NRCC Attack On Rep. Scott Murphy (D-NY) Doesn't Add Up

October 28, 2010 2:28 pm ET

The National Republican Congressional Committee's latest calculated attack on Rep. Scott Murphy (D-NY) just doesn't add up. In an ad depicting a clipboard, squeaky markers, and faulty arithmetic, the NRCC attempts to spin Murphy's voting record into a nonsensical math problem. The NRCC claims Murphy supported "higher insurance premiums for hard-hit families," when insurance premiums for most Americans stay the same or decrease under the Affordable Care Act. The ad seeks to divide voters by saying "147 thousand jobs" could be lost on clean energy taxes, when in fact, new energy legislation would multiply job growth, creating 109,000 New York jobs, and nearly two million jobs across the country.

NRCC:  "Scott Murphy's Record"

To calculate Scott Murphy's record, the math is simple. Take his vote for higher taxes on small businesses. Plus, higher insurance premiums for hard-hit families. Minus $500 billion for Medicare. Finally multiply by the 147,000 jobs his vote for new energy taxes could cost. And you get? More suffering for New Yorkers. Scott Murphy: Higher taxes. Lost jobs. Wrong for New York. The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.  

Health Care Reform: New Tax Credit Eligibility For Small Businesses

Health Care Reform Creates Tax Credits For Over 4 Million American Small Businesses. According to a report from Families USA and Small Business Majority: "More than 4 million (4,015,300) small businesses will be eligible to receive a tax credit for the purchase of employee health insurance in 2010. That's 83.7 percent of all small businesses in the country." [A Helping Hand for Small Businesses: Health Insurance Tax Credits, Families USA and Small Business Majority, July 2010, emphasis original]

Insurance Premiums For Most Americans Will Stay The Same or Decrease Under The Affordable Care Act

PolitiFact: "For Most People, Premiums Would Stay About The Same, Or Slightly  Decrease." According to PolitiFact.com: "The CBO reported that, for most people, premiums would stay about the same, or slightly decrease. This was especially true for people who get their insurance through work. (Health policy wonks call these the large group and small group markets.) People who have to go out and buy insurance on their own (the individual market) would see rates increase by 10 to 13 percent. But more than half of those people -- 57 percent, in fact -- would be eligible for subsidies to help them pay for the insurance. People who get subsidies would see their premiums drop by more than half, according to the CBO. So most people would see their premiums stay the same or potentially drop." [PolitiFact.com, 1/27/10; emphasis added]

PolitiFact: 10-13% Premium Increase Is For Individual, Subsidized Market. According to PolitiFact.com: "People who have to go out and buy insurance on their own (the individual market) would see rates increase by 10 to 13 percent. But more than half of those people -- 57 percent, in fact -- would be eligible for subsidies to help them pay for the insurance. People who get subsidies would see their premiums drop by more than half, according to the CBO. So most people would see their premiums stay the same or potentially drop." [PolitiFact.com, 1/27/10]

Washington Post's Ezra Klein: Analysis Assumes People Will Buy Better Insurance, "Premiums For The Same Policy...Fall By 14 To 20 Percent." According to the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, in his analysis of the CBO report:

The confusion comes in the CBO's analysis of the individual market, which serves about a tenth of the population. CBO expects prices in the individual market to rise by 10 or 12 percent, an expectation driven entirely by predictions that individuals will purchase policies that are much more comprehensive, and thus somewhat more expensive, then the insurance they can afford now. Then the CBO turns to look at the impact of the subsidies, which will cut premium costs by a bit over 50 percent for a bit over 50 percent of the market.

But as the CBO explains on page five, part of the increase in the type of insurance being purchased is the result of "people's decisions to purchase more extensive coverage in response to the structure of subsidies." In other words, the change is driven by the subsidies, not offset by them.

To see this more clearly, imagine that the University of Florida decided to give incoming students who receive financial aid an $800 credit to purchase a laptop computer. You'd expect that the average computer purchased by students on financial aid would become a bit more expensive. But that wouldn't be because computers had become more expensive. It would be because people now had money to buy better computers.

So too for health-care reform. Premiums for the same policy in the individual market fall by 14 to 20 percent. But people in the individual market, who are largely low-income, will now have the opportunity to purchase better policies that cover more expenses and provide more security. That's a good thing. It's one of the reasons for health-care reform, in fact. And it is not analogous to health-care insurance becoming more expensive, any more than the fact that I could buy a nicer car after getting a better job suggests that cars are becoming more expensive. [Washington Post, 12/1/09; emphasis added]

The Affordable Care Act Strengthens Medicare Without Cutting Benefits

FactCheck.org: Cost Saving Provisions "Not A Slashing Of The Current Medicare Budget Or Benefits." According to FactCheck.org, "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." [FactCheck.org, 3/19/10; parentheses original]

Changes To Medicare Advantage Come With Extra Benefits For All Medicare Enrollees. FactCheck.org reported: "The CBO has estimated that the move would change the value of the extra benefits Medicare Advantage participants get, but they would not receive fewer benefits than the rest of seniors who aren't on the Advantage plans. The bill does add some extras for Medicare beneficiaries, eliminating copays and deductibles for preventive services, for example." [FactCheck.org, 12/2/09; emphasis added]

Health Care Reform "Will Keep Paying Medical Bills For Seniors." According to PolitiFact.com: "The government-run Medicare program will keep paying medical bills for seniors, but it will begin implementing cost controls on health care providers, mostly through penalties and incentives. The legislation would reduce payments for hospital-acquired infections or preventable hospital admissions. For Medicare Advantage, the federal government intends to reduce extra payments, taking away subsidies to private insurance companies. Insurers will likely cut benefits in order to not lose profits. The bill does not address the 'doctor's fix,' an expected proposal that Congress usually passes to prevent doctors' Medicare payments from severe cuts." [PolitiFact.com, 3/18/10; emphasis in original]

Health Care Reform Fills The "Doughnut Hole." According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: "In 2010, Part D enrollees with any spending in the coverage gap will receive a $250 rebate. Beginning in 2011, enrollees with spending in the coverage gap will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs, provided by the pharmaceutical industry. The law phases in Medicare coverage in the gap for generic drugs beginning in 2011, and for brand-name drugs beginning in 2013. By 2020, Part D enrollees will be responsible for 25 percent of the cost of both brands and generics in the gap, down from 100 percent in 2010." [Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed 8/25/10]

Health Care Reform Improves Medicare's Coverage Of Preventive Benefits. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: "Beginning in 2011, no coinsurance or deductibles will be charged in traditional Medicare for preventive services that are rated A or B by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Medicare will cover a free annual comprehensive wellness visit and personalized prevention plan." [Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed 8/25/10]

Click HERE for details on the trillions of dollars Republicans have voted to cut from Medicare.

NRCC Medicare "Math" Is Faulty: Medicare Savings Are From Phasing Out "Substantial Overpayment" To Medicare Advantage

CBO: Cost Changes To Medicare Made From Savings. According to the Congressional Budget Office: "Changes to the Medicare program and changes to Medicaid and CHIP other than those associated directly with expanded insurance coverage: Savings from those provisions are estimated to total $93 billion in 2019, and CBO projects that, in combination, they will increase by 10 percent to 15 percent per year in the next decade." [CBO.gov, 10/7/09]

New England Journal Of Medicine: The Affordable Care Act Phases Out "Substantial Overpayments" To Medicare Advantage Plans. From the New England Journal of Medicine:

A phased elimination of the substantial overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans, which now enroll nearly 25% of Medicare beneficiaries, will produce an estimated $132 billion in savings over 10 years.

[...]

The ACA also produces nearly $200 billion in savings by assuming that providers can improve their productivity as firms in other industries have done. On the basis of this presumed improvement, the law reduces Medicare's annual "market basket" updates for most types of providers - a provision that has generated controversy. [New England Journal of Medicine7/8/10]

Cuts Would Only Affect Medicare Advantage Plans. As reported by Kaiser Health News:

The new health law will cut $136 billion in spending on the Advantage program by 2019, which currently pays private plans to administer Medicare benefits and pays them about 14 percent more than the per-patient cost of the traditional Medicare program. Plans use that subsidy to lure members with lower premium costs or extra benefits not normally paid for by Medicare, such as vision care or better prescription drug coverage. Some Democrats and analysts have argued the higher rates are wasteful. 

Even experts who support the change concede that the impact of the cuts could be evident. Robert Berenson, a scholar at the Urban Institute and former Medicare official, said some Advantage plan members will notice skimpier benefits, "but the Republicans have really exaggerated that this will wipe out the Advantage plans." 

Marsha Gold, a health policy analyst for the private research group Mathematica, said, "Over time, there will be less rich benefits or higher premiums, but it's going to be gradual," noting that the largest cuts do not begin until 2015. 

[Kaiser Health News, 4/6/10]

Medicare Advantage Costs Taxpayers 14% More Than Traditional Medicare. As reported by PolitiFact.com:

Let's back-up for a minute and explain Medicare Advantage: There are two basic ways most people get Medicare coverage. They enroll in traditional Medicare and a prescription drug plan through the government and maybe buy a supplemental policy to cover most out-of-pocket costs. Or they enroll in Medicare Advantage programs (they include drug plans), which are run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage programs typically have more generous benefits such as dental and vision coverage. Some plans even pay the patient's monthly Medicare premium, which can amount to about $100.

The Medicare Advantage program was intended to bring more efficiency from the private sector to the Medicare program, but it hasn't worked as planned. A June 2009 analysis from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission said that the Advantage programs costs taxpayers on average of 14 percent more than the traditional Medicare plan. President Barack Obama has said repeatedly that the Medicare Advantage plan wastes public money that could be put to better use.

[PolitiFact.com, 9/20/10]

Clean Energy Legislation Would Create New York Jobs And Boost The Economy

New York Would Gain 109,000 Jobs From An Investment In Clean Energy Technologies. According to the Center for American Progress and the Political Economy Research Institute, "New York could see a net increase of about $10 billion in investment revenue and 109,000 jobs based on its share of a total of $150 billion in clean-energy investments annually across the country. This is even after assuming a reduction in fossil fuel spending equivalent to the increase in clean energy investments. Adding 109,000 jobs to the New York labor market in 2008 would have brought the state's unemployment rate down to 4.3 percent from its actual 2008 level of 5.4 percent." [Center for American Progress and the Political Economy Research Institute, Clean-Energy Investments Create Jobs in New York, 6/17/09]

Investment In Clean Energy Technology Would Create Up To 1.9 Million American Jobs. According to the University of California-Berkeley, "new analysis by the University of California shows conclusively that climate policy will strengthen the U.S. economy as a whole. Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would create between 918,000 and 1.9 million new jobs." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

Clean Energy Legislation Would Boost GDP By Up To $111 Billion. According to the University of California-Berkeley: "Comprehensive clean energy and climate protection legislation, like the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) that was passed by the House of Representatives in June, would strengthen the U.S. economy by establishing pollution limits and incentives that together will drive large-scale investments in clean energy and energy efficiency...New analysis by the University of California shows conclusively that climate policy will strengthen the U.S. economy as a whole. Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would ... boost GDP by $39 billion-$111 billion. These economic gains are over and above the growth the U.S. would see in the absence of such a bill." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

Clean Energy Legislation Would Boost Household Income By Nearly $1,200 Per Year. According to the University of California-Berkeley: "Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would create between 918,000 and 1.9 million new jobs, increase annual household income by $487-$1,175 per year. ... These economic gains are over and above the growth the U.S. would see in the absence of such a bill." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

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