Please see below for a fact check on comments made just now on the Senate floor by Senator Grassley that reform would raise insurance premiums and cut Medicare benefits:

RHETORIC: Sen. Grassley Claimed CBO Said Reform Would Raise Insurance Premiums. “The letter says, and makes it very clear, that premiums will increase on an average of 10% to 13% for people buying coverage in the individual market. So since it seems to fly by everybody, what this letter actually said about increasing premiums, I brought down a chart to show everyone just in case you missed it, and the — the letter and the — from the says very clearly that for individual market, premiums are going to go up 10% to 13%. Now, my colleagues keep saying that premiums are going to go down conveniently, forgetting then to mention this 10% to 13% increase.” [Senate Floor, 12/2/09]


CBO Analysis Did Not Find Premiums Would Rise: “The Budget Office Said That The Large Number Of Americans Who Currently Have Employer-Sponsored Insurance Would See Little Change In Their Premiums Costs – And That In Some Cases The Costs Might Even Fall.” The New York Times Prescriptions blog summarized CBO analysis on the Senate Bill’s impact on insurance premiums this way: “The analysis found that premiums would move in many difference directions for different types of people in different circumstances. But in perhaps the most crucial finding, the budget office said that the large number of Americans who currently have employer-sponsored insurance would see little change in their premium costs — and that in some cases the costs might even fall.” [New York Times – Prescriptions Blog, 11/30/09]

CBO On Senate Bill: An Insurance Plan With Reform Would Cost Almost 20% Less Than The Same Plan Without Reform. The Washington Posts’ Ezra Klein reported on a section of MIT professor Jonathan Gruber’s analysis of the CBO estimate of the Senate Bill: “In their most recent communication with Congress, CBO also projected that, absent reform, the cost of an individual policy in the non-group market would be $5500 for a plan with an actuarial value of 60%. This implies that the same plan that cost $5500 without reform would cost $4460 with reform, or almost 20% less.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 11/30/09]

Bloomberg News: 134 Million Americans Insured Through Large Employers Will See No Rise In Premiums And May Pay 3 Percent Less…Subsidies Also Will Lower Costs As Much As 59 Percent For 18 Million People Buying Their Own Insurance.” Bloomberg News reported on CBO estimates of the Senate health insurance reform bill’s impact on insurance premiums: “On average, 134 million Americans insured through large employers will see no rise in premiums and may pay 3 percent less than they would if Congress failed to pass a health-care overhaul plan, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said yesterday. Subsidies also will lower costs as much as 59 percent for 18 million people buying their own insurance.” [Bloomberg, 12/1/09]

WP: In “First Objective Analysis Of The Effect On Premiums,” CBO Found That Senate Bill “Would Leave Premiums Unchanged Or Slightly Lower For The Vast Majority Of Americans,” Contradicting Insurance Industry Claims. The Washington Post reported that, “[a]s the Senate opened debate Monday on a landmark plan to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, congressional budget analysts said the measure would leave premiums unchanged or slightly lower for the vast majority of Americans, contradicting assertions by the insurance industry that the average family’s coverage would rise by thousands of dollars if the proposal became law… Monday’s CBO report offers the first objective analysis of the effect on premiums. An earlier study commissioned by America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, warned that the Senate bill would dramatically increase insurance premiums, but the study’s authors at PricewaterhouseCoopers later acknowledged that they had ignored major pieces of the legislation in their calculations.” [Washington Post, 12/1/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Grassley Claimed Cutting Medicare Advantage Subsidies Cuts Medicare Benefits. “I repeat, despite what members were saying earlier, the “medicare and you” handbook says very clearly medicare advantage plans are part of medicare. So if you’re cutting medicare advantage benefits, you are, in fact, cutting medicare. If you’re cutting medicare advantage benefits, you’re, in fact, cutting medicare benefits.” [Senate Floor, 12/2/09]


Sen. Grassley Said “A Competitive Bidding Proposal May Be An Effective Way To Increase Competition In Medicare Advantage And Reduce Overall Spending. Sen. Grassley: “The President has also proposed changes to the Medicare Advantage program. While there are very few details at this point, I have serious concerns about the level of the proposed cuts and the rate at which the cuts go into effect. A competitive bidding proposal may be an effective way to increase competition in Medicare Advantage and reduce overall spending. But it must be done carefully.” [Senate Finance Hearing, 3/10/09]

REALITY: PROPOSED MEDICARE ADVANTAGE SAVINGS DO NOT CUT GUARANTEED MEDICARE BENEFITS “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits…In Fact [We] Have Done Our Best To Debunk Claims To That Effect.’” wrote, “Last week House Republican Leader John Boehner’s office issued a ‘Leader Alert’ titled ‘10 Facts Every American Should Know About Speaker Pelosi’s 1,990-Page Gov’t Takeover of Health Care.’ It’s a partisan document containing misleading characterizations of the bill. But the bullet point that bothers us most is #2, which reads: ‘MASSIVE CUTS TO MEDICARE BENEFITS FOR SENIORS. Despite grave warnings from CBO,, and the independent Lewin Group that cuts to Medicare of the magnitude included in Speaker Pelosi’s bill would have a negative impact on seniors’ benefits and choices, Speaker Pelosi’s health care bill stays the course and cuts Medicare by hundreds of billions of dollars.’ 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… We asked Boehner’s office to take our name out of the document, but spokesman Michael Steel said: ‘I’m not inclined to do so,’ and invited us to send an e-mail further making our case. We are doing so.” [, 11/3/09]

Hospitals Group: “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]

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]

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]