Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

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DavidRoss
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Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by DavidRoss » Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:20 am

FACT CHECK: Premiums Would Rise Under Obama Plan:
Obama's claim that premiums would fall under his health plan misses the fine print
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON March 17, 2010 (AP)
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar wrote:Buyers, beware: President Barack Obama says his health care overhaul will lower premiums by double digits, but check the fine print.

Premiums are likely to keep going up even if the health care bill passes, experts say. If cost controls work as advertised, annual increases would level off with time. But don't look for a rollback. Instead, the main reason premiums would be more affordable is that new government tax credits would help cover the cost for millions of people.

Listening to Obama pitch his plan, you might not realize that's how it works.

Visiting a Cleveland suburb this week, the president described how individuals and small businesses will be able to buy coverage in a new kind of health insurance marketplace, gaining the same strength in numbers that federal employees have.

"You'll be able to buy in, or a small business will be able to buy into this pool," Obama said. "And that will lower rates, it's estimated, by up to 14 to 20 percent over what you're currently getting. That's money out of pocket."

And that's not all.

Obama asked his audience for a show of hands from people with employer-provided coverage, what most Americans have.

"Your employer, it's estimated, would see premiums fall by as much as 3,000 percent," said the president, "which means they could give you a raise."

A White House press spokesman later said the president misspoke; he had meant to say annual premiums would drop by $3,000.

It could be a long wait.

"There's no question premiums are still going to keep going up," said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a research clearinghouse on the health care system. "There are pieces of reform that will hopefully keep them from going up as fast. But it would be miraculous if premiums actually went down relative to where they are today."

The statistics Obama based his claims on come from two sources. In both cases, the caveats got left out.

A report for the Business Roundtable, an association of big company CEOs, was the source for the claim that employers could save $3,000 per worker on health care costs, the White House said.

Issued in November, the report looked generally at proposals that Democrats were considering to curb health care costs, concluding they had the potential to significantly reduce future increases.

But the analysis didn't consider specific legislation, much less the final language being tweaked this week. It's unclear to what degree the bill that the House is expected to vote on within days would reduce costs for employers.

An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office of earlier Senate legislation suggested savings could be fairly modest.

It found that large employers would see premium savings of at most 3 percent compared with what their costs would have been without the legislation. That would be more like a few hundred dollars instead of several thousand.

The claim that people buying coverage individually would save 14 percent to 20 percent comes from the same budget office report, prepared in November for Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind. But the presidential sound bite fails to convey the full picture.

The budget office concluded that premiums for people buying their own coverage would go up by an average of 10 percent to 13 percent, compared with the levels they'd reach without the legislation. That's mainly because policies in the individual insurance market would provide more comprehensive benefits than they do today.

For most households, those added costs would be more than offset by the tax credits provided under the bill, and they would pay significantly less than they have to now.

The premium reduction of 14 percent to 20 percent that Obama cites would apply only to a portion of the people buying coverage on their own — those who decide they want to keep the skimpier kinds of policies available today.

Their costs would go down because more young people would be joining the risk pool and because insurance company overhead costs would be lower in the more efficient system Obama wants to create.

The president usually alludes to that distinction in his health care stump speech, saying the savings would accrue to those people who continue to buy "comparable" coverage to what they have today.

But many of his listeners may not pick up on it.

"People are likely to not buy the same low-value policies they are buying now," said health economist Len Nichols of George Mason University. "If they did buy the same value plans ... the premium would be lower than it is now. This makes the White House statement true. But is it possibly misleading for some people? Sure."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... z0iQbHBFJH
Let's see...Obama's going to lower health costs by forcing premiums to rise, but the IRS will see to it that it works out in the end. Does anyone else smell something fishy about this (besides Obama's deceptive sales tactics)?
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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rwetmore
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by rwetmore » Wed Mar 17, 2010 7:38 pm

DavidRoss wrote:FACT CHECK: Premiums Would Rise Under Obama Plan:
Obama's claim that premiums would fall under his health plan misses the fine print
No it doesn't. Obama knows the plan is going to make premiums rise. That is exactly what it is supposed to do. He's using an Alinksky tactic - say the opposite of what your doing or the opposite of what you're doing is to designed to achieve to deceive the public.

I'm still amazed and actually quite disturbed how many, even conservatives and republicans, think Obama and his administration are bunch of innocent idiots. They're not.

Let me give you some other examples:

You want to try and pass healthcare legislation that is specifically designed to ration care, say it's not going to ration care.

If your objective is to enact policies to bankrupt the country, say that you're enacting policies to reduce the deficit and prevent bankruptcy.

If your objective is to increase the deficit and the debt as much as possible, claim your losing sleep about the deficits to fool the public.

You want to pass the biggest pork infested bill in political history without even reading it, say in your campaign that "the days of congress passing bills with a bunch of pork in them are over."

You want to infuse your political office with more lobbyists than ever, say in your campaign you won't have any lobbyists.


GET THE IDEA?
"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history."
- Aldous Huxley

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened."
-Winston Churchill

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one!”
–Charles Mackay

"It doesn't matter how smart you are - if you don't stop and think."
-Thomas Sowell

"It's one of the functions of the mainstream news media to fact-check political speech and where there are lies, to reveal them to the voters."
-John F. (of CMG)

DavidRoss
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by DavidRoss » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:50 pm

No one suggested that Obama doesn't know exactly what he's doing.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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NancyElla
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by NancyElla » Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:19 am

rwetmore wrote: If your objective is to enact policies to bankrupt the country, say that you're enacting policies to reduce the deficit and prevent bankruptcy.
GET THE IDEA?
DavidRoss wrote:No one suggested that Obama doesn't know exactly what he's doing.
So, just to be sure I understand what you're saying--

Rwetmore, your contention is that President Obama's objective is to bankrupt the country; and DavidRoss, you concur?
"This is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great." --Willa Cather

living_stradivarius
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by living_stradivarius » Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:25 am

Mass.-type health care could wipe out economy, state Treasurer Timothy Cahill says
By The Associated Press
March 16, 2010, 12:42PM

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/ ... ld_wi.html

Timothy P. Cahill
BOSTON – The Massachusetts treasurer said Tuesday that Congress will “threaten to wipe out the American economy within four years” if it adopts a health-care overhaul modeled after the Bay State’s.

Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill – a former Democrat running as an independent for governor – said the local plan enacted in 2006 has succeeded only because of huge subsidies and favorable regulatory changes from the federal government.

“Who, exactly, is going to bail out the federal government if this plan goes national?” he asked.

Cahill made his remarks after Gov. Deval L. Patrick, a Democrat, accused him and Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker of being silent amid the state and national health care debates.

Cahill cited quotations in which he has called for the state to abandon its plan, and for the federal government not to match it.

He also gave reporters a copy of a recent state ledger sheet, showing the state’s Medicaid program ballooning from $7.5 billion to a projected $9.2 billion since the plan was adopted. Meanwhile, of the 407,000 newly insured, only 32 percent paid for private insurance wholly by themselves.

The remainder have received partial or total taxpayer subsidies to buy the insurance coverage required by the plan.

The Obama administration is asking the House and Senate to approve a national plan that includes a similar “individual mandate,” as well as an entity designed to match buyers with private health insurance plans.

Cahill said the Massachusetts equivalent, the Connector, had assisted only 5 percent of those who bought private insurance without any type of government assistance.

And he said that while the Massachusetts program has increased access to health insurance, it has nothing to rein in underlying cost increases, meaning it is steering more people to a broken system.

“If President (Barack) Obama and the Democrats repeat the mistake of the health insurance reform adopted here in Massachusetts on a national level, they will threaten to wipe out the American economy within four years,” the treasurer said.

Cahill’s comments came as the administration launched three days of hearings on rising health care costs in Massachusetts that threaten the 2006 law.

Patrick said the state has to come up with ways to ease the burden of soaring premiums on struggling businesses, individuals and families. Insurance premiums in Massachusetts rose more than 12 percent over a two-year period.

“We have to stop the sharp annual rise in health care costs and find lasting solutions,” the governor said.

Despite the rising costs of health care, businesses in Massachusetts continue to offer insurance to their workers at far higher rate than employers in other states, according to the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy.

In 2009, 76 percent of Massachusetts employers offered insurance to their employees, compared with 60 percent of employers nationwide.

Part of the problem of rising costs is that private health plans can pay widely different prices for the same procedure, according to HCFP Commissioner David Morales.

In 2008, the price paid for a normal delivery ranged from just over $3,000 to nearly $9,000. The highest price for a gastric-bypass procedure was more than seven times the lowest.
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living_stradivarius
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by living_stradivarius » Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:28 am

Uninsured ER Fallacy
http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/03/u ... llacy.html

The uninsured, it’s said, use emergency rooms for primary care. That’s expensive and ineffective. Once they’re insured, they’ll have regular doctors. Care will improve; costs will decline. Everyone wins. Great argument. Unfortunately, it’s untrue. A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the insured accounted for 83 percent of emergency-room visits, reflecting their share of the population. After Massachusetts adopted universal insurance, emergency-room use remained higher than the national average, an Urban Institute study found. More than two-fifths of visits represented non-emergencies. Of those, a majority of adult respondents to a survey said it was “more convenient” to go to the emergency room or they couldn’t “get [a doctor's] appointment as soon as needed.” … Medicare’s introduction in 1966 produced no reduction in mortality; some studies of extensions of Medicaid for children didn’t find gains.
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DavidRoss
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by DavidRoss » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:17 am

NancyElla wrote:
rwetmore wrote: If your objective is to enact policies to bankrupt the country, say that you're enacting policies to reduce the deficit and prevent bankruptcy.
GET THE IDEA?
DavidRoss wrote:No one suggested that Obama doesn't know exactly what he's doing.
So, just to be sure I understand what you're saying--

Rwetmore, your contention is that President Obama's objective is to bankrupt the country; and DavidRoss, you concur?
Okay, you got me. I should have been more specific in my response to rwetmore: The article I posted does not claim that Obama doesn't know true costs, just that he misstates them, leaves out significant details, and glosses over questionable stuff. For instance, if he told people front and center that his plan will make everyone's premiums rise and that the "savings" he promises for some depend on getting the IRS involved in taking money from families above an arbitrary income threshold and giving it to others below another threshold, then I think more people would want Toto to pull back the curtain.

As for whether Obama wants to bankrupt America, I doubt it. I think he knows what he's doing--running up unsustainable deficits with fiscal sleight of hand--but doesn't really understand the probable long-term consequences and thinks some future miracle will sort it all out. He's a Keynesian, in the worst sense: "In the long run, we're all dead."
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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NancyElla
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by NancyElla » Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:23 pm

DavidRoss wrote:
NancyElla wrote:
rwetmore wrote: If your objective is to enact policies to bankrupt the country, say that you're enacting policies to reduce the deficit and prevent bankruptcy.
GET THE IDEA?
DavidRoss wrote:No one suggested that Obama doesn't know exactly what he's doing.
So, just to be sure I understand what you're saying--

Rwetmore, your contention is that President Obama's objective is to bankrupt the country; and DavidRoss, you concur?
Okay, you got me. I should have been more specific in my response to rwetmore: The article I posted does not claim that Obama doesn't know true costs, just that he misstates them, leaves out significant details, and glosses over questionable stuff. For instance, if he told people front and center that his plan will make everyone's premiums rise and that the "savings" he promises for some depend on getting the IRS involved in taking money from families above an arbitrary income threshold and giving it to others below another threshold, then I think more people would want Toto to pull back the curtain.

As for whether Obama wants to bankrupt America, I doubt it. I think he knows what he's doing--running up unsustainable deficits with fiscal sleight of hand--but doesn't really understand the probable long-term consequences and thinks some future miracle will sort it all out. He's a Keynesian, in the worst sense: "In the long run, we're all dead."


"Keynesian, in the worst sense. . ." I think that's low, hitting me in one of my areas of admitted ignorance (below my educational belt, so to speak). I'll have to do some research before I even know what you mean! But then I'll get back to you. :D I, too, doubt that President Obama, or anyone else for that matter, would deliberately bankrupt the country in which his children will live their lives.

". . .his plan will make everyone's premiums rise"--Well, that is certainly not what the article said. My understanding of what the article says, after reading it a couple of times, is that premiums, which have been rising for awhile without any help from President Obama (as mine certainly have been), will probably continue to rise in the first year or more of the new program, albeit not as much as they would have risen without it. In other words, his program may fail to cause the rise to stop in its tracks.
Premiums are likely to keep going up even if the health care bill passes, experts say. If cost controls work as advertised, annual increases would level off with time.
"There's no question premiums are still going to keep going up," said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a research clearinghouse on the health care system. "There are pieces of reform that will hopefully keep them from going up as fast. But it would be miraculous if premiums actually went down relative to where they are today."
And, again according to the article, not everyone's premiums would be expected to rise--people buying their own coverage would expect to see a decrease in their costs.
The claim that people buying coverage individually would save 14 percent to 20 percent comes from the same budget office report, prepared in November for Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.
Unless, that is, they decide to buy new policies offering greater coverage, which it is expected many will do. Those policies, with increase coverage, would cost more.
The budget office concluded that premiums for people buying their own coverage would go up by an average of 10 percent to 13 percent, compared with the levels they'd reach without the legislation. That's mainly because policies in the individual insurance market would provide more comprehensive benefits than they do today.
People are likely to not buy the same low-value policies they are buying now," said health economist Len Nichols of George Mason University. "If they did buy the same value plans ... the premium would be lower than it is now. This makes the White House statement true.
So a more accurate title for the article would be something like this:

Under Obama health care plan, most premiums would increase a little, but not as much as they would have without the plan; some premiums will go down for people who purchase insurance individually, unless they decide to get new policies with more coverage, which will cost 10-14% more Unwieldy, to be sure, but not misleading, as the current title is.

If I were the copy editor, I'd have insisted on a title like Increase or decrease of Premiums under Obama health care plan will depend on type of insurance and amount of coverage And then people would actually have to read the article to see what it says, instead of mistakenly believing that all premiums will increase under the plan and that the plan itself causes the increases.
"This is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great." --Willa Cather

RebLem
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by RebLem » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:45 pm

Mr. Ross, I suspect, purposely called his post a "Fact Check" to give his post more gravitas than it deserves, to trade off the good reputation of the website FactCheck.org, when the truth of the matter is that his post contains no information from said website. So, I bothered to go to that website. The last information they have is on the February 25 Blair House Health Care Summit, some information from which may be now out of date on a few details. And, the truth is that not all the deception was just on one side. Here is what FactCheck.org actually has to say:

Health Care Summit Squabbles

This marathon discussion had no shortage of factual malpractice.

February 25, 2010, Updated: March 2, 2010
by Brooks Jackson, Viveca Novak, Lori Robertson, Justin Bank, D’Angelo Gore and Jess Henig.



Summary

We tuned in to watch the president’s health care summit at Blair House today — all six-plus hours of it. And we weren’t surprised to hear some factual missteps in the discussion:

1. Sen. Lamar Alexander said premiums will go up for “millions” under the Senate bill and president’s plan, while President Barack Obama said families buying the same coverage they have now would pay much less. Both were misleading. The Congressional Budget Office said premiums for those in the group market wouldn’t change significantly, while the average premium for those who buy their own coverage would go up.

2. Alexander also said “50 percent of doctors won’t see new [Medicaid] patients.” But a 2008 survey says only 28 percent refuse to take any new Medicaid patients.

3. Sen. Harry Reid cited a poll that said 58 percent would be “angry or disappointed” if health care overhaul doesn’t pass. True, but respondents in the poll were also split 43-43 on whether they supported the legislation that is currently being proposed.

4. Obama repeated an inflated claim we’ve covered before. He said insured families pay about $1,000 a year in their premiums to cover costs for the uninsured. That’s a disputed figure from an advocacy group. Other researchers put the figure at about $200.

5. Sen. Tom Coburn said “the government is responsible for 60 percent” of U.S. health spending. But that dubious figure includes lost tax revenue due to charitable contributions to hospitals and other questionable items. The real figure is about 47 percent.

6. Reid said “since 1981 reconciliation has been used 21 times. Most of it has been used by Republicans.” That’s true: GOP senators have used it 15 of the 21 times for legislation they wanted.

7. Rep. Charles Boustany said the main GOP-backed bill would reduce premium costs by “up to about 10 percent.” According to CBO, that’s true for the small group market, which accounts for only 15 percent of premiums. But premiums in the large group market would stay the same or go down by as much as 3 percent.

Analysis

Democrats and Republicans met with the president at Blair House Feb. 25 for several hours of televised discussion about health care overhaul. The summit was ripe with errors and misleading remarks.

Premium Costs, Up or Down?

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and President Barack Obama disagreed about how the Democrats’ health care overhaul efforts would affect premium costs.

It all started with Alexander’s remarks, when he said the president’s proposal, much like the Senate bill on which it is largely based, would increase premiums:

Alexander: For millions of Americans, premiums will go up because those — when people pay those new taxes, premiums will go up — they will also go up because of the government mandates.

Later, Obama took on that claim directly, saying that Alexander was wrong.

Obama: No, no, no. And this is an example of where we’ve got to get our facts straight. … So let me respond to what you just [said] Lamar, because it’s not factually accurate. Here’s what the Congressional Budget Office says. The costs for families for the same type of coverage as they’re currently receiving would go down 14 to 20 percent.

Actually, both men were misleading.

What CBO said (see Table 1, at link http://www.factcheck.org/2010/02/health ... squabbles/ ) is that for those who are in group policies, there would be no significant change in premiums, compared with what would be paid under current law. For those in large groups, there would be somewhere between no change at all and a 3 percent decrease in premium cost. For small groups, the change could fall between a 1 percent increase and a 2 percent decrease.

The only significant increases would be seen by those who buy their policies individually, CBO said. For those persons, the average premium per person would be between 10 percent and 13 percent higher.

Alexander was technically correct when he said premiums would go up "for millions." CBO figured that 32 million persons would fall into the nongroup market by 2016, should the Senate bill become law. What he didn’t mention is that they would make up only 17 percent of workers covered by private insurance. And he didn’t mention these costs would go up because benefits would improve in the nongroup market.

The senator was correct when he cited "mandates" as one cause for the increase – but that’s not the only reason premiums go up. The bill would require plans to have a standard level of benefits. However, most of those buying their own coverage would receive subsidies that would prompt them to buy more expensive plans than they normally would. CBO said "the average insurance policy in this market would cover a substantially larger share of enrollees’ costs for health care (on average) and a slightly wider range of benefits." People would basically use money from the government to buy themselves a nicer plan than they would if they were only using their own money. CBO said well over half of those buying individual policies — 57 percent — would get government subsidies "that would reduce their costs well below the premiums that would be charged for such policies under current law."

But Obama also misled when he claimed that the costs for "families" would go down by 14 to 20 percent "for the same type of coverage as they’re currently receiving." For one thing, he was referring only to policies purchased directly by individuals — not to all families. And as we’ve seen, the bill generally would require more generous coverage than is currently provided, at higher cost. Overall, premiums in the individual market would go up, not down. Some in the nongroup market might choose to keep their current policy, with no changes. The legislation would permit that for a few years. But CBO said those "grandfathered" policies probably would not see a substantial change in their premium costs, relative to current law.

One last point: Alexander said “taxes” would also cause premium costs to go up – but that’s not really the case, according to CBO. Paradoxically, CBO predicts that the Senate bill’s excise tax on high-cost health plans would actually bring premium costs down. That’s because the tax would induce employers and employees to choose lower-cost plans with less coverage, to avoid being hit by the tax. CBO said the average premium for those affected by the tax would be 9 percent to 12 percent lower. The bill also includes some taxes on medical device manufacturers and drug importers; CBO found those taxes would have a less than 1 percent effect on premium costs.

Medicaid Naysayers?

Sen. Alexander noted that Obama’s proposal, like the Senate-passed bill, relies to a great extent on Medicaid — which he said "none of us would want to be a part of because 50 percent of doctors won’t see new patients." That claim was echoed by GOP Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, who said "Doctors don’t take Medicaid."

But according to a 2008 survey of 4,700 physicians by the Center for Studying Health System Change, nationwide only 28 percent of physicians won’t accept any new patients who are insured by Medicaid. HSC, which is funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research Inc., also found that 19.2 percent accept some new Medicaid patients, while 53 percent accept most or all of them.

Poll-Watchers

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada cited a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from this month showing that 58 percent of people would be "angry or disappointed" if health care legislation doesn’t pass.

Reid: It was interesting what that poll said: 58 percent of Americans would be disappointed or angry if we did not do health care reform this year — 58 percent.

Reid is correct, as far as he goes. When asked how they would feel "if Congress decides to STOP work on health care reform and doesn’t pass a law this year," 38 percent said they would be "disappointed" and another 20 percent would be "angry" — a total of 58 percent.

But the same poll also showed that only 32 percent supported passing a comprehensive health care bill right away, while another 41 percent wanted to put it on hold until later in the year or indefinitely, and 20 percent wanted to give up on comprehensive change for the moment and pass only key provisions. And regarding the health care legislation currently being proposed, only 43 percent supported it, while 43 percent opposed it.

Meanwhile Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said a majority of Americans are against the health care overhaul as it has been framed thus far:

McConnell: If you average all the polls, the American people are opposed, 55 to 37.

He’s reasonably close. Pollster.com puts the weighted average of current polls on the subject at 51.4 percent opposed and 41.9 percent in favor. Those polls ask the question a number of different ways: about the Senate plan, the House plan, Obama’s proposals and earlier iterations of all of those.

McConnell’s figures also are in the neighborhood of what some recent major polls have found. A Jan. 22-24 survey by CNN found 38 percent favor and 58 percent oppose the bills passed by Congress. A Quinnipiac poll done earlier in January came up with 34 percent who "mostly approve," while 54 percent "mostly disapprove." And National Public Radio’s poll released Jan. 26 asked about Obama’s proposal specifically, finding that 39 percent approved, while 55 percent disapproved.

Obama’s Inflated Claim

Obama said that families with insurance pay $1,000 to $1,100 a year as part of their premiums to cover the cost of health care for the uninsured. We’ve dinged him on that inflated claim before. The president got the figure from the health care advocacy group Families USA, which calculated it by dividing "uncompensated care" — the proportion of care given to the uninsured that’s not covered out of pocket or by public or private funds — by the number of insured households. But that’s not a fair calculation.

Researchers from the Urban Institute looked at Families USA’s conclusions and questioned its premise that all or even most of uncompensated costs are shifted directly to the privately insured. In fact, Urban Institute researchers found that only $8 billion of uncompensated costs would be paid for by the insured in 2008 — about $200 per family. The rest is taken care of by other sources, such as government programs that reimburse physicians for uncompensated care, or physicians who take smaller profits.

Coburn’s Cost Comments

During his remarks, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said that "the government is responsible for 60 percent of the country’s health spending." It’s a statistic he’s touted before. But it’s a misleading claim that includes tax revenue lost to the government because of charitable contributions to hospitals and other calculations not normally included in the figure for public spending on health care.

The Congressional Research Service has found that, "in 2007, national expenditures amounted to $2.24 trillion, of which 53.8% came from private sources such as private health insurance and 46.8% came from public (federal, state, and local government) sources." So what is Coburn talking about?

Coburn asked CRS to consider the effects of tax subsides on overall health care spending by government. As the agency succinctly summarizes:

CRS: Take a dollar an employer pays for a premium for an employee’s health insurance. This dollar is part of the employee’s compensation, but it is not taxed like other income (at an average federal, state and local tax rate of 15%); it is excluded from income for income tax purposes. In essence, the employee receives a 15 cent government subsidy for this dollar spent on health insurance—the government pays 15 cents and the employee pays 85 cents.

However, CRS explains in a footnote that "most economists agree that the costs of employer provided fringe benefits are passed on to employees," not governments. Nonetheless, CRS crunched the numbers for Coburn and calculated that "public sources" account for 60 percent of health care spending if you consider these tax subsides to employees with health insurance, individuals’ deductions for out-of-pocket medical expenditures, and even private "charitable contributions to hospitals and other providers."

Reconciliation

Reid said Democrats were not pushing the idea of using "reconciliation," a legal maneuver that would allow health care to pass by a simple majority without filibuster. But he said Republicans had used it more often than Democrats.

Reid: But remember, since 1981 reconciliation has been used 21 times. Most of it has been used by Republicans, for major things, like much of the Contract for America, Medicare reform, the tax cuts for rich people in America. So reconciliation isn’t something that’s never been done before.

Scholars from the Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute agree. In an article published in The New Republic magazine, Thomas Mann and Molly Reynolds of Brookings and Norman Ornstein of AEI cited 22 instances of reconciliation between 1980 and 2008, including the Personal Responsibility Act, which made changes to welfare; Bush’s two big tax cuts; and the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act, which made changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

Three reconciliation bills, all written by Republican majorities, were vetoed by President Clinton. Of those remaining, 13 were used by Republican-majority Senates and six by Democratic majorities.

The authors wrote that passing health care legislation in this fashion would fit a pattern going back three decades.

Update, March 2: We originally wrote that the Mann, Reynolds and Ornstein article said using reconciliation to pass a health care overhaul would be the "most ambitious" use of the process to date. Since then, Mann, the lead author, told us that this characterization doesn’t apply to the current situation. "We argued last year that reconciliation legitimately could be used for health reform, but that it would be ambitious, difficult and partial, given the constraints of the process," Mann told us. "Its much more limited use this year, adding amendments after the bill itself has passed following a successful cloture vote, is very modest and unquestionably legitimate."

More Premium Cost Claims

Republican Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana claimed that the House GOP health care bill would bring down health insurance premiums:

Boustany: We put forth a plan earlier in the year, during the debate, that actually the Congressional Budget Office showed that it brings down the cost of premiums up to about 10 percent. And, actually, for individuals seeking — and families seeking insurance in the individual market, those cost savings could even be higher.

It’s true that the CBO found that health care premiums for those in the small group market would decrease between 7 percent and 10 percent by 2016. But the small group market accounts for just 15 percent of premiums, according to the CBO. It estimated smaller drops for other segments of the private market. For example, premiums in the individual market, which accounts for just 5 percent of the private market, would go down between 5 percent and 8 percent, CBO said. The other 80 percent of premiums, which make up the large group market, may go down by as much as 3 percent, CBO said, but may actually stay the same as under current law.

http://www.factcheck.org/2010/02/health ... squabbles/
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by NancyElla » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:00 pm

The FactCheck article was interesting. It sure is helpful to have someone else track down the actual truth (or "truthiness") of these statements. I should probably "FactCheck"-in more often!

When dealing with such a complex set of numbers from polls, projections, public records, etc., it is very difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff oneself. Different individuals and groups frequently use information from different sources, and even when they are using the same data set, they can come to very different conclusions and "spin" the numbers very differently. It reminds me of Mark Twain's three kinds of lies--lies, damn lies, and statistics!
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by RebLem » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:14 pm

NancyElla wrote:The FactCheck article was interesting. It sure is helpful to have someone else track down the actual truth (or "truthiness") of these statements. I should probably "FactCheck"-in more often!

When dealing with such a complex set of numbers from polls, projections, public records, etc., it is very difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff oneself. Different individuals and groups frequently use information from different sources, and even when they are using the same data set, they can come to very different conclusions and "spin" the numbers very differently. It reminds me of Mark Twain's three kinds of lies--lies, damn lies, and statistics!
And its complicated by that fact that the legislative process on these proposals has been considerably more convoluted than usual. Once you pin down some facts about one version of the bill, a series of significant amendments is adopted which changes the picture, and you're never quite surewhich version you're talking about. Add to that the fact that some folk who are advocates for one party or other or one special interest or other have taken on the practice of "mixing and matching" to give either more idealistic or more dystopic views of what is happening than is fair by any standard, and its hard for an ordinary citizen to keep track.
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by JackC » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:53 pm

The fact is that no one has any clue how the vast new set of regulations and government agencies are going to effect healthcare.

From the start, this was about creating a new entitlement. To the extent that it was even an issue at all, the cost issue was always secondary to people pushing this.

Once it became clear that cost was an issue to most Americans, its proponents have been arguing that it will reduce costs!! Baloney - No one has made even a plausible, let alone compelling, argument as to how this is going to do anything to reduce healthcare costs - If they had, Warren Buffet, a big Obama fan, would not have come out and said that it doesn't and urge that congress start over to do something to control costs.

When people started worrying about the deficit, its proponents started claiming that it will reduce the deficit!! They even point to CBO "projections" to support this.

What nonsense, those projection are based on assumptions fed to it by the administration/congress. The economic growth assumptions are optimistic to say the least.

Also, they assume that $500 billion will be cut from Medicare. Some assumption!! That claim/assumption in fact a fraud. You might as well assume you are going to hot the lottery. Anyone who believes that congress is going to cut Medicare by $500 billion is too stupid to take care of his or her own affairs.

This was always about creating new entitlement and never had anything to do with its cost.

But letting the government take over this area is going to drive lots of people nuts.

Doctors complain all the time about how all the red tape and paperwork complicates their practice. Once every move by the insurance companies are being regulated the government, there are going to see more forms than they ever dreamed possible.

And if you have ever gotten frustrated dealing with an insurance company, just wait until you have to try to resolve an issue with a federal healthcare bureaucrat!!! :lol:

As most people's premiums continue to go up, along with the deficit, and the healthcare field turns into a bureaucratic nightmare, and the quality of care goes down, most people are going to come to hate this "reform."

They will ask why this was done. The answer is that it was never about them! It was about giving something away to get votes, and ultimately about getting anything passed, even this colossal piece of crap, just so Obama and the Dems can claim a "victory".

A victory that will be "won" through ever back door legislative technique they can dream of, and will be rammed through without a single Republican vote in the Senate, and in all likelihood that will be opposed by almost 40 of the 255 Democrats (compared to 174 republicans) in the house. So the only thing bipartisan about this bill is the opposition to it.

There has never been a greater mistake in domestic politics and policy, and for those of us who see it this way, one can only hope that the voters will throw Dems out in massive numbers this fall for doing this. Unfortunately, once this turkey is law, it will never be gotten rid of.

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by rwetmore » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:01 pm

NancyElla wrote:Rwetmore, your contention is that President Obama's objective is to bankrupt the country;
YES. Achieve bankruptcy or accelerate toward that end while creating the false impression of being a deficit hawk and implementing policies to reduce the deficit - policies that are really specifically designed to have the exact opposite effect.

How he plans to succeed? Enough people say or think: "that couldn't be happening," "he couldn't be doing that," "why would he want to do that?", "that doesn't make any sense" etc.

Get it?
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:02 pm

I recently posted an article which indicates that if nothing is done, fewer and fewer people will be able to afford premiums (either directly or through their employers), and the level of those premiums will eat into both income and economic growth. The shrinking base of the insured will cause premiums to grow further to the level where they begin to resemble payment into a deposit account against future medical expenses rather than insurance premiums. It is against that future and not a continuation of present levels or manageable extrapolations therefrom that the costs of any changes in health care policy need to be measured.

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by JackC » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:09 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I recently posted an article which indicates that if nothing is done, fewer and fewer people will be able to afford premiums (either directly or through their employers), and the level of those premiums will eat into both income and economic growth. The shrinking base of the insured will cause premiums to grow further to the level where they begin to resemble payment into a deposit account against future medical expenses rather than insurance premiums. It is against that future and not a continuation of present levels or manageable extrapolations therefrom that the costs of any changes in health care policy need to be measured.
Yes, but that article did not offer any explanation as to how this turd of a bill is actually going to reduce premiums, did it??

Giving 30 million people "free" healthcare without increasing the number of doctors is not exactly a recipe for reducing the premiums being paid by others is it? And just passing a law that insurance companies must provide coverage to people with preexisting conditions isn't going to reduce costs is it??

Again it's not about reducing cost anymore. If that were the issue, this bill wouldn't have seen the light of day.
Last edited by JackC on Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by NancyElla » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:09 pm

rwetmore wrote:
NancyElla wrote:Rwetmore, your contention is that President Obama's objective is to bankrupt the country;
YES. Achieve bankruptcy or accelerate toward that end while creating the false impression of being a deficit hawk and implementing policies to reduce the deficit - policies that are really specifically designed to have the exact opposite effect.

How he plans to succeed? Enough people say or think: "that couldn't be happening," "he couldn't be doing that," "why would he want to do that?", "that doesn't make any sense" etc.

Get it?
No, I still don't get it. :?
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by RebLem » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:14 pm

NancyElla wrote:
rwetmore wrote:
NancyElla wrote:Rwetmore, your contention is that President Obama's objective is to bankrupt the country;
YES. Achieve bankruptcy or accelerate toward that end while creating the false impression of being a deficit hawk and implementing policies to reduce the deficit - policies that are really specifically designed to have the exact opposite effect.

How he plans to succeed? Enough people say or think: "that couldn't be happening," "he couldn't be doing that," "why would he want to do that?", "that doesn't make any sense" etc.

Get it?
No, I still don't get it. :?
And what is his motivation?
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by RebLem » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:39 pm

JackC wrote:The fact is that no one has any clue how the vast new set of regulations and government agencies are going to effect healthcare.

From the start, this was about creating a new entitlement. To the extent that it was even an issue at all, the cost issue was always secondary to people pushing this.
New in the United States. Old hat in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Israel, and all of Europe--in short, the entire First World, and even some of the Third.
This was always about creating new entitlement and never had anything to do with its cost.
I wish.
But letting the government take over this area is going to drive lots of people nuts.
I predict a severe depression will hit bankruptcy attorneys.
Doctors complain all the time about how all the red tape and paperwork complicates their practice. Once every move by the insurance companies are being regulated the government, there are going to see more forms than they ever dreamed possible.

And if you have ever gotten frustrated dealing with an insurance company, just wait until you have to try to resolve an issue with a federal healthcare bureaucrat!!! :lol:
Pure fiction. Teresa B, the only physician on this forum, has repeatedly said she has a lot fewer problems getting paid by Medicare than she does by private health insurance companies.Are you accusing her of lying?
As most people's premiums continue to go up, along with the deficit, and the healthcare field turns into a bureaucratic nightmare, and the quality of care goes down, most people are going to come to hate this "reform."
This reform or ones like it have happened everywhere else in the First World. Do you have any evidence that most people in any other country hate it? Why would we be different in this respect?
They will ask why this was done. The answer is that it was never about them! It was about giving something away to get votes,

Now, here, you're really getting pretty schizo, Jack. Whose votes? On the one hand, you say its just playing to the crowd, on the other that its wildly unpopular. Both cannot be true.
A victory that will be "won" through ever back door legislative technique they can dream of....
Just like Republicants when they're in power.
There has never been a greater mistake in domestic politics and policy, and for those of us who see it this way, one can only hope that the voters will throw Dems out in massive numbers this fall for doing this
.
One can, if one is perverse, and its pretty obvious to me that the reason gopers want to delay as long as possible is so that the benefits of the new law will not be obvious to enough people by election day, and the longer they can delay passage the greater possibility that becomes.
Unfortunately, once this turkey is law, it will never be gotten rid of.
If people hate it as much as your dystopic fantasies predict, why not?
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:43 pm

JackC wrote:The fact is that no one has any clue how the vast new set of regulations and government agencies are going to effect healthcare.
I had to employ my standard yardstick for such opaque government mumbo jumbo as the current discussions: if it was any good for me, they wouldn't do it.
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by Barry » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:50 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I recently posted an article which indicates that if nothing is done, fewer and fewer people will be able to afford premiums (either directly or through their employers), and the level of those premiums will eat into both income and economic growth. The shrinking base of the insured will cause premiums to grow further to the level where they begin to resemble payment into a deposit account against future medical expenses rather than insurance premiums. It is against that future and not a continuation of present levels or manageable extrapolations therefrom that the costs of any changes in health care policy need to be measured.
The President frequently phrases the issue as passing his package or doing nothing. It's a strawman argument, John. It ignores the third and very obvious option of voting this package down, then crafting one that aggressively deals with cutting costs at all levels. I believe there is something along the lines of a mandate in the country for that. People want to focus on cost-cutting first and foremost. I don't think anyone can seriously believe the current Democratic package does that. The CBO's estimates are virtually meaningless because of the likely false assumptions that are built into the package (which Jack mentioned) and also the fact that the Democrats have moved large sums of money out of this package and into other bills to hide the cost (or are cutting a cost, counting it in their current package, then spending that money elsewhere, so that there is no net savings). Those things need to be dealt with; serious tort control should be in there; and most importantly, as I alluded to on another thread, the entire convoluted set of incentives that currently drive health care costs related to doctors treating patients has to be radically changed. We need to face up to these things.

I'm not trying to blame the Democrats for the problems. I know both parties have failed to do the many things that have needed to be done to solve the out of control costs of health care in the country. I just want the right thing to be done now. And I don't think the Democratic package is the right thing to deal with costs.
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:16 pm

Barry wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:I recently posted an article which indicates that if nothing is done, fewer and fewer people will be able to afford premiums (either directly or through their employers), and the level of those premiums will eat into both income and economic growth. The shrinking base of the insured will cause premiums to grow further to the level where they begin to resemble payment into a deposit account against future medical expenses rather than insurance premiums. It is against that future and not a continuation of present levels or manageable extrapolations therefrom that the costs of any changes in health care policy need to be measured.
The President frequently phrases the issue as passing his package or doing nothing. It's a strawman argument, John. It ignores the third and very obvious option of voting this package down, then crafting one that aggressively deals with cutting costs at all levels. I believe there is something along the lines of a mandate in the country for that. People want to focus on cost-cutting first and foremost.
It is not the President's idea that it is his package or nothing. As (forgive me, but) Nancy Pelosi has emphasized, nothing is what would happen automatically if this died or if they went back to square one. It is the whole new plan crafted from scratch that is the straw man here. I don't see how any sensible person can believe that the Republicans would support any health care bill put forth by a Democratic administration, and they don't have much of a record (at least since Nixon) of addressing this problem themselves.

We (meaning you and I) have been through this cost-cutting thing before. While the government, especially in the eight years beginning in 2001, has not been doing very well in the area of fiscal responsbility, it is an insidious Reaganesque idea that the primary purpose of government is to cut costs. Reagan took a good stab at getting agencies with specific missions to refocus their mission on their own elimination. But just as the purpose of the EPA is to protect the environment, the purpose of health care legislation is to care for people's health. To the extent that it is not a government problem that the US spends such an ungodly portion of its GDP on health care, it remains something of a mystery why it is so, and if you can solve that one, I'm listening, but please don't say unless you have the evidence that it's all owing to CYA for malpractice suits.

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by rwetmore » Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:25 pm

RebLem wrote:And what is his motivation?
Ah...a fabulous question. One which I'm glad you asked. I'm a little busy tonight, so I'll address it later in significant detail (probably tomorrow or over the weekend).
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by RebLem » Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:08 pm

Five myths about the health-care reform battle

By Chris Cillizza, Washington Post columnist
Sunday, March 21, 2010


After more than a year of proposals, protests and political rhetoric, President Obama's health-care plan is headed to a final showdown in the House this weekend. And although most Americans -- and probably a few members of Congress -- have little idea of what exactly is in the bill, the mythology about how we got here is already well on its way to being constructed. Here are a few misconceptions about the health-care reform battle that should be busted before the history is written:

1. This could have been a bipartisan bill.

Very unlikely. Bipartisanship in politics is built on two pillars: trust and mutual benefit. And from the start it was apparent that both were in short supply in the 111th Congress.

While Obama's election -- and Democratic gains in the House and the Senate -- in 2008 were heralded as a new beginning in politics, the distrust and partisanship that had typified Congress in the recent past left a bitterness that no election could heal. Obama's efforts to bridge those gaps (often more personality-driven than policy-focused) came up short, with Republicans wary of being made into political pawns.

Nowhere was that wariness on better display than during last month's televised health-care summit at Blair House. Republicans came armed for rhetorical battle -- complete with copies of the massive bill as props -- rather than bipartisan compromise. That meeting also made plain the wide policy gap between the two parties; Democrats were focused primarily on expanding coverage, while Republicans were fixated on controlling costs.

Congressional Republicans also made an early strategic calculation that unified opposition to the president's overall agenda was their best course of action. The fact that just three Senate Republicans -- including one, Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter, who later become a Democrat -- backed Obama's economic stimulus package was an omen that bipartisanship on health care was a pipe dream. [It was pretty obvious that about 2/3 of the Republicant participants did nothing but repeat 7 or 8 boilerplate phrases they had all agreed on and written down on cheat sheets ahead of time. RebLem]

2. Democrats gave up on the public option too soon.

To this day, the left insists that if the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stood strongly behind the creation of a public option -- a government-run health-care plan -- it could muster the necessary votes in the Senate. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is even sponsoring an ad that plucks public statements from a handful of Senate Democrats -- Mark Warner (Va.), Jim Webb (Va.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.) among them -- to prove that a majority could be built around the measure.

But the fact is that expressing support for the public option is a consequence-free win-win situation for Senate Democrats. Politicians know that a vote on the controversial measure simply won't happen because neither the White House nor the congressional leadership has any desire to bring it back up. As a result, these lawmakers are free to voice their strong support for the public option while never having to worry about the political consequences of casting a vote in favor of it.

3. Scott Brown changed everything.

Yes and no. From a procedural standpoint, the stunning upset by Brown, a Republican, in the Jan. 19 Massachusetts special election forced Democrats to reassess their plan for passing the health-care overhaul; they drew a road map heavy on parliamentary procedures that led us down the current path. Without 60 seats, Democrats are unable to break Republican filibusters and therefore have been forced to slow-walk legislation that they had been on the precipice of passing before Brown's win.

But the meat of the bill -- an attempt at broad reform -- never really changed. From the start, the president made clear that nibbling around the edges of health care didn't interest him. Brown's victory did little to change Obama's "go big or go home" approach, even if it did raise the electoral stakes heading into the midterm elections this fall.

The psychological effect on Democrats of Brown winning the late Ted Kennedy's seat is harder to gauge. Democratic strategists fretted that the loss of the seat would lead to a rush of retirements on their side, a fear that hasn't been entirely borne out as the retirements have come more in drips and drabs.

4. The public is undecided about health-care reform.

Divided? Yes. Undecided? No. Poll after poll shows that people, by and large, have made up their minds about where they come down on this bill. In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released this week, 36 percent said they believed Obama's health-care plan was a good idea while 48 percent called it a bad one, leaving just 15 percent without an opinion.

A broad look at the survey data on the support and opposition for overhauling health care -- helpfully compiled by the good folks at Pollster.com -- shows a similar, steady trend line. Opposition runs in the upper 40s, support in the low to mid-40s and undecided respondents in the low single digits. Those numbers haven't moved much since August 2009, when the raucous receptions that members of Congress received at town hall meetings across the country signaled growing leeriness toward the legislation.

The American public is deeply divided over this bill -- what's in it, what it will do, whether it's the right thing -- but not at all unclear on how they feel about it. [And I believe that a substantial portion of the public who is against the bill is against it because they have believed goper, insurance industry, and Tea Party lies about what's in it. Another factor that the RWers refuse to acknowledge is the fact that many oppose the bill from Obama's left, not his right. RebLem]

5. How lawmakers vote on health-care reform will be the top issue in the 2010 midterm elections.

Health care will indeed be an important issue in November, but it will be secondary to Americans' concerns about jobs and the economy. In a Gallup poll conducted this month, 31 percent of people identified unemployment as the most pressing issue facing the country, while 24 percent named the "economy in general." Twenty percent chose health care. [That will change, in my opinion, if, as seems likely, many unemployed folk who used to have insurance with their jobs get jobs without health insurance. RebLem]

In the immediate aftermath of passage (or failure) of a reform bill, health care is likely to experience a bit of a bump in terms of voter priorities in polls, but it will probably recede as anxiety about the economy and the job market reasserts itself. Historically, when the economy is struggling (or is perceived to be struggling), all other issues take a back seat -- hence the successful "it's the economy, stupid" slogan of Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992.

Democrats will try to sell the health-care legislation as a jobs bill by emphasizing the benefits it offers for small businesses. Republicans will cast health-care reform as the biggest piece of evidence that the Obama administration took its eye off the economy at a critical time. Either way, they'll be talking economy first and second (and probably third) on the campaign trail this fall.

Chris Cillizza is a national politics reporter for The Washington Post and the author of The Fix, a politics blog at http://www.washingtonpost.com/thefix.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 0031801317
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by DavidRoss » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:13 pm

NancyElla wrote:The FactCheck article was interesting. It sure is helpful to have someone else track down the actual truth (or "truthiness") of these statements. I should probably "FactCheck"-in more often!
NancyElla, OP is not from FactCheck, but rather is an article written by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar for the Associated Press, titled "FACT CHECK: Premiums Would Rise Under Obama Plan: Obama's claim that premiums would fall under his health plan misses the fine print," and published yesterday, March 17. I thought the heading on my original post make that clear. Sorry if you found it misleading.

FactCheck.org has not weighed in on Obama's recent claims discussed in the AP article, or on the hypothetical costs/benefits of the Obamacized Senate Bill. However, the CBO just released preliminary findings (see this) suggesting it will cost $940 billion, but will reduce Obama's projected budget deficits over the next 10 years by $138 billion--a projected $14 billion per year savings, which may be a drop in the bucket compared to $3 trillion budgets and Obama's projected $9 trillion in deficits, but at least it's a step in the right direction. Bear in mind though, that these projections are only theoretical.

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NancyElla wrote:When dealing with such a complex set of numbers from polls, projections, public records, etc., it is very difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff oneself. Different individuals and groups frequently use information from different sources, and even when they are using the same data set, they can come to very different conclusions and "spin" the numbers very differently. It reminds me of Mark Twain's three kinds of lies--lies, damn lies, and statistics!
You got that right, NancyElla! That's why you need to rely on good sources for factual information, and even better if you have the capacity, training, and ability to sort it out for yourself. In matters like this--a bill whose very length and complexity makes it highly unlikely that any one person could sift through it all and really understand it--that's virtually impossible. Understanding some reliable, time-tested, general principles that can be applied may be the only rational way to evaluate it.

Here, for me, is the dispositive principle: any goddam law that takes 2700 effin' pages to write and that is beyond any reasonable person's ability to understand in a fairly short period of time is necessarily a stinking pile of nightsoil that no remotely sane person would ever even consider enacting!
Last edited by DavidRoss on Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by Barry » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:15 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Barry wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:I recently posted an article which indicates that if nothing is done, fewer and fewer people will be able to afford premiums (either directly or through their employers), and the level of those premiums will eat into both income and economic growth. The shrinking base of the insured will cause premiums to grow further to the level where they begin to resemble payment into a deposit account against future medical expenses rather than insurance premiums. It is against that future and not a continuation of present levels or manageable extrapolations therefrom that the costs of any changes in health care policy need to be measured.
The President frequently phrases the issue as passing his package or doing nothing. It's a strawman argument, John. It ignores the third and very obvious option of voting this package down, then crafting one that aggressively deals with cutting costs at all levels. I believe there is something along the lines of a mandate in the country for that. People want to focus on cost-cutting first and foremost.
It is not the President's idea that it is his package or nothing. As (forgive me, but) Nancy Pelosi has emphasized, nothing is what would happen automatically if this died or if they went back to square one. It is the whole new plan crafted from scratch that is the straw man here. I don't see how any sensible person can believe that the Republicans would support any health care bill put forth by a Democratic administration, and they don't have much of a record (at least since Nixon) of addressing this problem themselves.
You're right that we've been through the cost-cutting issue before. But you're wrong about the President misusing the "our way or no way" approach. The political situation in the country has changed on this issue. Most of the people who don't support the current Democratic plan are just as clear that doing nothing is unacceptable. The Republicans will hopefully realize the obvious. If they don't, they'll pay the same price that the Democrats will probably pay this fall for shoving this bill down the country's throats with the methods that are being discussed. If Obama and the Democratic leadership seriously think process doesn't matter here to most people, they're making a major miscalculation IMO.

I agree that it's unlikely an alternative package could be put together and enacted before the fall Congressional elections. But whichever party controls Congress next year will feel politically obligated to try again. I'd rather wait another year than enact such a flawed package now.
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:40 pm

On the matter of the length of bills, I googled something general like Acts of Congress and totally at random picked a bill passed by the 109th Congress entitled "The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005." To be perfectly honest, I first thought of the Social Security Act of 1965 which established Medicare because, even though I was only 11, I distinctly remember a television reporter holding it up and it was about the size of the Manhattan phone directory. Knowing how people here feel about Medicare in this context, I decided that it would be quite dramatic if instead I cited the Voting Rights Act of the same year, but it turns out that bill is a succinct two pages long. So said Transportation Act was actually my third choice, but I promise that I did not have to go past my first truly arbitrary and random pick to find something to make my point.

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin ... nr.txt.pdf

Feel free to print it off--if you happen to have 835 sheets loaded in your printer.

Here is what one commentator has to say about long bills:


Why legislation is so long

After the Senate Finance bill had been worked over in committee and amended six ways from Sunday, it was released onto the wilds of the Internet for all citizens to read. That was not a symbolic gesture: The bill (pdf) was 262 pages long and written entirely in plain English. A bit of a slog, but manageable.

Now that the bill has been passed, it's been rewritten into legislative language and posted on the Internet (pdf). It's not 200 pages. It's not 400 pages. It's a bit over 1,500 pages. That's longer even than Hillary Clinton's bill in 1994.

But that's not because it says anything substantially different than the original Senate Finance language. Rather, writing laws is not like writing blog posts, or newspaper articles: It requires an archaic, clunky vernacular that spends a lot of time explaining how one piece of text amends another piece of text, and expends a lot of words clarifying the most technical matters at the most granular level. Legal language requires more words than plain English, just as Chinese uses more characters. When people complain that legislation is slightly longer than a very long book, they're saying something about their understanding of the difference between legal language and plain English, not about the law in question.

By Ezra Klein | October 20, 2009; 11:00 AM ET

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by JackC » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:44 pm

http://www.politico.com/livepulse/0310/ ... ml?showall

Just in cause you had any doubts that the Dems' claim that the healthcare bill reduces the deficit is fraudulent, pure and simple.

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by RebLem » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:03 pm

Besides, jbuck, the gopers want to make the bill even longer by adding a couple hundred pages on tort reform--before they vote against it anyway, of course.
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by DavidRoss » Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:25 pm

JackC wrote:http://www.politico.com/livepulse/0310/ ... ml?showall

Just in cause you had any doubts that the Dems' claim that the healthcare bill reduces the deficit is fraudulent, pure and simple.
Interesting, Jack--POLITICO says the article has been removed until they can verify its authenticity. Better late than never, eh?
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by JackC » Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:42 pm

DavidRoss wrote:
JackC wrote:http://www.politico.com/livepulse/0310/ ... ml?showall

Just in cause you had any doubts that the Dems' claim that the healthcare bill reduces the deficit is fraudulent, pure and simple.
Interesting, Jack--POLITICO says the article has been removed until they can verify its authenticity. Better late than never, eh?
Well I suppose there is an issue as to whether the Dem leadership told the troops to keep this issue quiet. That's important, but it's not really determinative of fraud.

There is no dispute that the $300 billion "doctor fix" is not part of the healthcare bill. So the CBO "score", based as it is on assumptions that will NEVER happen (such as $500 billion in cuts to Medicare), doesn't count this $300 billion cost that is coming right down the pike.

So when Dems say reform will reduce the deficit, they are lying through their teeth and they are deceiving the American people. Even if if you believe that they really intend to cut $500 billion from Medicare (wake up) , they are not counting the additional $300 billion they know they are about to spend. Adding that to the CBO score results is almost in about $150 billion increase to the deficit.

Of course , once this passes, it is just the start. The Dems will be adding benefits at every opportuntity. Social Security and Medicare stared out as relatively small programs. Both are now broke, or about to be broke, and they are, or will shortly be, eating the country alive.

None of this means a hill of beans to the Dems because the Dems don't give a rat's *ss how much this bill ,or any other entitlement program, costs. It isn't even part of their thinking.

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:10 pm

NancyElla wrote:your contention is that President Obama's objective is to bankrupt the country; and DavidRoss, you concur?
Well, when you put it that way, it sounds silly. I think their objectives are simpler but have the same effect as intending to bankrupt the nation (which, incidently, we already are):

1. To impose on the US a European-style welfare system when the evidence abounds that that system is on the brink of collapse in Europe because it is unsustainable.

2. Because European-style welfare systems are so expensive, they practically preclude a global national defense system able to project power anywhere in the world, something the Democrats have abhorred ever since Boomers became politically active. Now that they hold all the levers of power, they intend to see that America maintains a much, much, much lower profile, trimming the military way back, mothballing ships, not adding any new equipment except hi-tech, long-distance weapons that don't require boots on the ground. One way to achieve the desired military reductions is by ensuring that entitlements programs consume virtually the entire budget - we're already headed in that direction now with entitlements being between 50-60% of the budget. They want the military for boy-scout missions, but not for war-fighting. Unfortunately, they can't have both, and of the two they believe war-fighting far more dangerous. They think it "never settles anything" i.e., it's obsolete, and NGOs must be forced to step up to the burdens of their promise, i.e., extra-national organs who supercede, rather than function in conjunction with, nation-states. Witness their tireless dependence on NGOs like the UN to settle disputes, even when the evidence is beyond question that they are incapable of doing so. NGOs are mostly paper-mills generating resolutions that nobody pays any attention to.

3. Entitlements programs, once enacted, are never reduced or terminated because immediately someone gets "free money" which is not really free, and politicians keep expanding the programs far beyond their targeted recipients. Pretty soon, everyone is included, which makes them even harder to get rid of.

4. Universal free health care (which won't be free, of course) has long been the holy grail of Progressives/Socialists. There seems to be a belief among Democrats and liberals that once they get that in place, the public will adore them forever more and bestow on them permanent party dominance.

5. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Democrats believe this country is undertaxed. Nevermind that between 40-50% of workers pay no income tax whatever, and the tax burden falls largely on those sectors that actually produce jobs. Never mind that for 30 years Europe has been trying to get America to "harmonize" its taxes (i.e., charge the same percentage of taxes) in order to prevent capital flight from Europe to the US and that high US taxes is one of Europe's wet dreams for becoming competitive on the world market. Universal health care will require huge outlays so it has to be accompanied by much higher taxes on the 50-60% who actually, you know, pay taxes. The problem with that is taxes take money out of the economy that otherwise would go to create jobs, expand businesses, fund innovation, create more prosperity. If you want to know why the stock market is doing so well when so many are laid off, it's because businesses fired people, who now are being paid not to work, resulting in whopping earnings for businesses. On the other hand, businesses are not hiring people because workers are about to become enormously more expensive when health care passes. If there's anything that can crush the recovery, it is all of Obama's favorite programs which depress business, cripple innovation, and reduce prosperity. The government cannot compensate for the downsides of their policies.

6. So for the pipe-dream of universal health care and the welfare state, the Dems are counting on a trifecta: 1) reducing US profile in the world (so we won't be so nasty and hated, which of course should be the overriding goal of any foreign policy :roll:); 2) higher taxes to redistribute from the producers to the non-producers, thus achieving "social and economic justice"; and 3) permanent majorities into the next millennia.

You may have read some of my rants about judging policies on their results, not their intentions. The intentions always sound so laudible, so humanitarian, so caring. The results, not so much. There's very little about the welfare state that is altruistic; it's all about transfers of power from the people to the state. Right now the Dems are selling snake oil with a purpose. They could never sell the real goals of the program(s), but it won't really matter once the programs are in place because they will be "popular" and "untouchable." What lies in store for us as a nation when all the bills come due will not be pretty. I hope the something that always arrives from over the hill to save us from our stupidity will save us once again.
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by DavidRoss » Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:20 pm

JackC wrote:Well I suppose there is an issue as to whether the Dem leadership told the troops to keep this issue quiet. That's important, but it's not really determinative of fraud.

There is no dispute that the $300 billion "doctor fix" is not part of the healthcare bill. So the CBO "score", based as it is on assumptions that will NEVER happen (such as $500 billion in cuts to Medicare), doesn't count this $300 billion cost that is coming right down the pike.

So when Dems say reform will reduce the deficit, they are lying through their teeth and they are deceiving the American people. Even if if you believe that they really intend to cut $500 billion from Medicare (wake up) , they are not counting the additional $300 billion they know they are about to spend. Adding that to the CBO score results is almost in about $150 billion increase to the deficit.

Of course , once this passes, it is just the start. The Dems will be adding benefits at every opportuntity. Social Security and Medicare stared out as relatively small programs. Both are now broke, or about to be broke, and they are, or will shortly be, eating the country alive.

None of this means a hill of beans to the Dems because the Dems don't give a rat's *ss how much this bill ,or any other entitlement program, costs. It isn't even part of their thinking.
Well, aside from the "doctor fix" and the Medicare Cuts that will probably never happen, there's also the "Cadillac health plan tax." Of course everyone with a lick of sense knows not to take the CBO estimates at face value. Here's an excerpt from an article from today's Miami Herald that explains why:
The tax estimate is part of the preliminary analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a report that Democrats are using to trumpet their plan's big deficit savings and to persuade fiscal conservatives to vote for the bill. Analysts warn, however, that it's based on several highly uncertain assumptions.

"CBO is the most trusted analysis out there, but everything they say, you should take with a humongous grain of salt," said Marc Goldwein, the policy director of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington budget watchdog group.

After all, former CBO Director Rudolph Penner said, "Any CBO estimate involving human behavior and social programs is very hard to figure."

It's tough because of legislative items such as these in the revamped health bill:

_ Medicare and other government health programs. The legislation assumes nearly $500 billion in 10-year savings from curbing waste, fraud and abuse and changing the way that health care providers such as doctors and hospitals are paid.

It also assumes that the plan to cut physician payments by 21 percent this year remains in effect, although Congress has a long history of canceling scheduled pay cuts to doctors.

The CBO knows that, but it can analyze legislation only as it's presented. It can't make a judgment that politicians are almost certain to change the legislation before it takes effect. Therefore its analysis shows some budget savings that are unlikely to happen.
In other words, as all rational adults know, the CBO estimate only totes up the numbers claimed in the bill and has nothing whatsoever to say about whether the bill's claims have any basis in reality.

And here's another article today, this a summary from the Columbia Journalism Review with links to the Wahington Post and New York Times assessments:
Amid all the spinning and sparring over the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of health care legislation, a couple of stories stand out for bringing much-needed context to the proceedings.

The Washington Post did a smart analysis, pointing out what should be obvious but too often goes unsaid: despite all the hype around the 25-page “score” of the proposal, no one really knows for sure how the math will shake out.

Budget experts generally have high praise for the work of CBO analysts, the non-ideological technocrats who crunch the numbers to estimate the fiscal impact of legislation. But their work is often more art than science, and although the forecasts that accompany legislation are always filled with uncertainty, this one contains more than most.

The Post piece goes on to spell out some of that uncertainty, in the kind of detail that most readers can make sense of, without getting lost in the weeds.

For example, the legislation contains subsidies for those who would not be able to afford health coverage on their own — but the cost of those subsidies could vary a lot depending on how much other elements of the legislation change the price of health insurance, such as through provisions requiring minimum coverage levels.

There’s also a bit of he-said, she-said in here, but it’s the kind that we can live with, serving, one hopes, to cool any pol’s claim to know exactly what’s going to happen.

Some health experts have argued that the agency was too conservative in its approach and that those programs could lead to vast savings in the cost of health care and make the legislation a boon for the federal budget.

But budget experts are more wary, concerned that the programs could just as easily produce few savings, or even cause higher costs.

The New York Times also takes a healthy step back on this one, pointing out in its scrub of the numbers that it isn’t just magic that made the health care bill come out costing pretty much exactly what President Obama wanted it to cost.

Congressional Democrats have spent more than a year working with the nonpartisan budget office on the health care legislation, and as they fine-tuned many of the bill’s various provisions in recent weeks, they consulted repeatedly with its number-crunchers and the bipartisan staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation.

In other words, the overall numbers were never going to miss the mark. Whenever the budget office judged that some element or elements of the bill would cause a problem meeting the cost and deficit-reduction targets, Democrats just adjusted the underlying legislation to make sure it would hit their goal.

That’s a nice bit of perspective in a debate that’s generating a lot of noise at the moment.
See the full story with comments here: http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/scoring_the_cbo_score.php
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by RebLem » Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:38 pm

A Final Weekend of Whoppers?

Health care legislation could be heading toward the final showdown. We look at the biggest falsehoods of the recent debate.

March 19, 2010 |– by Lori Robertson

Summary

With the House preparing for a final vote on the Senate health care legislation, with revisions, Sunday afternoon, we thought we’d give our readers a wrap-up of the top falsehoods of late. The debate over this bill has stretched on almost as long as a presidential campaign, and we suspect this weekend will be filled with politicians and third-party groups making their final — and faulty — pitches. There’s little doubt they’ll repeat wrong and misleading statements about premium costs, a government takeover, keeping your plan, Medicare cuts and more. Keep reading for details.

Analysis

This may — or may not — be our last roundup of health care whoppers. We posted an earlier collection in August, and bogus health care claims led our list of the top whoppers of 2009.

Americans’ premiums will go up. Americans’ premiums will go down.

The battle over what happens to insurance premium costs under the bill was most pronounced during President Obama’s health care summit Feb. 25. Obama and Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee argued over whether premiums would increase (Alexander’s view) or decrease (Obama’s), compared with what premiums would do in the absence of legislation. The truth is that for most people, premiums wouldn’t change significantly.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that for those in the group market — those who get insurance through their employers — premiums would largely stay the same. The change in the average premium in the large group market would be between 0 percent and a 3 percent decrease, for instance, compared with where they’d be under current law in 2016. The average premiums for those who buy insurance on their own would go up, however, by 10 percent to 13 percent. The reason is that benefits would become a lot better for this market under the bill. Also, most people buying their own coverage would receive subsidies that make their net costs for these plans substantially lower than they otherwise would be.

It’s government-run health care.

Despite the fact that the federal health insurance plan (a.k.a. the “public option”) is now gone from the bill, Republicans and conservative groups have continued to claim that the bill institutes a system like the one in the United Kingdom, or Canada, or otherwise amounts to a government takeover. It doesn’t. [Corlyss, take note.] A pure government-run system was never among the leading Democratic proposals, much to the chagrin of single-payer advocates. Instead, the bill builds on our current system of private insurance, and in fact, drums up more business for private companies by mandating that individuals buy coverage and giving many subsidies to do so. There would be increased government regulation of the insurance industry, however, to require companies to cover preexisting conditions, for example. These “government-run” claims have also included heavy criticism of health care in the U.K., such as the outrageous assertion by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop that seniors would be “too old” to qualify for artificial joints and pacemakers in the U.K. The majority of those getting joint replacements and pacemakers in the U.K. are, not surprisingly, seniors.

If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.

Obama has repeatedly made this claim, and it’s true for the most part. But not for everyone. Employers could still drop coverage under the bill — just as they can now — and, in fact, the CBO estimates that some would. Under the Senate bill, the CBO said that 8 million to 9 million people who would be expected to have employer-sponsored insurance under current law wouldn’t be offered such benefits by 2019. These would mainly be low-income workers, CBO said, who would be eligible for subsidies to buy their own plans. Others would gain coverage through their jobs under the bill, resulting in a net decrease of 4 million people on employer-sponsored insurance. That figure holds for the final legislation.

The bill cuts Medicare by $500 billion.

Whether these are "cuts" or much-needed "savings" depends on the political expedience of the moment, it seems. When Republican Sen. John McCain, then a presidential candidate, proposed similar reductions to pay for his health care plan, it was the Obama camp that attacked the Republican for cutting benefits. Whatever you want to call them, it’s a $500 billion reduction in the growth of future spending over 10 years, not a slashing of the current Medicare budget or benefits. It’s true that those who get their coverage through Medicare Advantage’s private plans (about 22 percent of Medicare enrollees) would see fewer add-on benefits; the bill aims to reduce the heftier payments made by the government to Medicare Advantage plans, compared with regular fee-for-service Medicare. The Democrats’ bill also boosts certain benefits: It makes preventive care free and closes the "doughnut hole," a current gap in prescription drug coverage for seniors.

The health care plan would be the largest middle-class tax cut for health care.

Note the “for health care" part of this claim that has been made by President Obama and other Democrats. This may be true, given the qualifier. But we’re not sure who would even maintain a list of the biggest “middle-class” tax cuts, since there is no agreed upon definition of who’s “middle class.” (The vast majority of Americans say they’re "middle-class," making this a popular buzzword for politicians.) This grandiose-sounding assertion, however, is only being made about tax cuts for health care. The bill includes about $460 billion over 10 years in subsidy money. Incidentally, President Bush’s 2001 tax cut totaled about $1.3 trillion over 10 years, with about 42 percent of the benefits going to the middle 60 percent of all income earners, according to a breakdown by the Tax Policy Center. That amounts to $566 billion over 10 years, a bigger cut for the middle earners than the health care tax cut.

Medical malpractice is the biggest driver of health care spending.

Economic studies simply do not support this claim. Many Republicans strongly back limiting liability awards in medical malpractice cases, and it’s true that doing so would save money. The CBO said measures that conservatives have proposed would save $54 billion over 10 years and "reduce total U.S. health care spending by about 0.5 percent (about $11 billion in 2009)."

That’s real money, but it’s a tiny part of the more than $2 trillion spent on health care annually in the U.S. There’s disagreement over what exactly the biggest drivers of spending are, but medical malpractice doesn’t top the list. About 75 percent of spending, for instance, goes to taking care of chronic disease.

Cadillac plans and a sweetheart deal for unions

The controversy over those cushy Cadillac insurance plans just keeps on running. Here are the details: The bill places a tax on high-cost employer-sponsored plans – specifically there’s a 40 percent tax on the value of plans above $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families, starting in 2018. The tax falls on insurers, but would be passed along to policyholders one way or another. First, the thresholds were increased after union leaders lobbied for them, which led Republican leaders to charge that the new tax was a sweetheart deal for labor — and they were increased again for the final bill. But the tax would affect mainly nonunion workers, according to an analysis partly authored by a former Bush adviser. Under even lower thresholds than the bill has now, union workers would have made up only 17 percent of those affected by the tax in 2019, the analysis said.

Of course, liberal groups and union leaders have made misleading claims about this Cadillac tax, saying it would really hit middle-class workers – lots of them. But economists in general back this idea, and the thinking behind it isn’t to raise money by slamming workers with a 40 percent tax. On the contrary, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office believe the tax will boost paychecks. They say the existence of the tax will prompt employers and employees to choose less expensive health plans. In lieu of the higher cost benefits, employers will raise salaries. And that’s how the government really makes its revenue here: on payroll and income taxes on those higher paychecks.

http://www.factcheck.org/2010/03/a-fina ... -whoppers/

Throughout the above article, there were a number of links to previously reported distorted stories, which I deleted. They can be found at the above link, and I highly recommend a perusal of them for anyone interested in a particular topic. RebLem
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:01 am

^^^ Nice find, Rob. Unfortunately it can't do more than analyze the claims against the CBO scoring. It really ought to mention, rather than merely allude to, the facts that 1) nobody can say even now what's in the bill, and 2) that the CBO is bound to analyze what is given to it without blinking. Yes, the bill was posted on-line yesterday, but the Dems are still horse-trading to get all their votes. It's impossible at this point to say who got what sweetheart deal in return for the vote. Yes, the CBO has given qualified blessing to the bill, which is incomplete, but even the stones in the street know Congress is not going to cut any benefits, or the Doctor Fix, or reduce Medicare by any $500 BN over 10 years. It just ain't gonna happen. So we can all pretend that the bill is what the leadership says it is, and be fooled, or we can reject the entire thing before it impoverishes us.
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by Barry » Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:24 am

Corlyss_D wrote:^^^ Nice find, Rob. Unfortunately it can't do more than analyze the claims against the CBO scoring. It really ought to mention, rather than merely allude to, the facts that 1) nobody can say even now what's in the bill, and 2) that the CBO is bound to analyze what is given to it without blinking. Yes, the bill was posted on-line yesterday, but the Dems are still horse-trading to get all their votes. It's impossible at this point to say who got what sweetheart deal in return for the vote. Yes, the CBO has given qualified blessing to the bill, which is incomplete, but even the stones in the street know Congress is not going to cut any benefits, or the Doctor Fix, or reduce Medicare by any $500 BN over 10 years. It just ain't gonna happen. So we can all pretend that the bill is what the leadership says it is, and be fooled, or we can reject the entire thing before it impoverishes us.
Exactly. There have been so many gimmicks and false assumptions used to fudge the cost of the package that, as I indicated above, the CBO analysis, and any other finaincial analysis that just focuses on the cost of the bill at face value while ignoring all of the gimmicks is completely worthless.
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:07 pm

From WSJ Political Journal.

CBO's Highly Precise Nonsense

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was all smiles when the new CBO analysis of the health care bill was released this week. She positively glowed as she praised the "precision" of the CBO numbers.

No one knows whether the Speaker was being ironic, but even CBO explicitly declared that its numbers were rife with "imprecision." Sprinkled throughout its report were phrases like "rough outlook," "extrapolated estimates" and "greater degree of uncertainty."

Republicans certainly found plenty of "imprecision," most of it stemming from unrealistic stipulations that the Democratic leadership obliged CBO to honor. For instance, Sen. Judd Gregg has pointed out that $53 billion from additional Social Security revenues is really supposed to pay for Social Security benefits in the future, not a new health care entitlement. Nearly half of the deficit savings come from this one gimmick.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former CBO director himself, notes that the CBO ignores an inevitable spike in insurance premiums once insurers are required to accept those with pre-existing conditions. "This clearly drives up costs," says Mr. Holtz-Eakin. "Under the bill," he says, "you can be literally in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and pay $750 and get health insurance." Some of those higher costs will fall directly on taxpayers, who will have to subsidize the higher premiums for even many middle class families.

Then there's the hocus pocus of using ten years of revenues to pay for six years of benefits, as well as the hocus pocus of using imaginary Medicare cuts to pay for the new program. GOP Rep. Paul Ryan notes that the true cost of the bill, when fully phased in, will be closer to $2 trillion than $1 trillion over ten years.

CBO ends up with an implausible conclusion that a program giving subsidized health care to 30 million Americans will save $139 billion for taxpayers. One member snuffed that if we covered everyone in China, we could then retire the national debt. Maybe the Speaker was smiling only because she was trying to muffle a guffaw.
-- Stephen Moore
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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by rwetmore » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:39 am

RebLem wrote:And what is his motivation?
To understand his motivations, you first have to understand his his history and background. He represented a very poor part of Chicago as community organizer and then as an Illinois state senator. I'm sure there was a lot of poverty and suffering there, which probably appalled him and motivated him to make it his mission to ascend into higher positions of power so he could do something about it. Combine this with the general liberal view that the majority in this country has trampled all over the minority by discriminating against them, and that this is something that needs to be fixed because it's unfair and not right. In short, he basically thinks that United States is an evil and unjust society that primarily benefits the majority and screws the minority. The oppressed minority is too small in number to fight back for themselves - he has to do it for them. Hence, Saul Alinsky and Rules for Radicals. Hence, the attitude "they deserved to be fooled and lied to - they've screwed these people (the minority) and it's time to make them pay for it" or something to that effect. Hence, saying the opposite of what you're doing or saying the opposite of what you're doing is supposed to accomplish is justified. In short, it's an "ends justify the means" game and mentality.

Now, there is also key human nature element that needs to be pointed out if one is to fully understand Obama and his motivations. The first is basic history. History has quite literally been nothing but individuals taking over and controlling other individuals for thousands of years and the resulting consequences of such behavior. It's kind of like the dominant dog that leads and controls the pack - it's in some their DNA to do it. Now back hundreds of thousands (even millions) of years ago it probably provided some king of survival benefit when humans mostly live in small groups. However, as history has shown, when people started to live in much larger groups, it became a rather significant and frequent problem - and is still a huge problem today in many parts of the world. These kind of people have existed throughout history, they exist now and they will always exist from now until human extinction. In short, Obama is one of these people that has this innate drive to control others to make things right and fair; make things work as he thinks they should, etc.

The other element that needs to be understood here is the issue of intellectual maturity and the myth of a utopian (or near utopian) society. The great self made thinker, Eric Hoffer, who started in life as a poor dockworker, articulated what I mean here quite well. Basically he said that (I'm paraphrasing) many of these so-called revolutionaries (like Obama), their minds have never gone through puberty - in essence they are still children that believe that some kind of idealized utopia is still possible. Quite often they've come from cushy lives and have never really had to struggle much themselves, especially financially - it's only the people they lead and that end up struggling or worse off in the long run. In short, I seriously think Obama is largely still a child in an adult's body - one that is especially naive and ignorant; one that thinks some kind of world with little to no suffering is still possible; one that has never really had to struggle in the typical way the average joe has to struggle, because he had a fairly affluent and privileged upbringing.

The last element here is the issue of personal character. I truly believe Obama is an incredibly selfish and self-centered person. After all, what is more self-centered than deliberately trying to deceive a trusting free people to achieve the ends you want by deliberately saying the exact opposite of what you're doing or what you plan to do? I can think of very few things that are more devious or self-centered than something like this. This is not the attitude and behavior of a stable and healthy mind. A person with genuine integrity and compassion toward others does not behave this way. As a contrast, someone with integrity might start a charity to help those in need, using their own time time and money, for example.

So, Obama is a combination of all the elements above. In his mind, by deliberately bankrupting the country, he thinks he's destroying an evil and unjust system, and that doing so is going to allow people like himself to ascend into positions of power to fix, rebuild, control and make everything right and fair. It's also to punish those who have, in his mind, unfairly benefited at the expense of others.

In extra short, everyone has heard of the saying "some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best of intentions." No one does this apply to more than Barack Obama.
"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history."
- Aldous Huxley

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened."
-Winston Churchill

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one!”
–Charles Mackay

"It doesn't matter how smart you are - if you don't stop and think."
-Thomas Sowell

"It's one of the functions of the mainstream news media to fact-check political speech and where there are lies, to reveal them to the voters."
-John F. (of CMG)

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by rwetmore » Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:11 pm

To really understand Obama, you have to understand his history and his belief in the teachings and philosophies of Saul Alinsky. "Rules for Radicals" is Obama's playbook - he's following it to the T.

Frankly, I'm quite disturbed how many people, on both sides of the aisle, are snowed by Obama and/or think he's not doing exactly what I've described him to be doing. I'm I the only one here to see this? Maybe a lot of people are thinking it but don't have the guts to say it? I know it's Orwellian - a la 1984, but I ask everyone: how have really bad but preventable things happened throughout history? People deny the evidence in front of them because they don't want to deal with the consequences - they'd rather just hope it isn't true because it's so disturbing or uncomfortable to deal with..."that couldn't be happening," "he couldn't be doing that," "why would anyone do that?" etc., etc.

Let me give you some excerpts from Rules for Radicals:

Opening paragraph:

""What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."

Strategy Outline:

""There's another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevski said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution."

More:

" 'Does the end justify the means?' is meaningless as it stands: the real and only question regarding the ethics of means and ends is, and always has been, 'Does this particular end justify this particular means?' "
"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history."
- Aldous Huxley

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened."
-Winston Churchill

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one!”
–Charles Mackay

"It doesn't matter how smart you are - if you don't stop and think."
-Thomas Sowell

"It's one of the functions of the mainstream news media to fact-check political speech and where there are lies, to reveal them to the voters."
-John F. (of CMG)

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Re: Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama health plan

Post by rwetmore » Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:22 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Well, when you put it that way, it sounds silly. I think their objectives are simpler but have the same effect as intending to bankrupt the nation (which, incidently, we already are):

1. To impose on the US a European-style welfare system when the evidence abounds that that system is on the brink of collapse in Europe because it is unsustainable.

2. Because European-style welfare systems are so expensive, they practically preclude a global national defense system able to project power anywhere in the world, something the Democrats have abhorred ever since Boomers became politically active. Now that they hold all the levers of power, they intend to see that America maintains a much, much, much lower profile, trimming the military way back, mothballing ships, not adding any new equipment except hi-tech, long-distance weapons that don't require boots on the ground. One way to achieve the desired military reductions is by ensuring that entitlements programs consume virtually the entire budget - we're already headed in that direction now with entitlements being between 50-60% of the budget. They want the military for boy-scout missions, but not for war-fighting. Unfortunately, they can't have both, and of the two they believe war-fighting far more dangerous. They think it "never settles anything" i.e., it's obsolete, and NGOs must be forced to step up to the burdens of their promise, i.e., extra-national organs who supercede, rather than function in conjunction with, nation-states. Witness their tireless dependence on NGOs like the UN to settle disputes, even when the evidence is beyond question that they are incapable of doing so. NGOs are mostly paper-mills generating resolutions that nobody pays any attention to.

3. Entitlements programs, once enacted, are never reduced or terminated because immediately someone gets "free money" which is not really free, and politicians keep expanding the programs far beyond their targeted recipients. Pretty soon, everyone is included, which makes them even harder to get rid of.

4. Universal free health care (which won't be free, of course) has long been the holy grail of Progressives/Socialists. There seems to be a belief among Democrats and liberals that once they get that in place, the public will adore them forever more and bestow on them permanent party dominance.

5. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Democrats believe this country is undertaxed. Nevermind that between 40-50% of workers pay no income tax whatever, and the tax burden falls largely on those sectors that actually produce jobs. Never mind that for 30 years Europe has been trying to get America to "harmonize" its taxes (i.e., charge the same percentage of taxes) in order to prevent capital flight from Europe to the US and that high US taxes is one of Europe's wet dreams for becoming competitive on the world market. Universal health care will require huge outlays so it has to be accompanied by much higher taxes on the 50-60% who actually, you know, pay taxes. The problem with that is taxes take money out of the economy that otherwise would go to create jobs, expand businesses, fund innovation, create more prosperity. If you want to know why the stock market is doing so well when so many are laid off, it's because businesses fired people, who now are being paid not to work, resulting in whopping earnings for businesses. On the other hand, businesses are not hiring people because workers are about to become enormously more expensive when health care passes. If there's anything that can crush the recovery, it is all of Obama's favorite programs which depress business, cripple innovation, and reduce prosperity. The government cannot compensate for the downsides of their policies.

6. So for the pipe-dream of universal health care and the welfare state, the Dems are counting on a trifecta: 1) reducing US profile in the world (so we won't be so nasty and hated, which of course should be the overriding goal of any foreign policy :roll:); 2) higher taxes to redistribute from the producers to the non-producers, thus achieving "social and economic justice"; and 3) permanent majorities into the next millennia.

You may have read some of my rants about judging policies on their results, not their intentions. The intentions always sound so laudible, so humanitarian, so caring. The results, not so much. There's very little about the welfare state that is altruistic; it's all about transfers of power from the people to the state. Right now the Dems are selling snake oil with a purpose. They could never sell the real goals of the program(s), but it won't really matter once the programs are in place because they will be "popular" and "untouchable." What lies in store for us as a nation when all the bills come due will not be pretty. I hope the something that always arrives from over the hill to save us from our stupidity will save us once again.
Well put.
"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history."
- Aldous Huxley

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened."
-Winston Churchill

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one!”
–Charles Mackay

"It doesn't matter how smart you are - if you don't stop and think."
-Thomas Sowell

"It's one of the functions of the mainstream news media to fact-check political speech and where there are lies, to reveal them to the voters."
-John F. (of CMG)

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