Responding to the Supreme Court’s historic decision upholding the Obama Administration’s landmark health care reform legislation, Republican Scott Brown released a video statement that included a number of misleading comments.
0:57 mark: “All of that changed with the federal law, which delivers no substantial additional benefits to Massachusetts.
Republican Scott Brown focused a large part of his campaign during the 2009-2010 special election on being a key vote against health care reform. For that position to remain politically viable, Brown needs the electorate to oppose health care reform. Unfortunately for Brown, the electorate has a very favorable view about many of the components of health care reform. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that even a majority of Republicans support health care reform measures including small business tax credits, closing the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole,” and eliminating pre-existing conditions as an obstacle to coverage.
So what can Republican Scott Brown do? Apparently, he’s chosen to mislead Massachusetts voters and claim that health care reform has provided “no substantial additional benefits to Massachusetts.” However, Brown’s claim simply isn’t true. Here are just a few of the quantifiable benefits enjoyed by Massachusetts residents as a result of health care reform:
Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors
Thanks to the new health care law, 70,524 people with Medicare in Massachusetts received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. Since the law was enacted, Massachusetts residents with Medicare have saved a total of $64,266,312 on their prescription drugs. In the first five months of 2012, 11,921 people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. This discount has resulted in an average savings of $648 per person, and a total savings of $7,721,182 in Massachusetts. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole.
Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay
In 2011, 780,099 people with Medicare in Massachusetts received free preventive services – such as mammograms and colonoscopies – or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. And in the first five months of 2012, 382,721 people with Medicare received free preventive services. Because of the law, 54 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 1,324,000 in Massachusetts. [...]
Supporting Massachusetts’s work on Affordable Insurance Exchanges
Massachusetts has received $57.1 million in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of Affordable Insurance Exchanges. [...]
Preventing illness and promoting health
Since 2010, Massachusetts has received $42.7 million in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act.
The list goes on and on. Suffice it to say, when Republican Scott Brown claims that health care reform has provided “no substantial additional benefits to Massachusetts,” he’s simply not being honest.
1:03 mark: “just higher costs”; 1:07 mark: “2.6 trillion dollars in new spending”
Right-wing conservatives and opponents of health care reform, like Republican Scott Brown, desperately want to portray health care reform as a budget-buster, but that simply isn’t true either:
Comprehensive health care reform will cost the federal government $940 billion over a ten-year period, but will increase revenue and cut other costs by a greater amount, leading to a reduction of $138 billion in the federal deficit over the same period, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, a Democratic source tells HuffPost. It will cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the second ten year period.
The source said it also extends Medicare’s solvency by at least nine years and reduces the rate of its growth by 1.4 percent, while closing the doughnut hole for seniors, meaning there will no longer be a gap in coverage of medication. The CBO also estimated it would extend coverage to 32 million additional people.
“Higher costs?” “$2.6 trillion in new spending?” Actually, Senator Brown, the non-partisan CBO found that health care reform shrinks the deficit! So, not only is health care reform not budget-busting “higher costs,” but, in actuality, Brown’s opposition to health care reform means that Brown is for larger budget deficits. Maybe he should try running on that message.
1:25 mark: “Senior citizens are bracing for more than half a trillion dollars in Medicare cuts that were used to offset the law’s massive increase in federal spending.”
This old right-wing talking point has been so thoroughly debunked that it’s actually rather embarrassing that Republican Scott Brown would trot it out for his response statement, but so be it.
A half-trillion-dollar Medicare cut? Not exactly [...]
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which reviewed the Senate version of the health-care law that eventually passed in 2010, the law will wring $492 billion from the projected future costs of Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years. The bulk of the savings would be generated by reining in the growth of payments to doctors and hospitals and from cutting subsidies to the Medicare Advantage program, which pays private insurers to provide Medicare benefits.
The AARP found the legislation would not cut benefits or increase out-of-pocket costs for Medicare, the federal health-care program for Americans over 65.
That echoes the Columbia Journalism Review’s analysis:
Medicare and the $500 billion bogeyman
Will a half-truth still work for the GOP? [...]
The facts were and still are these: The health reform law, aka the Affordable Care Act, does call for cutting $500 billion from Medicare to help finance subsidies for the uninsured. The administration portrayed these as “savings”—in other words, money not spent for Medicare that could be used for another purpose. But the important take-away is this: the law does not cut a dime from the basic Medicare benefits seniors receive. All seniors will still get hospital benefits, coverage for physician services, lab tests, hospital outpatient care, prescription drugs, and so on, and will continue to receive them unless pols on both sides of the aisle succeed in changing the fundamental structure of Medicare. (That indeed is possible after the election. But that’s for another post.)
Most of the $500 billion in cuts aim at reducing payments to health care providers—hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, though not doctors. And about one quarter of the cuts target Medicare Advantage Plans to reduce the amount of government overpayments insurers have gotten. The government was paying more to these plans to provide benefits than it was paying to provide the same benefits under the traditional Medicare program. Medicare Advantage plans are a popular alternative to traditional Medigap policies because those overpayments have allowed insurers to offer cheap premiums and extra benefits like dental and vision care. But policy experts found these payments were unwarranted, wasted money, and jeopardized the finances of the Medicare trust fund that pays for hospital care.
Of course, none of this is the stuff of campaign ads. That leaves the press to fill in the blanks.
It’s misleading for Brown to claim that health care reform harms seniors’ Medicare benefits, and it’s misleading for Brown not to acknowledge that reform reduces the deficit. As for the overall benefits of health care reform, Republican Scott Brown should know them full well since his own family has taken advantage of them, with Brown admitting that his own adult daughter is insured on his family health care plan courtesy of health care reform. It’s just hypocritical of Brown to advocate taking away from other families the very benefits his own family enjoys.
If Republican Scott Brown wants to oppose health care reform, he’s certainly entitled to do so. However, he loses any semblance of credibility when he defends that position with a series of misleading statements, as he has done here.