Obama, Romney, 'Obamacare' and the Facts
Obama, Romney, 'Obamacare'
and the FactsBy Naureen Khan | National
Journal – 19 hrs ago
The Romney and Obama campaigns have gone
into spin overdrive since the Supreme Court decision upholding the
Act. So what holds up to the facts and what doesn’t?
Three nonpartisan fact-checking
outfits—FactCheck.org, Politifact, and The Fact Checker (The Washington
Post’s Glenn Kessler)—have done extensive research on various health care claims that
have surfaced for the last two years. Here’s a guide to their findings on what
you have heard from the presidential candidates about the ruling, and are likely
to hear many times again before Election Day:
1. If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it
under the Affordable
One of President Obama’s go-to points is
that the Affordable Care Act won’t change things for Americans who like their
current health insurance plan. On Thursday, in response to the Court’s decision,
Obama reiterated, “If you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who
already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”
That will be true for most people. But, as
points out, nothing in the Affordable Care Act prevents employers from switching
their coverage plans just as they could do before. Also, some of the 30 million
Americans who purchase their own insurance may have to change providers if their
plan does not meet minimum benefit standards.
In addition, while the law requires
employers to pay a penalty if they do not offer insurance, they might pay it
because they prefer that their employees purchase insurance through the
federally subsidized exchanges. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office
estimates the law may result in "a small reduction" in the number of people
who receive employer-provided insurance.
2. The Affordable Care Act will add trillions to
Numerous leading Republicans have said this
over and over again, presenting the health care law as another budget-busting
initiative by the Obama administration in the same vein as the
stimulus or the auto-industry bailout. “ 'Obamacare' adds trillions to our
deficits and to our national debt, and pushes those obligations on to coming
generations,” presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney said in a press conference
following the Supreme Court ruling.
In fact, when the health care bill was passed in March 2010, CBO found that
enacting the legislation
would lead to a net reduction in federal deficits of $143 billion over 10
years. Later, when congressional Republicans proposed legislation to repeal the
estimated that the GOP bill would add $230 billion to the deficit if
enacted, also over a period of 10 years.
CBO did recently say, however, that the Supreme Court’s ruling might change
the math. “CBO is in the process of reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision
related to the Affordable Care Act to assess the effect on CBO’s projections of
federal spending and revenue under current law,” the agency said in a statement.
“We expect that this assessment will probably take some time.”
3. The health care law puts the federal government
between you and your doctor.
One of the most passionate arguments made by conservatives against the health
care law, and made again by Romney on Thursday, this too has been debunked on
several occasions. The Affordable Care Act does not intervene at all between
doctors and patients, although it does set up minimum benefit requirements for
insurance companies, according to FactCheck.org.
Many raised the specter of government rationing of care during the health
care debate, but what people are referring to—the Independent Payment Advisory
Board—is forbidden from changing benefits or eligibility requirements. It was
created to recommend savings in other areas to Congress, and Congress can
override its suggestions.
4. The health care law cuts $500 billion from
The frequency with which the claim has been made prompted Columbia
Journalism Review to dub it the “$500
billion bogeyman.” That didn’t stop Romney from repeating it again in his
response to the Supreme Court ruling.
In fact, the law curbs future growth in Medicare over 10 years, but does not
cut any benefits for participating seniors or affect the current Medicare budget
at all, as Politifact
New Jersey reported when Congressman Jon Runyan, R-N.J.,
said it again in a press release.
5. The provision of the Affordable Care Act that
allows people to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26 has helped 6.6 million young adults obtain coverage .
Post's Fact Checker have concluded that the White House is fudging
the numbers on this one. The Obama team is using findings from a survey by the
nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, which estimated that 6.6 million young people were
able to join their parents’ health plan as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
However, not all those young adults were uninsured prior.
More accurately, the Health and Human
Services Department put the figure at 3.3 million young adults who would not
have health insurance without the provision.
6. Preventive care saves the government money
and, under the health care law, has already helped 54 million people in private
Obama has often touted the fact that under
the health law, all insurance plans are required to cover preventive medicine at
no cost. In his remarks after the Supreme Court ruling, he went a step further,
saying that the provision had already helped 54 million people.
While it’s true that crunching numbers from
the Kaiser Family Foundation does yield that figure for the number of people who
are receiving expanded preventive care services as a result of the health care
law, there’s no saying if their plans before included some of the same or how
much they’re being “helped” by the new suite of services.
Moreover, Obama has said that preventive
care actually saves money by catching and managing illnesses before they become
however, found evidence to the contrary. A
2009 CBO study found that preventive services lead to “higher, not lower,
medical spending overall,” because while mammograms, checkups, and the like are
cheap for the individual, the cost of all of them put together adds up. Because
they only catch disease and illness for a small sliver of people who are tested,
while they are good for people’s well-being, so far they haven’t brought costs
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