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posted Apr 13, 2013, 3:57 PM by Laramie County Democrats   [ updated Apr 13, 2013, 3:57 PM by Stacey Obrecht ]

April 2, 2010

FACT CHECK: Sen. Enzi's Claims About Health Reform in Wyoming

RHETORIC: Approximately 201,671 Wyoming households making less than $200,000 will pay higher taxes, based on estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation.


JCT: Senate Bill Will Provide Nearly $450 Billion In Individual Income Tax Cuts – “The Bill Being Considered Represents A Substantial Net Tax Cut For Middle Income Families.” Jason Furman wrote on the White House Blog: “First, the health insurance reform bill being considered in the Senate does not raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 – in fact it is a substantial net tax cut for American families. The bill being considered represents a substantial net tax cut for middle income families. According to the independent Joint Committee on Taxation, the bill will provide nearly $450 billion in individual income tax cuts over the next 10 years.” [White House blog, 12/16/09]

WH Blog: For The Small Sub-Set Of Plans That Are Affected, The Primary Impact Of This Provision Will Be To Increase Workers' Wages. Getting A Pay Raise Is Not What Most People Would Call A Tax Increase. Economists agree by taxing the highest cost plans this provision will lead insurance companies to be more efficient and provide quality care to consumers at lower prices (see this endorsement in a letter from a group of prominent economists – including three Nobel laureates and previous members of both Democratic and Republican administrations and this analysis by CBO 2009). Even a report commissioned by the insurance industry's trade association acknowledged that: "[w]e expect employers to respond to the tax by restructuring their benefits to avoid it." [White House blog, 12/16/09; PWC, 2009]

RHETORIC: The 284,500 people in Wyoming with employer sponsored health insurance and 34,500 people with individual health insurance now will have to pay more for that insurance because of the new mandates included in reform.


WSJ: On Premiums Going Up Or Down, “Overall, The Bills Would Mean That More Consumers Would Pay Less For Their Insurance.” The Wall Street Journal wrote: “Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) touched off a debate with President Barack Obama, saying that the Democrats’ bill wouldn’t actually lower most consumers’ insurance costs. The president replied that the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan scorekeeper on Capitol Hill, had found the Senate bill would lower insurance premiums by 14% to 20%. As to the criticism that it could send premiums up, he said, that’s only because certain consumers would be buying more-comprehensive coverage. ‘They didn’t say that the actual premiums would be going up,’ Obama told Alexander… The wrinkle in whether this would actually increase premiums is that consumers buying policies on their own with a new insurance exchange would be required to buy plans that, on average, are more generous than the ones they currently have. Because of that, they would pay higher premiums, the report found. So overall, the bills would mean that more consumers would pay less for their insurance.” [Wall Street Journal Washington Wire, 2/25/10]

NYT: “Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office Persuasively Contradicted” Insurance Industry Claim That Reform Legislation Would Drive Up Insurance Premiums; “Tens Of Millions Of Uninsured Americans Can Be Covered Without Driving Up Costs For Everyone Else.” The New York Times editorial board wrote: “The health insurance industry frightened Americans — and gave Republicans a shrill talking point — when it declared in October that proposed reform legislation would drive up insurance costs for virtually everyone by as much as thousands of dollars a year. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office persuasively contradicted that claim this week. Undaunted, the industry issued a rebuttal report, claiming again that premiums would soar. We find this second industry report no more persuasive than the first…And we have far more confidence in the C.B.O.’s expertise in evaluating a wide array of databases and in its objectivity. The chief message Americans should derive from the C.B.O.’s analysis is that tens of millions of uninsured Americans can be covered without driving up costs for everyone else.” [New York Times Editorial, 12/4/09]

Bloomberg News: 134 Million Americans Insured Through Large Employers Will See No Rise In Premiums And May Pay 3 Percent Less…Subsidies Also Will Lower Costs As Much As 59 Percent For 18 Million People Buying Their Own Insurance.” Bloomberg News reported on CBO estimates of the Senate health insurance reform bill’s impact on insurance premiums: “On average, 134 million Americans insured through large employers will see no rise in premiums and may pay 3 percent less than they would if Congress failed to pass a health-care overhaul plan, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said yesterday. Subsidies also will lower costs as much as 59 percent for 18 million people buying their own insurance.” [Bloomberg, 12/1/09]

RHETORIC: The nearly 72,000 Wyoming Medicare enrollees in Medicare will see decreased access to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes because of the $500 billion in Medicare cuts and the failure to address the physician payment issue.


AARP Endorsed Senate Health Care Legislation And Said It “Strengthens Medicare For Current And Future Generations.” “With your commitment to closing the doughnut hole in conference, consistent with the President’s pledge, and the many positive features referenced above, AARP is pleased to support your efforts to obtain cloture, and urges timely passage of this legislation by the Senate. We look forward to working with you in conference to finalize health care reform legislation that strengthens Medicare for current and future generations, and which ensures that all Americans can obtain affordable coverage—particularly those aged 50 to 64—who face the most difficulty securing coverage they can afford in the individual and small group markets.” [AARP letter to Sen. Harry Reid, 12/14/09] “We Never Have Said That Seniors Would Suffer ‘Massive Cuts To Medicare Benefits’ Under [Health Reform Legislation], And In Fact Have Done Our Best To Debunk [Those] Claims.” wrote: “We never have said that seniors would suffer ‘massive cuts to Medicare benefits’ under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect.” [, 11/3/09]

CMS Report: Senate Health Care Bill Extends The Life Of The Medicare Trust Fund By 9 Years. According to a recently released CMS report, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 9 years – significantly longer than any proposal in recent years. [CMS Report, 12/10/09]

RHETORIC: Health insurance premiums for individuals purchasing coverage in Wyoming are expected to go up approximately 60 percent.


NYT: CBO Said That The Senate Health Care Bill Could "Significantly Reduce Costs For Many People Who Buy Health Insurance On Their Own." “The Congressional Budget Office said Monday that the Senate health bill could significantly reduce costs for many people who buy health insurance on their own, and that it would not substantially change premiums for the vast numbers of Americans who receive coverage from large employers. ... In groups with 50 or fewer employees, it said, unsubsidized premiums in 2016 would average $7,800 a year for individuals and $19,200 for families — scarcely any different from the amounts expected under current law. Of the 25 million people receiving coverage from small businesses, it said, 3 million would qualify for subsidies, which would reduce their premiums by an average of 8 percent to 11 percent. Large employers would generally not be eligible for such assistance. Their premiums in 2016 under the bill would average $7,300 for individual coverage and $20,100 for family coverage, the report said. Under current law, the comparable figures would be $7,400 for individual coverage and $20,300 for family coverage." [New York Times, 12/1/09]

RHETORIC: Health insurance premiums for Wyoming’s small businesses are expected to go up 24 percent.


Study: “Over The Next 15 Years, American Businesses Would Collectively Spend $637 Billion Less On Their Share Of Health Insurance Premiums, And Their Workers Would Save A Collective $177 Billion.” A study by The Third Way Economic Program outlined 12 major ways health reform legislation would cut costs in the health care system: “Over the next 15 years, American businesses would collectively spend $637 billion less on their share of health insurance premiums, and their workers would save a collective $177 billion. For a typical business with 500 employees, the cost of coverage would be $2.5 million less than it would be otherwise over 15 years. In other words, these reforms will slow the annual growth rate of costs for job-based health care coverage over the next decade and a half from a projected increase of 5.8 percent to 5.0 percent per person. For American businesses, these savings will translate directly into higher wages for workers, more money to expand and invest, and a greater ability to succeed in a fiercely competitive global marketplace. For workers, these savings will lead to coverage that is more stable and more secure.” [Bending the Curve: 12 Ways Health Reform Will Tackle Runaway Costs, 1/12/10]

Time: The White House Health Care Plan Would Give Out $40 Billion In Tax Credits To Small Business To Help Them Offer Coverage. “The White House ‘plan’ contains many of the same elements included in the House and Senate bills already passed by Congressional Democrats, but makes adjustments and adds provisions that were on the table when House and Senate Democrats were merging their bills shortly before Scott Brown was elected in Massachusetts. … There is also a $40 billion infusion of tax credits available to small businesses to help them offer coverage beginning in 2010.” [Time Magazine, 2/22/10]

RHETORIC: Additionally, Wyoming small businesses employing 50 or more people will either pay even higher health care costs or a new tax because of new government mandates.


Business Roundtable: Without Reform, Health Care Costs Rise To $28,530 Per Employee, 166% Higher; With Reform, Businesses Could Save $3,000 Per Employee. A report from the Business Roundtable concluded that: “If the cost trends of the past 10 years repeat, by 2019, employment-based spending on health care at large employers will be 166% higher than today on a per-employee basis. This equates to an average of $28,530 per employee when employer subsidies, employee contributions, and employee out-of-pocket costs are combined. We estimate that if enacted properly, the right legislative reforms could potentially reduce that trend line by more than $3,000 per employee, to $25,435.” [Business Roundtable – Health Care Reform, 11/12/09]

RHETORIC: According to the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare Advantage enrollees will see their benefits reduced by half. In Wyoming there are approximately 4,600 people in enrolled in Medicare Advantage.


Health Insurance Reform Would Reduce The Difference In Costs Between Medicare And Medicare Advantage Through A Competitive Bidding System.“Federal subsidies to private Medicare plans average about 14 percent higher than those involved in fee-for-service coverage. The health care bills pending in Congress would reduce or eliminate the difference in part by introducing a competitive bidding system to pay the plans. ‘Health insurance reform will strengthen Medicare for seniors, not diminish it,’ said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin. ‘Even under the competitive bidding proposal in the legislation, Medicare Advantage plans will still be paid more than traditional Medicare plans. Yes, they'll need to compete, and they'll need to be more efficient, but they'll still have more money to work with than traditional Medicare.’” [AP, 9/22/09]

AARP Lead Lobbyist On Medicare Advantage Competitive Bidding: “We Think The Proposals Actually Will Improve Access And Quality,” Not Cut Benefits.The Boston Globe reported that, “[t]he $120 billion cut to Medicare Advantage is part of spending reductions in Medicare totaling $460 billion to $540 billion over 10 years that have been proposed by Democrats. The cuts would fall on the government reimbursement rates for a broad variety of providers such as hospitals and home health agencies, which could probably absorb them without affecting the services elderly Americans receive, many specialists said in interviews. Though some industry groups complain the spending reductions are too severe, adjustments could be made if problems arose because they would be phased in gradually. Most are aimed at making the programs more efficient. ‘We think the proposals actually will improve access and quality,’ John Rother, a leading lobbyist for the AARP, the large lobbying organization for senior citizens, said in an e-mail.” [Boston Globe, 9/24/09]

RHETORIC: About 24,600 people will be added to the Wyoming Medicaid program, which will cost the state approximately an additional $10 million in new costs in 2018. This will force the legislature to raise taxes, raise college tuitions, decrease the quality of education, or all three.


President’s Proposal Pays For 100% Of Medicaid Expansion For States Through 2017, Then 95% For 2018 And 2019, And 90% For 2020 And Beyond.“Relative to the Senate bill, the President’s Proposal replaces the variable State support in the Senate bill with uniform 100% Federal support for all States for newly eligible individuals from 2014 through 2017, 95% support for 2018 and 2019, and 90% for 2020 and subsequent years. This approach resembles that in the House bill, which provided full support for all States for the first two years, and then 91% support thereafter. The President’s Proposal also recognizes the early investment that some States have made in helping the uninsured by expanding Medicaid to adults with income below 100% of poverty by increasing those States’ matching rate on certain health care services by 8 percentage points beginning in 2014.” [White House, 2/22/10]

RHETORIC: The 7,795 Wyoming college students, not including community college students, will be overcharged an average $1,476 on their student loans to fund health care and other government programs.


Politifact: Claim That Student Will Pay More For Student Loans As A Result Of The Student Lending Reform Is “False.” “Republicans, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, aren't keen on the development. He says the government is effectively taking over the student loan process and that students will actually end up paying more for their loans as a result. ‘The average student will be spending $1,700 to $1,800 more during the life of their loan because of this surcharge,’ Graham said on the March 24, 2010, episode of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. ‘From the students' point of view, it's going to cost you $1,700 to $1,800 more to pay your student loan off, and all the money goes to the federal government.’ … So to say that students are somehow paying $1,700 or $1,800 more is wrong. Before Congress voted to eliminate subsidies for the Federal Family Education Loan, students paid 6.8 percent on their unsubsidized federal loans. Now that the bill is passed, students will still pay 6.8 percent interest on those loans. There is no ‘surcharge’ in the bill, as Graham says. We rate this claim False.” [Politifact, 3/30/10]

Student Lending Reform Cuts Fees Paid To Private Banks To Act As Intermediaries In Providing Loans To College Students And Uses Nearly $68 Billion In Savings To Expand Pell Grants For Students. “The new law will eliminate fees paid to private banks to act as intermediaries in providing loans to college students and use much of the nearly $68 billion in savings over 11 years to expand Pell Grants and make it easier for students to repay outstanding loans after graduating. The law also invests $2 billion in community colleges over the next four years to provide education and career training programs to workers eligible for Trade Adjustment aid.” [New York Times, 3/30/10]

Under The New Student Lending Reform Law And The Recovery Act, Pell Grants Have Now Doubled Under The Obama Administration. “The law will increase Pell Grant grants along with inflation in the next few years, which should raise the maximum grant to $5,975 from $5,550 by 2017, according to the White House, and it will also provide 820,000 more grants by 2020. Including money from last year’s stimulus program and regular budget increases, the White House said Mr. Obama has now doubled spending on Pell Grants.” [New York Times, 3/30/10]

College Students Borrowing Money Starting In 2014 Will Be Allowed To Cap Their Repayments At 10% Of Their Income Instead Of 15% - And If They Keep Up Their Payments, They Will Have Any Remaining Debt Forgiven After 20 Years Instead Of 25 Years Or After 10 Years If They Are In Public Service. “Students who borrow money starting in July 2014 will be allowed to cap their repayments at 10 percent of their income above basic living requirements, instead of 15 percent. Moreover, if they keep up their payments, they will have any remaining debt forgiven after 20 years instead of 25 years – or after 10 years if they are in public service, such as teaching, nursing or serving in the military.” [New York Times, 3/30/10]