Republicans are trying their best to kill health reform and extinguish President Obama’s credibility. They say they want to improve health care—just not in its current form. Well, folks, they have had fifteen years to prepare for this moment, and were in charge of Congress for the majority of them, so I’m not sure why they are acting like the new healthcare bill is broadsiding them.
Today on the House floor, at least two congressmen made the astonishing claim that the bill would abolish private health insurance. They invited their colleagues to look at pages 16 and 17 of the bill (which shows how far they got in reading it before deciding that they had had enough). The claim, though, had already been made a few weeks beforehand by right-wing activists: to wit, “Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal,” wrote Bill Dupray of the DC Republican Examiner.
Well, it turns out that that is NOT what page 16 says. I invite you to look at HR 3200 for yourselves. The provision in question is part of the short section on people who have coverage now and will be grandfathered into the healthcare system once the bill is passed. These people will keep their coverage (which is the exact opposite of what Republicans are saying) and will even be able to add dependents. Only if the terms or premiums are changed will they enter the healthcare exchange—the new marketplace created for those looking for coverage.
Now, there are two explanations for this discrepancy: either Republicans are reading the bill differently from everyone else—and as lawyers, I’m sure they are used to twisting words to find loopholes—or they are lying. I’ll let you decide.
The other tactic Republicans are using to misrepresent the healthcare bill is this chart (large version). I’m sure it has the desired effect on C-SPAN, where the viewer can only see boxes and lines. But once you read it close up, it’s less outrageous and more commonsensical.
Now, take a look at this version. I haven’t done extensive research on this topic, but off the top of my head I have highlighted in white those parts which directly would pertain to you, a current policyholder, if the bill should pass. Highlighted in green are those agencies, programs, and officials that already exist and may have a peripheral effect on your coverage. In purple is that which also exists currently and would have no discernable effect on your coverage. And in yellow appear the apparent creations of the new plan, not all of which are necessarily bad or would lead to rationing or increased costs—inspectors general, ombudsmen, office of civil rights, etc.
Don’t be fooled by demagoguery. Learn about it, think about it, and have a reasoned debate about it. Talking points will be the death of this much-needed reform effort.