Sorting fact, fiction of health care reform

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Clearing up the muddy waters of the proposed legislation

Myths. Distortions. Outright lies.
All characterize the debate about health care reform. From a congressman shouting, “You lie!” at the president, to a myriad of special interest groups “spinning” what’s in the proposed legislation — how can anyone tell what really is part of the reform package and what isn’t?
Let’s try to set the record straight — particularly on those issues that are getting the most attention.
Health care for illegal aliens
President Barack Obama has said that none of the health reform bills have a provision to provide government-sponsored health care to illegal immigrants.
Rep. Joe Wilson shouted that the president was lying — but he wasn’t. Both and the conservative think-tank Heartland Institute agree: there is no provision to provide health care to illegal immigrants.
And further, of the 11.1 million illegal immigrants estimated to be in this country, the Pew Institute says 47 percent have insurance.
“Conservative critics complain that the bill lacks an enforcement mechanism, but that hardly makes the president a liar,” said the Web site.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association said that attempting to get a health care credit would have legal repercussions — in fact, it could get a person deported.


The president was wrong when he said no federal money would be spent for abortions, said Ben Domenech of the Heartland Institute. The House bill specifically permits the public option to cover abortions, and would allow federal subsidies to purchase insurance that covers abortions.
“The House bill even has a provision that at least one health plan in every region offer coverage for abortions,” Domenech said. “So that is one of the misleading things the president has said.”
However, the House bill includes an amendment that says money for abortions would only be collected in the form of premiums, not taxpayer dollars.


While the president said “not one dime” would be added to the deficit — both the Max Baucus-sponsored bill in the Senate and the House bill would add billions to the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the House bill would add $239 billion to the national debt during a 10-year period, while the Senate Finance Committee bill would add $49 billion.
Obama incorrectly blames Medicare and health care costs for the rising deficit, Berkshire said.
“Medicare is supposed to be funded from a trust fund, but Congress never adequately funded it — they spent that money on other things,” he said. “So now when they need more money and the deficit is rising, they blame Medicare. But that isn’t the whole story.”

Choice of care; public option

As far as choice about insurance plans — there is no plan to take away private, employer-based insurance. None of the bills include that as an option. But that’s misleading, said Domenech.
“The bill allows government to compete with private insurers,” he said. “That will drive them from the market, no matter what the bill’s intentions are.”
Medicare is a public option, said Steve Berkshire, professor and director of the health administration program at Central Michigan University, and in poll after poll, people want it left alone.
“So some of the misinformation out there about the public option, that it’s going to end the health insurance business as we know it, that’s not true,” he said. “We already have one public option, and that hasn’t happened.” says the public option is open to people with individual policies and to people who work for businesses with fewer than 20 employees. While the public option is aimed at the uninsured, they won’t be the only ones who can buy it.

Death panels & rationing care

Myths involving “death panels” enraged senior citizens early during the debate, but while the bills do offer support for end-of-life decisions, Domenech said they are not death panels.
“But there is real concern that because of financial decisions, the government could decide whether or not treatment was financially a good choice — depending on age,” he said. “But the bill doesn’t have a panel deciding to end the life of old people. It could end up rationing care for those old people, however.”
And Berkshire said that fears about the death panels and changing Medicare have led the elderly to believe that health reform could affect the way they receive care.
“Death panels, those are an exaggeration of something that is in the bill,” he said. “The bill discusses using quality and evidenced-based outcomes to determine reimbursement rates.”
Those provisions — which are in both the House and the Senate versions of the bill — led opponents to say that the very sick and elderly would go before “death panels” to decide if they need treatment. Opponents also claim care would be “rationed” by the government.
“Strictly speaking, that isn’t true,” Domenech said. “Obama wants to create national standards based on research and review. The research would lead to national standards a doctor would have to follow when caring for a patient. But people aren’t like cars — there is no standard way of treating — so there’s some flexibility.”
The idea of rationed care stems from those national guidelines. Doctors who do not follow the guidelines, or whose outcomes are not up to national standards, would receive lower Medicare reimbursement.
“For instance, if the evidence shows one particular treatment out of many — say the choice is between therapy, surgery or some other kind of treatment — and one is cheaper and has the same outcome, or close to it, that’s the one the doctor will have to choose,” he said. “It isn’t rationed care like the British have, but if you want to do a more expensive option; you’ll have to have a very convincing argument for it.”

System ‘imploding’

Some proponents of the bill argue that reform is essential to continuing to provide health care in the United States. They claim the system will “implode” under the weight of ever-rising medical costs, ever-increasing numbers of the uninsured and lowering reimbursement rates.
“This is an exaggeration,” Berkshire said. “But we are at a point where we have to decide how much we want to spend on health care. Right now, it’s 16 percent of our gross domestic product. Do we want to spend more?”
People worry about reform because it will — by necessity — change the industry, he said. Money already in the system will have to be funneled elsewhere as the reformers try to include between 25 million and 40 million more people.
“And the best of the bills leave about 10 million people without insurance,” he said. “But no matter what, it’s going to cost money to include more people. The road we’re headed down is too expensive.”

6 Responses to Sorting fact, fiction of health care reform

  1. Very interesting article. My partner and I are going to be hosting a meeting on this very subject. Information is located at

    Christopher Colvin
    October 9, 2009 at 12:06 pm

  2. As a small business owner, nobody believes in profit and capitalism as much as I do. What I can’t understand, however, is why so many people that claim to be looking at this objectively refuse to weigh in on the fundamental question of whether or not profit should play a part in every single aspect of our lives.
    We’ve clearly decided, as a country, that there are some things that are too important to risk letting profit overshadow them. Our police departments, fire departments, and military services most immediately come to mind. These federal and municipal departments and agencies have one thing in common: they are in place to protect our very lives. Isn’t that what our healthcare system is supposed to do as well?
    Rather than trying to make an argument against healthcare based on bogus claims and some of the most childishly worded polls ever put out by Fox News (here’s some examples:, I’d like to hear someone make a substantiated claim that our local, state, and national interests would be better served by private corporations that (by law) have to prioritize profit over human life.

    October 9, 2009 at 2:26 pm

  3. I just read Christopher Colvin’s website – what a joke. How do you substantiate the claim that “for most people access to the health care system is still within reach”? Did you ask them all? Have you evaluated their financial situation family by family, and healthcare provisioning state by state? Oh wait, you’re probably one of those self-righteous superiority complex types that thinks that losing one’s home and going bankrupt in order to avoid death is perfectly acceptable as long as it’s not happening to you or anyone you know or depend on to make a living (which is almost everyone, by the way). I would think bankruptcy would be somewhat of an unacceptability for someone claiming to be a financial advisor… but then again I guess you’re hoping to be advising the people with all the money and insurance rather than those without.

    I’m also assuming you’ll be substantiating the grandma-killing scare tactics you’re using with actual line-by-line sitings from at least one piece of federally proposed legislation? I’ve read much of it myself (unlike most people), and while I’ve never seen anything about treatment for 30 year olds vs. 75 year olds (or ANYTHING age-related whatsoever), I’m sure Christopher wouldn’t stand in front of a large group of Colorado Springs citizens and just make stuff up that helps him pimp his financial practice… but then again, he does try to cover up his sales seminar as (laughably) a ‘town hall meeting’.

    This is just a perfect example of the problem – too many people trying to make a buck when, at the moment, that’s not exactly what this country needs. Everybody keeps talking about the costs, but too few people seem to realize that one man’s cost is another man’s profit.

    October 9, 2009 at 3:49 pm

  4. The doors are covertly opening again to another illegal immigration invasion. We now discerned that religious organizations are trying to use their congregations as a fulcrum to apply president Obama’s Immigration reform package. It’s in my mind that just people of the Baptist faith like myself, who are ardent worshipers, but whoever live in the stark veracity of real-time. Many are aware of the dangers of leniency for lawbreakers, that will be even more magnified by not only those already here, but the destitute restless people waiting for the–AMNESTY–bell to clang? It’s utterly irrational to expect that millions more will not tear across our borders? Yes! They will greatly benefit, but what about the 15 million jobless Americans?

    There is no possible way Citizens and legal residents can compete in this deep recession, against the poor of other countries? An avalanche of the young and old that will devour billions of more dollars from government handouts, to not only clothe shelter and feed them, but the illegal laborers wages partly transferred abroad? Churchgoers may think they are doing god’s work, but what they are actually doing is stealing the bread from American children’s table, low income families lifeline of paying for gas to get them to work, pay for an apartment? The magnet of course is the inevitable abhorrent businesses, who will solicit for minimum wage illegal aliens to build on their profits. THIS IS WHY WE MUST DEMAND NATIONWIDE E-VERIFY! A COMMITMENT FROM THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO MAKE IT MANDATORY FOR EVERYONE WHO HAS A JOB, TO BE VETTED. THAT NOBODY SHOULD BE EXEMPT. PENALTIES FOR NOT UTILIZING E-VERIFY, SHOULD BE EXEMPLARY? WE ARE TALKING ABOUT AMERICAN LIVES IN TURMOIL, BECAUSE JOBS ARE BEING STOLEN BY ILLEGAL WORKERS.Its operation will draw to the surface illegal labor who should not be here. We should inform ICE of anybody hiring illegal immigrants or you have suspicion of underpaid workers. My church pastor on the outskirts of Indianapolis has been playing on the congregation’s sensitivities, but the good man was unable to answer the torrent of questions?

    Least of all myself, who explained how the Council of Foreign Relations has been planning for years, to incorporate Mexico and Canada with ourselves, to import an unceasing flow of cheap labor? Or that the ACLU was founded by a communist or that groups like the Southern Poverty league was substantially financed by the business community, to undermine the reputations of anti-illegal immigrant groups. That even the radical ethnic caucuses such as La Raza was furnished by grants from our own government or corporate concerns. That in actual fact–WE–are paying the price tag as taxpayers for our own downfall? Unless a large majority of the population yells down the phone-lines at 202-224-3121 this nation will become a balkanized society?

    This country was built on the strength of one language, one Judeo-Christian culture. Multicultural societies usually collapse, as in the Middle East. Even in the developed countries of Europe, their is a tenuous unsettled calm that will erupt finally over both legal and illegal immigration. Even America cannot support millions more people in their vehicles on eroding highways and surface streets. Our infrastructure has been blatantly ignored for years, bridges in urgent disrepair. We remain mostly alone in fighting foreign wars and other countries are telling us, that the dollar is unlikely to be the main trading currency. Then we have programmed political idiots we elected telling us, we need to pass a path to citizenship for the 20 million plus unfortunate peasant who illegally crossed our border.

    WHERE IS THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS COMING FROM TO SUPPORT THE POOR PEOPLE OF THE WORLD? THE TAXPAYERS POCKET OF COURSE? My faith is very important to me, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to commit financial suicide. Let these illegal aliens get there own governments in order, and not take from us? The Urgent truth can be found at NUMBERSUSA. Read about the corruption in Washington at JUDICIAL WATCH. CAPSWEB for the truth about OVERPOPULATION. BE REST ASSURED THAT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE EXPECTED TO BE GUARDIANS OF ALL AMERICANS, ARE IN ACTUAL FACT THE PUPPETS OF THE BUSINESS CONSORTIUM’S AND SPECIAL INTEREST LOBBYISTS.

    October 9, 2009 at 5:48 pm

  5. Your numbers on illegal immigration are grossly understated. Even left leaning sources like CNN and Time agree that the numbers are at least 15 to 20 million. Many believe its higher. As for profit in the medical field, profit drives inovation. If you don’t understand that, I don’t know how you run a business. The fact is that the majority of americans have health care. Our country is going broke and we cannot afford another massive government program. Start thinking with your head instead of your emotions.

    Oh, and going bankrupt to avoid death is a perfectly acceptable solution. I know many people who have had to file bankruptcy. It is not the be all end all. You can recover.

    Carl Smith
    October 10, 2009 at 2:37 pm

  6. Well Andrew,

    We’ve never met. You don’t know me and you didn’t attend the “sales seminar.” Andrew, I also noticed as a “business owner,” you’ve chosen to hide behind your first name only, if that’s your real name.

    Andrew, health insurance IS within reach of most people. Granted, there are folks who honestly can’t afford it and there are programs for them. Andrew, I guess it’s a matter of, do you buy the $300 per month SUV or buy a health plan. It’s a matter of choices. But Andrew, here’s what I’d expect from you after reading your post. You’d opt for the SUV, and when you have a medical issue, you’re going to look to someone else to pay for it instead of accepting responsibility for your own health care.

    Unfortunately Andrew, you didn’t show up. There was no sales presentation. It was a town hall meeting format in an open forum. You could have had your say. But alas, you chose to stay home. Now how, you ask, do I substantiate health plans are still within reach for most people?

    Here you go Andrew:

    But I’ll bet you’ll still opt for the SUV payment.


    Christopher Colvin

    Christopher Colvin
    January 26, 2010 at 7:25 am