Editor’s note: A letter that appeared in last week’s issue listed certain line items in the Affordable Care Act. The line item criticisms began to be circulated around the internet in 2009 and refer to a version of the health care bill that was never passed by Congress. A few sites to visit: PolitiFact.com; Snopes.com or Factcheck.org or read through the bill yourself at www.gpo.gov.
This is in response to Mr. Marshall Miller’s letter of Oct. 24, which is shot through with inaccuracies, misleading statements, and just plain lies. Mr. Miller is a conservative blogger, and like so many conservatives who will do anything in their power to hamper Obamacare, instead of offering their own solution for a broken medical system, decide the next best tactic is to just throw statements out there, and hope some of them stick.
So, let’s summarize Mr. Miller’s claim and see what the bill really says.
Page 50: “All non-U.S. citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.
Obamacare bill, page 143, explicitly states, “Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”
Page 58: Every person will be issued a National Healthcare card. There is no mention of any “National Healthcare card anywhere in the bill, but, insurance companies typically issue such cards already for purposes of identification to a doctor, etc., and nobody is worried about that.
Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer. First of all, electronic payments are already commonly used for utility bills and mortgage payments and the bill does not say such payments are required, though it may be convenient for the customer to do so. Secondly, there is no mention of “individual bank accounts” nor of any government authority over them.
Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community health plans. Page 65 is the start of Section 164, Reinsurance Program for Retirees, that would set up a new federal plan to benefit all retirees and spouses covered by any employer plan, not the restriction Mr. Miller claims. And the “scary” aim is to cut premiums, co-pays and deductibles for retirees, not reduce the costs of the employer.
Page 203: The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as a tax. Yes, it really says that. Actually, this statement, taken out of a much larger context, only limits the ripple effect of new taxes that would be imposed on individuals making $350,000 a year.
Page 272: Cancer patients, welcome to the wonderful world of rationing. Actually, this page calls for adequate compensation to hospitals incurring higher costs than other hospitals, and to make adequate adjustments for those factors to compensate said hospitals.
Page 317: Doctors, you are now prohibited from owning and investing in healthcare companies. Actually, doctors are prohibited already, from referring patient to facilities they have an interest in. It’s called “conflict of interest.” But page 317 does provide an exception to rural providers, saying doctors can’t increase their stake in an exempt hospital after the bill becomes law.
Page 425: (paraphrasing Mr. Miller’s statements): Planning councils will advise on suicide and euthanasia? Government will instruct on wills, powers of attorney, and mandate estate taxes ahead of time. Government will provide approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you to death. (This last “fact” from page 427.) Moving on to page 429, and more claims: Advance care planning councils will dictate treatment. This can include an order for end-of-life plans. Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have a the end of your life.
I shouldn’t have to even bother to tell the public are demonstrably false. Common sense should tell you that, but check out the language in the bill itself if you doubt these pages do say that, in consultation with your doctor, not the government a patient can have input into such delicate areas as hospice care and living wills, decisions most patients would welcome to lessen suffering not only for themselves but their families.
Mr. Miller may deplore the “socialization” of medical care, but I don’t see anywhere in his letter any blasts against Medicare or Social Security. Not one word of criticism either of the insurance industry who brought regulation to this point because, like their criminal counterparts in the banking industry, they strayed far from their mission of helping the consumer, and enriched only themselves. Final note, Judge Kithil, from who Mr. Miller dredged up all these “facts,” has in fact repudiated these statements and urged readers to disregard his initial letter. Maybe Mr. Miller should do the same.
Rex Larkin — Franklin, N.C.