Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) passed health care reform legislation that extends coverage to all Americans, protects employer-based coverage, lowers the growth of health care spending, and contains a public health insurance option. Despite the fact that the committee accepted 160 Republican amendments and spent 13 days and more than 60 hours debating the legislation during mark-up, no Republicans voted for the final bill.
Throughout the mark-up process, Republicans delayed progress by offering nonsensical amendments, eliminating affordability measures for middle class families, offering non-starter alternatives, and arguing that the committee should terminate its hearings. Responding to today’s vote, the HELP committee Republicans reiterated their claims that the bill would add to the deficit, leave millions without coverage, push Americans out of their current insurance plans, and lead to greater unemployment with choreographed repetition. Watch a compilation:
Unfortunately, repeating talking points doesn’t make them true. Below is a fact check of Republican claims:
CLAIM: The bill will contribute trillions of dollars to the national deficit.
FACT: The budget framework requires a deficit-neutral health care reform bill, and the Democrats have pledged to fully finance coverage expansion from savings within the system and new sources of revenue. The Senate Finance Committee is responsible for financing the measure.
CLAIM: Force millions of Americans out of their current coverage.
FACT: According to CBO’s comprehensive analysis of the HELP committee bill, the legislation increases the number of Americans with private insurance and strengthens the employer-based system of coverage (as a result of the employer-mandate an extra 1 million Americans will have employer-sponsored coverage by 2017).
CLAIM: 34 million Americans will remain uninsured.
FACT: Since the HELP committee does not have jursidiction over Medicaid expansion, its bill officially covers an additional 20 million Americans. Republicans claim that 34 million would be left uninsured by subtracting that 20 million from the 54 million who are projected to be without coverage by 2019. However, if we assume Medicaid expansion — which the Senate Finance Committee will include in its health care bill — reform would expand coverage to 20 million additional Americans, covering nearly 97% of all legal Americans by 2019.
CLAIM: Employer mandate will tax employers and make people lose their jobs.
FACT: The bill exempts small businesses from the mandate and even offers them a credit to help make providing coverage more affordable. The madante for large employers will help pay for health care reform and, rather than resulting in “massive job losses” as Republicans claim, actually preserves the employer system of coverage. Real life experiences with employer mandates in Hawaii and Massachusetts have found no evidence of reduced employment.
As GOP pollster Frank Luntz conceded during a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine, Republicans will label the Democratic reform effort a “government takeover” of health care, regardless of the actual legislation. They are more interested in obstructing health care reform than they are in engaging in a bipartisan compromise. A new strategy memo by GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, for instance, suggested that “it is crucial for Republicans to slow down what it calls ‘the Obama experiment with our health.’”