USA Today fact-checks Obama’s town-hall assertions

posted at 11:36 am on August 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

They’re not terribly enthusiastic about it, but USA Today corrects the record — in a sidebar — on a number of assertions made by Barack Obama yesterday at his Portsmouth, NH forum.  They leave out the biggest whopper, which is Obama’s claim that he has never favored single-payer health-care systems, but they do catch a couple of other big fibs, including Obama’s snow job on AARP endorsement.  One of the best catches from USA Today concerns Medicare Advantage, about which Obama has lied for over two years:

“Insurance companies basically get $177 billion of taxpayer money to provide services that Medicare already provides.”

About 10.2 million Medicare recipients are in Medicare Advantage. Under that program, the government pays insurers a set amount per Medicare beneficiary. Obama ridiculed it as costly and redundant, but the plan provides additional benefits, such as vision, dental and hearing, to seniors and helps coordinate health care for those with chronic conditions, says Robert Zirkelbach at the trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans.

In fact, Medicare Advantage is a Godsend for those trapped within the Medicare system.  Recipients pay substantial monthly premiums, but the plan allows for better provider payments, which keep providers from locking patients out of their clinics.  The extended insurance provides coverage for services which Medicare ignores, and some create a co-payment system rather than the 60/40 system Medicare gives seniors and the disabled in practice.

How do I know this?  The First Mate has Medicare Advantage, and we saw what Medicare did before we got the supplemental coverage.  It’s a disaster for anyone needing anything more than just maintenance care.

Next:

“Under the reform we’re proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

Not necessarily. In an analysis of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that 10 million workers could lose employer-provided benefits and would have to find other insurance.

Some analyses put that number much higher — as high as 83 million.  Obama insists on making this argument despite all evidence to the contrary, especially since businesses control insurance options for most people in the US.  If Obama makes it attractive for businesses to dump their employees into a public plan, then most people won’t be able to keep their existing plans.  And thanks to ObamaCare, they won’t have many options to find private insurance, either.

“The rumor that’s been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for ‘death panels’ that will basically pull the plug on Grandma. … (T)he intention. .. was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they’re ready, on their own terms. … (O)ne of the chief sponsors of this bill originally was a Republican … (Sen.) Johnny Isakson from Georgia.”

Isakson issued a press release saying Obama misused his name. A provision he attached to a Senate health care bill would allow seniors to obtain help in formulating a living will something Isakson said is different from House language. The House bill would require Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling sessions, but it would not mandate that anyone use the benefit.

The media had a field day with this yesterday, using Isakson as a bat with which beat conservative critics, but it never occurred to the layers of fact-checkers and editors that a Senator would have had nothing to do with a clause in a House bill.  In fact, Isakson does support making end-of-life planning available, but doesn’t support the mandate for it that exists in Section 1233 of the House bill.

Kudos to USA Today for doing a good job of fact-checking, even if they couldn’t devote a separate article to it.  (via QandO)


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