President Obama will be visiting the St. Louis area Wednesday to garner support for his health reform plan. As Washington prepares for a final bare-knuckled battle this month, the stakes could not be higher. With Republicans united in opposition, Democratic leaders are planning to enact a sweeping health overhaul that the American people continue to say in the every way possible that they don’t want.
While the president can make a compelling case for action, his assertions about his plan are not backed by facts. Based upon his most recent health reform statements, the president will continue to make arguments refuted by the facts and independent analyses when he visits Wednesday. Here are just a few examples:
President Obama said at the White House on March 3 that his plan will “bring down the cost of health care for millions – families, businesses, and the federal government.”
But the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says health insurance premiums will continue their steady upward climb under the Senate bill. Families purchasing insurance in the individual market would see an increase of $2,100 in the year 2016, over and above increases they already will be facing. That means those families would be paying $15,200 in 2016 for health insurance if the Senate bill passes, and $13,100 if it doesn't.
His legislation will do nothing to slow the steady climb of health costs. Families who get health insurance through small businesses will be paying $19,200 in six years, and those working for large firms, $20,100, according to CBO.
And the Obama administration’s own Chief Medicare Actuary estimates that, under the Senate bill, "Federal expenditures would increase by a net total of $279 billion" between 2010 and 2019.
So it would cost families, businesses, and taxpayers more, not less, if his plan passes.
President Obama: “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”
He claims no one will have to change plans, but at the health reform summit, the president acknowledged that the Senate bill could take away the current health insurance coverage for eight to nine million Americans.
The steep cuts in Medicare Advantage that President Obama supports would mean at least one-third of seniors in Missouri, Illinois and 45 other states likely could lose their comprehensive Medicare Advantage coverage as their plans are forced to withdraw from the program, cut their benefits, or raise premiums (three states received sweetheart deals to protect their seniors from the cuts). In addition, about 10 million people with employer-sponsored insurance could lose their current coverage, according to the CBO.
President Obama says his plan “brings down our deficit.”
No one believes this to be true and for good reason. The president and congressional leaders employed trillion-dollar budget gimmicks to make this assertion. CBO, the budget scorekeeper, was cynically given a bill with ten years of tax hikes and Medicare cuts to pay for only six years of new entitlement subsidies. The IRS would throw ordinary Americans in jail if they used this type of accounting.
In reality, the ten-year cost of the Senate bill is estimated at $2.4 trillion. The Senate legislation would significantly expand, not shrink, the deficit.
So just on these three examples – keeping your current coverage, lowering costs, and reducing the deficit – the president’s assertions are wrong. One hopes his St. Louis speech will not employ what we’ve seen from President Obama throughout this debate: using the same arguments that have been proven as inaccurate by independent studies and analyses, and hoping that maybe, just maybe, this time the speech will work.
Published in The Missouri Record, March 10, 2010.