But still, great message discipline! That's always been their forte. But it makes a tiresome chore to smack down all the odd lies they come up with, again and again, just like in the old zombie movies. You give it both barrels of a 10-gauge, but it shambles forward mindlessly. "Braaaiinssss..."
The one I have seem pop up most recently is the odd lie that the House Tri-Com bill (HR 3200) will "outlaw individual private coverage."
Huh? I thought that's what the National Insurance Exchange was for?! Where did that come from?
I remembered that I had seen some crazy rant from Rep Michelle Bachmann (R-Loon) along these lines:
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.And some commenters on Kevin's blog linked to this unsigned opinion piece from Investors.com:
It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.How odd that they both cite "page 16" in their rants, both of which were published on the same day. It's almost as if this were somehow coordinated... Nah. I must be getting paranoid.
The provision they are referring to, by the way, is this (edited for clarity/brevity, full text at the link):
SEC. 102. PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT COVERAGE.
- (a) Grandfathered Health Insurance Coverage Defined- Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term `grandfathered health insurance coverage' means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 if the following conditions are met:
- (1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT- Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.
- (2) LIMITATION ON CHANGES IN TERMS OR CONDITIONS- Subject to paragraph (3) and except as required by law, the issuer does not change any of its terms or conditions, including benefits and cost-sharing, from those in effect as of the day before the first day of Y1.
- (3) RESTRICTIONS ON PREMIUM INCREASES- The issuer cannot vary the percentage increase in the premium for a risk group of enrollees in specific grandfathered health insurance coverage without changing the premium for all enrollees in the same risk group at the same rate, as specified by the Commissioner.
- (b) Grace Period for Current Employment-based Health Plans-
- (1) GRACE PERIOD-
- (A) IN GENERAL- The Commissioner shall establish a grace period whereby, for plan years beginning after the end of the 5-year period beginning with Y1, an employment-based health plan in operation as of the day before the first day of Y1 must meet the same requirements as apply to a qualified health benefits plan under section 101, including the essential benefit package requirement under section 121.
- (c) Limitation on Individual Health Insurance Coverage-
- (1) IN GENERAL- Individual health insurance coverage that is not grandfathered health insurance coverage under subsection (a) may only be offered on or after the first day of Y1 as an Exchange-participating health benefits plan.
So what does this mean in the real world?
- Individual health insurance policies already in effect may continue but may not be altered.
- Employer-sponsored plans have five years to get in compliance with the new regulations.
- New individual health insurance policies will only be available through the National Insurance Exchange (NIE).
Remember, the NIE is where the private insurers will be competing against one another as well as against a possible public plan, if it survives. It is not synonymous with a "government plan," though I hope that consumers will have the choice of a government-sponsored insurance policy. The new regulations referred to are simply those I've outlined many times before -- community rating, guaranteed issue, and a minimum benefits floor.
The Investors.com piece is by far more blatantly dishonest. For example, they stated, "those who leave a company to work for themselves [will not] be free to buy individual plans from private carriers." But this is flatly false, since individual plans will be freely available through the NIE. They also write, "a public option [...] will be 30% to 40% cheaper than their current premiums because taxpayers will be funding it," which disregards the fact that both the House and Senate bills make it clear that the public plan will be funded through premiums, not from general revenues. If there is a price advantage to the public plan, it will be due to lower reimbursement to providers, not from taxpayer subsidies. And the citation of "The nonpartisan Lewin Group estimated in April that 120 million or more Americans could lose their group coverage at work and end up in such a [public] program," ignoring that this estimate was not based on the plan as it currently exists, and the CBO estimated that only about 10 million people would choose the House's "strong" public option. And as a sort of a coda, the author repeats the simply false claim, "What wasn't known until now is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law." It's simply not true. Private plans will be available, and competitive, through the NIE. You can't get more dishonest than that.
I should also point out that the wingnut echo chamber is resonating a little bit over this:
During [a conference call] call, a blogger from Maine said he kept running into an Investors Business Daily article that claimed Section 102 of the House health legislation would outlaw private insurance. He asked: “Is this true? Will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though H.R. 3200 is passed?” President Obama replied: “You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about.”This was described as "disturbing" and evidence that the President is out of touch with the reforms he's advocating. Right. I mean, wrong. You see, he's not ignorant of the bill, he's just not familiar with the bits of it that exist only in the fevered nightmares of his political opponents.
And by the way, let's not make too much of the oft-repeated promise, "If you have health insurance, and you like it, [...] then you can keep it." This is technically true, for a limited time. He did not promise and it's foolish to think that it was promised that "If you have health insurance, and you like it, then you can keep it forever." I don't have the health plan I had three years ago, and I'm sure I'll have a different one in another three years. If you imagine that your insurance coverage was going to stay in stasis forever, preserved in amber, then you are frankly delusional. We are all going to be under the new regulations sooner or later, and this is a good thing -- it is the whole point of insurance reforms. For most of us, we will not even notice the changes, though it may get more expensive for some and cheaper for others. But it is a distortion of Obama's intent to extrapolate that he promised that none of us would ever have to deal with changes.
OK, that was tiresome and annoying to have to deal with, but it's just part of the territory when you are dealing with zombie lies. Now don't even get me started on the $23 Trillion bailout...