You are here

Health Insurance Reform Daily Mythbuster: Congressman Cantor's Misleading Claims

Health insurance reform opponents continue to spread myths about America's Affordable Health Choices Act including what the public health insurance option is and how it works.

Today, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) tried desperately to explain away polls showing strong public support for a public health insurance option as ‘skewed,' by claiming the question should be about a government plan replacing private health insurance. [10/21/09]  The American people have seen these scare tactics before and aren't buying it.  They know that the House bill will not lead to a government takeover of the health care system nor will it force people into a public health insurance option.

To see more polling information on Americans' support of the public option, click here.

MYTH: A public health insurance option will force people to lose health coverage they already have through private insurers and will lead to a government takeover of the health care system.

FACT: Far from a government takeover of the health care system, America's Affordable Health Choices Act builds on the current private, employer-provided health care system we have now and expands enrollment in private insurance.  Indeed, the non-partisan CBO has explicitly determined that the public health insurance plan would NOT replace private health insurance plans.

The House bill includes a new Health Insurance Exchange, which will allow those without access to affordable employer-sponsored insurance, small business employees, and the self-employed to comparison shop - encouraging plans to compete on price and quality and providing Americans more coverage options.  One of the many choices of health insurance within the Exchange will be a public health insurance plan.  It will provide needed competition to private insurers - including in the many areas of our country dominated by just one or two private insurers today. 

The public option will operate on a level playing field.  It will be subject to the same market reforms and consumer protections as other private plans in the Exchange and it will be self-sustaining - financed only by its premiums.

Participating in the public plan will be up to the individual - no one can be forced into the public option.  If an employer is providing their employees' health insurance through the Exchange, it is the employee - not the employer - choosing the plan.  The only way someone would be in the public plan is as a result of their own individual choice. (Under the bill, in the first two years of the Exchange, small employers may participate; in later years, the Administration has the discretion to permit larger employers to participate but there is no timeline for this participation.)

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has explicitly determined that the public health insurance plan would NOT replace private health insurance plans.  The CBO projects that, under the House bill, about one-third of Americans using the Exchange would choose the public option and two-thirds would choose private plans.  Far from a “government takeover of health care,” CBO projects that, under the House bill, by 2019, about 11 or 12 million Americans - or less than 4 percent of Americans - would be enrolled in the public option.