In advance of the RNC’s call today – a few questions you may want to consider:  Will Michael Steele continue to attack proposals that enjoy bipartisan support, including from Congressional Republicans?  Will he continue to mislead voters about the cost of reform?  Will he continue to lie about the impact of reform on seniors?  And, will he yet again falsely charge Democrats with raising taxes despite the independent fact-checking organizations who have unequivocally debunked his claim numerous times?   See below for a DNC fact-check rebutting these GOP lies and others:

MICHAEL STEELE ISN’T TRYING TO SCARE PEOPLE, RIGHT?

Michael Steele: “No One’s Trying To Scare People With Soundbites. I Have Not Done That, And I Don’t Know Any Leaders In The House And Senate That Have Done That.” In an interview on NPR, RNC chairman Michael Steele claimed, “[l]ook, no one’s trying to scare people with soundbites. I have not done that, and I don’t know any leaders in the House and the Senate that have done that.” [NPR, 8/27/09]

MOST OF REFORM WILL BE PAID FOR BY CUTTING WASTE, AND THE COST OF NO REFORM WOULD BE DISASTROUS

President Obama: Two-Thirds Of Health Reform Costs Can Be “Paid For By Tax Dollars That Are Already Being Spent Right Now.” President Obama said during a news conference on health reform: “we identified two-thirds of those costs to be paid for by tax dollars that are already being spent right now. So taxpayers are already putting this money into the kitty; the problem is, they’re not getting a good deal for the money they’re spending. That takes care of about two-thirds of the cost. The remaining one-third is what the argument has been about of late. What I’ve said is that there may be a number of different ways to raise money. I put forward what I thought was the best proposal, which was to limit the deductions, the itemized deductions, for the wealthiest Americans.” [President Obama News Conference, 7/22/09]

President Obama: “I Will Not Sign It If It Adds One Dime To The Deficit…There Will Be A Provision In This Plan That Requires Us To Come Forward With More Spending Cuts If The Savings We Promised Don’t Materialize.” In his address to Congress, President Obama stated, “[f]irst, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits ?? either now or in the future. I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period.  And to prove that I’m serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don’t materialize.”  [President Obama Remarks As Delivered To Congress, 9/9/09]

Sen. Snowe Convinced That Baucus Bill Reflects, “Our Position And Views That It Should Be Budget Neutral… [It Will Bend The Cost Curve] In The First 10 Years.” In an interview with Sen. Olympia Snowe, John Harwood asked: “MR. HARWOOD: Are you satisfied that the cost control, cost containment in the bill is adequate? SEN. SNOWE: I do. And you know, we were adamant in our, you know, our positions and views that it should be budget neutral and, if anything, should bend the cost curve and bend the overall cost of, you know, the escalation, you know, of inflation within health care. And it does begin that trend in the first 10 years.” [CNBC, 9/17/09]

From 1999 To 2008, Premiums For Small Business Increased 113 Percent. Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employee Health Benefits Report for 2008 noted that health insurance premiums for covered workers with family coverage, among firms with 3-199 workers, rose from $5,683 in 1999 to $12,091 in 2008, an increase of 112.7 percent. [Employee Health Benefits Survey, 9/24/08]

Including Out-Of-Pocket Spending, “Average Total Medical Cost For A Typical American Family of Four Is $15,609 In 2008.” According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Milliman Medical Index, which is based on a nationwide sample of employer-sponsored insurance, the average total medical cost for a typical American family of four is $15,609 in 2008.” [Milliman Medical Index, May 2008]

INDIVIDUAL MANDATE PENALTIES ARE NOT A TAX

Politifact On Individual Mandate Penalties And Income Caps On Premiums: “They Are Not A Tax…It’s To Pay For Coverage They Don’t Have Now – Not A Tax – And Some People Would Pay Less.” Politifact discussed Keith Olbermann’s assertion that the penalties stemming from an individual mandate in health reform legislation and income caps on premiums under Sen. Baucus’ proposal were a “tax,” and how such an assertion was incorrect: “Olbermann twice called these payments a tax. They are not a tax. They are a cap on premiums paid for health insurance. Other Democratic health reform plans in Congress have similar requirements that “force” people to buy insurance or pay a penalty. Their caps on premiums are more generous than 13 percent, but they still require people to pay a percentage of their income for insurance… He’s right that for people who are uninsured now, the upper limit would be 13 percent, and that money would go to insurance companies. But it’s to pay for coverage they don’t have now — not a tax — and some people would pay less. And all of the plans under consideration in Congress require people to pay something for coverage.” [Politifact, 9/17/09]

LIFTING THE TAX DEDUCTION FOR HIGH-END HEALTH BENEFITS PLANS IS A PROPOSAL THAT HAS BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

National Journal On Obama Health Care Financing Similarity To McCain Plan: “That Wildly Overstates The Case…Limiting The Tax Break Would Have Very Different [Effects]…It’s The Difference Between Trimming A Tree And Cutting It Down.” Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal wrote, “[w]hen John McCain last year proposed to eliminate the tax break that encourages employers to provide health insurance for their workers, Barack Obama denounced the idea. Now Senate Democrats are exploring pro-posals to limit that tax break as one way to fund their universal coverage plans. President Obama isn’t promoting that option, but neither is he fighting it, and most insiders believe he’d accept a final package that includes it. Critics on the right sense hypocrisy. The Wall Street Journal editorial page even insists Obama owes McCain an apology. That wildly overstates the case. If Congress moves ahead, Obama will have to swallow some of his 2008 rhetoric. But critics are exaggerating the convergence between the emerging Democratic proposal and McCain’s; limiting the tax break would have very different, and less disruptive, effects than eliminating it. It’s the difference between trimming a tree and cutting it down.” [National Journal, 6/13/09]

Sen. Grassley On Taxing Gold-Plated Health Plans: “We Have Plenty Of Health Economists Explaining To Us That High-End Insurance Policies” Create “Perverse Incentives To Over-Utilize And Have High Cost Care And Drive Up The Inflation.” Politico reported on reactions to a plan to tax high-end health benefits plans, so-called “Cadillac” or “gold-plated” health plans: “Grassley said Friday on Bloomberg Television’s ‘Political Capital with Al Hunt’: ‘We’re taking an intense look at it. I bet it’s been a subject of discussion for two days of the last four or five.’ ‘We’re interested in it, not for the sole reason of raising money, although it would do that,’ Grassley said. ‘But we have plenty of health economists explaining to us that high-end insurance policies — not that the health-care is not legitimate, but should there be a subsidy of that health-care, and should you have the perverse incentives to over-utilize and have high cost care and drive up the inflation? And we’re interested in it as a discipline within health care.’” [Politico, 7/25/09]

Sen. Snowe On Taxing Gold-Plated Health Plans: “A Practical Option…A Way Of Attacking Future Costs In Health Care And Driving Them Down And Creating Disincentives For The Most Expensive Policies.” Politico reported on reactions to a plan to tax high-end health benefits plans, so-called “Cadillac” or “gold-plated” health plans: “Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), another swing vote on the Finance Committee, said the idea ‘may be a practical option, as a way of attacking future costs in health care and driving them down and creating disincentives for the most expensive policies,’ Bloomberg News reported.” [Politico, 7/25/09]

MEDICAL DEVICE MAKERS STAND TO GAIN MILLIONS OF NEWLY INSURED CUSTOMERS, CURRENT HEALTH CARE COSTS STIFLE INNOVATION ALREADY

Medical Device Industry Stands To Gain Huge Payday With “A Bonanza Of New Customers,” Competitive Measures In Bill Would Keep Prices From Rising. Politico reported on proposed fees on the medical-device industry, and noted that, “Finance Committee aides argue that the fees are small in comparison with the payday the industry stands to make if reform goes through — a bonanza of new customers as millions of previously uninsured Americans could afford coverage. Aides say the companies won’t raise prices to cover new fees because it will put them at a competitive disadvantage. They cite measures that would keep the companies honest, including new consumer-owned cooperatives that would force competition with private insurers and a new insurance marketplace called an exchange where consumers can shop for the best plan.” [Politico , 9/14/09]

Health Care Costs Definitely “Slowing Down The Rate Of Innovation,” NFIB Head: Would-Be Entrepreneurs Let Ideas Languish Because Of Health Care Costs. Reuters news reported that, “economists and small-business advocates say it takes an enormous toll on productivity. ‘We can definitely say that it’s slowing down the rate of innovation,’ said Tim Kane, an economist with the Kauffman Foundation which promoted entrepreneurship…As head of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Todd Stottlemeyer frequently encountered would-be entrepreneurs who let their ideas go stale and their products languish on the workbench because they did not want to shoulder their own health care costs.” [Reuters, 5/26/09]

WOULD DOCTORS SUPPORT REFORM THAT WOULD INSTITUTE HUGE NEW TAXES ON THEM?

American Medical Association Offered Unqualified Support To House Health Reform Bill, H.R. 3200. Michael Maves, Executive Vice President of the American Medical Association wrote a letter to Chairman Charles Rangel, and said: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association, I am writing to express our appreciation and support for H.R. 3200, the ‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.’ This legislation includes a broad range of provisions that are key to effective, comprehensive health system reform. We urge members of the House Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means Committees to favorably report H.R. 3200 for consideration by the full House.” [AMA Letter To Chairman Rangel, 7/16/09]

AMA President On Baucus Proposal: “The AMA Applauds Chairman Baucus And His Colleagues For Their Hard Work And Important Contribution…[The Proposal Would] Significantly Improve Our Health Care System.” James Rohack, President of the American Medical Association wrote in reaction to Sen. Baucus’ Chairman’s mark: “The AMA applauds Chairman Baucus and his colleagues for their hard work and important contribution toward our mutual objective of comprehensive health system reform. Expanding coverage through tax credits, insurance market reforms that protect patients if they get sick or lose their job, and offering more affordable choices through new health insurance exchanges will significantly improve our health care system.” [National Journal, 9/16/09]

REPUBLICANS IGNORE THAT THE CURRENT SYSTEM HAS HIDDEN TAXES, AND IS SAPPING THE ECONOMIC STRENGTH OF AMERICAN FAMILIES

Each U.S. Family Pays $1,017 Hidden Tax To Cover Health Care Costs Of The Uninsured – Total Bill For Care Of Uninsured Comes To $116 Billion, 2/3 Of Which Was Passed On To Insured Through Insurance Premiums. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “the average family with health insurance in 2008 paid a ‘hidden health tax’ of $1,017 to cover the health-care costs of the uninsured, according to a report released Thursday by advocacy group Families USA… a total of $42.7 billion in care for those without insurance was passed on to health insurers. The insurers, in turn, passed on the costs through higher premiums, the report said…When those without insurance sought care, often in emergency rooms, government and charities picked up more than a quarter of the $116 billion tab last year, the report said. More than a third was paid for by those seeking the care, and the rest was passed on to health insurers and eventually to insured people through higher costs, it said.” [Wall Street Journal, 5/28/09]

The Economist: “The Stagnation Of Middle-Class Incomes In Recent Years Is In Large Measure Caused By Health-Care Inflation.” The Economist wrote, “[t]he proportion of the cost of employer-provided health insurance shouldered by employees is ‘at or close to 100%,’ says Jonathan Gruber, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Last year, employer-provided health insurance reduced wages by 7.9%, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. The stagnation of middle-class incomes in recent years is in large measure caused by health-care inflation.” [The Economist, 5/28/09]

House Health Reform Bill Could Save Middle Class Families Nearly $5,800 A Year On Average On Insurance Premiums Alone, Would Also Reduce Annual Deductibles And Out Of Pocket Caps. The House Committee on Ways and Means estimated the savings to a family of four under health insurance reform proposals in HR 3200. Compared to a typical high deductible health insurance plan and its average monthly premiums, families with incomes between $33,075 and $77,175 would save on average $5,777 a year in insurance premiums. Families earning between $29,327 and $33,075 could save nearly $9000 in premiums alone, while families earning between $66,150 and $77,175 could save up to $2,208. The estimates also showed that compared to the typical high deductible health insurance plan, annual deductibles and annual out of pocket caps could be reduced for most income levels under the proposed House legislation. [Kaiser Health News, 9/4/09]

Medical Bills Caused 62 Percent Of Bankruptcies – 78 Percent Of Bankrupted Families Had Health Insurance. Business Week reported that, “[m]edical problems caused 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. in 2007, according to a study by Harvard researchers. And in a finding that surprised even the researchers, 78% of those filers had medical insurance at the start of their illness, including 60.3% who had private coverage, not Medicare or Medicaid.” [Business Week, 6/4/09]

President Obama: “The Cost Of Health Care Now Causes A Bankruptcy In America Every Thirty Seconds.” President Obama noted that, “the cost of health care now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds.” [White House Forum On Health Reform, 3/5/09]

CEA Report: Slowing Health Care Cost Growth Would Add $2,600 To Each Family’s Income By 2020 – Almost $10,000 By 2030. In a report on the economic impact of health care reform, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors wrote, “[w]e estimate that slowing the annual growth rate of health care costs by 1.5 percentage points would increase real gross domestic product (GDP), relative to the no-reform baseline, by over 2 percent in 2020 and nearly 8 percent in 2030. For a typical family of four, this implies that income in 2020 would be approximately $2,600 higher than it would have been without reform (in 2009 dollars), and that in 2030 in would be almost $10,000 higher.” [CEA Health Care Report, 6/2/09]

“More Than 25 Million Americans Have Swiss-Cheese Health Insurance: It’s Full Of Holes” – Family Is Having To Pay “Almost 45 Percent Of Their Total Income Of $44,815” In Uncovered Hospital Bills. Kaiser Health News highlighted the struggles of the underinsured, focusing on a family that was relatively healthy but still struggling with enormous medical bills, despite technically having health insurance: “More than 25 million Americans have Swiss-cheese health insurance: it’s full of holes. Experts call them the ‘under-insured.’… But Martha doesn’t have much choice. More medical bills are coming. She needs to have a hysterectomy next month, and she says her insurance will pay only $1,000 of the hospital bill. For the Martins, 2009 is starting to look a lot like 2008. Last year they paid $6,210 in health insurance premiums for themselves and daughter Sara, plus another $13,955 in uncovered hospital bills after Rebekah’s surgery. It added up to almost 45 percent of their total income of $44,815. ‘Forty-five percent! That’s just crazy! I don’t pay that much in taxes,’ Martin exclaims. ‘So you know, I just think there should be a health insurance plan out there that everyone can sign up for.’ She’d be happy to pay the premiums, she says, if only she could get decent coverage.” [Kaiser Health News, 9/28/09]

SMALL BUSINESS CAN’T WAIT FOR REFORM: TAKE IT FROM THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Chamber Of Commerce: “The Reality With The Business Community Is That We Want Reform, While Some Republicans Want To Stop This Train And Start Over.” The Wall Street Journal reported on the Chamber Of Commerce’s relatively positive reaction to Chairman Baucus’ health reform proposal: “‘The reality with the business community is that we want reform, while some Republicans want to stop this train and start over,’ said Bruce Josten, the chamber’s chief lobbyist. ‘That is just not going to happen.’” [Wall Street Journal, 9/25/09]

Study: Healthcare Reform Has Potential To Save Small Businesses As Much As $855 Billion – No 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 Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

WSJ: More Than Three Times As Many Small Businesses Are Considering Eliminating Health Insurance Coverage This Year, Compared To 2005. “Health-insurance premiums for single workers rose 74% for small businesses from 2001 to 2008, the latest year data are available, according to nonprofit research group Kaiser Family Foundation. About 10% of small businesses are considering eliminating coverage over the next year, up from 3% in 2005, according to a recent survey by National Small Business Association. That follows earlier declines in coverage, with just 38% of small businesses providing health insurance last year compared to 61% in 1993, according to the trade group. In 2007, 41% offered coverage. A Hewitt Associates survey found that 19% of all companies plan to stop providing health-care benefits in the next three to five years.” [Wall Street Journal, 5/26/09]

National Small Business Association: “Health-Care Reform Can Not Wait Yet Another Year.” “Health-care reform topped the list of small-business priorities when members of the National Small Business Association voted recently on issues they want Congress and President Barack Obama to address. The group said it supports ‘broad health-care reform’ that will reduce costs, improve quality, create a fair sharing of health-care costs, and focus on individuals’ responsibilities as health-care consumers. ‘Given the current state of the U.S. economy, the fact that our members voted health-care reform their number one priority ought to send a strong message to Congress,’ NSBA President Todd McCracken said in a written statement. ‘Health-care reform can not wait yet another year.’” [Orlando Sentinel, 3/9/09]

STATES ALREADY CARRY A HUGE COST BURDEN – REFORM WOULD EASE IT

The Baucus Health Care Plan Would Reduce The Cost Of Prescription Drugs In Medicaid. “Several of the offsets are likely to help slow the rate of growth of health care costs over time. For example, the proposal would impose an excise tax on insurance company offerings of high-cost plans, limit tax subsidies provided to flexible spending accounts, eliminate the overpayments that private insurers receive through the Medicare Advantage program, and reduce the cost of prescription drugs in Medicaid. … The Baucus plan would also lower the cost of prescription drugs in Medicaid. Under federal law, as a condition of Medicaid coverage of their products, drug manufacturers must pay rebates to the federal and state governments for prescription drugs that Medicaid dispenses to beneficiaries. These rebates effectively lower the price that Medicaid pays for prescription drugs and ensure that state Medicaid programs pay no more than private purchasers for the same drugs. The Baucus plan would increase the minimum rebates that pharmaceutical companies must pay to Medicaid for brand-name and generic drugs prescribed for Medicaid beneficiaries. These rebate levels have remained unchanged since the mid-1990s. This would reduce federal and state Medicaid costs without harming beneficiaries.” [CBPP, 9/16/09]

Baucus Mark: “The Federal Government Would Pay A Greater Share Of The Costs For Individuals ‘Newly Eligible’ For Medicaid Based On The Proposed Eligibility Changes.” Sen. Baucus’ proposed health reform mark explained that when it came to states’ burden of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees, “[u]nder the Chairman’s Mark, states would continue to receive Federal financial assistance as determined by the [Federal Medical Assistance Percentage]. Beginning in 2014, additional Federal financial assistance would be provided to all states to defray the costs of covering newly-eligible beneficiaries. The federal government would pay a greater share of the costs for individuals ‘newly eligible’ for Medicaid based on the proposed eligibility changes.” [Chairman’s Mark, 9/16/09]

  • 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, ]

House Blue Dog Compromise Proposed States Cover Only 7 Percent Of Medicaid Expansion Costs, Not One-Third. The New York Times reported that, “[u]nder the House legislation, after the Blue Dog compromise, Medicaid eligibility would be expanded to many more people under age 65 with incomes at or below 133 percent of the poverty level — about $14,400 a year for an individual. States would pay a share of the additional costs, perhaps 7 percent, in future years. The original House bill had the federal government paying all additional costs, with the states responsible only for some extra administrative expenses.” [New York Times, 8/7/09]

  • “Senate Staff Members Say The Governors Are Being Heard, And That Measures To Cut Other Health Care Costs In The Legislation Will Eventually Alleviate Their Concerns” On Added Medicaid Burden. The New York Times reported on nervousness from state governors based on concerns that some of the costs of Medicaid expansion would be shouldered by beleaguered states: “Senate staff members say the governors are being heard, and that measures to cut other health care costs in the legislation will eventually alleviate their concerns.” [New York Times, 8/7/09]
  • Sen. Baucus On State Burden Of Medicaid Expansion: We Will “Ensure Health Care Is More Affordable For…State Budgets.” The New York Times reported that, “‘[w]e are in close contact with a number of governors and will continue working with them to ensure health care is more affordable for families, businesses — and state budgets,’ Mr. Baucus said in a statement.” [New York Times, 8/7/09]

  • Nancy-Ann DeParle To Governors On Medicaid Expansion: “We’re Working With You And We Understand Where You’re Coming From.” To the Hill, Nancy-Ann DeParle said, “‘[w]e talk to governors all the time. There are people in the White House who talk to governors every day. They are concerned about what’s going to happen to the states,’ said Nancy-Ann DeParle, the director of the White House Office of Health Reform. DeParle said that White House officials have tried to reassure governors. ‘We’ve told them we’re working with you and we understand where you’re coming from. We’ve told them the healthcare reform is one step at a time.’” [The Hill, 8/6/09]