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Health Insurance Reform: This Week In Mythbusting

Health insurance reform opponents continue to spread myths about America's Affordable Health Choices Act. This week, the mythbusters caught two top Congressional Republicans and a major newspaper trying to mislead America with claims that the House bill would lead to a government takeover of the health care system, was bad for small businesses and that, despite all the polls showing the opposite, the American people really don't like the public option. Below are those myths and others we encountered this week:

MYTH: House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) - ‘Democrats in Washington are pressing ahead with a costly government-takeover of the health care…'

FACT: America's Affordable Health Choices Act builds on the current private, employer-provided health care system we have now - and will expand enrollment in private insurance by an estimated 16 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 Health Insurance Exchange.  [LEARN MORE FACTS HERE]

MYTH: House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) - Health insurance reform ‘will squeeze the nation's entrepreneurs further, keep people out of work longer.'

FACT: A recent report by the Small Business Majority found that without health insurance reform, small businesses would pay nearly $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years in health care 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 in their businesses to grow the economy. [LEARN MORE FACTS HERE]

MYTH: House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) - polls showing strong public support for a public health insurance option are ‘skewed' and the questions should be about a government plan replacing private health insurance.

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.  To see more polling information on Americans' support of the public option, click here. [LEARN MORE FACTS HERE]

MYTH: The Wall Street Journal - 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 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. [LEARN MORE FACTS HERE]

MYTH:The Wall Street Journal -‘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 - including more than seven in 10 doctors- support the concept of a public health insurance option. Furthermore, dozens of organizations and associations representing members of the medical community support the principles found in America's Affordable Health Choices Act. [LEARN MORE FACTS HERE]

MYTH: Medicare Advantage plans run by private insurance companies have been able to provide better value to U.S. taxpayers than traditional Medicare.

FACT:  According to the nonpartisan Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, U.S. taxpayers pay 14 percent more on average to private Medicare Advantage plans to cover Medicare beneficiaries than it would cost traditional Medicare to cover them. On average, this giveaway to private insurers costs an extra $1,000 per enrollee.  This adds up to an extra $12 billion a year--and that cost is passed on to all Medicare beneficiaries. [LEARN MORE FACTS HERE]

MYTH:  The current system of Medicare Advantage plans, despite the overpayments, is a good investment for everyone - including America's seniors.

FACT:  Everyone pays the price for these overpayments - including the 77 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in traditional Medicare.  According to the Chief Actuary for the Medicare program, seniors in traditional Medicare pay higher premiums to subsidize Medicare Advantage plans - a typical couple paying an additional $90 a year. The Chief Actuary has also stated that the overpayments to the Medicare Advantage program speeds up the depletion of the Medicare trust fund by 18 months and threatens the long-term solvency of Medicare. [LEARN MORE FACTS HERE]

MYTH:  Enactment of the House health insurance reform bill will mean the elimination of private Medicare Advantage plans.

FACT:  The House health insurance reform bill does not eliminate Medicare Advantage plans - instead, it simply phases out the overpayments going to these plans.  Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office projects that most private Medicare Advantage plans would continue to operate, once the current overpayments are phased out. [LEARN MORE FACTS HERE]

MYTH:  Phasing out these subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans will undermine the economic viability of these plans.

FACT:  The House bill phases out these overpayments to private Medicare Advantage plans at a time when the profits of the major health insurance companies are skyrocketing.  Profits at 10 of the largest publicly traded health insurance companies increased 428 percent between 2000 and 2007 - rising from $2.4 billion in 2000 to $12.9 billion in 2007.  And one of the sources of profits for many of these insurers is their Medicare Advantage plans. [LEARN MORE FACTS HERE]