On Tuesday, three separate House committees — Ways and Means Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, Education and Labor Committee — released a single health care reform bill, the American Affordable Healthy Choices Act. An analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that the legislation would cost $1 trillion over 10 years and cover 94 percent of Americans (97% if you don’t count undocumented immigrants).
On Dennis Miller’s radio show today, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacked the bill, claiming that it plainly stated that Americans would be forced out of their current health care plans “within five years”:
BACHMANN: Well, what does that mean? That means that politicians are going to substitute their choice for your doctor’s choice for you. That’s exactly what this bill does. Here’s the other thing about that bill. It’s a monstrosity. I have the bill printed out on my desk, it’s over 1,000 pages long. On the 16th page, it says whatever health care you have now, it’s going to be gone within five years. So your current health care plan, you’re not going to have in five years. What you’re going to have is a government plan and a federal bureau is going to decide what you get or if you get anything at all.
Bachmann either misread the bill or is willfully misrepresenting it. In fact, page 16 is the beginning of the section on “Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage.” The section that refers to five years is on page 17, but it’s not about pushing Americans off their current health plans. As the summary on Rep. Pete Stark’s (D-CA) website notes, it simply “provides for a five year grace period for current group health plans to meet specified standards.”
In fact, as the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky points out, the CBO’s coverage tables “undermine the conservative claim that a public option would eliminate private insurance and erode employer-sponsored coverage”:
The House bill actually increases the number of people who receive coverage through their employer by 2 million (in 2019) and shifts most of the uninsured into private coverage. By 2019, 30 million individuals would also purchase coverage from the Exchange, but only 9-10 million Americans (or approximately 1/3) would enroll in the public option, the rest would enroll in private coverage.
So, in Bachmann’s world, increased private insurance is a government takeover of health care.