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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Government-Run Health Care

Party Lines Red InsertThe Line: The Affordable Care Act puts the government between you and your doctor.

The Party: Republican

Those “government-run” health care claims were once so ubiquitous we called them a “mantra.” They’ve died down considerably, but we’re still seeing them in 2014 congressional races. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t create a government-run system, in which the government provides health insurance, or care, to residents. It does expand Medicaid, and also boosts business for private insurers, by about 12 million customers over the next decade, and leaves intact work-based insurance on which most Americans have long relied.

An ad from Florida House GOP candidate Curt Clawson says: “You and your doctor, it’s an important relationship. But Obamacare created a trillion-dollar mountain of government between patients and physicians.”


And in an ad about how Washington is broken, Oklahoma Senate candidate T.W. Shannon says future generations will inherit “a health care system run by bureaucrats, not doctors and patients.”


As we’ve said before, the law’s regulatory provisions are more like putting the government between you and your insurance company. The ACA says insurers can’t have caps on coverage, can’t deny customers based on preexisting conditions (or charge them more), and can’t spend more than 15 percent or 20 percent on non-medical-related costs. It also requires coverage of preventive care, such as cancer screenings, with no cost-sharing.

The law doesn’t create a single-payer system, in which the government insures everyone. In fact, while the law is expected to cut the number of uninsured Americans by 25 million, it still leaves 31 million uninsured.

Republicans also have repeatedly attacked the Independent Payment Advisory Board as a bureaucrat-filled rationing board. But the IPAB, which is created by the health care law, is charged with slowing the rate of growth of Medicare spending, and it’s limited in how it can go about doing that. The law says the board’s proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums … increase Medicare beneficiary cost sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.” The IPAB is made up of medical professionals, health care experts, economists and consumer representatives, not bureaucrats.

— Lori Robertson