It was as inevitable as it is that Minnesota corporate media will continue to do all that it can for him: the day after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld nearly all of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a miserable screed appeared in Rep. Chip Cravaack's (R-MN/NH) newsletter and website. The thing is titled "My Plan for Quality, Convenient, Patient-Centered and Affordable Health Care." With the exception of a few bland, innocuous sentences here and there, everything in it is wildly misleading at best. For example:
Make no mistake, President Obama's health care bill is one of the largest tax increases in U.S. history. Importantly, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has confirmed the widespread consensus that the law is far too flawed and must be repealed.
"'Strike one,' The umpire said."*
No, this is not a massive tax increase on the American people. It's a penalty paid by people who choose not to purchase insurance. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will hit about 4 million Americans, about 1 percent of the population. Now, it's refreshing that Republicans care about a different 1 percent for a change, but that still doesn't make this a tax hike.
And what's (way, way) more, most of the federal spending for the ACA is in tax credits for middle class people to help them afford insurance. Which is actually more like a tax cut.
The CBO doesn't decide what should happen to laws; it crunches numbers. The links included in that claim are in fact to pages from the website of Ways & Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI), who takes numbers from CBO reports, and elsewhere, that I'm not sure that he, Chippy, or any Republican in Congress really understands to start with, and reprints them completely out of, or without any, context.
More below the fold.
What's more, to pay for the health care law, nearly $530 million was robbed from seniors' Medicare.
Biiiig swing and a miss.
First of all, under the health care bill, Medicare spending continues to go up year after year. The health care bill tries to identify ways to save money, and so the $500 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as "the baseline") and the changes the law makes to reduce spending. (Look at slide 15 of this nifty tutorial on the law's impact on Medicare by the Kaiser Family Foundation to see a chart of the year by year savings.)
The savings actually are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries. These spending reductions presumably would be a good thing, since virtually everyone agrees that Medicare spending is out of control. In the House Republican budget, lawmakers repealed the Obama health care law but retained all but $10 billion of the nearly $500 billion in Medicare savings, suggesting the actual policies enacted to achieve these spending reductions were not that objectionable to GOP lawmakers.
(That whole article is worth looking at. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) received "Two Pinocchios" for making the same claim, during one of the GOP presidential debates.)
Additionally, we need to reform our legal system to advance common-sense liability protections and eliminate junk lawsuits that drive up the cost of everyone's care.
"CBO has repeatedly concluded that cost savings associated with medical malpractice reforms would be minimal and that evidence concerning defensive medicine is 'inconsistent,'" Rockefeller writes, noting that the budget office has previously determined that "the effect of medical malpractice reform "would be relativley small - less than 0.5 percent of total health care spending" and would "save [only] $5.6 billion over 10 years."
Not to mention that the corporate-friendly "reform" favored by the likes of Cravaack would remove any real opportunity of redress and compensation, for those that really are victimized.
That's just three examples. One could write an individual blog post, and find the supporting data and analysis for it quite easily, for practically every paragraph of the drivel from Cravaack's letter; it's all that easy to expose. This, though, takes down a lot more of it, all by itself, and I'm sure that anybody interested could find a lot more material to that effect on the same site.
Why do you suppose that Cravaack used the phrase "Patient-Centered" in the title? Did he carefully select it, after long, deep, profound contemplation?
What is PATIENT-CENTERED HEALTH CARE? It's not new, and it's not tied to any particular state/federal legislation. It's a tight phrase coined by Frank Luntz in his May 2009 memo, "The Language of Health Care." Luntz polled three potential frames for private insurance reform -- "patient-centered," "free market," and just plain "private." Patient-centered was the clear winner, with 61.8 percent affinity. So Luntz summed up the best Republican argument in one phrase: "Say no to a Washington takeover of healthcare and say yes to personalized patient-centered care." In three years, the argument has barely changed.
One interesting question, to my mind, is, why does Cravaack make claims that are so easily refuted? (That also goes for all of the other conservative politicians that presumably have similar swill on their websites.) Is his staff as incompetent as he is? More likely, he's just assumed that a majority of voters in MN-08 are as "dense" as he is; simple-minded people tend to do that. Here's to his being proved very wrong, in November.
*From 'Casey at the Bat,' l.32.