"Young Guns" Stick To "Government Takeover" Talking Points And "Rising Premiums" Deceptions

September 13, 2010 2:18 pm ET

In their new book Young Guns, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) attack the Affordable Care Act using predictable and dishonest buzzwords. They repeatedly call it a "government takeover" or "government healthcare" that will inflate insurance costs. Rep. Ryan implicitly acknowledges that as written, the law will reduce the deficit — but he claims that won't happen because future lawmakers will lack the political will to enact its provisions. Despite their rhetoric, the fact remains that the Affordable Care Act will insure 10% of the country with just a 1% increase in health care spending (meaning the cost per unit of insurance will go down); premiums will hold steady or fall for most Americans; and we'll see a substantial increase in the amount of coverage people can purchase, all without a government takeover of health care.

CLAIM: The Affordable Care Act Is A "Government Takeover" Of Health Care

Rep. Kevin McCarthy:

Who would have thought America could be going the way it's going now? With government taking over businesses? With government taking over health care? [Young Guns, p 13]

...the recently passed government takeover of health care. [Young Guns, p 184]

...trillion-dollar government takeover of health care. [Young Guns, p 187]

...the health-care takeover... [Young Guns, p 189]

Rep. Eric Cantor:

The president and the Democratic leadership have frantically produced and lobbied for plans to tax energy, create government health care, close Guantanamo Bay, bailout corporations, and, of course, spend lots and lots of your money. [Young Guns, p 10, emphasis added]

Our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will pay the price for government health care in jobs and wages lost, in higher taxes, and in rationed and diminished quality of care. [Young Guns, p 76, emphasis added]

While millions of Americans are out of work and struggling, Washington's answers have been bridges to nowhere, corporate cronyism, cap and trade, housing bailouts, and government-run health care. [Young Guns, p 87, emphasis added]

Rep. Paul Ryan:

... even though it doesn't contain the so-called 'public option,' Obamacare is still a government takeover of our healthcare system. [Young Guns, p 100, emphasis added]

The Progressivist vision is to create a new American person who no longer strives to better oneself but accepts one's station in life-and looks to government to help cope not only with difficulties but with every important personal decision. And from the enactment of the failed $1 trillion "stimulus" bill last year, to the pass-at-any cost government takeover of health care, President Obama and the Democratic leadership have zealously followed this Progressivist strategy, taking us closer to the tipping point, closer to a European-style welfare state where high taxes, big government, and double-digit unemployment become a way of life. [Young Guns, p 132, emphasis added]

FACT: There Is No Government Takeover Of Health Care

PolitiFact: Republicans Are "Wrong That Obama's Plan Offers Government-Run Health Care." Analyzing Sen. Tom Coburn's claim that President Obama's health care reform plan amounted to a government takeover of health care, PolitiFact.com wrote:

[H]e's wrong that Obama's plan offers government-run health care.

In fact, Obama's plan leaves in place the private health care system, but seeks to expand it to the uninsured. It increases eligibility for the poor and children to enroll in initiatives like Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and creates pools for individuals to buy their own cheaper insurance. It also outlines strategies to rein in costs for everyone, such as electronic medical records and preventive care.

[...]

That may be Sen. Coburn's opinion on what could happen, but it's definitely not part of Obama's plan. And Coburn was very specific in saying that "under the Obama plan, all the health care in this country is eventually going to be run by the government." That gives the incorrect impression that Obama is promoting a government-run health care system. He's not. We rate Coburn's statement False.

[PolitiFact.com, 3/4/10, emphasis added]

CLAIM: Rep. Cantor Implied That The GOP's Free-Market Alternative Would Prevent Bureaucrats From Making Health Care Decisions

Rep. Eric Cantor:

As Paul and Kevin will go into detail later, we believe the patient and her doctor should be the decision makers when it comes to health care, not a bureaucrat in the basement of the Health and Human Services building in Washington DC. [Young Guns, p 64]

FACT: Prior To Reform, Doctors' Decisions Were Subject To Private Insurance Bureaucracies

Americans Face Denials For Coverage From Insurance Companies Every Day.  Americans are already facing the denial of treatments from their private insurance companies, according to the Wall Street Journal. As Diane Archer, director of the Health Care Project at Institute for America's Future argued in the New York Times: "As any doctor will tell you, when a private health insurance plan delays or denies a physician-recommended service, it is deciding who gets care and what kind of care people get." [Wall Street Journal9/25/08New York Times5/8/09]

Insurance Bureaucrats Stand Between Americans And Their Doctors.  Dr. Howard Dean said on MSNBC: "Right now there is a bureaucrat between you and your doctor, and it's that private health insurance bureaucrat." [MSNBC, accessed 6/17/09]

Insurance Giant WellPoint, For Example, Targeted Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer For Policy Cancellations

Reuters: "WellPoint Also Has Specifically Targeted Women With Breast Cancer For Aggressive Investigation With The Intent To Cancel Their Policies." According to Reuters:

Shortly after they were diagnosed with breast cancer, each of the women learned that her health insurance had been canceled... Neither of these women knew about the other. But besides their similar narratives, they had something else in common: Their health insurance carriers were subsidiaries of WellPoint, which has 33.7 million policyholders -- more than any other health insurance company in the United States.

The women paid their premiums on time. Before they fell ill, neither had any problems with their insurance. Initially, they believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.

They had no idea that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators...

WellPoint also has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies, federal investigators told Reuters. [Reuters4/23/10, emphasis added]

House Oversight Committee: WellPoint Employee "Saved The Company nearly $10 Million" Through Rescissions.  As reported by the House Oversight Committee:

The committee conducted a year long investigation into problems with the individual health insurance market and found, among other alarming issues, that in the last five years 20,000 individual insurance policyholders have had their policies rescinded by the three insurance companies who testified today. The investigation also uncovered that at least one insurance company evaluated employee performance based in part on the amount of money its employees saved the company through retroactive rescissions of health insurance policies. A document obtained by the Committee showed a WellPoint official was awarded a perfect score of 5 for 'exceptional performance' based on having saved the company nearly $10 million dollars through rescissions:

[Speaker.gov, 6/16/09]

CLAIM: The Affordable Care Act Will Increase Health Care Costs

Rep. Eric Cantor:

Far from 'bending the cost curve down,' their plan had a trillion-dollar price tag. [Young Guns, p 64]

Rep. Paul Ryan:

But the inescapable truth of Obamacare is that it fails to address this central problem of skyrocketing health-care costs. [Young Guns, p 100]

And the fact is that when all spending is counted, CBO concludes that the Democratic health-care reform will increase healthcare costs, not decrease them. Premiums for individuals will increase and costs for middle-class families will rise. Costs will rise even further by the increase in demand created by the law accompanied by the decrease in supply it will create. [Young Guns, p 102]

But that's just the beginning of the bad news. Because of ever-increasing numbers of new beneficiaries, skyrocketing health-care costs, and recently enacted health-care overhaul that will drive costs up, not down, this burden on American families will worsen rapidly. [Young Guns, p 116]

FACT: The Affordable Care Act Will Control Health Care Costs While Expanding Coverage To Millions Of Uninsured Americans

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]

Affordable Care Act Insures 34 Million New People With 1% Health Care Spending Increase. According to the Washington Post's Ezra Klein: "First, be clear about what's being estimated. The Congressional Budget Office's estimates look at the deficit. CMS is looking at total national health expenditures. This often confuses people into thinking that there's conflict between the two sets of numbers when there isn't: CBO says that federal spending is going to go up to pay for the coverage expansion, but that savings and revenue will go up by even more, leading to a net reduction in the federal deficit. CMS is looking only at the spending side. And here's what it finds: In 2019, implementation of the Affordable Care Act will reduce the ranks of the uninsured by 34 million people and increase nation health expenditures by 1 percent. One percent... So that's the bottom line of the report: We're covering 34 million people and come 2019, spending is expected to be one percentage point -- and falling - above what it would've been if we'd done nothing." [Washington Post4/23/10, emphasis added]

Washington Post's Ezra Klein: Prices Will Drop For Employer-Driven Health Care Market. According to the Washington Post's Ezra Klein in his analysis of CBO estimates:

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...

Meanwhile, the small group and employer markets sees costs go down, and those markets serve more than 150 million Americans, as opposed to the individual market's 32 million customers. So it's not only true that most Americans will see their premiums go down, but it's also true that most Americans will see their premiums go down even if you account for the better insurance plans they'll be purchasing. [Washington Post, 12/1/09, emphasis added]

CBO Report: Employer-Based Insurance Costs Will Stay About The Same Or Go Down. According to the CBO: "The legislation would have much smaller effects on premiums for employment-based coverage, which would account for about five-sixths of the total health insurance market. In the small group market, which is defined in this analysis as consisting of employers with 50 or fewer workers, CBO and JCT estimate that the change in the average premium per person resulting from the legislation could range from an increase of 1 percent to a reduction of 2 percent in 2016 (relative to current law). In the large group market, which is defined here as consisting of employers with more than 50 workers, the legislation would yield an average premium per person that is zero to 3 percent lower in 2016 (relative to current law)... By CBO and JCT's estimate, the average premium per policy in the small group market would be in the vicinity of $7,800 for single policies and $19,200 for family policies under the proposal, compared with about $7,800 and $19,300 under current law. In the large group market, average premiums would be roughly $7,300 for single policies and $20,100 for family policies under the proposal, compared with about $7,400 and $20,300 under current law." [CBO Letter, 11/30/09]

CLAIM: Rep. Ryan Dishonestly Suggests That Premiums Will Rise 10-13 Percent

Rep. Paul Ryan:

The independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that families' premiums could rise 10-13 percent under government health care. Private sector analysts put that number even higher. [Young Guns, p 100]

FACT: The "10-13 Percent" Rise In Premiums Is Only For The Individual Market Of Roughly 30 Million People...

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]

FactCheck.org: Premiums Will Jump Significantly For Only "About 17 Percent Of The Overall Insurance Market." According to FactCheck.org's analysis of a similar claim in an attack ad: "The ad cites as its source for this claim a Nov. 30, 2009, report from CBO. What that report actually says is that for the largest segment of the health insurance market, amounting to about 70 percent of those with coverage, 'the legislation would yield an average premium per person that is zero to 3 percent lower in 2016 (relative to current law).' [...] The only big increases that CBO predicts are for those in the 'nongroup' market - which makes up about 17 percent of the overall insurance market. These are people who aren't getting coverage through their employers or other large pools. Single individuals buying coverage would see premiums only about $300 higher than they would have been without the law, but those buying family coverage would see an average increase of $2,100 a year. (The cost would go from $13,100 under previous law, to $15,200 under the new legislation - an increase of just over 16 percent.) But most of those buying insurance on their own would get help paying their premiums, a fact simply ignored by the ad. The CBO report says that about 57 percent of those in the nongroup market would receive federal subsidies, covering nearly two-thirds of the total premium cost, on average." [FactCheck.org, 8/13/10, emphasis added]

...And Rep. Ryan Doesn't Acknowledge That The Rise In Premiums Assumes Individuals Will Purchase More Coverage

Washington Post's Ezra Klein: "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]

CLAIM: Rep. Ryan Claimed That The Affordable Care Act Will Not Actually Reduce The Federal Debt

Rep. Paul Ryan:

And as for the Democrats' claim of deficit reduction, it is about as trustworthy as their promise to cut health-care costs. Their health-care program will cost an astounding $2.6 trillion in its first full decade after the spending is fully implemented. And to make matters worse, the Democrats deceitfully kick the can down the road when it comes to paying this enormous bill. Their plan leaves it to another president and another Congress to tax so-called 'Cadillac' plans in 2018. Even more egregious, it contains a promise-a promise that Democrats were implicitly breaking even as they made it-to make $208 billion in future cuts to physician pay under Medicare. No one-and I mean no one-believed Congress would ever make such a cut. [Young Guns, pp 102-3]

FACT: The Affordable Care Act As Enacted Reduces The Deficit By $138 Billion In Its First Decade

CBO: Health Care Reform Package Would Reduce The Deficit By $138 Billion By 2019.  According to the Congressional Budget Office: "The reconciliation proposal includes provisions related to health care and revenues, many of which would amend H.R. 3590. It also includes amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965, which authorizes most federal programs involving postsecondary education. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting both pieces of legislation-H.R. 3590 and the reconciliation proposal- would produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $138 billion over the 2010-2019 period as result of changes in direct spending and revenue." [CBO, 3/18/10]

CBO To GOP: Repealing Cost-Saving Provisions Of The Affordable Care Act Would Increase Deficit By $455 Billion. In a letter to Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), the Congressional Budget Office wrote: "Finally, you asked what the net deficit impact would be if certain provisions of PPACA and the Reconciliation Act that were estimated to generate net savings were eliminated-specifically, those which were originally estimated to generate a net reduction in mandatory outlays of $455 billion over the 2010-2019 period. The estimate of $455 billion mentioned in your letter represents the net effects of many provisions. Some of those provisions generated savings for Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program, and some generated costs. If those provisions were repealed, CBO estimates that there would be an increase in deficits similar to its original estimate of $455 billion in net savings over that period." [CBO, 8/24/10]

FACT: If The Law Is Fully Enacted, It Will Reduce The Deficit By Over A Trillion Dollars By 2030

OMB Director: Affordable Care Act Reduces Deficits By $1.1 Trillion By 2030. According to Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag: "The bottom line remains the same: the Affordable Care Act is the largest deficit reduction package enacted in over a decade according to CBO. It will reduce deficits by more than $100 billion in the current decade and more than $1 trillion in the decade after that - and that will not change." [WhiteHouse.gov, 5/12/10, emphasis added]

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