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Health Insurance Reform Daily Mythbuster: Wall Street Journal Editorial Peddles False Talking Points

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

Today, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial that perpetuated a number of misleading claims about the public insurance option, including the myth that it will ‘blow up the private insurance market' - and that's why hospitals and doctors don't support it.

From the editorial:

The public option's renewed momentum is mostly the product of the raw ideological willfulness of the progressive left. Led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they're not about to let a once-in-a-generation opportunity pass without a fight, and they view the public option as a down payment on single-payer health care. They're right to think so; a public option will quickly blow up the private insurance market...

But the reality is that no one wants a public option except the political left. Doctors and hospitals hate the idea as much as insurers do... [10/22/09]

MYTH: The public health insurance option will ‘blow up the private insurance market.'

FACT: America's Affordable Health Choices Act will NOT ‘blow up the private insurance market.' In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reports it builds on the current private, employer-provided health care system we have now and expands enrollment in private insurance.

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.

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.

MYTH: 'No one wants a public option except the political left. Doctors and hospitals hate the idea as much as insurers do.'

FACT: Poll after poll shows that a strong majority of Americans support the concept of a public health insurance option.

According to a recent poll of physicians by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation - more than seven in 10 doctors support health reform that includes both a public and private health insurance option.

Organizations and associations representing members of the medical community support the principles found in America's Affordable Health Choices Act - including, but not limited to:

  • American Medical Association
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • National Physicians Alliance
  • American College of Surgeons
  • American College of Physicians
  • American Academy of Nursing
  • American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
  • Emergency Nurses Association
  • National Association of Children's Hospitals
  • National Association of Community Health Centers
  • Coalition of Full-Service Community Hospitals