Six Months Later, Senator Barrasso Is Still Using The Same Old Health Care Falsehoods

September 22, 2010 9:36 am ET

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) took to Fox News' airwaves to laud Republican attempts to repeal elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care, leveling a number of misleading attacks on the health care reform law in the process.  Barrasso claimed that the law is "bad" for both patients and providers and suggested it holds high costs for taxpayers. In reality, the law contains numerous positive reforms for consumers and providers, and it reduces the deficit.

Sen. Barrasso: Health Care Reform Is Bad For Taxpayers, Patients And Providers

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Well, I can tell you, after November, the House, the makeup of the House is going to support that sort of activity — to defund so many of the implementation parts of this. Because this is a bill, this law, it's bad for patients and they know it, it's bad for providers, the nurses and the doctors that take care of patients, and they know it. I was visiting with them this past weekend in Wyoming. And it's bad for the taxpayers who are going to have to foot the bill and they know it. That's why 61 percent of Americans want to repeal and replace this terrible health care law.

Repealing Health Care Reform Would Mean A Larger "Bill" For Americans To "Foot"

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 If those provisions were repealed, CBO estimates that there would be an increase in deficits similar to its original estimate of $455 billion in net savings over that period."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]

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]

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]

Actually, Health Care Reform Is Good For Patients

Here are some of the ways the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act benefits consumers...

Health Care Reform Prevents Insurance Companies From Rescinding Coverage Over Unintentional Errors. According to the Congressional Research Service, "Effective for plan years beginning on or after six months after enactment, the law generally prohibits rescissions for a group health plan, a grandfathered plan, and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage. Rescissions will still be permitted in cases where the covered individual committed fraud or made an intentional misrepresentation of material fact as prohibited by the terms of the plan or coverage." [Congressional Research Service, 4/15/10, internal citation deleted for clarity]

  • Prior To Health Care Reform, Rescission Was Allowed In 43 States. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, prior to the passage of the health care reform law, 43 U.S. states and the District of Columbia allowed insurance companies to revoke an enrollee's coverage during a "contestability period ... if any, even unintentional, material misstatement or omission is discovered." [Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed 9/21/10]

Health Care Reform Provides Access To Insurance For Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the health care reform law "[c]reates a temporary program to provide health coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months. The plan will be operated by the states or the federal government." [Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed 9/21/10]

Health Care Reform Restricts Insurance Policies' Annual And Lifetime Limits. According to the AARP:

Q. Does the new health care reform law eliminate annual and lifetime limits on health care coverage in insurance policies?

Yes. On Sept. 23, lifetime limits are effectively banned for all plans that begin or are renewed after that date. Insurance companies can no longer cut off policy holders when their medical expenses reach a lifetime limit. Annual limits on coverage will be phased out over the next few years, beginning this year...

The law phases out these annual limits over a period of three years: in the first year, insurers must cover medical expenses up to at least $750,000. That coverage rises to $1.45 million after Sept. 23, 2011 and increases to $2 million after Sept. 23, 2012. Limits will be completely banned starting Jan. 1, 2014. [AARP.org, 8/23/10, emphasis original]

Health Care Reform Gives Americans The Right To Appeal When Insurance Companies Refuse To Pay. According to Commerce Clearing House, the health care reform law requires insurance companies to "implement an effective process for appeals of coverage determinations and claims. This appeals process must include, at a minimum, the following: an established internal claims appeal process; a notice to participants...of available internal and external appeals processes, including the availability of assistance with the appeals processes; and a provision allowing an enrollee to review his or her file, to present evidence and testimony as part of the appeals process, and to receive continued coverage during the appeals process." [Commerce Clearing House, 6/8/10]

Health Care Reform Requires Insurers To Provide Free Preventive Care Services. The new health care reform law "[r]equires new private plans to cover preventive services with no co-payments and with preventive services being exempt from deductibles." By 2018, all private health insurance plans must provide preventive services. [CBS News, 3/21/10]

Health Care Reform Reduces Premiums For Most Americans. 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]

Health Care Reform 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]

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 Is Good For Providers, Too

Here are some of the ways the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act benefits health care providers...

Health Care Reform Funds Scholarships And Loan Repayments For Doctors And Nurses In Underserved Areas. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the health care reform law "[p]ermanently authorizes the federally qualified health centers and NHSC [National Health Service Corps] programs and increases funding for FQHCs and for the NHSC for fiscal years 2010-2015." [Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed 9/21/10, emphasis added]

  • The NHSC Is A Scholarship And Loan Repayment Program For Providers In Underserved Areas. According to the Congressional Research Service, "The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) program ... provides scholarships and student loan repayments for medical students, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and others who agree to a period of service as a primary care provider in full-time clinical practice in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA)." [Congressional Research Service, 3/1/10]

Health Care Reform Funds Mid-Career Training For Health Professionals. According to a report by the University of Iowa's Rural Policy Research Institute, "Grants will be awarded to entities to award scholarships to mid-career public health and allied health professionals for additional training.... Scholarships may create opportunities for mid-career training among rural public and allied health professionals who otherwise may not have had such opportunities because of the cost of programs and displacement." [Rural Policy Research Institute, 6/10]

Health Care Reform Increases Pay For Some Primary Care Providers In Underserved Areas. According to a report by the University of Iowa's Rural Policy Research Institute, "An additional 10% payment will be made to qualifying primary care providers for cognitive care services as defined by specific codes, and for surgical procedures furnished by general surgeons in health professional shortage areas. Primary care providers include physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, or physician assistants for whom primary care services are at least 60% of allowed charges." [Rural Policy Research Institute, 6/10]

Health Care Reform Ensures Higher Medicaid Payments For Rural Doctors. According to a report by the University of Iowa's Rural Policy Research Institute, "Primary care physicians will be paid Medicare rates when treating persons this legislation makes newly eligible for Medicaid. This provision will apply to 2013 and 2014, with a federal match of 100% of the cost.... This will provide higher marginal payment for rural primary care physicians than would be true if Medicaid rates were used." [Rural Policy Research Institute, 6/10]

Health Care Reform Allows Physicians To Keep Some Money Saved By Providing Cost-Effective Treatment. According to a report by the University of Iowa's Rural Policy Research Institute, the health care reform bill sets up "groups of providers such as hospitals and physicians, operating under a shared governance arrangement, accountable for the patients assigned to them, and eligible to share in savings to the Medicare program that result from more cost-effective treatment." [Rural Policy Research Institute, 6/10]

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