Myth: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a “government takeover” of healthcare.
Reality: False. The model on which the ACA is based was developed by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation and was specifically designed as a private market based alternative to a government run, single payer system like we see in Canada and parts of Europe. The Heritage Foundation called their proposal a “social contract” where the government makes private insurance more affordable through subsidies and, as a consequence, those individuals who could then afford private insurance would be mandated, by law, to purchase it. Massachusetts under Governor Mitt Romney was the first state to implement the Heritage Foundation plan with significant success.
Myth: Congress is exempting itself from having to buy the same health insurance as the rest of us.
Reality: False. The Affordable Care Act mandates all members of Congress and their staff select their insurance coverage from the policy choices being made available to the general public on their state’s health insurance marketplace. To put this myth to bed once and for all, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued the statement, “There are not now, have never been, nor will there ever be any discussions about exempting members of Congress or Congressional staff from Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to any employees of any public or private employer offering health care.”
Myth: The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed the ACA is a “jobs killer” that will eliminate 675,000 American jobs.
Reality: False. The CBO did not state the ACA will eliminate 675,000 jobs. Rather, the CBO predicted that approximately 675,000 Americans who would like to retire early but can’t out of fear of losing employer-based health benefits will voluntarily retire once that they can access affordable, subsidized healthcare through their state healthcare exchange. These retirees will normally be replaced within their places of employment and therefore will actually be creating new job opportunities for others. The CBO did predict that there would be some loss of lower paying jobs as a result of the ACA but those losses would be offset by new, higher paying positions within the healthcare professions.
Myth: The Affordable Care Act is the largest middle-class tax increase in American history.
Reality: False. The ACA is neither a tax increase on the “middle-class” nor is it the largest tax increase in history. The ACA is financed by a combination of new fees or fines to insurance companies and large employers, reductions in payments to some providers and new taxes and fees targeted at wealthier Americans. The law sets a threshold of $200,000 in personal income or $250,000 in combined martial income on virtually all taxes impacting people. While the ACA certainly included a tax increase, projected as a percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the increase is actually smaller than the tax increases of George H.W Bush in 1990 or Ronald Reagan in 1982.
Myth: The Affordable Care Act is exploding the national debt.
Reality: False. Despite repeated efforts by opponents to misstate or misrepresent Congressional Budget Office figures, the CBO has reaffirmed the ACA is fully paid for. In fact, the CBO estimates that it would actually add $210 billion to the national debt by 2021 if the law were repealed.
Myth: The Affordable Care Act “robs” $617 billion out of Medicare at the expense of our seniors.
Reality: False. The ACA does not take any money out of Medicare. The ACA reduces future payments to private insurance companies and hospitals so that new benefits to seniors could be added and so the life of the Medicare Trust Fund can be extended perhaps up to 8 years. New benefits to seniors added to the Medicare program include a free annual Wellness Visit, free preventative tests and services and an eventual elimination of the Medicare Part D prescription drug “donut hole.” Hospitals voluntarily agreed to the cost reductions knowing their overall revenues would increase with more Americans having access to insurance overall under the ACA.
Myth: A new Medicare “death panel” will be established to ration care and decide who lives or dies.
Reality: False. If Medicare costs go beyond allowable limits a panel will be established to look for new ways to capture savings by creating efficiencies amongst providers and/or adjusting provider reimbursement rates. However, the panel is statutorily prohibited from rationing care. Also, if Congress did not agree with the panel’s recommendations, Congress can simply adopt an alternative plan.
Myth: The Affordable Care Act will devastate small business.
Reality: False. The ACA has no requirement that small businesses (defined as businesses having a Full Time Equivalent of 50 employees or less) provide insurance for their employees. The law rewards small businesses that do provide insurance to their employees with subsidies to encourage them to continue providing coverage. It also seeks to incentivize those small businesses that do not provide coverage to reconsider. Maximum subsidizes to small businesses are currently set at 35%, but that rate jumps to 50% in 2014.
Myth: If you sell a typical middle-class home you will get socked with a new real estate transaction sales tax established under the Affordable Care Act.
Reality: False. While there is a new real estate sales tax created under the Affordable Care Act, it does not impact middle-class homeowners. Homeowners are only impacted IF they have an individual income of over $200,000 or a combined marital income of over $250,000 AND the profit from the sale of their home exceeds $500,000.
Myth: Health reform will force you to disclose personal health information to the IRS.
Reality: False. Taxpayers will get a form at the end of every year from their insurance company to file when they prepare their tax returns. The information that insurers provide to the IRS will simply confirm insurance coverage, and will not include any personal health information.
Myth: The IRS will seize your property if you don’t have health insurance.
Reality: False. While you can be potentially fined if you don’t purchase health insurance, the IRS cannot place a lien on your business or home. The law specifically states on page 151 that the government cannot “file notice of lien with respect to any property of a taxpayer by reason of any failure to pay the penalty imposed by this section, or … levy on any such property with respect to such failure.’’
Myth: The Obama administration has allowed unions and their other corporate buddies to opt out of the new health care law.
Reality: False. The government has granted over 200 waivers, but these are only temporary delays to provide large employers like McDonalds and Ruby Tuesday time to upgrade their existing plans to come into compliance with the new law by January 1, 2014. Far from being Obama’s buddies, most companies receiving temporary waivers are within the restaurant industry, which strenuously opposed the healthcare law.
Myth: The Affordable Care Act requires suicide counseling.
Reality: False. The Affordable Care Act provides for voluntary Medicare-funded end-of-life counseling. In other words, patients with terminal conditions may choose to add end-of-life counseling to their overall treatment plan. Medicare will pay for them to sit down with their doctor and discuss their preferences.
Myth: The Affordable Care Act extends benefits to illegal aliens.
Reality: False. Undocumented aliens are not eligible for benefits. Section 246 of the Affordable Care Act, entitled NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS, reads “nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”
Myth: The IRS will have to hire another 16,500 new agents to enforce the Affordable Care Act.
Reality: False. Factcheck.org investigated this claim and concluded, “the claim of 16,500 new agents stems from a partisan analysis based on guesswork and false assumptions, and compounded by outright misrepresentation.” The new law only requires that taxpayers attach to their tax returns a single coverage confirmation form that will be sent to taxpayers each year by their insurer. The increased workload for IRS agents is therefore minimal.