October 18, 2010

Barack Obama's Health Care Myths Are Busted!

ARRA News Service - According to Politico’s Playbook today, “President Obama has taped an appearance for Discovery Channel's ‘MythBusters’.” Certainly, it’s nice for the President to show support for the science-focused education and entertainment that the show is known for, but it often feels like President Obama needs to be examined by a political version of such a show. Obama’s various declarations about the health care bill alone seem to have all been “busted” in the nearly seven months since the bill passed.

During the debate over Democrats’ health care bill, President Obama said that their “reforms” will “finally reduce the costs of health care” and “families will save on their premiums.” But throughout just the past month, multiple news reports have shown massive rate increases coming down the pike for many Americans, thanks in part to the health care bill. Early in September, The Wall Street Journal reported, “Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul in coming weeks, complicating Democrats' efforts to trumpet their signature achievement before the midterm elections.” And sure enough, in subsequent weeks there were reports of insurers raising premiums in states like California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington. As The Seattle Times put it, “Whopping rate increases are coming soon for many people with individual health-insurance policies.”

Another declaration by the President was that his health care plan “will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” But according to a report from the Los Angeles Times on a study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Pushed by a dramatic increase in the number of Americans who will get insurance under the new healthcare law, total U.S. medical spending will continue to gallop upward, consuming nearly 20% of the economy by 2019 . . . .” And earlier this year, Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf wrote, “[F]ederal spending on major mandatory health care programs will grow from roughly 5 percent of GDP today to about 10 percent in 2035 and will continue to increase thereafter.”

President Obama also promised that he would “protect Medicare” in his health care bill. Yet the bill contained over $520 billion in cuts to Medicare, with more than $200 billion in Medicare Advantage cuts alone. And sure enough, thanks to these cuts and changes, The Boston Globe reported, “Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has notified customers that it will drop its Medicare Advantage health insurance program at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine to seek alternative supplemental coverage.” According to The Globe report, “‘We became concerned by the long-term viability of Medicare Advantage programs in general,’’ said Lynn Bowman, vice president of customer service at Harvard Pilgrim’s office in Quincy. ‘We know that cuts in Medicare are being used to fund national health care reform.’” And then there was The Wall Street Journal story in June warning. “Dozens of Medicare Advantage providers plan to cut back vision, dental and prescription benefits.”

Of course, the most prominent pledge to Americans from Obama and other Democrats about their massive health care takeover was that “if you like your current [health care] plan, you will be able to keep it.” But in the months since Democrats rammed through their bill, numerous reports have shown many people won’t be able to continue on their current plans. Just two weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal reported, “3M Co. confirmed it would eventually stop offering its health-insurance plan to retirees, citing the federal health overhaul as a factor.” And The New York Times reported earlier this month, “The Principal Financial Group announced on Thursday that it planned to stop selling health insurance, another sign of upheaval emerging among insurers as the new federal health law starts to take effect. The company, based in Iowa, provides coverage to about 840,000 people who receive their insurance through an employer.” And then there was the AP story in August that “A plan by Medicare to try to make it simpler for consumers to pick drug coverage could force 3 million seniors to switch plans next year whether they like it or not, says an independent analysis.” And in July, there were reports that restaurant employees could lose health care coverage because of new costs imposed by the bill.

The assurances from President Obama and Democrats that their health care law would reduce premiums, lower government spending, protect Medicare, and allow Americans to keep their current plans, have all been clearly “busted.” Sadly, Americans could see most of this coming, and polls showed they consistently disapproved of Democrats’ scheme. Yet the President and Democrats forced the bill through Congress anyway.

Still, though, Americans oppose this law. Almost seven months after Democrats gathered to congratulate each other for passing a bill only they wanted, Politico reports, “According to the Kaiser Family Foundation October Tracking Poll out Monday morning, overall support for the [health care] law has dropped to 42 percent – down seven points in a month. The percentage of those saying they have an unfavorable view of the bill rose four points to 44 percent.” Interestingly, Politico notes, “Opposition to the reform bill was stronger among likely voters: 39 percent have favorable opinions, 49 percent unfavorable opinions and 12 percent have no opinion.” Incidentally, the Kaiser poll has been the one poll consistently showing more favorable views of the health care bill among the public than other polls.

Seven months later, Democrats’ claims about their health care law have been “busted,” and Americans still oppose the bill. It still needs to be repealed and replaced. Mr. Obama, Your Myths are Busted.


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