Obamacare: Separating Fact from Fiction

Once again, Mitt Romney and Republicans are firing off distortions about the Obamacare after the Supreme Court confirmed that the Health Care Law is constitutional and that every American deserves access to affordable, quality health coverage. But Romney and his Republican allies are attacking this principle with tired political falsehoods about health care reform—and making the repeal of health reform their first priority.

With all the recycled myths they’re pushing, it’s important to get the facts about a law that is already helping millions of Americans. Here’s a look at what Republicans are saying—and what’s actually true—about health care reform.

#1 Republican distortion: “The President promised he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class by a penny with this health care law. Well, that’s been proven false now.”

The facts: President Obama has cut taxes by $3,600 for the average middle-class family over the last three years, and the Republicans fought him nearly every step of the way. From cutting taxes for every working American through the Making Work Pay and payroll tax cuts to the American Opportunity Tax Credit—a tax credit worth up to $10,000 to help families pay for four years of college—the President has put more money in the pockets of middle-class Americans.

Here’s another fact: Obamacare includes the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history. According to the independent Congressional Budget Office, 19 million people will receive tax credits worth an average of about $4,800 each to help them afford health care. These tax credits will finally put health insurance within reach for millions of American families.

Around 1 percent of people—those who can afford to buy coverage but instead choose to opt out, shifting their costs to the rest of us—will pay a penalty. The Supreme Court acknowledged yesterday that this penalty will be charged through the tax code—but that doesn’t change its purpose of ensuring everyone who can afford insurance buys it, or its effect of lowering costs for everyone.

It’s also the same policy Romney implemented when he signed health reform in Massachusetts. In fact, for many folks in Massachusetts, the penalties under Romney’s reform were even bigger. Here’s a video of him extolling the virtues of his penalty.

#2 Romney distortion: Romney said Obamacare meant “a larger and larger government, more and more intrusive in your life—separating you and your doctor.”

The facts: This is one of the most dishonest claims in American politics. First, this isn’t about government. Obamacare builds on and improves the nation’s private health care system.

Second, here’s what it fixes. Before Obamacare, insurance companies had free rein to arbitrarily cap and cancel coverage, and they could waste our premiums on overheads and big bonuses for CEOs. With Obamacare, there will now be clear rules of the road to give patients and doctors more control over health care. These rules will make sure that you and your doctor—not your insurance company, and certainly not a Washington bureaucrat—have control over your health.

#3 Romney distortion: “Obamacare also means that for up to 20 million Americans, they will lose the insurance they currently have.”

The facts: False: If you like the insurance you have, you can keep it. The only thing that’s changed is that your coverage is stronger. Here’s how:

  • If you had a lifetime limit (and about 60 percent of employer-based plans did), it’s been lifted.
  • If you have a child under the age of 26, they can stay on your plan.
  • Insurance companies can no longer discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions.
  • Starting in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny anyone insurance based on pre-existing conditions, helping up to 129 million Americans get the care they need.
  • Insurance companies will no longer be able to charge women more than men for the exact same coverage.
  • 54 million Americans already have access to better preventive services, free of charge.
  • If you get sick, your insurance company can’t drop your coverage, and if they deny you a treatment, the law makes sure you have a chance to appeal.

#4 Republican distortion: “Costs are going up.”

The facts: Health care costs have been going up for decades—that’s one of the reasons President Obama fought to pass the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare makes targeted changes to hold costs down. The President started by taking on the insurance companies. As he said yesterday, the law ensures that insurance companies spend 80 percent of your premium dollars on your health care, not administrative costs or CEO bonuses. If they don’t follow that rule, they have to send you a rebate. This month, more than 12 million Americans will receive over $1 billion in rebate checks, and we’re all seeing lower premiums because of it.

The law also takes on waste in our health care system. Let’s take just one example: We spend billions of dollars every year treating people for infections they get while they are in the hospital. The health care law helps hospitals take simple but necessary steps to prevent infections. These types of reforms will save up to $35 billion and 60,000 lives.

#5 Romney distortion: “Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt.”

The facts: Wrong. The Affordable Care Act cuts the deficit by over $100 billion during the first 10 years. In the following decade, it cuts the deficit by another $1 trillion. Not only is the Romney campaign misleading people about the President’s deficit plan, they won’t tell the truth about their own. Romney would grow the deficit by as much as $5 trillion by giving tax cuts that favor millionaires and billionaires while taking away health care benefits that people rely on. We can’t let them get away with it.

If elected, Mitt Romney promised to do what the Supreme Court did not do and get rid of Obamacare on “day one” in the Oval Office. But he and his Republican colleagues will have to convince Americans with outright distortions and falsehoods to get there. Share these facts with your friends to make sure everyone knows what is at stake in this election.