A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Congress Exempt from Health Bill?

Q: Does the health care bill specifically exempt members of Congress and their staffs from its provisions?
A: No. This twisted claim is based on misrepresentations of the House and Senate bills, neither of which exempts lawmakers.

Health Care and the Founding Fathers

Expect January to be dominated by House-Senate wrangling over the final shape of the gargantuan bill to overhaul the nation’s health insurance system.
Some opponents of the measures, though, are readying themselves for another potential fight, this one in the courts. An Arkansas group called the Conservative Action Project says it believes the overhaul is unconstitutional, and it is preparing to sue to stop it from taking effect, according to several conservative blogs (we attempted to reach someone at the organization but were unsuccessful).

Health Insurance Co. Stocks at 52-Year High?

Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean doesn’t like the Senate health care bill, as he made clear during a Dec. 20 appearance on NBC’s "Meet the Press." Arguing that the package is a gift to the health insurance industry, Dean said the insurers’ stock prices tell the story:

Dean, Dec. 20: It is not a coincidence, David Gregory, that insurance company stocks, health insurance company stocks, hit a 52-year high on Friday.

Extras: Endorsements, Rockwell, Abortion

Our latest edition of Extras features doctors going to court to stop a conservative group’s ad, googly eyes and Catholic abortion attacks.
Says Who?
A television ad from the conservative Rethink Reform, a recently created advocacy arm of the Employment Policies Institute, uses doctors’ opposition to the Senate health care bill to attack the proposed plan.  "Many doctors fear new government plans to change our health care system," the ad says. "They understand that under the proposed rules,

Public Option Vs. Single Payer

Q: What is the difference between a "public option" and a single-payer plan?
A: Single-payer is a complete government-run health insurance system under which everyone is covered, e.g., Canada’s system. The "public option" is a single federal insurance plan that would compete with private insurance companies.

New Ad, Old Claims

Conservatives for Patients’ Rights is out with a new ad, airing on CNN and Fox News, that repeats a few of the group’s claims about a federal health insurance plan: that it could prevent people from keeping their doctor or their health insurance.

The narrator of the ad says that 14 senators’ votes "on the government-run public option plan could decide" whether you keep your doctor or your insurance plan. The "could" makes the claim squishy, but the implication is that the inclusion of a so-called public option in the health care bill will put the public’s ability to keep their current doctors in jeopardy.

Health Care and the Economy

Would the House-passed health care bill make a tough economy worse and wipe out more jobs, as claimed in a TV ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? Or would it help small business and encourage economic growth, as claimed in an ad sponsored by a big labor union …

Imprisoned for Not Having Health Care?

Q: Could somebody be imprisoned for not purchasing health insurance under the House health care bill?
A: Both House and Senate bills would levy a tax on persons who refuse to obtain coverage. Willfully evading that tax could result in jail time under the bill passed by the House – but not the bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

Clunker Claims and Cadillac Plans

The AFL-CIO is running a print ad this week arguing that "the House bill gets it right" on health care. The Senate bill? Not so much, says the labor federation.
Its beef is with the tax in the Senate Finance Committee bill on high-cost (a.k.a. "Cadillac") health care plans. Unions have come out against the tax, saying many of their middle-class members would be affected. The proposal calls for a 40 percent tax on the value of insurance benefits that exceed $21,000 a year for a family or $8,000 for an individual.

The “Government-Run” Mantra

The claim that the House bill would amount to "government-run health care" suffered a blow last week, when the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the so-called "public plan" in the revised bill wouldn’t offer much in the way of competition to private insurers. But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from repeating the claim.
For several months, we’ve been debunking assertions that Democratic health care bills call for a Canadian or British-type system in which everyone is insured,