Fighting The Smear
Campaign Against Health Reform
In addition to the
slanted television advertising and the staged disruptions of legislative town hall meetings, there is a nasty and misleading right-wing chain email circulating on the web.
representing Health Care for America Now, has countered the false claims with the following information that answers every
issue. We are publishing it today as a public service. We believe this issue, which the big pharmaceuticals, health insurance
companies and other big cash recipients in the current health care structure are paying big money to defeat, will have
a big impact on every American if the battle is lost.
that the email pretends to go through the "itemized contents of the Health Care Reform Bill," pulling out outrageous
claims like, "Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!"
"The insurance industry is funding these emails
through hired shills and, of course, these claims are universally false. So
we want to arm you with the tools to fight back against these smears," she writes.
She suggests that if you receive this email from friends or other sources, you copy and paste the following rebuttal.
"Just reply to the smear email and make sure everyone knows the truth," Layendecker asks.
"We can fight these
smears, one lie at a time." she added.
Layendecker also asks supporters of Health Care Reform to show up at political town-hall meetings in their area to
voice support for the proposed legislation and shout down the hired hecklers staging the disruptions.
"It's imperative we show up at these events and make just as forceful a case that we need health reform now - what happens this month may determine whether we get health care reform or not," she said.
Following are the various false claims circulating on the web, followed by
the facts: You
can verify them by reading the bill at http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text
itemized contents of the Health Care Reform Bill:
"Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure!"
TRUTH: This is not an "audit," it's a study. Moreover, the bill states (pp. 22-23) that the report will "include
any recommendations the Commissioner deems appropriate to ensure that the law does not provide incentives for small and mid-size
employers to self-insure or create adverse selection in the risk pools of large group insurers and self-insured employers."
This is almost directly the opposite of the email's claim.
"Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!"
TRUTH: Page 29 continues to define the "essential benefits package" and discusses limits on what Americans
will have to spend on health care under this minimum standard. In no way does this section stipulate the rationing of care.
30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals
TRUTH: Page 30 begins to describe the Health Benefits Advisory Committee which establishes certain minimum
standards for health insurance plans. In no way does this committee deny treatments and benefits to Americans with health
"Page 42: The 'Health Choices Commissioner' will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice.
TRUTH: Page 42 begins to describe the Health Choices Commissioner's duties. The idea that this person will
decide what benefits Americans receive is patently false, given that most Americans will keep their current plans under reform,
and Americans within the exchange will have the choice of purchasing many different kinds of health plans. Rather, the Commissioner
will establish minimum standards to protect Americans.
"Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided
with free healthcare services."
TRUTH: Pages 50-51 contain a provision stating that discrimination will not be allowed in the provision
of health care services. Nowhere does the bill state that non-US citizens will be provided free health care services. The
bill prohibits federal dollars from being used for undocumented immigrants.
"Page 58: Every person will be issued
a National ID Healthcard."
TRUTH: Page 58, in the context of a discussion of administrative standards, mentions that "determination
of an individual's financial responsibility at the point of service and, to the extent possible, prior to service, including
whether the individual is eligible for a specific service with a specific physician at a specific facility...may include utilization
of a machine-readable health plan beneficiary identification card." In no way does the bill state that such a card would be
national, or that it would be issued to every person, or that it would, in fact, be used at all.
"Page 59: The federal
government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer."
TRUTH: Page 59 continues the discussion of administrative standards, and authorizes electronic transfers
of money within the government. In no way does this provision grant the government access to individual bank accounts.
65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (read: SEIU, UAW and ACORN)"
TRUTH: Here's what page 65 says: "Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the
Secretary of Health and Human Services shall establish a temporary reinsurance program to provide reimbursement to assist
participating employment-based plans with the cost of providing health benefits to retirees and to eligible spouses, surviving
spouses and dependents of such retirees." No mention is made of unions or community organizations.
"Page 72: All
private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange."
TRUTH: That's true! Plans have to have a minimum standard of benefits, bat can offer other plans as well.
But that's fair, isn't it? Private insurers can continue to operate outside the exchange if they wish - should the government
establish no standards for the exchange? In that case, how could reform end insurance industry abuses and help to control
"Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government
control of private plans)"
TRUTH: This section says is that if private health care plans want to operate in the Exchange, they must
provide a basic benefit package.
"Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation:
TRUTH: Some American citizens are more comfortable speaking a language other than English, especially in
a sensitive situation like a consultation with their doctor. This provision in no way opens the door for coverage of undocumented
"Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health
Page 95 makes no mention of ACORN and Americorps; all it says is that the Commissioner can conduct outreach to vulnerable
populations, making them aware of their options.
"Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically
enrolled: you have no choice in the matter."
People who are eligible for Medicaid will not have to face the burdens of paperwork and other bureaucratic struggles. Far
from depriving people of choice, this measure will ensure coverage.
"Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing.
No 'judicial review' is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed."
TRUTH: This section describes rate-setting under the public health insurance plan option, which will compete
with private insurers, who can set their own rates. Because of inherent advantages like their established administrative and
provider frameworks, private insurance companies will not be "crushed" by government competition.
"Page 127: The
AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages."
TRUTH: The government will negotiate rates with providers under the public health insurance plan option.
However, private insurers will continue to pay their own rates.
"Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees
into the government-run public plan. No alternatives."
TRUTH: This is simply not true. Employers with more than 20 employees aren't even eligible to participate
in the exchange, let alone the public plan, until several years after the exchange launches in 2013. Moreover, no employer
will be forced to participate in the public plan.
"Page 146: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees
AND their families."
TRUTH: Employers are required to pay some benefits for part-time employees on a basis proportional to what
they pay for full-time employees. No language on this page or the next stipulates coverage for the families of part-time employees.
149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll"
TRUTH: The payroll penalty applies to employers with payroll over $500,000 who do not provide insurance
to their employees. The percentage for employers with payroll from $500,000 - $750,000 is 6%. Employers do not have to offer
the public option to avoid this penalty, they can offer private insurance if they wish.
"Page 150: Any employer
with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll"
TRUTH: This is false, see above.
"Page 167: Any individual who doesn't' have acceptable healthcare
(according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income."
TRUTH: Pages 167-173 detail what "acceptable health care" means (basically, insurance coverage) and also allow for many different
kinds of exceptions to this rule.
"Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual
taxes (Americans will pay for them)."
TRUTH: Non-resident aliens do not have to pay the penalty for not having health insurance, nor will the
receive federal assistance, because they are not required to purchase health insurance. They are not exempted from individual
"Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL
American financial and personal records."
TRUTH: This is a gross overstatement. For the purposes of determining affordability credits for Americans
who need financial assistance in purchasing health insurance, employees of the Health Choices Administration will have access
to tax information that the federal government already keeps. As is clearly stated on page 196, "Return information... may
be used by officers and employees of the Health Choices Administration or such State-based health insurance exchange, as the
case may be, only for the purposes of, and to the extent necessary in, establishing and verifying the appropriate amount of
any affordability credit described in subtitle C of title II of the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 and providing
for the repayment of any such credit which was in excess of such appropriate amount.''
"Page 203: "The tax imposed
under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that."
TRUTH: This quote is taken out of context, and is in fact referring to a calculation used in the bill. Full
context of quote: "'(4) NOT TREATED AS TAX IMPOSED BY THIS CHAPTER FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES.-The tax imposed under this section
shall not be treated as tax imposed by this chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under this chapter
or for purposes of section 55.''
"Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor
TRUTH: This section has nothing whatsoever to do with reducing services. It makes much needed changes
to the way in which physician reimbursement is recalculated every year. The bill will, in fact, create much more opportunity
for seniors and the poor to receive necessary care.
"Page 241: Doctors: no matter what specialty you have, you'll
all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)"
241 does not say this. Nowhere does it say this. It does say that physicians will be grouped into certain categories
regardless of specialty. These categories merely determine if the physician is engaged in primarily therapeutic or preventative
"Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their
professional judgment, etc."
TRUTH: There is no good response to this assertion as it appears to have been made up completely. The section
deals with 'misvalued codes' meaning that the government is potentially not paying an acceptable rate for a specific service.
This will allow the government to, for example, pay more for services that require more payment, such as high-overhead procedures.
The author of these criticisms separately attacks the bill for paying the same rate to all doctors, then attacks again
for paying different rates.
"Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries."
TRUTH: This section amends the Social Security Act to include productivity measures. There is no mandate
or control of anything. This merely updates the way in which doctors and hospitals are paid through Medicare.
268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs."
TRUTH: This is simply not true. This slightly amends existing guidelines for payments for medical equipment,
in this case power-driven wheelchairs. This section introduces no 'regulations' that are not in the Social Security
"Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!"
TRUTH: Overusage of the hot-button word "rationing" is a way to deflect attention away from the actual language
of the bill and incite unjustified fear. This section only compares costs incurred by cancer hospitals to costs incurred
by similar hospitals, and adjusts payments to reduce the possibility of fraud and abuse.
"Page 280: Hospitals will
be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions."
is almost correct. The section is one of the first efforts at targeting excessive readmissions. Excessive readmissions
are physically and emotionally damaging to patients, while simultaneously putting them, and the health care system, in far
more financial risk than is necessary. The American Hospital Association recommended reduced payments for avoidable
readmission in testimony to Congress.
"Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during
an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government."
TRUTH: This is patently false. The section is about possible methods that the Secretary of Health and
Human services might consider in order to address the growing problem of patient readmission. This section does not,
in any way, create a penalty, nor does it even mandate policy. It merely provides examples of recourses that might be
"Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited from owning and investing in healthcare companies!"
TRUTH: This provision only limits Doctor's investments in health care facilities that they refer patients
to The effort to limit self-referral has been ongoing for many years as an effort to reduce fraud and abuse. This
is, essentially, the medical community equivalent of insider trading. Limiting this incentive works to put the patient's
health above all other considerations. Doctors remain free to engage in investment opportunities in areas that don't
create a significant conflict of interest.
"Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand
without government approval."
TRUTH: This section regulates physicians' investment in hospitals to make sure that physicians are not unfairly
benefiting from their power to refer patients to hospitals they have a stake in. The section does not prohibit hospital expansion.
321: Hospital expansion hinges on 'community' input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN."
TRUTH: In the ongoing effort to demonize community-based groups such as ACORN, every instance of the word
"community" has become associated with that group's efforts. In reality, this provision allows for anyone to provide
input. This includes homeowners, religious leaders, neighborhood groups, and others. There are no payoffs.
There is no money exchanged in any way.
"Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures:
TRUTH: This provision is included in order to allow the government to base payments on practices that work.
Nowhere does it say health care will be rationed. The attempt to isolate what works and what does not work in Medicare
Advantage plans only benefits the health care system in general.
"Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify
Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc."
TRUTH: The government can disqualify some Medicare Advantage Plans from receiving some additional payments,
but only if those plans are not meeting necessary requirements.
"Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of
SPECIAL NEEDS individuals."
TRUTH: This section only deals with how to handle special needs individuals who need to enroll outside of
the open enrollment period. Almost every type of plan operates with open enrollment periods. This section does
not create more restrictions.
"Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone)."
TRUTH: This section merely expands existing Telehealth programs, which supplement but do not replace
other health coverage, and provide a vital resource to Americans in rural and remote areas.
"Page 425-430: More
bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia?; Government will instruct and consult
regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time; Government
provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death; Government mandates program that orders end-of-life
treatment; government dictates how your life ends; Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's
health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT; Government will decide
what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life."
TRUTH: All of these hysterical claims have been debunked elsewhere. HR3200 provides for the reimbursement
of a voluntary session of end-of-life counseling with your physician once every five years. This in no way means the
government will make decisions for patients or encourage doctor-assisted suicide. Counseling simply makes patients and their
families aware of their options.
"Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN."
TRUTH: ACORN is not a Community-Based Medical Home.
"Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations:
more payoffs for ACORN."
TRUTH: This is clearly still referring to community health groups, not ACORN.
Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage."
TRUTH: Covering marriage and family therapy, as many private insurance plans do, does not mean that the
government "intervenes in your marriage." The types of individuals who are recognized as therapists are clearly defined on
page 491; in brief, professionals only, not bureaucrats.
"Page 494: Government will cover mental health services:
defining, creating and rationing those services."
section expands government coverage for mental health services under various government programs, and ensures that all mental
health services will be offered by qualified professionals.