Please see below for a fact check on several misleading statements from Sen. Enzi (R-WY) from his speech on the Senate floor tonight:

Enzi falsely claimed that premiums will rise if the Senate health care bill passes. Enzi said, “Wellpoint, the largest blue cross/blue shield plan in the nation looked at their actual claims experiences in the 14 states in which they operate and concluded that the premiums for healthier small businesses will increase in all 14 states.”

Enzi also repeated the thoroughly debunked claim that the Senate bill would affect Medicare by saying, “The bill cuts over $460 billion from Medicare over the next ten years.”

Finally, Enzi said Medicaid will also be a huge costs to states. He said, “In addition to doctors an hospitals, states cannot afford to pay for this expansion of the Medicaid program. The Reid bill imposes approximately $25 billion in new unfunded medicaid costs on state budgets.”

REALITY: REFORM WILL LOWER COSTS, AND PREVENT PREMIUMS FROM SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL

MIT Health Economist: Based On CBO Model, Premiums Under SFC Proposal For A Family Could Be At Least $2,430 Lower, Up To $8,550 Lower Than Without Reform. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein reported on estimated impact on premiums of the Senate Finance Committee proposal, finding that under current law, premiums would stay at $10,770 under current law, while premiums under the new proposal could be as low as $2,220 and would rise to only $8,340. He further wrote that, “[t]he analysis comes from MIT health economist Jon Gruber. Gruber is, undoubtedly, pro-reform. He’s advised the Senate Finance Committee and served as one of the architects of the Massachusetts plan. But he’s also one of the most-respected health economists in the country. Gruber runs the numbers for an average family, a 25-year-old and a 60-year-old, looking at different income levels for each, and paying close attention to the role subsidies will play. In each case, he finds the people likely to save money under the Senate Finance Committee’s plan. You can download his analysis, which is based on Congressional Budget Office data, here… Gruber certainly has a lot less incentive to twist the facts than the insurance industry does, and his numbers, at least, are free from any glaring deficiencies.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 10/12/09]

23 Of Nation’s Most Well-Respected Health Economists: “We Believe That It Is Important To Enact Health Reform…[It] Will Lower Health Care Costs And Help Reduce Deficits Over The Long Term.” In a letter to the President, 23 of the nation’s most well-respected health economists said: “As economists, we believe that it is important to enact health reform, and it is essential that health reform include these four features [deficit neutrality, excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, independent Medicare commission, delivery system reforms] that will lower health care costs and help reduce deficits over the long term.” [Letter from 23 economists, 11/17/09]

NYT: “The Bill Just Approved By The House…Would Implement Or Test Many Reforms That Should Help Slow The Rise In Medical Costs…The New England Journal Of Medicine Concluded, ‘Pretty Much Every Proposed Innovation Found In The Health Policy Literature These Days Is Encapsulated In These Measures.’” The New York Times Editorial board issues a point-by-point analysis of the health reform measures contained in House and Senate bills: “The good news is that the bill just approved by the House and a bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee would implement or test many reforms that should help slow the rise in medical costs over the long term. As a report in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded, ‘Pretty much every proposed innovation found in the health policy literature these days is encapsulated in these measures.’… Republican critics say, correctly, that the health care bills would saddle the government with large new costs to cover the uninsured by expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies to help low- and middle-income people buy insurance. And they say, incorrectly, that the effort should not move ahead until a sure-fire way is found to rein in rising health care costs. Their arguments overlook the fact that the government is already paying many of these costs, through special payments to hospitals, each time a person without insurance, and with no means to pay, goes to an expensive emergency room for treatment. It also overlooks the fact that both bills are designed to keep deficits from increasing over the next decade or two.” [New York Times Editorial, 11/15/09]

Conservative Tax Foundation Was Outraged: House Health Reform Proposal Would Net Middle-Class Families “An Average Benefit Of About $1,900.” The Tax Foundation decried the “income redistribution” facilitated by the House health reform legislation: “[t]he biggest beneficiaries of HR 3200’s redistribution would not be low-income families, but middle-class families, especially those making between $65,704 and $112,721, who would see an average benefit of about $1,900. In fact, even in the 60 percent to 70 percent income group, earning up to $141,101, the average family would gain almost $1,000.” [Tax Foundation Press Release, 10/6/09]

AP On House Plan: “The Typical Family Would Be Spared Higher Taxes…And Their Low-Income Neighbors Could Come Out Ahead.” The Associated Press reported that from the newly unveiled House Democratic health reform bill, “[t]he typical family would be spared higher taxes from the House Democratic plan to overhaul health care, and their low-income neighbors could come out ahead.” [Associated Press, 11/2/09]

House Bill Provides Rebates If Premiums Far Exceed Cost Of Covering Medical Expenses, Insurers Would Have To Justify Premium Increases To State And Federal Government, Lifetime Limits On Coverage Are Eliminated. Reuters listed many of the major provisions contained in the newest version of the House health reform bill. It listed a few consumer protections, including: “Provides for consumer rebates if premiums far exceed the cost of covering their medical expenses…Sets up a state/federal process under which insurers would have to justify premium increases…Eliminates lifetime limits on coverage.” [Reuters, 10/30/09]

Chamber Of Commerce On Baucus Proposal: A Bill “That Will Actually…Get Health-Care Costs Under Control.” The Wall Street Journal reported that, “[t]he U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents about three million businesses of all sizes, has run television ads opposing the Democratic-led health-care push. And the chamber, like many other big business groups in Washington, has many concerns about the Baucus bill, particularly the taxes it proposes to help pay for its $774 billion Congressional Budget Office price tag over 10 years. But the chamber applauded much of the Baucus bill as the first proposal ‘that will actually…get health-care costs under control.’” [Wall Street Journal, 9/25/09]

REALITY: MEDICARE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT BENEFITS, THEY STRENGTHEN MEDICARE

FactCheck.org: “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits’ Under [Health Reform Legislation], And In Fact Have Done Our Best To Debunk [Those] Claims.” FactCheck.org wrote: “We never have said that seniors would suffer ‘massive cuts to Medicare benefits’ under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect.” [FactCheck.org, 11/3/09]

AARP Applauded The Senate For Bill: “Makes Progress Towards Achieving Meaningful Relief For Millions Of Older Americans…Makes Improvements To The Medicare Program.” AARP said in a press release: “We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services. The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage.” [AARP, 11/18/09]

AARP Warned Seniors Against “Myths and Scare Tactics” In Health Reform Debate, Said “None Of The Health Care Reform Proposals Being Considered By Congress Would Cut Medicare Benefits.” AARP wrote in a myth-vs.-fact health reform website that, “There are special interest groups trying to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics. Like the notion that health care reform would ration your care, hurt Medicare or be a government takeover. Actually, these are false statements.” AARP concluded about the Medicare claim that, “[n]one of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.” [AARP, Myths Vs. Facts]

REALITY: HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM WOULD COVER LARGE PORTION OF MEDICAID EXPENDITURES FOR STATES, MORE THAN THEY DO NOW

CBO On Senate Bill: Federal Government Would Cover On Average 90% Of Additional Medicaid Costs, Up From 57% Currently; Federal Money Would Cover Higher Proportion Of CHIP Costs, Increasing From An Average Of 70 Percent To 93 Percent. The CBO concluded that the Senate reform legislation affected Medicaid in the following way: “Starting in 2014, most nonelderly people with income below 133 percent of the FPL would be made eligible for Medicaid. The federal government would pay all of the costs of covering newly eligible enrollees through 2016; in subsequent years, the share of federal spending would vary somewhat from year to year but ultimately would average about 90 percent. (Under current rules, the federal government usually pays about 57 percent, on average, of the costs of Medicaid benefits.)…Beginning in 2014, states would receive higher federal reimbursement for CHIP beneficiaries, increasing from an average of 70 percent to 93 percent. CBO estimates that state spending on Medicaid would increase by about $25 billion.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Barbour Said He Was “Encouraged” By The Senate Finance’s Health Care Bill That Would Increased Medicaid Funding For States. “States may receive more money from the U.S. government for the Medicaid program for the poor under the Senate Finance Committee chairman’s healthcare reform proposal released on [September 16, 2009]. The $856 billion legislation, which may form the basis of compromise in the U.S. Congress on giving all Americans health coverage, would ‘increase federal Medicaid funding for states that cover recommended preventive services and immunizations at no extra cost,’ according to a summary from Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana …While a key Republican governor, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, was encouraged by the call, he said he was still worried about other provisions in the committee’s proposal. ‘It is clear the Senators are trying to reduce or eliminate the unfunded mandate, and I appreciate their effort,’ said Barbour, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, in a statement. ‘Nevertheless, Mississippi’s small businesses and our Medicare beneficiaries have too much at risk.’” [Reuters, 9/16/09]

Senate Bill Includes Provision To Help States Affected By Disasters To Cover Half Of Increased Medicaid Spending. Politico Live Pulse reported that, “it’s no surprise that the health bill includes a 50 percent boost in federal Medicaid money for states that have been declared disaster areas in the past seven years. Hurricane Katrina, of course, hit the Pelican State in 2005. You can find the provision on page 432 of the bill…Turns out, the provision is a bit more nuanced than I first reported. Essentially, it provides federal money to help the state shoulder its share of increased Medicaid spending. For instance, if Louisiana’s share of Medicaid spending is increased by more than 3 percent, the federal government would pick up half of that tab in the first year. Bottom line, CBO estimates the provision would cost the federal government about $100 million.” [Politico Live Pulse, 11/18/09]

REALITY: COST OF FAILURE IS JUST TOO GREAT FOR STATES

Study: If Reform Fails, “All States Would See Their Medicaid/CHIP Costs Rise By More Than 75 Percent From 2009 To 2019. Half The States Would Face Cost Increases Of More Than 100 Percent.” The Robert-Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute completed a study on the potential costs to states if health reform failed. The main findings for health care spending were: “In the worst case, all states would see their Medicaid/CHIP costs rise by more than 75 percent from 2009 to 2019. Half the states would face cost increases of more than 100 percent. Even in the best case, 13 states would experience Medicaid/CHIP cost growth of more than 65 percent. In the worst case, uncompensated care costs would more than double from 2009 to 2019 in 45 states. Even in the best case, uncompensated care would increase by more than 50 percent in 48 states.” [RWJF: The Cost Of Failure, 9/28/09]

No Comment

Leave a reply