At his town hall meeting last Tuesday, Rep. Moran opened with a slide show presentation attempting to dispel twelve “myths” about the health care reform bill H.B.3200.  The “myths” and “facts” are reprinted in the Falls Church News-Press.  (Although Rep. Moran’s commentary is not yet posted there, his many others are, so I expect this one will be posted very shortly.)

The town hall meeting was not a debate — it was a show-and-tell followed by a question-and-answer.  This article covers Rep. Moran’s show-and-tell.

MYTH: A government-run public option would force employers to drop their coverage and force everyone onto a public plan.

FACT: Under the bill, no one can ever be forced onto the public plan.  The only way a person would join a public plan would be through the person’s own individual choice.  Furthermore, the CBO projects that, rather than the bill forcing employers to drop their coverage, more employers will provide coverage under the bill.

Section 313 of H.B.3200 would impose an 8% payroll tax on employers that are not providing health insurance.  Assuming a median household income of $67,000 per year for a family of four, that’s $5360.  That’s much less than the cost of a typical family insurance policy.  So where is the incentive to keep an employer-sponsored plan?  It already exists.  Currently, there is no government-induced penalty for not providing insurance.  The penalty comes in workers’ leaving for jobs that provide a health insurance benefit, or in not getting good employees in the first place. The aforementioned penalty does not go to paying the employees’ insurance on the exchange.

The real concern  is one of portability.  If one loses his job, he generally cannot keep his insurance — it is simply too expensive.  So he will go to get a policy on the exchange,  and being subsidized, the public option will be the best deal.  Sec.222, however, states that the premiums charged will be sufficient to cover claims and administrative costs.  Furthermore, any low-income subsidies are available to anyone purchacing a policy from the Exchange, not just for the public option.

The thing is, people simply do not believe that the public option will not be subsidized.  And they are right.  Sec. 223 says that payments will be based on Medicare Parts A and B payments.  (Moran spoke of the public option as merely extending Medicare eligibility to younger people.)  Medicare pays significantly less than private insurance does, and private insurance takes up the slack.  It is the private insurance and the healthcare providers that subsidize Medicaid and Medicare, and they would be subsidizing a public option, too.

MYTH:  Healthcare reform will lead to rationing.  A government-controlled “Health Benefits Advisory Committee” would decide how much care I receive.

FACT: Nothing in this bill permits the government to make healthcare decisions for you or to ration or withhold healthcare services.  The Health Benefits Advisory Committee has no role in determining what treatments individuals will be entitled to; it will simple recommend the minimum standards of care and benefits insurers must offer.  The Committee will be made up of mostly of [sic] providers, consumers, representatives, employers, labor, health insurance issuers, and independent experts.

The goes back to the point that a public option is likely to become the only option, especially if private insurers are forced to accept and pay for pre-existing conditions.  (Why buy car insurance now if you can wait until you get in an accident?  Why buy home-owners insurance now if you can wait until after you’ve had a fire? The insurance company will be forced to take you and to pay for the damage.)  Such a requirement will drive up insurance premiums, and no company will get on the Exchange.  The Committee will also put requirements on employer-sponsored plans, and all new plans must meet those requirements.  Say goodbye to your employer-sponsored plan.

MYTH: Death panels made up of government bureaucrats will decide whether of not elderly Americans deserve end of life care.

FACT: Nothing  could be further from the truth.  America’s Affordable Health Choices Act extends Medicare coverage to cover the cost of patient voluntarily speaking withtheir doctors about their values and preferences regarding end-of-life care — empowering older Americans to take control on this critical issue.  These are deeply personal decisions that take thoughtful consideration, and it is only appropriate that doctors be compensated for their time.

As Sec. 1233 is written, I really don’t have a  problem with the consultations, although I do think the patient’s lawyer should also be involved, since the result of the consultation may be a legal document.

MYTH: Under the reform, my tax dollars will be used to provide healthcare  for illegal immigrants.

FACT: This is completely false.  Taxpayers will not fund healthcare for illegal immigrants.  H.R. 3200, Section 246 states that “Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”

Yes, it does say that.  That is all it says, too.  There is absolutely no enforcement provision.  It is like outlawing the hiring of illegals, but not requiring employers to check an applicant’s immigration status and not having any penalties for hiring illegals.

MYTH: The reform bill would mandate abortion coverage in all public plans, thus making taxpayer dollars available to fund abortions.

FACT: Abortion is not mandated in any reform legislation.  Currently, private insurance companies make their own decisions about whether abortion is a covered procedure.  Current reform efforts will continue in that vein and allow consumers to choose a plan that is provided by a company that is in line with their own moral decision about abortion.

Rep. Moran completely sidesteps the issue.  The issue was with the public option, and he’s talking about private insurance.  Nonetheless, Sec. 203 states, “The Commissioner shall specify the benefits to be made available under Exchange-participating health benefits plans during each plan year….”  So that commissioner can specify that abortions will be covered, the public option will have to cover them (as will all private plans on the Exchange), the Affordability Credits will go to those plans, and viola, taxpayer money is paying for abortions.  In fact, the government can require all insurance to cover abortions, or be subject to the 8% non-conformity tax.  All the while, it is not the legislation that mandates abortion coverage.

There were other “myths”  “refuted” in Moran’s show-and-tell session that do not appear in the Falls Church News-Press commentary.  If I find them, I will post them, and my responses.