Some pundits are exclaiming the reason for the recent election results was due to the health care law that was enacted earlier this year. The thought that this may be true disgusts me. If so, though, it seems odd that would be the case since, while there are things not to like in that law, the main attacks against it and thus against its Democrat backers were fallacies.

                Let’s examine some of the common allegations against the law that were made in the campaign and determine their validity.

 True or False?

            The law slashed $500 billion from Medicare.

             The law requires a person to see a bureaucrat before they see their physician.

              The law dilutes the quality of care available to seniors on Medicare.

               Seniors won’t be able to keep their physicians.

               It’s a takeover of health care by the federal government.

               If you answered true to any or all of those statements, congratulations. You will believe anything a desperate politician tells you. And have I mentioned the bridge I have for sale?

              If you answered false to all of them, sincere congratulations. Either you were smart enough to learn for yourself what was in the law, you don’t take campaign attack ads seriously, or you have been out of touch with civilization so you weren’t exposed to these lies.

               The only cuts from Medicare were from the rate of increase over the next ten years. I thought everyone wanted to control government spending. Overall Medicare spending is expected to grow from $519 billion this year to $929 billion by 1920. The law’s provisions cut this growth by about 7%.

                 There is no new bureaucracy that will stand between a patient and her doctor. John Raese made this claim in a debate with Joe Manchin in the contest to succeed to the late Robert Byrd’s Senate seat. Politifact termed it “pants of fire”, in other words a blatant lie.


              The claim that seniors won’t be able to keep their pyhsicians stems from the fact that some doctors will opt out of Medicare because their reimbursements will be cut. If they are cut it is due to a 1997 law, not the health care reform. And each year Congress has voted to put off the cuts.

                   As I said earlier there are things not to like about the law, but how is it a government takeover of health care? There is a requirement that many people currently without insurance procure coverage, but from private insurance companies. The government does not direct them or order them to a particular insurer. Any care decisions are between the patient, his doctor and the insurer.

                     Even a government run health care program, Medicare, is pretty unintrusive. I am covered and I have never had any treatment decision in the hands of bureaucrats. Or at least no more than exists in private coverage. When I had bypass surgery there were some limits in how long I could remain in the rehab hospital and how long I could receive out-patient physical therapy.  I have faced similar limitations or restrictions when I had private coverage.

           For further explanation see this:

            Indeed, the health care bill does not include the odious provisions as campaigned on by Republicans and teabaggers. While some lamentation might seem appropriate,  William Saletan on Slate has a different take. He views the passage of health care as a major accomplishment and a triumph for Pelosi, Reid and the Democrats. Not only was it a triumph, but if passage did lead to a defeat at the polls, the triumph was worth every lost seat.

                   There are so many good things in the law that repeal would be almost criminal. The “doughnut hole” in prescription drug coverage has been closed meaning many seniors can now afford to get their prescriptions filled when needed, rather than when they can afford them. Young adults can remain on their parents’ policy.  Pre-existing conditions in children can now be covered. There are many other benefits.

              The depiction of the health care reform act as evil and socialist and a government takeover was nothing but lies. I don’t know how many folks voted against Democrats because of the view they were presented, but I have no doubt it was substantial.

              Shame on the politicians for promulgating these lies, the Republican and Tea Parties for financing these misleading ads, and the voters who made no effort to determine the truth, but let misinformation and fear rule. The nest two years will expose those lies more fully and the millions who voted against their own self-interest will be wishing for the good old days.

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  • Betsy  On November 8, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    I have no problem with cuts in Medicare growth. However, has anyone addressed that these cuts will be coming at the same time that millions of baby boomers will be signing up?

    • umoc193  On November 8, 2010 at 1:29 PM

      The estimates for growth in Mediacre payments I cited were for what it is expected to cost by 2020. Without it being specified I would imagine that figure would include expenditures for new retirees as well. But many of the cuts are in the provider payments in the Medicare Advantage plans which will gradually be lowered to bring them in line with regular Medicare. Those plans, of course, are with private insurance companies and often have a greater level of benefits for their policy holders than are available to regular Medicare enrollees such as myself.
      Importantly the attack ads characterized the health care law as gutting Medicare with the implication that care would suffer. A specific provision, however, guarantees no loss of care benefits. Those ads were a scare tactic that, in the best case, gave an accurate figure, but did not even come close to explaining what these cuts are.

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