Chamber of Commerce Lies About Health Care Reform

March 09, 2010 2:32 pm ET

On March 9, 2010, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published a blog post falsely claiming the Democratic plan for reforming health care would increase premiums, increase the deficit, and kill jobs.  In reality, the plan would reduce the deficit, lower premiums, and create up to 4 million American jobs.

The Chamber Falsely Claims Reform Will Increase Premiums

U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Your health care costs will increase. The bill will do very little to control costs (iv), while simultaneously taxing the health industry -- taxes consumers will pay (v) -- and forcing Americans to purchase more expensive health insurance. [U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 3/9/10]

PolitiFact: "For Most People, Premiums Would Stay About The Same, Or Slightly Decrease."  According to "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." [, 1/27/10, emphasis added]

CBO: House Bill Will Result In Lower Costs For American Families.  The Congressional Budget Office estimated that in 2016, premiums will be $5,300 for an individual and $15,000 for a family of four in the Exchange.  Without reform, the average family premium is expected to grow to $24,000. [CBO, 11/2/09; House Education and Labor Committee, 11/2/09]

The Chamber Falsely Claims Reform Will Increase The Deficit

U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

The debt, the deficit, and federal spending will increase.(viii) Despite a number of accounting gimmicks, like starting the taxation before the program spending begins, and double-counting $500 billion in Medicare cuts (ix), the bill's true cost will be trillions of dollars (x). The bill creates new entitlements that will increase forever, much like Social Security and Medicare.(xi) [U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 3/9/10]

CBO: Democratic Bill Would Cost $1 Trillion, Cut Deficit By $132 Billion. According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the Democratic health care plan:

CBO and JCT estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act incorporating the manager's amendment would yield a net reduction in federal deficits of $132 billion over the 2010-2019 period. [Congressional Budget Office, 12/19/09]

The Chamber Falsely Claims Reform Will Kill Jobs

U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Jobs will be lost, or never created. The bill creates a huge incentive not to hire low-wage workers and not to grow a business beyond 50 employees. Employers who hire a low-wage worker, even if they offer great health insurance, could be fined $3000 per year.(xiii) [U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 3/9/10]

Health Care Reform Will Create Up To 4 Million American Jobs In The Next Decade. According to the Center for American Progress, "Relative to baseline employment forecasts from the Employment Projections Program at the U.S. Department of Labor, we estimate that moderate medical savings from health care modernization as envisioned under the legislation now before Congress would lead to an average of 250,000 additional jobs created annually. Under the larger assumption about savings due to health care reform, 400,000 new jobs a year would be created on average." [Center for American Progress, New Jobs Through Better Health Care, January 2010]

The Chamber's Anti-Health Care Crusade Was Bankrolled By Big Insurance Companies

Insurance Companies Financed The Chamber of Commerce's Anti-Health Care Reform Campaign.  As reported by National Journal:

Just as dealings with the Obama administration and congressional Democrats soured last summer, six of the nation's biggest health insurers began quietly pumping big money into third-party television ads aimed at killing or significantly modifying the major health reform bills moving through Congress.

That money, between $10 million and $20 million, came from Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint, according to two health care lobbyists familiar with the transactions. The companies are all members of the powerful trade group America's Health Insurance Plans.

The funds were solicited by AHIP and funneled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help underwrite tens of millions of dollars of television ads by two business coalitions set up and subsidized by the chamber. Each insurer kicked in at least $1 million and some gave multimillion-dollar donations. [National Journal, 1/13/10]