Morning Bell: Myths and Facts about Obamacare
Posted August 24th, 2009 at 9.28am in Health Care.
Last week NBC News released a poll showing that while 36% of Americans believed President Barack Obama’s health care plan was a “good idea,” 42% of Americans believed it was a “bad idea.” NBC’s explanation for this inconvenient truth? “[M]isperceptions about the president’s plans for reform … that nonpartisan fact-checkers say are untrue.” Specifically NBC found that 55% of Americans believed Obamacare “will give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants,” 54% believed it “will lead to a government takeover of the health care system,” 50% believed it “will use taxpayer dollars to pay for women to have abortions,” and 45% believed it “will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care to the elderly.”
The President has since copied NBC’s diagnosis, devoting his Saturday Weekly Address to debunking these “phony claims.” The problem for NBC News, and the White House, is that every one of these concerns has rock solid foundation in fact.
Obamacare Will Provide Health Benefits to Illegal Immigrants: The President is correct when he says that the idea to provide illegal immigrants with health insurance “has never been on the table.” The problem is that the American people also know that despite the fact that our immigration laws did not intend it, there are 12 million persons illegally in the United States. The issue is enforcement and the provisions in H.R. 3200 are completely inadequate to ensure that illegal immigrants do not illegally obtain health care through the bill. In the House Ways and Means mark up of H.R. 3200, Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced an amendment that would use two citizenship status verification systems, the Income and Eligibility Verification System (IEVS) and Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) programs, to establish an individual’s eligibility to obtain the bill’s proposed affordability credits or enroll in the public insurance option. Both programs are currently used to determine citizenship status and eligibility for other public assistance programs. Safeguards to guarantee that only citizens can access federal health care benefits are necessary, considering that the US Census Bureau currently estimates that 9.6 million of the uninsured are not US citizens. The Heller amendment failed on a straight party-line vote.
Obamacare Will Lead to a Government Takeover of The Health Care System: Whether it’s a “public option”, individual mandate, employer mandate, the expansion and federalization of Medicaid, or the creation of a new health czar, the provisions in the health bills being pushed by the Obama administration call for more government regulation and intrusion in the American health care system. The nonpartisan, independent Lewin Group found that an estimated 56 percent of Americans would lose their current insurance under the House bill.
Obamacare Will Use Taxpayer Dollars to Pay For Women to Have Abortions: In all four mark-ups of health care legislation (three in the House and one in the Senate), Conservatives have offered amendments that would specifically prohibit federal funds from being used to cover abortion. None of them passed. Instead, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed an amendment by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) that actually requires at least one insurance plan to cover abortion in every geographical region and requires the newly-created public plan to cover all abortion services. How can the President and NBC News possibly claim that Obamacare will not direct taxpayer money to pay for abortions? They’ve employed a complete accounting fiction, claiming that beneficiary premiums will pay for abortions, not federal subsidies. Since neither the federal government nor any insurance company will be required to create separate “abortion” and “non-abortion” general funds (and since the President explicitly promise Planned Parenthood his health care plan would cover “reproductive services“), Americans have every right to believe that the existing legislation will funnel their tax dollars to abortion.
Obamacare Will Allow Government to Ration Health Care: Both the House and Senate bills call for an increased role for Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) to determine which medical procedures are most effective at treating specific ailments. Although this provision is based on perfectly sound policy, many Americans are concerned that federal officials could use CER to make treatment, coverage, or payment decisions. Three Senators offered amendments that would have prohibited the use of CER to mandate coverage, deny care, or ration. CER, if used as a rationing tool, would obviously interfere with the traditional doctor-patient relationship. All three amendments failed on straight party-line votes.
These are just some of the very real fears Americans have about Obamacare. And as we have decisively demonstrated, all have sound basis in fact. But they do not even touch on another very real fear Americans have about Obamacare: the cost. This Friday, the Obama administration leaked news that they will be forced to raise their 10-year budget deficit forecast to about nine trillion dollars, up about two trillion from the previous forecast. Considering that all best estimates point to at least a $1 trillion price tag for Obamacare, it is a wonder just 42% of Americans believe Obamacare is a “bad idea.”
For more highly factual information, visit fixhealthcarepolicy.com, a project of the Heritage Foundation and other fine Heritage Foundation coverage.