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Life Health > Health Insurance

The Triumph of Mendacity

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I will admit I’m not pleased with many of the results of our national elections. But the fact that the elections are over leaves me feeling almost cheerful.

That means I can start to recover from the gross overdose of political advertising that overwhelmed us all in the weeks leading up to the election.

The worst ads were not those that were directly sponsored by politicians, which were bad enough. The ones that really cheesed me off were those paid for by special-interest groups, including corporate lobbyists, masquerading as concerned citizens.

In the final days of the campaign, a commercial for a group that calls itself the “60 Plus Association” asserted that seniors would lose the right to use their doctors or to have access to treatments and essential medicine unless the recently enacted health care reform act were repealed. The group, which claims to represent senior citizens, is actually closely tied to the Republican Party and has at various times been heavily financed by groups backing aims of the pharmaceutical and energy industries.

Its recent commercials bleated customary right-wing alarmism about “a plan that could lead to a government takeover of health care” and warned that it would lead to cuts in Medicare.

Ironically, a few years back, 60-Plus was trying to scare seniors with false claims that Medicare changes that had recently been enacted would keep seniors from access to private care outside the government program.

This is a group that in recent years has tried to end the “death tax” (otherwise known as the inheritance tax, and a concern only for the wealthy). They have also prattled at length about the need to “save Social Security” (i.e., privatize it and invest some of its funds in the stock market).

Indulging in an excess of fabrication, the group also claims to be “non-partisan.”

Another group ran commercials during the campaigns that broadcast the lie that Americans could go to jail for not having health care insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

And even though the law does not provide funds for abortions, we still saw ads claiming it does.

Money spent to undermine the badly needed health care reforms (which I think were actually pitifully short of what was really needed) called it a threat to our freedom, if not our lives.

The truth is, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is going to mean much more business for the nation’s heath care insurers.

One group attacked a Congressman for sponsoring PPACA, claiming that it would “pull the plug” on ill seniors, and would cut $500 billion from Medicare. In reality, PPACA aims at saving that much by reducing spending growth–a completely different proposition from cutting planned spending.

Medicare officials report that the trust fund for hospital insurance would be substantially improved by the planned cuts in spending and new tax revenues, which they say would probably lengthen the financial viability of the Medicare trust fund by 12 years.

Another group’s ad claimed that thousands of IRS agents would be used to enforce the law, when the legislation makes no provision like that.

We also saw claims that the law allows tax dollars to be used to fund abortions, despite specific language in the law forbidding that.

Another big lie heard during the election campaigns was that the law would provide free health care for illegal immigrants, even though it does not provide any such coverage. In fact, it requires that insurance plans sold on the state-based health care exchanges be offered only to citizens and legal residents.

With opponents now gearing up to try to reverse health care reform, it is fitting to bear in mind the truth about just what that law does:

Insurers companies can no longer exclude children because of existing health conditions.

Insurers must cover children under 26 on their parents’ policies.

There will be no lifetime limits on benefits.

Insurers may not drop seriously ill customers for making nominal mistakes on applications.

It would cover a range of costly yet vital procedures such as immunizations, mammograms and colonoscopies, with no requirements for copayments.

Consumers who join a new plan would be able to keep their own doctors.

Plan members could appeal unfavorable insurance company reimbursement decisions to a third party.

32 million people not previously covered would have health care insurance.

The fact is that before health care reform, the financial and physical well being of many Americans was tremendously exposed. If they lose that and revert back to the way it was before PPACA, many Americans will have lost their peace of mind–and quite possibly their health.


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