Health Care Debate Resumes

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised lawmakers will work weekends to pass health care reform by Christmas. Meanwhile, the war of words rages on between the GOP and Democrats as the debate opens in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised lawmakers will work weekends to pass health care reform by Christmas.  The Senate opened debated today on the 979-billion dollar, 10-year legislation that would extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. 

Reid told his colleagues,  “There’s not an issue more important than finishing this legislation.”  He put lawmakers on notice for Saturday and Sunday sessions in December.

However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the bill is too expensive for a nation struggling financially. 

McConnell said, “The notion that we would even consider spending trillions of dollars we don’t have in a way that the majority of Americans don’t even want is proof that this health care bill is out of touch.”

McConnell made the following speeches today on the Senate floor.

McConnell: Americans are fed up with proposed Medicare cuts

McConnell: CBO estimate of increased premiums

The Democratic National Committee wasted little time responding.  The DNC sent out the following News Release within an hour of Senator McConnell’s first floor speech. 

On the floor of the US Senate, Mitch McConnell sent a strong signal just now that the Republican party intends to offer lies instead of solutions, and distraction and instead of constructive participation as the Senate debates the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with a series of false statements about the bill including the savings American families and business will see in insurance premiums, how Medicare will be impacted under the legislation, public support for the reform and the cost of the plan.  Given the soaring premiums American families and small businesses are facing, we will not allow Republican lies to go unchallenged and will continue to document and correct each of the Republican attempts to mislead the American people about insurance reform, beginning with McConnell's statements below.    

 

RHETORIC: McConnell Said That The Senate Health Care Bill Would Raise Insurance Premiums And Taxes On Families And Small Businesses. Sen. Mitch McConnell: "Kentuckians want to know how spending trillions of dollars we don't have on a plan that raises health insurance premiums and taxes on families and small businesses is good for health care or for jobs or for the economy, for that matter. The fact is Americans feel like they have been taken for a ride in this debate. And they're beginning to realize what administration officials meant when they said that crisis was a terrible thing to waste." [Senate Floor, 11/30/09]

 

RHETORIC: McConnell Said That The Obama Administration And Its Allies Want To Push Government-Run Health Care. “It’s now perfectly clear what happened: the administration and its allies in Congress have wanted to push government-run health care for years, and they viewed the economic crisis that we’re in as their moment to do it. So they sold their plan as an antidote to the recession, even though their plan would only make things worse." [Senate Floor, 11/30/09]

 

RHETORIC: McConnell Said That The Senate Health Care Bill Would Cut Medicare By Nearly Half A Trillion Dollars. "Nearly half a trillion dollars in cuts: this is what some have audaciously started referring to as ‘Saving Medicare’. Well, I don’t know what’s more preposterous: saying that this plan ‘Saves Medicare,’ or thinking that people will actually believe you." [Senate Floor, 11/30/09]

 

REALITY: THE PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WILL REDUCE COSTS AND LOWER PREMIUMS FOR FAMILIES AND SMALL BUSINESS

 

Ezra Klein: “Congressional Budget Office: Reform Will Bring Down The Cost Of Health-Care Insurance.” “The Congressional Budget Office released a report today estimating changes to average premiums under the Senate health-care bill. The report is going to prove very important, and is going to confuse a lot of people. So let's be very, very clear about what it says. The CBO's analysis broke the health-care system into three parts: individual, small group and large group. The small- and large-group markets account for 159 million Americans, and have very little change in premiums. But what change they see is in the right direction: Health-care reform is expected to reduce premiums in the large group market by about 1.5 percent, and in the small group market by about 0.5 percent. … So in the final analysis, the effect of reform on your typical individual market purchasers is to give them insurance that's about 30 percent better but only 10 to 12 percent more expensive, and then assure them subsidies that will lower their payments by more than 50 percent. And if you're in the small group or large group markets, your premiums are expected to fall a bit.” [Ezra Klein, Washington Post, 11/30/09]

 

TNR: Health Care Reform Will “In Fact Deliver Some Savings… [And] It Certainly Won’t Raise Premiums.” “If you get insurance through a large employer, then your insurance premiums should stay roughly the same, with perhaps a very small decrease. … If you get insurance through a small employer, then, again, your insurance premiums should stay roughly the same, with perhaps an even smaller decrease. … If you get insurance on your own, then your premiums would probably go up, because you'd end up buying coverage that was more comprehensive. … But--and this is the key point--newly available federal subsidies will more than offset this increase. In other words, the majority of people buying coverage on their own will be able to spend less money and, at the same time, get better insurance. … But this analysis suggests reform can in fact deliver some savings--and that it certainly won't raise premiums, as so many conservative critics have predicted.” [The New Republic, 11/30/09]

MIT Analysis: The Senate Health Care Bill Would Reduce Premium Prices In The Individual Health Insurance Market. “A new analysis by a leading MIT economist provides new ammunition for Democrats as the Senate begins formally debating the historic health-reform bill being pushed by President Barack Obama. The report concludes that under the Senate’s health-reform bill, Americans buying individual coverage will pay less than they do for today's typical individual market coverage, and would be protected from high out-of-pocket costs. … Gruber concludes that people purchasing individual insurance would save an annual $200 (singles) to $500 (families) in 2009 dollars. And people with low incomes would receive premium tax credits that would reduce the price that they pay for health insurance by as much as $2,500 to $7,500.” [Politico, 11/28/09]

23 Of Nation’s Most Well-Respected Health Economists: Health Reform "Will Lower Health Care Costs And Help Reduce Deficits Over The Long Term.” In a letter to the President, 23 of the nation’s most well-respected health economists said: “As economists, we believe that it is important to enact health reform, and it is essential that health reform include these four features [deficit neutrality, excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, independent Medicare commission, delivery system reforms] that will lower health care costs and help reduce deficits over the long term.” [Letter from 23 economists, 11/17/09]

REALITY: SMALL BUSINESSES WILL BENEFIT FROM THE PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

CBO: 12% Of Small Businesses Would See Their Premiums Fall By About 8%-11% Because Of The Small Business Tax Credit In The Senate Health Care Plan. CBO: "By CBO and JCT’s estimate, the average premium per policy in the small group market would be in the vicinity of $7,800 for single policies and $19,200 for family policies under the proposal, compared with about $7,800 and $19,300 under current law. In the large group market, average premiums would be roughly $7,300 for single policies and $20,100 for family policies under the proposal, compared with about $7,400 and $20,300 under current law. Those figures do not include the effects of the small business tax credit on the cost of purchasing insurance. A relatively small share (about 12 percent) of people with coverage in the small group market would benefit from that credit in 2016. For those people, the cost of insurance under the proposal would be about 8 percent to 11 percent lower, on average, compared with that cost under current law." [CBO, 11/30/09]

 

Business Roundtable: Without Reform, Health Care Costs Rise To $28,530 Per Employee, 166% Higher; With Reform, Businesses Could Save $3,000 Per Employeee. A report from the Business Roundtable concluded that: “If the cost trends of the past 10 years repeat, by 2019, employment-based spending on health care at large employers will be 166% higher than today on a per-employee basis. This equates to an average of $28,530 per employee when employer subsidies, employee contributions, and employee out-of-pocket costs are combined. We estimate that if enacted properly, the right legislative reforms could potentially reduce that trend line by more than $3,000 per employee, to $25,435.” [Business Roundtable – Health Care Reform, 11/12/09]

 

Small Business Majority Study: With Reform, Small Business Will Save As Much As $855 Billion Over The Next 10 Years. Small Business Majority Study: “Without reform, small businesses will pay nearly $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years in healthcare costs for their workers. With reform, the study shows that small businesses can save as much as $855 billion, a reduction of 36 percent, money that can be reinvested to grow the economy.” [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

 

Small Business Majority Study: Reform Will Reduce The Cost To Small Businesses Of Providing Health Care. "Comprehensive healthcare reform... will reduce the cost to small businesses of providing health insurance to their employees." [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

REALITY: HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM WILL NOT CREATE GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE

Politifact: “Obama Health Plan Does Not Call For Government-Run Health Care.” “Obama health plan does not call for government-run health care.” [Politifact, 3/5/09]

 

Factcheck.org: "President Obama Hasn’t Proposed A Government-Run [Health Care] Plan And, In Fact, Has Rejected The Idea." FactCheck.org: "President Obama hasn’t proposed a government-run [health care] plan and, in fact, has rejected the idea." [FactCheck.org, 5/6/09]

 

Factcheck.org: President Obama Hasn’t Proposed Government-Run Health Care. FactCheck.org: "We’ve written before about conservatives claiming that Congress, or Obama, or Washington, or Democrats in general want the U.S. to have a Canadian-style, government-run health care system. The truth of the matter is that the president has repeatedly said he doesn’t." [FactCheck.org, 8/10/09]

AMA President-Elect Reassured: Physicians And Patients Don’t Need To Fear The Rise Of A Monolithic Health System With No Choice From President Obama. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that “American Medical Association president-elect Dr. James Rohack told Mississippi doctors Friday…Physicians and patients don't need to fear the rise of a monolithic health system with no choice, because it's not something the American people would accept, Rohack said. The president didn't advocate a single-payer system for the United States at the meeting, Rohack said. Obama said he believes in access to health care for all with a system that is a mix of public and private sources with patients still able to see the physicians of their choice.” [Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 5/30/09]

 

REALITY: MEDICARE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT BENEFITS, THEY STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

 

FactCheck.org: “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits’ Under [Health Reform Legislation], And In Fact Have Done Our Best To Debunk [Those] Claims.” FactCheck.org wrote: “We never have said that seniors would suffer ‘massive cuts to Medicare benefits’ under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect.” [FactCheck.org, 11/3/09]

 

AARP Applauded The Senate For Bill: “Makes Progress Towards Achieving Meaningful Relief For Millions Of Older Americans…Makes Improvements To The Medicare Program.” AARP said in a press release: “We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services. The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage.” [AARP, 11/18/09]

 

AARP Warned Seniors Against “Myths and Scare Tactics” In Health Reform Debate, Said “None Of The Health Care Reform Proposals Being Considered By Congress Would Cut Medicare Benefits.” AARP wrote in a myth-vs.-fact health reform website that, “There are special interest groups trying to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics. Like the notion that health care reform would ration your care, hurt Medicare or be a government takeover. Actually, these are false statements.” AARP concluded about the Medicare claim that, “[n]one of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.” [AARP, Myths Vs. Facts]

 

REALITY: AMERICANS WANT HEALTH CARE REFORM

 

Since October Of 2008, Never Less Than 53% Of Americans, And Up To 62% Of Americans Has Said That “Given the Serious Economic Problems Facing The Country…It Is More Important Than Ever To Take On Health Care Reform Now.” In a poll conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation since October of 2008 through November of 2009, support for health reform even in the face of “the serious economic problems facing the country,” 53 to 62 percent of those surveyed have agreed with the statement: “it is more important than ever to take on health care reform now.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, November 2009]

 

RWJF CEO On Physician Poll: "There Should Be No Confusion About Where Doctors Stand In The Debate Over Expanding Health Insurance Coverage: They Want Reform." "A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) study published in today's New England Journal of Medicine shows that a majority of physicians (63 percent) support a health reform proposal that includes both a public option and traditional private insurance. If the additional 10 percent of doctors who support an entirely public health system are included, then approximately three out of four physicians nationwide support inclusion of a public option. A minority (27 percent) support a private-only option that would provide subsidies for low-income individuals to purchase private insurance. Surveying a nationally representative sample of 2,130 physicians across America, researchers Salomeh Keyhani, M.D., M.P.H., and Alex Federman, M.D., M.P.H., from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City queried physicians about a range of options for expanding health insurance coverage. They also examined physician views on the possibility of Medicare expansion and found that the majority of physicians surveyed (58 percent) support expanding Medicare eligibility to those between the ages of 55 and 64. 'There should be no confusion about where doctors stand in the debate over expanding health insurance coverage: they want reform,' said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation." [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 9/14/09]

 

AARP Endorsed The Senate Health Care Bill. "We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services." [AARP release, 11/18/09]

_____

The House Republican Conference also issued this News Release.

Pence: New CBO Report Confirms Latest Democrat Health Care Bill Increases Premiums on Families

“I urge the president to call on Democrat leaders to start over or explain to the American people why lowering health care costs isn’t a promise worth keeping.”

Washington, DC - U.S. Congressman Mike Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, released the following statement today after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that the Senate Democrat health care bill will increase individual insurance premiums by $2,100 or up to 13 percent in 2016:


"The CBO has confirmed what every American already knows, the Democrats' plan for a government takeover of health care will dramatically raise health care costs on working families. This latest CBO study reveals that the health care bill before the U.S. Senate will raise individual insurance premiums by up to 13 percent. That means every family that refuses the government's one-size-fits-all plan, will be forced to spend an additional $2,100 a year to keep their current health care.  

"During last year's campaign, the president promised to deliver health care reform that would lower premiums by $2,500. In light of this new CBO report, I urge the president to call on Democrat leaders to start over or explain to the American people why lowering health care costs isn't a promise worth keeping.

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I encourage you to cut through all the partisan politics and check the facts for yourself by visiting the Congressional Budget Office website.  You can also read the CBO’s latest report:  An Analysis of Health Insurance Premiums Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act here.

I would like to hear your thoughts on the health care debate.  I’ll share your opinions and concerns here on the blog.

Thanks for making WYMT-TV your source for news and information.  We appreciate your trust.

God Bless America!
 
Neil Middleton
WYMT Mountain News
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