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Debunking Health Care Reform Myths

Dia received a forward from a family member containing a link to a fear-mongering video about Health Care Reform. It's quite a bit of work, full of scary references to ACORN (ZOMG) even though ACORN has nothing to do with Health Care Reform, etc. Even though it was written back in July and is "based" on the House Bill at that time (which is now out of date) it still covers most of the standard attacks that opponents are using today.

If you don't see a movie here, please click reload.

I downloaded the PDF of the legislation he claims to pull this information from so I could actually check on his claims and here follows a point-by-point debunking of his miserable failure of an argument.

pg 22 claim: govt mandates audits of all businesses who self-insure.
pg 22 reality: They put forward the idea that the govt will be allowed to audit you as something new and something inherently sinister which it isn't. Regardless of the inherent goodness or badness of an audit, pg 22 is a section that refers to a set of reports and studies that are to be completed 18 months after the enactment... and this is the important part... with the SPECIFIC goal to ensure that the changes made by this Bill are NOT having any ill financial effects on self-insuring businesses! This section is about feedback metrics so they can make sure they aren't hurting business! Oh the horror!

pg 29 reality: Private health insurance providers are ALREADY rationing healthcare. That's just status quo. However, what is described here is better than the status quo because there is no limit placed on _preventative_ care, which is rarely covered by private insurance if at all. For example, when I tried to get preventative/maintenance chiropractic adjustments, my insurance denied all of my claims a year later and tried to stiff me with the bill. Another benefit here is that this section specifically describes that your benefits will go up each year based on the Consumer Price Index, as opposed to private health insurance which has been costing more and providing less each year.

pg 30 claim: a govt committee will decide which treatments and benefits you receive
pg 30 reality: The committee described has absolutely NOTHING to do with deciding if you personally get a certain treatment. It is a panel of half private persons and half federal employees who are experts in different medical and insurance fields who decide what benefits are included in the Public Option. Just like every private insurance company has a committee that puts together what Plan A will cover and what Plan B will cover. The Public Option described in HR3200 has 3 different levels, essentially a Basic, Enhanced and Premium level and these private and public experts are just decided what things to include in which plan so that you actually know what you are buying into. Shocking!

pg 42 claim: the govt will choose your benefits for you, ZOMG YOU HAVE NO CHOICE
pg 42 reality: the commissioner in question does NOT choose benefits for you, he/she establishes a set of benefits standards which for State insurance regulators. So, it's actually setting a minimum standard for health insurance plans. It doesn't restrict them from providing even more coverage, it merely tries to regulate a floor. Also, about having no choice? You have the choice to buy private insurance. You have the choice to buy public insurance. You have the choice between many different packages in private or public insurance. You're even given more power to buy private insurance because of the cross-state insurance marketplace that this Bill sets up. So.... again... just lies and propaganda.

pg 50 claim: health care will be given to illegal aliens
pg 50 reality: Not just a misleading statement, and OUTRIGHT LIE. This section states that healthcare cannot be denied based on race, gender, etc. It says absolutely NOTHING about citizenship as the claim is made. OUTRIGHT LIE.

pg 58 claim: govt will have real-time access to your financial records
pg 58 reality: It says that real-time determination will be made of what a person's financial responsibility will be for services rendered. For example, my friend was interested in getting some laser eye surgery performed, but his insurance company could not/would not tell him how much it would cost out of pocket before he got the surgery. He would have to get the surgery done and then find out how much it was and just HOPE that it wasn't way overpriced. This is simply saying that they'll provide you with information on how much services will cost in real-time. SHOCKING... and useful. You'd think everyone in the business should be able to do that.

pg 58 claim: a National ID card will be issued
pg 58 reality: This merely states that if you want to take advantage of their system that will be able to instantly tell you whether you are "eligible for a specific service with a specific physician at a specific facility" that it "may" require a machine-readable health plan id card. Just like the health plan id card people carry for their private insurance.... except that the private one isn't actually useful and the public option card would be used to provide you with real service. heh.

pg 59 claim: the govt will have access to your bank accounts! ZOMG!
pg 59 reality: Yes, if you CHOOSE to use automatic funds transfers, then you may enable the govt to either remove funds to pay for your treatment as well as enable the govt to ADD funds when you are due money (like if you had to pay out of pocket and are being reimbursed after the fact). There is nothing forced about this, it merely enables the govt to set up this feature.

pg 65 claim: a "payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in Unions or community orginizations[sic]".... like ACORN?! ZOMG?!
pg 65 reality: Nothing in this section mentions ANYTHING about Unions or Community groups. It describes a temporary benefit for businesses offering health insurance so that retirees and their families can be covered. They are just trying to turn something totally mundane and innocent into ZOMG ACORN!! COMMUNISTS! It's stupid.

pg 72 claim: the private health care exchange brings private insurance under ZOMG GOVERNMENT CONTROL
pg 72 reality: Here's the actual text they reference: "There is established within the Health Choices Administration and under the direction of the Commissioner a Health Insurance Exchange in order to facilitate access of individuals and employers, through a transparent process, to a variety of choices of affordable, quality health insurance coverage, including a public health insurance option." It'll be an exchange which helps people buy private insurance across state lines so they can get affordable, quality insurance. Those BASTARDS.

pg 84 claim: govt mandates ALL benefit packages in the health care exchange
pg 84 reality: They just want to use the word mandate as many times as they can because people are afraid of the word mandate. All this section says is that if a private insurer wants to offer (via the exchange) an "enhanced" plan for a certain locale they have to offer a Basic plan as well. If they want to offer a "premium" one in that area, they have to also offer a basic and enhanced. If they want to offer "premium plus" then they have to offer basic, enhanced, and premium as well. It's an effort to avoid only offering the super expensive plans in certain areas. No private insurance company is being forced (the word really applicable instead of mandate) to offer insurance where they do not want to offer insurance. They are only setting the rules to follow if the private insurance company wishes to participate in the exchange, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.

pg 85 claim: AARP members health care will be rationed
pg 85 reality: OUTRIGHT LIE. This section simply describes what they mean by a "basic," "enhanced," "premium" or "premium plus" benefit plan (which is based on a percentage value of the actuarial tables, like 75% for basic, 85% for enhanced, 95% for premium, etc. This claim is an OUTRIGHT LIE intended to scare seniors.

pg 91 claim: govt will provide health care language translation for illegal aliens
pg 91 reality: these guys are really just racist a-holes. All this says is that translation services will be offered to people so they can understand the medical and insurance information.... but these racist bastards equate "doesn't speak english" with "illegal alien." It's just intended to stir up the xenophobic and racists in the group.

pg 95 claim: govt will use groups like ACORN to sign people up for govt health insurance
pg 95 reality: This is just another ZOMG ACORN trigger intended to rile people up. This section has NOTHING to do with signing people up, it's about distributing information on the different benefit packages and helping answer questions people have about them so they can make an informed decision. It talks about setting up a website and a toll free hotline as well as a very generic "other appropriate entities" that would be useful in distributing info.

pg 102 claim: Medicaid eligible individuals will be auto-enrolled into Medicaid, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE
pg 102 reality: It's actually if you're medicaid eligible and you choose not to buy private insurance on your own and you choose not to buy private insurance through the exchange and you choose not to buy in to the public option.... if you don't choose any of those options, then you "have no choice" and will be automatically enrolled into Medicaid.... which you can simply choose not to use if you don't want. So if you choose not to take any of those actions, yes, you will be auto-enrolled... but if you don't want to use it, who cares?

pg 124 claim: No company can sue for price fixing.
pg 124 reality: No company can CURRENTLY sue for price fixing. That's actually the status quo. The health insurance providers and Major League Baseball are the only two industries which have been granted an explicit exemption to the monopoly rules. Health insurance companies are legally allowed to price fix as it stands right now.

pg 124 claim: There is no judicial review of the government monopoly.
pg 124 reality: This section there will be no judicial review of payment rates, not monopoly... but considering the existence of Blue Shield, Aetna, Kaiser, etc, etc, etc, the government doesn't have a monopoly.

.... only 3 minutes through a 10 minute video....

pg 126 claim: Employers must provide health insurance to part-time workers and their families.
pg 126 reality: a) this sounds AWESOME, because a lot of companies abuse their employees by hiring twice as many part-timers so they don't have to offer benefits, but b) this claim is an OUTRIGHT LIE. There is absolutely nothing referencing part-time workers here and in fact the line numbers they claim this exist on do not appear on page 126. I did a couple searches for part-time (and similar phrases) and nothing shows up within 40 pages of 126.

pg 127 claim: the govt will control how much doctors are allowed to earn per year! ZOMG!
pg 127 reality: Totally a lie. It says that doctors who choose to take part in the public option shall be paid according to certain rules for the services they provided under the public option. Doctors can make whatever money they want outside of that and aren't required to participate in the public option all together. Totally ridiculous claim.

pg 145 claim: the govt forces employers to auto-enroll you into the public option, ZOMG YOU HAVE NO CHOICE
pg 145 reality: The next three pages are SPECIFICALLY about all of the choices you have as an employee to choose private insurance through your employer instead of the public plan, or if your employer is not offering private-insurance benefits it explicitly details how you can opt-out of the auto-enroll into the public option so you can go seek private insurance elsewhere. THREE PAGES ALL ABOUT CHOICE. God the guy who put this video together is just a malicious jerk.

pg 149 claim: if businesses with a payroll of more than $400,000 do not offer the public option to employees they will be taxed 8% on their payroll.
pg 149 reality: ALMOST right... it says if they don't offer ANY health insurance to their employees, they will be taxed. If they choose not to offer the public option, but they do offer private insurance then no tax is applied.

pg 150 claim: businesses with a payroll of $250,001 - $400,000 do not offer the public option to employees they will be taxed between 2%-6% on their payroll.
pg 150 reality: same problem. It's not that they need to offer the public option, they just need to offer ANY option. Also, I like that they didn't mention the < $250,000 bracket which will be taxed 0% on payroll.

pg 167 claim: anyone not carrying "acceptable" insurance will be taxed 2.5%
pg 167 reality: Yep, this is true! He managed to get one! Although there are a TON of exceptions and limitations on the 2.5%, etc. For example, it cannot exceed the national average premium, so if you're making $1 million per year or something, you can't be taxed the full 2.5% because it'll be capped. It's also waived for the poor and for anyone with a religious exception, etc, etc. This tax/mandate is my least favorite part of the health care reform. I'm only willing to accept this mandate if I can have a strong public option because I don't want to give my money to the insurance companies because they won't take care of me when I'm sick.

pg 170 claim: we have to pay for health care for non-resident aliens
pg 170 reality: First, we already do, because our tax money goes to pay for ERs and everyone can use the ER. Secondly, aliens are exempt from the tax because they are also exempt from the public option. They are not allowed to buy in. This is just intended to be xenophobic/racist lighter fluid which is seen because they show the Mexican flag while warning you YOU AND I WILL PAY FOR THEM. Them damn Mexicans.

pg 195 claim: all officers and employees of the public option or exchange will have access to ALL Americans financial and personal records.
pg 195 reality: Totally false. Officers and employees of those orgs will be able to access tax information only and only if that person's income is relevant to determining an affordability credit. So if someone is participating in the public option and they request a credit because they cannot afford to pay, then the govt can double check. SHOCKING.

pg 203 claim: the tax imposed by this section shall not be treated as tax..
pg 203 reality: I'm not really sure why this is so scary, even when taken out of context. The rest of the sentence is .... shall not be treated as tax imposed by this chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under this chapter or for purposes of section 55. Is this really all that scary?

pg 239 claim: govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid, seniors, poor and low income (wait, isn't that the same as poor?) will be screwed!
pg 239 reality: This section is simply too difficult to read because it's striking, amending and inserting sentence fragments into another document. However, if you scan the title of the section you can easily mistake it for their claim, however the title actually says that it's just going to limit physician services included in a targeted growth computation which sounds to me like when they are computing what they think the growth of requested services will be next year that they will limit the amount of input into that equation. The sentence fragments mentioned in this section actually speak to my assumption fairly well. I can't speak with certainty on this one though.

pg 241 claim: all doctors, regardless of specialty, will be paid the same
pg 241 reality: again they are confusing "paid for work within the public option" and "paid." Furthermore, this section simply says if you perform service A you get paid for service A regardless of your specialty. if B, then paid for B regardless of specialty. So, the same pay for the same work, but again it's only for Public Option work if you choose to be part of it.

We've made it half way!! and it's only taken me an hour.... :)

pg 253 claim: govt will decide the value of doctor's time, judgements... LITERALLY THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE ZOMG
pg 253 reality: This section says that if the doctor is doing work paid for by the public option that it can validate the reporting of time spent. This sounds to me like a clause to protect against doctor's charging twice as much time as it really took so they can get more money. It's pretty man far from ZOMG THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE. Seriously, are the private insurance companies doing anything different that this? I'm sure you've been constantly told by the insurance company that your services aren't worth what you claim and I doubt they have to back it up at all.

pg 265 claim: govt mandates and controls productivity for private health care industries
pg 265 reality: This section does state that the govt will hold private health care industries to minimum productivity metrics, but it does not "control" them. It sets a floor for productivity/improvements, but it's not like they are setting a ceiling. I think it's a damn good clause. For a long time now our health care has been getting worse while we pay more. This is now setting a metric telling them they better get off their asses and improve. I don't see what's so scary about this one.

pg 268 claim: govt is going to regulate rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs
pg 268 reality: I think my favorite thing about this is it doesn't say HOW it's going to regulate them, just that it will... which implies that regulation is inherently evil. I know that many conservatives feel that way, so it's funny to me. The TRUTH about this section is that it doesn't actually change any regulations. It merely amends the existing Social Security Act to replace the term "power-driven wheelchair" with "complex rehabilitative power-driven wheel- chair." Brilliant, huh? Doesn't change a single regulation, but ZOMG THE GOVT IS TAKING MY WHEELCHAIR.

pg 272 claim: Cancer patients: WELCOME TO RATIONING
pg 272 reality: I love how he doesn't actually mention what the Bill says, he just implies the govt is going to kill you. This section states that a study will be conducted to see if Hospital A is spending substantially more than Hospital B on the same services and if A's costs are out of line with the average then their compensation will be adjusted so they are getting paid the same amount as other hospitals. It's a clause to avoid rewarding inefficient use of funds. It SHOULD be something that fiscal conservatives would be HAPPY about.

pg 280 claim: govt will penalize hospitals for "preventable re-admissions"
pg 280 reality: Essentially true with a minor fix which is to say "EXCESSIVE preventable re-admissions." This is another cost control clause. It is to discourage zipping people through the system so they can bill for more procedures and to encourage actually fixing a person's health problem. It sounds pretty good to me.

pg 317 claim: in big red letters: PROHIBITION ON OWNERSHIP AND INVESTMENT. Govt tells doctors what and how much they can own.
pg 317 reality: UTTERLY misrepresented. This section is talking about how to qualify for for an exemption to prohibitions on self-referral. This is about rural hospitals and doctor owned hospitals, but the section that talks about ownership and investment is merely saying that if you want to apply for a self-referral exception that the percentage of the hospital that is owned by doctor who work in that hospital has to stay below a certain percent.

pg 317-318 claim: prohibition on expansion: govt mandates whether hospitals can expand
pg 317-318 reality: Again, totally misrepresented. This is part of the rural self-referral exception thing. It has nothing to do with whether a hospital can or cannot expand. It's about whether a hospital can get a self-referral exception.

pg 321 claim: the hospital can apply for an expansion exception with community input (and then a big ACORN image is shown, ZOMG ACORN)
pg 321 reality: This is STILL the section about a self-referral exception and not about an expansion exception and it has NOTHING TO DO WITH ACORN.

pg 335-339 claim: govt mandates outcome based measures. "Health care how THEY want it: RATIONING" ZOMG RUN FOR THE HILLS
pg 335-339 reality: These pages describe a large STUDY to be conducted in 2013 to determine performance metrics on patient wellness, prevention, morbidity and mortality, etc. It's a data study to see if our health care system is doing better or worse. It has nothing to do with rationing, this a totally ridiculous claim.

pg 341 claim: govt can disqualify HMOs forcing EVERYONE into the govt plan
pg 341 reality: This section gives the govt the ability to disqualify MEDICARE ADVANTAGE plans which do not live up to the required benefits for Medicare. Medicare Advantage allows for Medicare beneficiaries to receive their Medicare through a private insurer. So if a private plan that claims to provide Medicare isn't providing everything that Medicare provides then it will not be eligible as Medicare Advantage. Also, this section can't force EVERYONE into the govt plan because not EVERYONE can even have Medicare! It's stupid.

pg 354 claim: govt will restrict enrollment of special needs individuals
pg 354 reality: This is discussing Medicare Advantage and it's extending an allowance on restricting enrollment that already exists. It's not the govt who wants to restrict enrollment, it's for Medicare Advantage! Medicare for special needs isn't restricted, it's the PRIVATE companies who have the exception so that PRIVATE companies can RESTRICT enrollment of special needs individuals. God, I hate this guy.

pg 379 reality: You mean setting up a public option and a public exchange of private insurance will require someone to run it?! SHOCKED. This section isn't really about the public option. It's about a committee to make recommendations to the Secretary about tele-health services offered in Medicare and Medicaid. What's working, what's not, etc. These kinds of metrics are vital to a successful venture, but heaven forbid we have data reporting on how we're doing. Am I right?

pg 425 claim: govt mandates "advanced care consultations" which will determine what care seniors can and cannot receive
pg 425 reality: advanced care consultations, yes. Which care seniors can and cannot receive? No. This is where the scary music starts playing and they show the Whitehouse with DARK EVIL clouds over it because OBAMA IS GOING TO KILL YOUR GRANDMA. Advanced Care Consultations are for discussing what they need to know as they get older. If they are getting close to death, it involves providing them information and resources so they understand living trusts and wills, etc, so that they can make sure their assets are passed on to their kids properly. Through the next 3 pages as they describe these services they use the phrase "life sustaining treatment" as it talks about ensuring that the patients know about what "life sustaining treatments" they have available to them and what "life sustaining treatments" the will be using to SUSTAIN THEIR LIFE.

pg 425 claim: patients will be instructed about living wills and durable powers of attorney. THIS IS MANDATORY (in big red letters).
pg 425 reality: Is being given information about wills a bad thing? Why the big red letters and evil THIS IS MANDATORY!!!!!!

pg 425-426 claim: govt will guide you into death
pg 425-426 reality: "a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning, including the national toll-free hotline" ... It's a TOTAL FUCKING LIE. The govt isn't "guiding you into death" it's providing you with information so that in case you die that you've made arrangement ahead of time. It's called responsible planning. This guy is SUCH an idiot.

pg 427 claim: govt mandates end of life orders, govt gets a say in how your life ends
pg 427 reality: LIFE SUSTAINING ORDERS.... "A program for orders for life sustaining treatment for a States described in this clause is a program that—" It's not about ending your life, it's about SUSTAINING YOUR LIFE.

pg 429 claim: advanced care discussions will happen more frequently as patient's health deteriorates.
pg 429 reality: 99% right. It says MAY happen, not WILL. These meetings are required to happen like every 5 years, but if the patient had one of those meetings 2 years ago, but their health has taken a drastic change for the worse then they want to revisit the advanced care discussion to make sure it's up to date. What is so damn scary about that?

pg 429 claim: advanced care consultations "may include an order for end of life plans." AN ORDER FROM THE GOVERNMENT (with a big scary picture of Obama pointing a finger at you)
pg 429 reality: TOTALLY FUCKING WRONG. "may include the formulation of an order regarding life sustaining treatment" is the actual quote. See how they replaced life sustaining with ZOMG THEY'RE GOING TO KILL YOU

2 more minutes of video to go... I think I can... I think I can...

pg 429 claim: govt decides who may write an end of life order.
pg 429 reality: this section describes the physicians, nurse-practitioners and many other types of people who may sign a LIFE SUSTAINING ORDER.

pg 430 claim: the govt will decide what level of treatment you get at end of life.
pg 430 reality: ABSOLUTE LIE. This section explicitly states that all advanced directions including life sustaining treatment are at the PREFERENCE of the PATIENT.

pg 469 claim: ACORN will be a Community based Home Medical service
pg 469 reality: This section describes groups that can offer Home Medical services and receive compensation from the Public Option. ACORN has nothing to do with it, but they like to throw it in here and there. ZOMG ACORN. ACORN does not offer home medical services.

pg 472 claim: ACORN will receive a monthly payment for Medical services
pg 472 reality: Again, ACORN has nothing to do with this. It's simply saying that Home Medical service groups that participate in the public option will be paid monthly. ZOMG ACORN. Sorry, what was I talking about? I was blinded by fear of ACORN. Oh right, a monthly payment schedule?! THAT'S SOCIALISM. Wait, what? I don't know what I'm talking about.

pg 489 claim: govt will cover marriage and family therapy.... which means GOVT WILL INSERT ITSELF INTO YOUR MARRIAGE
pg 489 reality: The were SO close to getting one right here. Yes, this section says that marriage therapy and family therapy will be made available via the Public Option. How does that mean that govt will insert itself into your marriage? What does that even mean? Does that mean that Obama is going to come to my house and have sex with my wife? I'm confused. How DARE the government try to offer my marriage and family some mental help!

pg 494-498 claim: govt will offer mental health services. AND RATION THEM
pg 494-498 reality: Yes, the govt will offer mental health services. Rationing of health services ALREADY happens. These pages do not talk about rationing health services, but even if they did that would simply be the status quo. Private insurance companies ALREADY rational mental health care.

WOOO!!!! Finished! The best part though is that he ends the video with the statement "educate yourself and read the Bill." Priceless, because he clearly hasn't.


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