Fact-Checking President Obama’s Health Care Talking Points

John Boehner
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Posted: Sep 23, 2009 9:46 AM

“If you misrepresent what's in this plan, we will call you out,” President Obama warned in his health care address to Congress earlier this month.

Fair enough. But the President himself has made numerous claims during this debate that don’t meet the straight-face test.

When the President says that health care reform will not require anyone to drop their current coverage, he fails to account for an independent analysis by the Lewin Group showing that as many as 114 million Americans could lose their current coverage and instead end up on a government-run plan under House Democrats’ proposal (H.R. 3200.) Even the most conservative estimates say millions could be shifted to a government-run plan.

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When the President pledges that reform will not add to the deficit, not even a little, he neglects to mention that House Democrats’ plan would increase the deficit by $239 billion over 10 years, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

What’s worse, when the President insists that middle-class families won’t see a tax increase – as he did repeatedly during his recent appearance on ABC’s This Week – it’s as if he failed to read the health care bills altogether. On page 167 of H.R. 3200, the title of section 401 reads: “TAX ON INDIVIDUALS WITHOUT ACCEPTABLE HEALTH CARE COVERAGE.” The Associated Press didn’t mince words when it began a fact check piece, “Memo to President Obama: it’s a tax.”

If the President read these bills, he’d also find that his pledge to protect seniors’ Medicare benefits rings hollow. According to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, House Democrats’ plan cuts Medicare Advantage programs by more than $172 billion.

As a result, six million seniors will be denied access to an affordable Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, including three million who will lose the plan they currently have, according to an analysis completed by Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee. And that’s just the beginning. The House Democrats’ bill includes a total of more than $500 billion in Medicare cuts, meaning reduced benefits and fewer choices for seniors.

To be fair, there are areas in which the President has sought to make up for the shortcomings of Democrats’ costly government takeover of health care. It was encouraging when the President’s pledge to Congress that “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions” was followed by a meeting at the White House with pro-life activists. It turns out, however, that the Administration would not commit to inserting a provision that explicitly excludes abortion from health care reform.

Thus, the status quo remains: House Democrats’ health care legislation would allow the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services to include abortion as a benefit in the government-run health care option.

It was also encouraging when the President assured law-abiding taxpayers that illegal immigrants should not and will not be covered under the Democrats’ health care plan. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service has confirmed, however, that there is no mechanism included in the House bill to verify that individuals are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants before they receive government benefits.

House Republicans offered two amendments in the committee process to correct this: the first would have prevented illegal immigrants from being automatically enrolled into Medicaid and the second would have required better screening for applicants for federally-subsidized health care to ensure they are actually citizens or legal immigrants. Both were rejected by Democrats.

These are just a couple of the many ideas House Republicans have offered to improve Americans’ health care. For instance, why not allow small employers to group together through national associations so they can buy health insurance for their employees like big companies and unions can today? Why not allow the American people to buy health care plans across state lines? Why not get serious about ending junk lawsuits and more importantly the costly defensive medicine that doctors are forced to practice?

We outlined these proposals in a letter to the President back in May and asked to sit down with him and discuss them. The response we received essentially said ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’

For his part, the President has talked about a “whole series of Republican ideas” being included in health care reform. This is just another myth perpetuated by the President, whose rhetoric simply doesn’t match the reality of congressional Democrats’ government-run health care proposals.

This isn’t about calling out President Obama for the sake of doing so. The American people deserve to know the unvarnished truth about the potential consequences of this costly government takeover of their health care. The President’s failure to meet this common-sense standard is yet another indication it’s time to hit the reset button and start over in a bipartisan way to achieve health care reforms hard-working Americans can support and afford.