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July 22, 2014, 1:19 am

Beware of lies in health care debate

The U.S. Supreme Court may have upheld the health care law championed by President Barack Obama last week but that doesn’t stop the lies, myths and distortions about it.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate for Virginia George Allen groundlessly called the health care reform law “a government takeover of health care.”

Other Republicans have repeated similar false claims.

While the Affordable Care Act expands government regulation of health care it is not true that the law creates a “government takeover” of health care.

PolitiFact, a fact-checking website of the Tampa Bay Times points out that “the law continues to rely on the private sector to provide health insurance for consumers. In fact, its coverage mandate will expand the number of people who buy private insurance policies. The act sets up exchanges where private companies will compete to insure people who don’t have policies.”

PolitiFact notes the law does not create a single-payer system, like in Canada, where medical payments are funded by a single insurance pool controlled by the government or a public option allowing the government to compete for business with private insurers.

Employer-based coverage will continue under Obama’s health care law.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has stepped up his misleading rhetoric about the law since the Supreme Court ruling.

“Obamacare raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion,” said Romney.

The fact is “the tax increases fall heavily on upper-income people, health insurance companies, drug makers and medical device manufacturers,” according to a fact checking analysis by the Associated Press.

“Individuals making over $200,000 and couples making over $250,000 will pay 0.9 percent more in Medicare payroll tax and a 3.8 percent tax on investments. As well, a tax starts in 2018 on high-value-insurance plans,” reports AP/

People who fail to obtain health insurance as required by the law will face a tax penalty but that number is expected to be small.

Romney also calls the law a “job-killer” but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the law would have a “small” impact on jobs, mainly affecting the amount of labor workers choose to supply,” said FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. “Those getting subsidies, for instance, might work less hours since they’re paying less for health care.”

The president makes a promise that’s impossible to guarantee when he says: “If you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance. This law will only make it more secure and more affordable,” according to FactCheck.

“While the law does build on the U.S. system of primarily-work based coverage, the nonpartisan CBO has consistently said there will be some movement among those who currently have coverage.

The CBO has estimated that at least a few million Americans with employer-based insurance will in fact not be able to keep their current plans, and there’s nothing in the law that would prohibit employers from switching health care plans, just as they could have before the law was passed,” reports FactCheck.org.

It is estimated that some employers will find it more cost effective to pay a penalty under the law and not provide insurance coverage.

The health care reform law is not perfect. An estimated 26 million will remain without coverage including those who can’t afford it even with the subsidies.

But the law is not a “government takeover” or “job-killer” or a huge tax increase for the average American.

The fact is the health care reform law while not perfect has many benefits.

It is expected to bring coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans; young adults can stay on their parents insurance up to age 27; insurers can’t deny coverage to people with pre-existing medical problems.

When politicians and pundits debate merits of the law they should do so with the facts and not with exaggerations, lies or distortions.