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Health Insurance Reform - DAILY MYTHBUSTER: This Week in Mythbusting

Health insurance reform opponents continue to spread myths about components of America's Affordable Health Choices Act. But the mythbusters broke through the clutter--at least some of it--with the facts.

Senator Chuck Grassley, who last week spread several disproven myths about the bill, admitted on CBS's Face the Nation that the House bill “does not intend to do that” when confronted with his earlier claim that the bill would establish a “government program that determines you're going to pull the plug on grandma.”

One particular mythteller so muddied the water--as described by Bob Franken in Politics Daily--we're not even sure what to bust at this point: “GOP Chairman Michael Steele is once again demonstrating how astute he is. Quick to recognize how his op-ed piece 'Protecting Our Seniors' landed with such a thud, he has raced out to do what politicians always do when such things happen: further muddle his remarks. To address the embarrassment from his own words, he went on NPR this morning to make sure nobody has the slightest idea what he was talking about. Mission accomplished.”

The Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein weighed in with a devastating column to highlight the types of “lies, distortions and political scare tactics that Steele and other Republicans have used to poison the national debate over health reform. Have you no shame, sir? Have you no shame?” [8/26/09]

Myth: “Explode the Deficit” - The House bill will increase the deficit and we can't afford it right now.

Fact: Health reform will not increase the deficit.  On July 17, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed that the House bill will be fully paid for. CBO estimated that the cost of the bill's reforms was $1.042 trillion over 10 years, while the bill's cost savings and revenues totaled $1.048 trillion. Since then, amendments to the bill have trimmed the cost even more.

But most importantly, we cannot reduce the deficit without getting health care costs under control.  The House bill will lower health care costs over the long-term, and according to a Council of Economic Advisors report, if we direct those savings to deficit reduction, we see big payoffs. [Find More Facts Here]

Myth: “Doctor and Nurse Shortage” - Adding new patients to an already over-taxed system will only exacerbate nurse and primary care physician shortages.

Fact: America's Affordable Health Choices Act will not only provide affordable coverage to 97% of Americans and other necessary reforms, the bill will enhance and grow the nation's primary care health professional workforce through strengthened scholarship, loan repayment and training grant programs. [Find More Fact Here]

Myth: “Cutting Medicare” - “… congressional Democrats are planning to raid, not aid, Medicare by cutting $500 billion from the program to fund” reform.

Fact: Nothing in this bill would reduce benefits to seniors. The cost savings measures in Medicare under America's Affordable Health Choices Act are all targeted at protecting and improving services and ensuring choice, by achieving new efficiencies; expanding authority to fight waste, fraud and abuse; and eliminating the wasteful Medicare Advantage subsidies to private insurance companies that Republicans ignored for eight years. In fact, the $563 billion in savings over 10 years is a gross number--with a net of $340 billion in new spending to IMPROVE Medicare benefits and health care for seniors. [Find More Fact Here]

Myth: “Rationing” - “The government-run health-care experiment that Obama and the Democrats propose will give seniors less power to control their own medical decisions and create government boards that would decide what treatments would or would not be funded… ‘comparative effectiveness research'… could actually lead to government boards rationing treatments based on age.”

Fact: America's Affordable Health Choices Act would empower physicians and patients to make the best decisions. Opponents of “comparative effectiveness research” are trying to claim government panels would decide what care you can get.  The bill explicitly PROHIBITS the Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research and the Comparative Effectiveness Research Commission from using this research to define, limit, or mandate treatment or services.

In reality, it would provide doctors with the best research and information on what treatments work - in effect, making them smarter and better able to treat you.  Additionally,  a committee of doctors, patient advocates, and other experts who do not work for the government would help make recommendations about the minimum benefits insurance plans should provide, to protect patients. [Find More Fact Here]

Myth: “Death Panels” - “… end-of-life care... becomes troublesome when the government gets involved…”

Fact: America's Affordable Health Choices Act simply reimburses the cost of patients voluntarily speaking with their doctors about their values and preferences regarding end-of-life care - empowering older Americans to have their wishes observed.  There is no mandate in the bill to complete an advance care directive or living will.  In fact, end-of-life decision-making has been a bipartisan policy in America prior to this debate.  [Find More Fact Here]

Myth: “Taxpayer Funded Abortions” - The House bill will force taxpayers to pay for abortions.

Fact: The latest version of the House bill continues longstanding federal policy, which currently bars federal funding for paying for abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman--but allows private insurance companies to offer abortion coverage.  The bill preserves the status quo in abortion policy.  In fact, the bill clearly spells out that no federal funds can be used to pay for abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman--including that no affordability credits will pay for coverage in private or public insurance. [Find More Fact Here]

For more health insurance reform myth busting, please click here.

For more information on America's Affordable Health Choices Act, please click here.