On the Senate floor just now, Senator Hutchison said Americans should make no mistake: there will be “unsustainable cuts to Medicare.”  But Senator Hutchison is wrong — on Medicare, jobs, and taxes. See below for a fact check.

RHETORIC: Before Launching Last-Ditch Obstruction Tactic On Constitution, Sen. Hutchison Cited Litany Of False Health Reform Bill Claims. “Over the last weeks, my colleagues and I have spoken about some of the things that we know to be problematic, ranging from unsustainable cuts to Medicare that will result in catastrophic reductions in care — make no mistake about that — to oppressive new taxes on individuals, medical devices, prescription drugs, and insurance companies that will clearly raise costs to consumers and stifle innovation and taxes on small businesses at a time when we know our economy is on the brink, we are in a recession, we are asking business to hire people and yet we are forcing burdens on them, taxes on  them that would have the opposite effect, it would cause them not to take a chance to hire someone that will have the result of new mandates that go beyond all of the expenses of an employee today.” [Senate Floor, 12/23/09]

REALITY: Savings From Medicare Sustain It For The Future

AMA Endorsed Senate Health Reform Bill: “This Bill Advances Many Of Our Priority Issues For Achieving The Vision Of A Health System That Works For Patients And Physicians.” “The American Medical Association (AMA) today announced its support for passage of the amended Senate health reform bill (H.R. 3590).  Passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by the Senate will bring our nation close to the finish line on health reform. ‘All Americans deserve affordable, high-quality health coverage so they can get the medical care they need – and this bill advances many of our priority issues for achieving the vision of a health system that works for patients and physicians,’ said AMA President-elect Cecil B. Wilson, M.D.” [American Medical Association, 12/21/09]

AARP: “This Bill Will Strengthen Medicare By Eliminating Cost Barriers To Preventive Care, Reform Medicare’s Payment…And Reduce Hospital Infections And Preventable Readmissions.” In a letter to Majority Leader Reid, AARP’s Barry Rand praised the Senate health reform bill: “This bill will strengthen Medicare by eliminating cost barriers to preventive care, reform Medicare’s payment and delivery system to promote care coordination, and reduce hospital infections and preventable readmissions. Moreover, through critical insurance market reforms and the establishment of exchanges, this bill will give the uninsured and small businesses access to quality affordable plans. The legislation also includes important provisions to strengthen home and community-based care and to assist individuals in saving to meet future long-term care needs.” [AARP Letter, 12/15/09]

Sen. Roberts (R-KS) Admitted That “It Is Technically Accurate” for Democrats to Claim That “This Bill Doesn’t Cut Medicare Benefits,” But Claimed Providers Would Not Be Able To Survive Cuts. On the Senate floor, Sen. Roberts said: “I keep hearing my colleagues, however, on the other side of the aisle insisting that they’re half trillion dollar cut to all Medicare – here’s the quote – ‘won’t affect the benefits.’ Please stop that. That is the most disingenuous smoke screen in this whole debate. It may be true. It may be true that this bill does not explicitly cut benefits…I want every senior to know that while maybe it is technically accurate again for my friends across the aisle to claim that this bill doesn’t cut Medicare benefits there is no way – no way that you can slash a half a trillion dollars from payments to providers without affecting their ability to keep their door open. Especially in rural and small-town America…So, yes, in fact, this bill will effectively cut benefits. Again, get rid of the smoke screen. And this just doesn’t apply to the home health care benefit.” [Roberts Floor Speech, 12/4/09]

·         Hospitals Group Refuted CMS Actuary Report: “Hospitals Always Will Stand By Senior Citizens. This Summer, Hospitals Agreed To Contribute Substantial Medicare Savings Are Part Of Our Shared Sacrifice To Reform Health Care.” Politico Live Pulse reported: “The following statement was released today by Chip Kahn, President of the Federation of American Hospitals: Hospitals’ commitment to our mission of serving the health care needs of seniors in communities across America is steadfast. A memorandum recently issued by the CMS Actuary analyzing the effects of “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009” (H.R. 3962) concludes that some providers may end their participation in the Medicare program. Hospitals always will stand by senior citizens. This summer, hospitals agreed to contribute substantial Medicare savings as part of our shared sacrifice to reform health care and achieve near universal coverage for all Americans. We are pleased with the legislative progress as well as the movement towards market-based solutions. And we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to enact legislation that will enable hospitals to continue to provide our patients, including seniors, with ready access to the highest quality health care possible.” [Politico Live Pulse, 11/16/09]

REALITY: SENATE REFORM BILL CONTAINS HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS IN TAX CUTS

JCT: Senate Bill Will Provide Nearly $450 Billion In Individual Income Tax Cuts. Jason Furman wrote on the White House Blog: “First, the health insurance reform bill being considered in the Senate does not raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 – in fact it is a substantial net tax cut for American families. The bill being considered represents a substantial net tax cut for middle income families. According to the independent Joint Committee on Taxation, the bill will provide nearly $450 billion in individual income tax cuts over the next 10 years.” [White House, 12/16/09]

Based On CBO Estimates, Under Senate Bill, Individuals Would Save From $200 To $2,500; Families Would Save $500 To $7,500 – “In Addition To The More Generous Benefits That These Groups Will Receive Through The [Health Insurance] Exchange.” Jonathan Gruber, MIT professor of economics and a health economics specialist wrote on the updated CBO estimates of the Senate health reform legislation: “I find that the savings are large for both singles and families, and that they are particularly large for the lowest income families that qualify for premium credits under the Senate Bill but would be left to face the full high non-group premium without legislation. In particular, I find that the single individual would save over $2,500 at low incomes (175% of poverty), and would save $200 even at higher incomes (425% of poverty or higher). For families, the savings are much larger, ranging from nearly $7,500 for low income families (at 175% of poverty) to $500 for higher incomes (425% of poverty of higher). It is worth noting that these savings are all in addition to the more generous benefits that these groups will receive through the exchange compared to the non-group market.” [Gruber, 11/27/09]

REALITY: REFORM WILL EASE THE BURDEN ON BUSINESS

Manager’s Amendment: Small Business Tax Credits For Offering Coverage Expanded, Begin In 2010, And Improve Purchasing Power Of Small Businesses. “A package of improvements include starting the health insurance tax credit in 2010, expanding eligibility for the credit, and improving the purchasing power of small businesses.” [Manager’s Amendment Summary, 12/19/09]

Manager’s Amendment: Small Business Tax Credits Expanded By $13 Billion. “By working together we have added an infusion of about $13 billion to the small business tax credits in the underlying bill to help small businesses struggling to provide their employees with affordable health care. Expanding the tax credits to more small businesses and making the ‘bridge’ credit available immediately will ensure that health insurance is even more accessible for small business owners and workers.” [Sen. Landrieu press release, 12/19/09]

CBO On Senate Bill: Certain Employers Would Be Allowed To Give Employees Access To Exchanges, Covering An Additional 5 Million People. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Under the legislation, certain employers could allow all of their workers to choose among the plans available in the exchanges, but those enrollees would not be eligible to receive subsidies via the exchanges…CBO and JCT expect that approximately 5 million people would obtain coverage that way in 2019, brining the total number of people enrolled in exchange plans to about 30 million in that year.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

CBO On Senate Bill Included $27 Billion Small Business Tax Credit For Providing Coverage. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “The other main element of the coverage provisions that would increase federal deficits is the tax credit for small employers who offer health insurance, which is estimated to reduce revenues by $27 billion over 10 years.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Business Roundtable: Without Reform, Health Care Costs Rise To $28,530 Per Employee, 166% Higher; With Reform, Businesses Could Save $3,000 Per Employeee. A report from the Business Roundtable concluded that: “If the cost trends of the past 10 years repeat, by 2019, employment-based spending on health care at large employers will be 166% higher than today on a per-employee basis. This equates to an average of $28,530 per employee when employer subsidies, employee contributions, and employee out-of-pocket costs are combined. We estimate that if enacted properly, the right legislative reforms could potentially reduce that trend line by more than $3,000 per employee, to $25,435.” [Business Roundtable – Health Care Reform, 11/12/09]

Study: No Health Insurance Reform Means Small Businesses Will Pay Nearly $2.4 Trillion In Healthcare Costs, Cost 178,000 Jobs. The Small Business Majority study commissioned a study from noted economist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jonathan Gruber. The study found that, “without reform, small businesses will pay nearly $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years in healthcare costs for their workers. With reform, the study shows that small businesses can save as much as $855 billion, a reduction of 36 percent, money that can be reinvested to grow the economy.” The study also found that without reform, 178,000 small business jobs will be lost in 2018 as a result of healthcare costs, and with reform, up to 128,000 of those jobs could be saved. [The Economist Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

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