Appearing on CNN and FOX today, GOP Leader Mike Pence offered numerous false claims as he panned a House health reform bill announced today.   Pence’s desperate attempt to sway the public against health reform appears even more so after news today from his party’s leader – John Boehner – who admitted that the Republicans STILL do not have a health reform plan of their own and made clear he has no idea when they will.

RHETORIC: “The taxes you talk about at least what’s being reported in the news, the so-called surtax, half of that surtax will fall on small business owners filing as individuals in this country and it appears for all of the world like a massive government run insurance plan paid for with a freight train of mandates and taxes and bureaucracy and republicans are going to continue to raise the curtain on our plan.” [CNN, 10/29/09]


Surtax Threshold Is At $500,000 For Individuals, $1,000,000 For Couples. The Los Angeles Times reported on the new Democratic House reform will: “The bill will be funded largely by a combination of cuts in Medicare — many of them designed to make the program more efficient — and a 5.4% surtax on individual taxpayers making more than $500,000 and couples making more than $1 million.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/29/09]

Tax Change Would Affect .3 Percent of Households. “Americans earning more than $500,000, or couples taking in more than $1 million annually, would face a 5.4 percent tax, to raise $460.5 billion. The Senate version contains no such tax. The provision would impact 0.3 percent of all U.S. households, according to a Joint House-Senate tax panel.” [Reuters, 10/29/09]

RHETORIC: On Fox News: “I mean, what we are seeing here is, you know, government-run insurance, mandates for businesses, an enormous tax increase, most of which or at least half of which will be paid for by small business owners. You have funding for abortion. You have news reports of the planned cuts in Medicare, especially Medicare Advantage.” [Fox, 10/29/09]


President Obama: “About 90 Percent Of All Small Businesses Would Be Exempt From [Employer Insurance Requirement.” President Obama in remarks on small businesses and health reform said, “it is true that when reform becomes law, businesses of a certain size who do not offer their workers health coverage may be required to contribute to the costs. Opponents of reform have tried to use this to mislead small business owners by claiming that you would be subject to this penalty. But the fact is, about 90 percent of all small businesses would be exempt from this requirement – about 90 percent. So, if your business is anything like the vast majority of small businesses out there, this requirement simply won’t apply to you – because I don’t think it’s fair to impose a penalty on small businesses.” [Remarks By President, 10/29/09]

CBO: Finance Committee Bill Could Save Small Businesses Up To 28 Percent On Health Insurance Premiums. In a report released on, it was noted that, “[w]ithout reform, current data trended forward indicate that by 2016, average health insurance premiums for a single policy in a firm with less than 50 employees will be approximately $6,700. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the premium for the second-lowest cost ‘silver’ single policy in the amended Senate Finance health insurance reform bill would be $5,000. This means that with health insurance reform, the average small business would have an option to choose a lower cost plan in the exchange. Choosing that option could save 25 percent on the premium of a single policy.  For smaller firms with less than 10 employees, the savings could be even higher, at 28 percent.” [How Health Reform Will Bring Down Costs For Small Businesses, 10/28/09]

Finance Committee Bill And House Tri-Committee Bills Created Small Business Tax Credit, Ends Hidden Tax On Small Businesses Of $1,000 Per Employee That Already Provide Health Insurance. [How Health Reform Will Bring Down Costs For Small Businesses, 10/28/09]


Politifact: There Is Nothing To Support The Claim That Taxpayers Would Subsidize Abortion And The Statement Is “False.” “The word ‘abortion’ was never mentioned in the initial health care plans released by the House and Senate. The decision of whether to offer abortion coverage in the proposed public plan, then, would be left up to the health and human services secretary. Abortion opponents said that would allow Democrats to slip abortion into the plan as part of the standard coverage. In an op-ed piece on July 23, House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio repeated the concerns of many who oppose abortion that the Democratic-backed health care reform plan ‘will require (Americans) to subsidize abortion with their hard-earned tax dollars.’ … In fact, in a key version of the bill- the one passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee – members went to great pains to include an amendment to ensure that federal money is not used for abortion coverage. Again, things could change as the health reform package works its way through Congress, but for now, we don’t see anything to support Boehner’s claim that taxpayers would subsidize abortions. And so we rule his statement False.” [Politifact, 8/7/09]

TIME: Same Standard Used To Claim Reform Funds Abortions Could Be Applied To Focus On The Family To Determine That It Too Funds Abortions. Time Magazine’s Amy Sullivan asked, “Does Focus on the Family Fund Abortions?” She noted that, “[i]t does if you hold the organization to the same standard is uses to insist that health reform would result in publicly funded abortions. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fungibility argument that many pro-life groups and politicians have employed to oppose health reform. The problem, they say, is that if any insurance plan that covers abortion is allowed to participate in a public exchange, then premiums paid to that plan in the form of taxpayer-funded subsidies help support that abortion coverage even if individual abortion procedures are paid for out of a separate pool of privately-paid premium dollars. You can debate about whether it makes sense to use this strict standard, but that’s the argument. But are those pro-life organizations holding themselves to the same strict standard? As it happens, Focus on the Family provides its employees health insurance through Principal, an insurance company that covers ‘abortion services.’” [Time – Swampland, 10/28/09]

RHETORIC: “The American people don’t want government-run insurance. They don’t want a government takeover of health care. Republicans are going to dig in. We are going to make sure the American people understand and count the cost of what they are doing.” [Fox, 10/29/09]


Since June, “Recent CBS News Polls Have Shown That A Majority Of Americans Consistently Supports A Public Option,” Support Never Dropped Below 60%. CBS News reported that, “[w]hile the debate in Congress over including a ‘public option’ in health care reform legislation continues, Americans’ views on a government-administered health plan are clearer: more than half support it. Recent CBS News Polls have shown that a majority of Americans consistently supports a public option – defined as a government-administered health insurance plan something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older receive that would compete with private health insurance plans.” CBS News also noted that in monthly polls since June, support for a “government health insurance plan like Medicare” fluctuated from 72%, 66%, 60%, 65%, and for October, 62%. [CBS News, 10/20/09]

Opt-Out Provision Would “Give States The Right To Opt Out Of A Government Plan.” The Washington Post reported that, “Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid announced Monday that he will include a government-backed insurance plan in the chamber’s health-care reform legislation, a key concession to liberals who have threatened to oppose a bill without such a public option…The Senate provision would give states the right to opt out of a government plan, though Reid spokesman Jim Manley was unable to provide further details, describing the legislative language as a work in progress that has yet to be scrutinized by the Congressional Budget Office. Manley said Reid delivered a menu of proposals to the CBO for review and will make a final decision about what the Senate measure will include once he receives cost estimates for the various policies, which could come within a week.” [Washington Post, 10/27/09]


Fox’s Shep Smith To Sen. John Barrasso: “It’s Not A Government Takeover, Senator! That’s Not Fair And We Both Know It.” Fox News’ Shep Smith confronted Sen. John Barrasso over his boilerplate GOP talking points calling health reform a “government takeover,” and said: “SMITH: It’s not a government takeover, Senator! That’s not fair and we both know it. It’s not a government takeover because what it would be is a government option if you have insurance now and you like it you can keep it…That’s not a government take over if we’re being fair is it, Senator?…As the costs have gone up, the insurance industry’s profits on average have gone up more than 350 percent and it’s the insurance companies which have paid and have contributed to Senators and congressman on both sides of the aisle to the point where now, we can’t get…what more than 60 percent of Americans say they support, is a public option. This has been an enormous win for the health care industry. That is an unquestioned fact.” [FOX News, 10/6/09]

Sen. Snowe: President Obama Is Not A “Big Government Liberal,” “In Fact, I Almost Sense The Opposite. He’s Been Very Realistic In His Views On Health Care…More Moderate Than Liberal On This Question.” On CNBC, John Harwood played a taped interview he had done with Sen. Olympia Snowe, where he had the following exchange: “MR. HARWOOD: Larry, Senator Olympia Snowe, the senior Republican from Maine, may be the most important member of the U.S. Senate on health care. She’s not yet saying how she’s going to vote, but everybody’s looking for signals and body language as to whether she wants to work with Barack Obama and the Democrats to get this done. If you want to see a reason for the White House to be optimistic, consider this signal she sent when I asked her whether she considers President Obama a big government liberal. SEN. SNOWE: No. You know, it’s interesting, I don’t. In fact, I almost sense the opposite. He’s been very realistic in his views on health care, understanding the implications. MR. HARWOOD: Do you see him as a moderate? SEN. SNOWE: More moderate than liberal on this question.” [CNBC, 9/17/09]

RHETORIC: “The great irony what it looks like they are going to unveil with this massive freight train of spending and government and taxes is that there are independent studies, Jenna, that suggest that what the democrats are proposing in the house and senate will actually cause health insurance premiums to rise.” [Fox, 10/29/09]


Newer BCBS Study Is “Not As Deceptive As The Last One,” But Left Out Key Parts Of Analysis To Change The Outcome, Which Is Exactly What PriceWaterhouseCoopers Study Did Too. New Republic writer Jonathan Cohn wrote that insurance companies, “seem to be trying the same stunt again, with a brand new study. It’s not as deceptive as the last one. But it’s not going to win any points for intellectual honesty, either. This time the study’s sponsor is the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), rather than America’s Health Insurance Programs. The hired gun accounting firm is Oliver Wyman, instead of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. But the message is the same as before: Pass reform, as currently envisioned, and insurance premiums will go way upThe big problem with the PriceWaterhouseCoopers study, you may recall, was that it treated certain elements of reform in isolation, leaving out key parts that would have changed the outcome. Unbelievably–or, perhaps, all too believably–Oliver Wyman does the exact same thing.” [The New Republic, 10/15/09]

Politifact: AHIP Report Ignores Key Facts, Managed To “Isolate Aspects Of The Bill Without Considering The Overall Effects…The Report Even Acknowledges That.” Politifact wrote, “The Obama administration attacked the [AHIP] report as a last-ditch effort to derail reform. ‘I was disappointed to see that the health insurance industry had contrived a report like this at the last minute, right on the eve of a historic vote,’ said Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform. The report ‘ignores some of the key policies that are part of the Senate Finance Committee bill, such as the health insurance exchange, which is really a central feature that allows people to be pooled together to save administrative costs and to lower people’s cost in achieving getting coverage,’ DeParle said…We read the report and found that DeParle is correct. The report does isolate aspects of the bill without considering the overall effects. It does not appear to consider how incentives or administrative efficiencies could result in reduced costs. The report even acknowledges that…DeParle criticized the health insurance industry report on the grounds that it was an incomplete analysis. She said it ‘ignores some of the key policies that are part of the Senate Finance Committee bill.’ The report itself admits as much. We rate her statement True.” [Politifact, 10/13/09]

ABC News: “Health Care Experts With Whom ABC News Spoke Overwhelmingly Rejected The Methodology Of The Insurance Industry Study By Accounting And Consulting Firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.” On ABC News, Jake Tapper reported that, “Health care experts with whom ABC News spoke overwhelmingly rejected the methodology of the insurance industry study by accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.” [ABC News, 10/12/09]

Sen. Snowe On AHIP Report: “It Wasn’t Based On Any Valid Assumptions.” Politico Live Pulse reported that, “Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), on the controversial AHIP report: ‘It wasn’t based on any valid assumptions.’” [Politico Live Pulse, 10/13/09]

MIT Health Economist, “One Of The Most Well-Respected Experts In This Field,” Called PriceWaterhouseCoopers Report Commissioned By AHIP “Implausible.” “MIT economist Jonathan Gruber is one of the most well-respected experts in this field–somebody whose modeling has wide credibility, even among Republicans.  He looked at the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report and tells me that he finds that set of claims ‘implausible.’ The particulars, for those who want to get into the weeds, have to do with PriceWaterhouseCoopers assumptions about regional variation. To arrive at their figures, they assume that average premiums in some parts of the country would exceed the national average by about twice the national average.” [The New Republic – The Treatment, 10/12/09]


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]

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]

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]