To the editor
Recently Congress passed a health care reform package, the Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, with my support. I decided that it was in the best interest of upstate New York to enact this reform in order to lower health care costs and create jobs. However, I hear regularly from constituents concerns I believe are based on misinformation that I feel are important to clear up:
CLAIM: Health care reform will burden an already overblown deficit.
FACT: The bill set to be signed by the president will reduce our deficit by $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years (Congressional Budget Office Report: 3/20/10).
CLAIM: HR 4872 shortchanges our family doctors and community hospitals.
FACT: HR 4872 will largely eliminate around $45 billion in uncompensated care alone, helping to sustain our hospitals. This legislation provides funding for the education of primary-care doctors and other providers, as well as funding for community health centers (sections 5301-5315, 5501-5509, 5601-5605).
CLAIM: Those who already have health insurance will lose it.
FACT: HR 4872 specifically provides that those who already have health insurance will be able to keep it (Section 1251). It also extends massive tax cuts to middle-class families and small businesses for up to half of their insurance costs.
CLAIM: Health care reform is equal to a big government takeover of one-sixth of our economy.
FACT: HR 4872 did not include a public option and allows a market-based mechanism and insurance exchanges to bring down the cost of health insurance by opening the market for private insurance companies to millions of new customers (Sections 1311-1313; 1321-1324).
CLAIM: HR 4872 cuts into Medicare and reduces coverage for our seniors.
FACT: The bill strengthens Medicare by cutting unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies and rolling these savings back into a program to provide better care and coverage for our seniors (Section 3201, 3202). It links payments to quality outcomes (Section 3001-3008) and shared savings programs (Section 3022) and sustains Medicare (Sections 3401-3403).
CLAIM: This bill creates 100,000 new federal jobs.
FACT: I have read both bills (more than 2,500 pages total), and nowhere do they provide for governmental expansion. In the past two decades, the total number of federal jobs has decreased by 10 percent. This legislation creates 32 million more customers for private insurance companies who offer competitive products.
CLAIM: HR 4872 will decrease health care coverage for our troops.
FACT: Nowhere in any version of any health care bill is TRICARE negatively impacted. In fact, a recent bill (HR 3887) that unanimously passed the house floor requires that TRICARE coverage meets the minimum standards established under the bill.