It was a big day for health care on Capitol Hill yesterday. The leadership of the U.S. House officially unveiled its health care package and the Congressional Budget Office offered its preliminary score of the measure. To mark the occasion, Fox Chicago whipped up a quick ...
It was a big day for health care on Capitol Hill yesterday. The leadership of the U.S. House officially unveiled its health care package and the Congressional Budget Office offered its preliminary score of the measure. To mark the occasion, Fox Chicago whipped up a quick report on the developments. Unfortunately, it was a pretty partisan presentation. Watch it:
Let's start with the CBO's score of the bill, which FOX says "will cost $1 trillion over 10 years." According to the budget wonks in DC, the legislation’s coverage cost will be closer to $894 billion over that stretch. It is also projected to cut the deficit by more than $100 billion during that period and cover 96 percent of legal residents by 2019, providing comprehensive insurance to more people at a cost equal to the Senate bill. In other words, it meets all of the president's main criteria.
How does it achieve those goals? For starters, there is a considerably strong employer mandate. A Medicaid expansion, which would be extended to folks at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, is also larger than previously anticipated. That saves money because Medicaid pays providers less than private insurance and is therefore cheaper than offering subsidies to private insurance policies. And a $240 billion provision shielding doctors from cuts in Medicare in the next 10 years was stripped from the bill and will be dealt with at a later date.
One major concern with the House version was that it would not "bend the curve," meaning it would do a poor job of significantly curbing costs in the years following the CBO's initial 10-year budget window. Indeed, because of the Senate bill's reliance on taxing high-cost health insurance policies as opposed to a surtax on the wealthy, it would limit costs more sustainably in the long-term. But this version still reduces deficits. It is fiscally responsible.
Where is FOX's $1 trillion figure coming from? It's the cost of the bill if you include additional improvements in the health care system, including raising Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care and boosting prescription drug assistance for seniors. The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn explains why that distinction isn't important:
President Obama, of course, has said that the reform should cost around $900 billion. As such, there's bound to be a lot of complaining that the House went "over" Obama's threshold.
I'm not sure that's entirely true. It's perfectly reasonable to interpret Obama's $900 billion target--which he proposed in his September address to Congress-- as describing the cost of expanding coverage alone.
But, really, who cares? The issue here is whether the House produced a fiscally sound bill that puts health insurance within reach of most Americans while starting to reform the system. And, based on everything we're hearing, it does.
There's also some bizarre bullet points in FOX's introductory screenshot. The first is "End of Life Counseling," which anchor David Novarro describes as "the provision that led to talk of death panels over the summer." Of course, the only reason that entirely non-controversial provision is newsworthy at all is because critics of health care reform like GOP Rep. Judy Biggert deliberately lied about its intent. Without providing that relevant context, Fox is implicitly legitimizing the fraudulent claims about "death panels." Then there is the phrase "Medicare cuts." "It will bepaid for," Novarro says, "with $400 billion in cuts to privately-run policies in Medicare known as Medicare Advantage." Why is this problematic? Because Medicare and Medicare Advantage are not the same thing. The latter is a failure -- it costs 114 percent more than Medicare and Democrats are attempting to eliminate these inefficiencies. No seniors will experience major benefit cuts because of health care reform.
And we can't let this video go without mentioning FOX's "math" at the end of the clip. Did they calculate how many Americans will now receive subsidies to pay for costly private insurance? How many people with preexisting conditions will qualify for coverage? Nope. Instead, they found out -- literally -- how much the bill itself weighs, as if that has any relevance at all.