysis of the House Democrats’ government-run plan shows the legislation slashes Medicare to the tune of $361.9 billion. That means fewer choices and lower health care quality for our nation’s seniors – exactly what then-Senator Obama blasted last fall, during the presidential campaign.
Republicans agree that Congress should pursue meaningful health care reform, but none of the legislation that Democratic leaders are pursuing at this time actually meet this description. Instead, their proposals will increase costs, lower quality, and cause millions of Americans to lose their current health coverage.
Americans want health care reform, but the Democrats’ go-it-alone, government takeover of health care isn’t the way to improve the best health care system in the world. House Republicans have a plan that will reduce costs, expand access and increase the quality of care in a way we can afford – without raising taxes on small businesses or middle class.
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