Senate Democrats

Despite Positive CBO Score, GOP Keeps Misrepresenting Facts

Today on the Senate floor, Republicans continued to misrepresent health insurance reform.  Below are the most recent lowlights from the GOP.

McConnell Calls Reducing Federal Debt by $81 Billion “Irrelevant.” Today on the senate floor, McConnell said the CBO score was “irrelevant.” [Senate Floor, 10/8/09]

Alexander: Bill “Really Doesn’t Reduce the Deficit.” Today on the senate floor, Senator Alexander said “so I think when we ask out questions and read the bill and find out what it costs, we’ll find it really doesn’t reduce the deficit.” [Senate Floor, 10/8/09]

  • FACT: CBO Says Health Insurance Reform Will Reduce Federal Deficit by $81 Billion. The Congressional Budget Office wrote that “enacting the Chairman’s mark, as amended, would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $81 billion over the 2010–2019 period (see Table 1).” [CBO letter to Chairman Baucus, 10/7/09

McConnell: Bill Will Cost $1.8 Trillion and “We Don’t Expect it to Get Any Better From Here on Out.”  Today on the Senate floor, McConnell said that the CBO “determined that the finance committee bill as introduced will cost $1.8 trillion over 10 years, and we don’t expect it to get any better from here on out.” [Senate Floor, 10/8/09]

  • FACT: CBO Says Bill Continue to Reduce Federal Budget Deficits After 10 Year Window.  The Congressional Budget Office wrote that “The net cost of the coverage expansions would be more than offset by the combination of other spending changes that CBO estimates would save $404 billion over the 10 years and other provisions that JCT and CBO estimate would increase federal revenues by $196 billion over the same period. In subsequent years, the collective effect of those provisions would probably be continued reductions in federal budget deficits.”  [CBO letter to Chairman Baucus, emphasis added, 10/7/09]

Cornyn: Makes “No Sense to Cut Medicare Benefits” for Seniors.  On the senate floor this morning, Senator Cornyn said, “I’ve come to the floor to talk about how it makes no sense to cut Medicare benefits for 11 million Medicare beneficiaries who happen to be engaged in the Medicare Advantage program in order to pay for this bill.” [Senate Floor, 10/8/09]

  • FACT:Health Insurance Reform Does Not Cut Medicare Benefits – It Reduces Waste and Fraud in the System.  Reductions in Medicare spending included in health insurance reform will not cut Medicare benefits or negatively affect beneficiaries’ health.  In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has cited research findings that “nearly 30 percent of Medicare’s costs could be saved without negatively affecting health outcomes…and those estimates could probably be extrapolated to the health care system as whole.”  Health insurance reform will not reduce Medicare spending by nearly that much, assuring seniors that their Medicare benefits are safe.  [CBO, 6/16/2008; Chairman’s Mark, Senate Finance Committee, 9/16/09]

  • FACT: Waste, Fraud Cost Seniors and Taxpayers Billions of Dollars Each Year.  Medicare’s improper payment rate for Fiscal Year 2008 was 3.6 percent, or about $10.4 billion.  The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimates that three percent of all health care spending is lost to fraud – that would be about $75 billion of the $2.5 trillion CMS projects the nation will spend on health care this year.  The FBI reports fraudulent activity in both public and private health care programs ranges from three to ten percent.  [CMS, 11/17/2008; CMS accessed 9/21/2009; FBI accessed 9/21/2009]

  • FACT: Health Insurance Reform Targets Waste, Fraud, Abuse.  Senate health insurance reform will combat wasteful and fraudulent activity in health care by giving federal health programs and law enforcement the tools they need to stay ahead of those who seek to defraud seniors and taxpayers.  Health insurance reform will require the Medicare program to screen all health providers who seek to bill Medicare to ensure that only those providers who actually treat seniors receive Medicare payment.  Reform will expand data sharing across more federal agencies to ensure that those suspected of fraudulent activity in other areas can’t continue to bilk Medicare.  And Senate health insurance reform will increase penalties for those who commit fraud. [Chairman’s Mark, Senate Finance Committee, 9/16/09]

Bennett: Don’t Spend Money on Helping Americans Get Better Health Care, Do Something Else.  Today on the Senate floor, Senator Bennett of Utah said, “(T)he $1 trillion, which if it is available to make this thing deficit neutral, could very well be spent in balancing other budgetary problems and paying down the national debt and doing other things with it. If we really do have $1 trillion to spend here, what are we getting for it when we’re spending it entirely on the Baucus bill?”  [Senate Floor, 10/8/09]

  • FACT: AARP – “We Can’t Afford Not to Fix Health Care.”  Senior advocacy organization AARP notes that the President and Congress are committed to paying for health insurance reform legislation and that if we do nothing, “the share of your income spent on health care will nearly double in the next seven years.” [AARP, accessed 9/3/09]

  • FACT: If We Don’t Fix Health Care, America Will Spend $33 Trillion.  If we fail to achieve health insurance reform, the United States will spend $33 trillion on health care during the next 10 years.  By 2018, just ten years from now, spending on health care will consume more than 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). [National Health Expenditure Projections, accessed 9/3/09]

  • FACT: Health Care Reform Will Lower Costs.  Reforming the health care system will trim trillions in health care spending and produce significant savings for government, employers, and the American public. Just modernizing America’s health care system will save over the federal government $600 billion in the next decade. With American families paying an additional $1,017 in a “hidden tax” to compensate for the uninsured, health care reform will elevate the burden on families during this difficult economic time. [Center for American Progress, 6/11/09; Commonwealth Fund, 2/19/09; Families USA, 6/28/09]

Bennett: Bill Doesn’t Reform System.  On the senate floor this morning, Senator Bennett said, “I just wish the Baucus bill would deal with the present system.  I just wish the Baucus bill would give us, in fact, a new car rather than simply replacing the car with a duplicate of the old car that just happens to cost an extra $1 trillion.”  [Senate Floor, 10/8/09]

  • FACT:  Reform Makes Significant Positive Changes to Health Care System.  Senate health insurance reform makes significant changes, including creating insurance exchanges so Americans can obtain affordable insurance, stops insurance companies from denying Americans coverage because of a pre-existing condition, outlaws a common insurance industry practice called “rescission” which allows companies to cancel your policy retroactively, strengthens Medicare, stops age and gender discrimination and controls costs.  [Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s Affordable Health Choices Act; Senate Finance Committee Chairman’s Mark]