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Health Insurance Reform Mythbuster: The Republican Radio Address

Even after their myths have been debunked, opponents of health insurance reform continue to spread false claims. Today, in the Republican radio address, Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk repeated the same tired attacks on the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962). Once again, the facts continue to knock these myths down.

MYTH: HR 3962 has no real medical liability reform.

FACT: H.R. 3962, coupled with Administration efforts, provides for strong medical malpractice and evidence-based patient safety reforms, to encourage pre-court settlements and medical expert review of potential cases. We believe there is room for improvement in the medical liability system, but not at the expense of patients' rights.

Real medical liability reform needs to include protections for patients - so that restrictions on legal recourse don't lead to poorer quality care for patients. As proposed by House Republicans, medical malpractice reform would go too far in restricting legitimate claims, and do nothing to promote patient safety or foster communication between doctors and their patients.

MYTH: HR 3962 does not let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines.

FACT: Democrats embrace the concept with an actually workable, effective solution: Interstate Compacts are in the Affordable Health Care for America Act , but only because all of the bill's market reforms and consumer protections will be firmly in place in every state - ensuring that Interstate Compacts cannot become the race to the bottom that they will be under the Republican plan.

The Republican proposal, which would allow insurance to be sold across state lines in the absence of any broader reforms to prevent discrimination in the individual marketplace, would undermine patients' protections, drive up premiums and create a race to the bottom on health care coverage and consumer protections. Insurers would be allowed to cherry pick healthy enrollees by marketing strategies, benefit design, and targeting those states with the least consumer protections. That would drive up premiums for everyone else trying to buy insurance in the state. And under such policies, states would have a further incentive to gut consumer protections, which would create a devastating race to the bottom.

MYTH: HR 3962 would increase the federal deficit.

FACT: Health insurance reform will not add to the deficit. According to the CBO, the House bill will reduce the deficit by $104 billion over the first ten years (2010-2019). Furthermore, the legislation will continue to reduce the deficit over the second ten year period (2020-2029). In fact, the House Republican substitute bill does almost nothing to expand coverage of the uninsured -which costs us all--but only reduces the deficit by $68 billion over the same period.

MYTH: HR 3962 will cut benefits to seniors:

FACT: The Affordable Health Care for America Act improves benefits for seniors through: better primary care; free preventive care; lower drug costs by closing the donut hole; and safer hospital care. The legislation also eliminates overpayments and waste fraud and abuse and extends the solvency of Medicare.

In their endorsement of the legislation, AARP states:

“We started this debate more than two years ago with the twin goals of making coverage affordable to our younger members and protecting Medicare for seniors,” said AARP CEO Barry Rand. “We've read the Affordable Health Care for America Act and we can say with confidence that it meets those goals with improved benefits for people in Medicare and needed health insurance market reforms to help ensure every American can purchase affordable health coverage.”

MYTH: HR 3962 will not guarantee medical rights from government waiting lines or restrictions.

FACT: America's Affordable Health Choices Act builds on the current private, employer-provided health care system - and, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, will expand enrollment in private insurance by an estimated 6 million Americans.

Rather than creating a “government takeover of health care,” the bill is designed to help make the health insurance market work better - improving competition and choice for consumers through the creation of a one-stop shopping marketplace called a Health Insurance Exchange.