A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Taxing Businesses – and Consumers?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Campaign for Responsible Health Reform has released a new ad that says politicians in Congress "want new taxes on health care companies, taxes that will get passed on to you."
The TV ad, which began airing Sept. 18 in 13 states, refers to the new Senate Finance Committee bill (aka Sen. Max Baucus’ bill), which proposes a tax on the most expensive health care plans, the type that gave rise to the term "Cadillac plan"

Will Ferrell, Pygmy Horses and Health Insurance

MoveOn.org Political Action’s latest video is a satirical send-up of a public service announcement titled "Protect Insurance Companies." It features a collection of actors – including "Saturday Night Live" alum (and Dodge Stratus driver) Will Ferrell, "Mad Men"’s Jon Hamm and "The State"’s Thomas Lennon – who defend, among other things, the right of insurance CEOs to pursue an American dream that includes a "mini-zoo in your backyard for exotic animals like a white tiger and pygmy horses."

Dying from Lack of Insurance

A new study from researchers with the Harvard Medical School found that 45,000 deaths a year can be attributed to the lack of health insurance. Our readers ask: Really? And, they want to know, isn’t this finding actually from the single-payer advocacy group Physicians for a National Health Program?
We’ll answer the latter first: The study was conducted by six researchers who were all with the Department of Medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

Denial of Claims

Insurance companies aren’t very popular these days, and it’s certainly not too difficult to dig up a horror story or two of how a patient’s medical claim was denied unfairly. But do companies really "deny payment for 1 out of every 5 treatments doctors prescribe," as a new ad says?
Health Care for America NOW, a liberal group supporting health care overhaul efforts in Congress, makes the claim in a new ad campaign:

The ad, airing for two weeks on national cable,

Retraction: Health Insurance Market Concentration

Note: We are retracting one of our Sept. 10 criticisms of President Obama’s speech on health care. We said that he "overstated the degree of concentration in the insurance industry." We have continued to research the subject, and the following information turned up by our reporter D’Angelo Gore has led us to change our judgment. While the president may have overstated the findings of one study, we have now found others that show market concentration at least as severe as he described.

Sweet: Another Stretch by Obama

The Chicago Sun-Times’ columnist and Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet reports on an Obama exaggeration that we missed.
Sweet said Obama "went too far" when he said, in his health care speech to Congress and the nation Sept. 9:

Obama, Sept. 9: One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones that he didn’t even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it.

Immigrants and Insurance

Several readers have e-mailed us about a report from the Congressional Research Service that they say proves illegal immigrants will have coverage under the proposed House health care plan. In fact, that report says exactly what we concluded yesterday: The bill does not provide coverage for illegal immigrants, but there’s no enforcement mechanism explicitly specified. The newly created Health Choices Commissioner would be responsible for deciding how applicants for the affordability credits would need to prove their eligibility.

Obama’s Health Care Speech

President Obama’s prime-time address to Congress and the nation on health care prompted a Republican congressman to shout “you lie!” Did he? Here’s what we’ve found: Obama was correct when he said his plan wouldn’t insure illegal immigrants; the House bill expressly forbids giving subsidies to those who are …

Cantor’s Gender Problem

At a press stakeout on Capitol Hill today, House GOP Whip Eric Cantor sounded bullish about his party’s success in pouring cold water on the idea of a "government option," or a federal health insurance plan that would compete with private plans. That’s fine, but he made one statement that puzzled us:

Cantor, 9/9: I think intuitively that most Americans believe that more government in health care means more rationing and more forced discrimination on the basis of gender and age.

‘No Guarantee’ — With Plan, or Without

Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, whose ads we have faulted in the past, is airing a new spot that calls for dropping any federal insurance option from the health care overhaul bills.
"Despite what the president or Congress say," the narrator tells us, "their health care proposals do not guarantee you can keep your own doctor." And there’s no guarantee you won’t "wait longer for care," face "rationing," or "lose your insurance," either, she says.
Why not?