Truth Squad: Wall Street Journal Health Care Editorial Wrong on the Facts . . .

That was the headline on a memo prepared by the staff of the House Education and Labor Committee and released by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office yesterday evening. The amount of misinformation circulating out there about the House bill is growing—I’ll be writing another post about this soon.

Clearly, the conservatives are running scared. It’s not surprising when a Wall Street Journal editorial offers a unique interpretation of what is happening in Washington. The paper’s editorialists are known for their distinct perspective on American politics. But now, they are resorting to outright lies. Below, the text of the memo:

"The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial today [Tuesday, July 21] that advanced false and misleading information regarding the House’s health reform bill, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act  (H.R. 3200).

While most Americans are satisfied with their health insurance coverage now, most Americans are concerned that they will either lose their insurance or face staggering increases in premiums, co-pays or other costs. The America’s Affordable Health Choices Act is about giving all American families more choices of quality, affordable health care and the peace of mind that they will be covered with quality, affordable care no matter of their job or economic situation. 

Claim: Workers won’t be able to keep health coverage they like because Washington bureaucrats will change what employers can offer.

  •  In 2018, all employer-provided plans will have to meet the minimum standard benefit offered as part of the Exchange. These minimum benefits will be based on 70 percent of the typical health insurance plan offered by employers today.
  • More than 90 percent of all employer health insurance plans already
    meet or exceed these standards. Employers that do not meet these
    minimum standards will have until 2018 to meet the minimum standards.

Claim: Analysis by the Lewin Group analysis shows that 88 million of Americans will be thrown off of their employer plans.

  •  The Lewin Group (a wholly-owned subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare) analysis was requested by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and has been widely discredited for its flawed review of the House legislation.
  •   The House bill actually protects and increases employer-sponsored insurance. According to official CBO numbers,  2 million more people would be covered under employer-sponsored insurance than is projected to be the case today – 164 million compared to 162 under current law.

Claim: The House bill removes current law that prevents employee lawsuits over employer provided benefits.

  •  The legislation does not change current law regarding lawsuits.

Claim: High deductible plans and health savings accounts will be illegal under the House bill

  •  Nothing in the legislation prevents employers from offering health savings accounts. In fact, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, the average HSA today meets or exceeds the minimum benefits standards."

 
 

12 thoughts on “Truth Squad: Wall Street Journal Health Care Editorial Wrong on the Facts . . .

  1. Maggie-
    Yup- These kind of articles (WSJ you cite above) demonstrates desperation.
    Really apreciate your factfinding and truthtelling. If the WSJ had any kahunas they would either publish retractions or publish your piece above as a Letter-to-Ed
    Dr. Rick Lippin
    Southampton,Pa

  2. Sorry to interjet some fact but claim one proves itself.
    First off 90 means 10% doesn’t meet the guidelines and will have to change, point proven.
    Further the new law does require ERISA plans to get approval. A 50 life ERISA plan has neither the time nor financial resources to go to DC for apporval, employers will just dump their ERISA plans and give their money to a carrier, plus a little extra.
    If you understaood ERISA at all or its history you would know it is a valid argument.

  3. Respectfully, I don’t think that the conservatives are running scared. It is the Dems who are jumping overboard. Many of them in congress are spooked over the House tax proposals, Dem governors are speaking out that they won’t be able to afford to cover their citizens and the Blue Dogs are barking loudly. In fact, more Democrats are walking away from the president that Republicans or Independents. You point out that most Americans are satisfied with their health care, but a majority today do not approve of Obamacare, according to the most recent polling. I think lots of folks are ‘running scared’ and jumping ship, but they aren’t the conservatives.

  4. i find it inherently immoral to make money off of the sick and dying. A living wage is fine. PHARMACEUTICAL companies that can pay their CEOs millions of dollars a year are at the top of my list; insurance companies are on the same level. FOR-PROFIT HOSPITALS ARE NEXT. The miracle workers who are on the front lines of caring for the sick get trickle down economics..WE NEED CHANGE NOW……..

  5. I am amused. I think we’re living in a Through the Looking Glass world.
    I remember when the Lewin Group was made up of highly respected health cost analysts. I often cite their pre-UnitedHealth Care reports on the cost-effectiveness of single payer. Now they are being accused of math errors.
    The CBO has always enjoyed great credibility, but now Obama supporters claim its calculations are off. Unwilling or unable to “score” hypotheticals and the shifting shape of comparative effectiveness, the CBO is scolded.
    The President keeps mentioning AARP as if he doesn’t know they make mega bucks by selling UnitedHealth insurance and Medicare Advantage plans.
    He also boasts that his hybrid plan has the support of the AMA, yet the AMA does not represent a majority of US doctors, and its members are mostly high-income specialists.
    And the Blue Dogs, claiming to be fiscal conservatives, ignore the potential savings we would have under HR 676, the Conyers single payer bill. They are so keen to cut the deficit that they have chosen to lie down with the do-nothings and the party of “No.” And Mitch beams like the Cheshire cat.
    The big mistake the Administration made at the outset was the decision to build on the existing employer-based system. Employer and employee alike are eager to get out from under the burden of private insurance premiums.
    And the Chamber of Commerce spouts concern for small business owners for whom it doesn’t give a fig. The best solution for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and artists is single payer.
    The President says he wants to keep the public plan affordable, but he will have to fight AHIP’s Red Queen tooth ‘n’ nail to do that. As things look now, I doubt he’ll be successful.
    The taxpayers are being asked to play sheriff to keep the insurers honest? Does Congress actually intend to give taxpayer dollars (by way of subsidies) to an entity that cannot be counted on to be honest?
    The President also seems to believe that Big Pharma will actually contribute profits to fill up the rabbit –er, donut–hole. Don’t bet on it!
    It’s all too sadly silly. Lewis Carroll couldn’t make this stuff up.
    ’twas brillig and the slithy toves. . .”

  6. To Dr. Lippin,
    I must assume that your plaudits for ‘factfinding and truthtelling’ indicate your political views. While facts and truth are absolute, often different groups claim that their facts and truths are the correct ones. While all sides are flawed, I believe it is folly to claim that Obama and his political and legislative supporters have been truthful.

  7. Dr. Rick, shadowfax, Michael, Sally, Hariette,
    Nate, Michael K.– second comment.
    Dr.Rick–
    Thanks for your comment. I’m hoping that someone will write a letter to the WSJ–and that the Journal will publish it.
    Shadowfax– Good to hear from you. Yes, IBD has been banging the drum for the right wing. . .
    Nate–
    It is hardly a bad thing that the bottom 10% of employer-based insurance will have to improve– and they will have NINE YEARS to figure it out.
    Michael–
    You are right. Democrats also are jumping ship.
    I think that the conservative fear-mongering is getting to many people.
    People fear that if we cover everyone, those who now have employer-sponsored insurance will lose something. And they also fear higher taxes.
    Sally– I agree with you. I find profit-driven medicine so disturbing. We are the only nation in the developed world that has chosen to turn healthcare into a largely unregulated, for-profit enterprise.
    Harriette–
    Love your “Looking Glass” metaphors (love Carroll).
    But I don’t quite understand why you continue to look back and focus on what clearly isn’t going to happen (single-payer) when you could be using your mind to promote what still could happen– universal coverage that gives people a choice between a public plan (“Medicare for All”) and private sector insurance.
    Have you read the House bill? I think you would ike it. It requires very comprehensive care for eveyrone (including dental and vison care for kids– something that very few private insurers now cover. The bill puts a cap on private insurers’ profits (by stipulaing that they must pay out a certain percentageof premiums in reimbursements to patients, dotors and hospitals). It also raises payment to primary care docs, geriatricans and pediatricans by 5% to 10%; calls for bonuses on top of that for docs who improvve quality. In addition, the bill creates a brand new “loan-forgiveness” program for students who decide to enter primary care.
    The bill is long- – 1,018 pages. I have to think that many reporters just haven’t had time to read it. But the descriptions of the bill in the mainstream press–and even in the blogosphere– are misleading.
    I have read the House bill. It is good –very good. It’s not perfect. Even I could suggest ways to improve it.
    Better yet, Obama, Orszag and Dr. Zeke Emanuel (Orszag’s healthcare advisor ) could suggest ways to imrpove it
    But the House Bill is defonitely going in the right direction. If implemented, it could save a great deal of money, while lifting the quality of care.
    Michael K.–
    Asserting that Obama and his administration have not been truthful–without providing evidence– is, I’m afraid, merely a “political smear.”

  8. Dr. Rick, shadowfax, Michael, Sally, Hariette,
    Nate, Michael K.– second comment.
    Dr.Rick–
    Thanks for your comment. I’m hoping that someone will write a letter to the WSJ–and that the Journal will publish it.
    Shadowfax– Good to hear from you. Yes, IBD has been banging the drum for the right wing. . .
    Nate–
    It is hardly a bad thing that the bottom 10% of employer-based insurance will have to improve– and they will have NINE YEARS to figure it out.
    Michael–
    You are right. Democrats also are jumping ship.
    I think that the conservative fear-mongering is getting to many people.
    People fear that if we cover everyone, those who now have employer-sponsored insurance will lose something. And they also fear higher taxes.
    Sally– I agree with you. I find profit-driven medicine so disturbing. We are the only nation in the developed world that has chosen to turn healthcare into a largely unregulated, for-profit enterprise.
    Harriette–
    Love your “Looking Glass” metaphors (love Carroll).
    But I don’t quite understand why you continue to look back and focus on what clearly isn’t going to happen (single-payer) when you could be using your mind to promote what still could happen– universal coverage that gives people a choice between a public plan (“Medicare for All”) and private sector insurance.
    Have you read the House bill? I think you would ike it. It requires very comprehensive care for eveyrone (including dental and vison care for kids– something that very few private insurers now cover. The bill puts a cap on private insurers’ profits (by stipulaing that they must pay out a certain percentageof premiums in reimbursements to patients, dotors and hospitals). It also raises payment to primary care docs, geriatricans and pediatricans by 5% to 10%; calls for bonuses on top of that for docs who improvve quality. In addition, the bill creates a brand new “loan-forgiveness” program for students who decide to enter primary care.
    The bill is long- – 1,018 pages. I have to think that many reporters just haven’t had time to read it. But the descriptions of the bill in the mainstream press–and even in the blogosphere– are misleading.
    I have read the House bill. It is good –very good. It’s not perfect. Even I could suggest ways to improve it.
    Better yet, Obama, Orszag and Dr. Zeke Emanuel (Orszag’s healthcare advisor ) could suggest ways to imrpove it
    But the House Bill is defonitely going in the right direction. If implemented, it could save a great deal of money, while lifting the quality of care.
    Michael K.–
    Asserting that Obama and his administration have not been truthful–without providing evidence– is, I’m afraid, merely a “political smear.”

  9. As a British citizen who has spent 20 years living in Florida I make the following comments:
    1. The rich ALREADY pay for the health care of the poor and uninsured.
    Many debts are written off by hospitals as uncollectible. But they have still provided the services.
    Their solution is to spread their losses over the PAYING patients.
    Whether you self-pay or your insurance company pays, your costs are almost doubled because of this.
    2. While the British national health service is famous for delays, the British PRIVATE health system is world-class. And about 1/3 the cost of private care in the USA. Partly because of 1 above. The private hospitals will not accept for treatment anyone who cannot pay for it. These people go National Health instead.
    Another factor is the outrageous insurance premiums paid by USA doctors.
    3. Outrageous drug costs in the USA.
    Nexium for example is $300 for a one month supply at CVS and $300 for a THREE month supply in the Cayman Islands or UK.
    Likewise Lamisil for toe nail fungus. (hardly life-threatening. 3 month supply at CVS $950. 3 month supply in UK pharmacist $300.
    Not generics, the same stuff.
    Get rid of the powerful lobbying groups and demand fair pricing for US patients.

  10. Let’s incorporate defined circuit breakers in the bill that describe expected outcomes and remedies should they fail. Then we would see very specifically what we hope to accomplish in a segmented way.
    A phasing should also be described, showing dependencies between the described phases.
    This would force all parties to deal in facts and allow the process to live beyond an administration and be evolutionary.

  11. What ever happened to trust busting. Big corporations and alliances can only be controlled by incorruptible(unheard of)bigger government. If we have smaller competing entities we get lower prices, more innovation and less need for government in the process.

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