A Look At Health Reform Statements From First Debate

From the beginning, there has been considerable confusion surrounding the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). That’s understandable. It is an incredibly detailed and complex law. So complex that politicians have been known to misstate key facts about the law.

President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney talk during the first debate (Associated Press photo).

Such was the case during last week’s first presidential debate. President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney sparred often over the health care law that was upheld by the Supreme Court this summer and has become a political lightning rod (read a transcript of the debate here).

Fact checkers have found fault with several health reform-related debate statements made by both candidates. Here is the first installment of a two-part series fact checking the first debate:

  • Romney said during the debate that “up to” 20 million Americans might lose health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, citing a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study. The study indicated that 20 million could lose employer-sponsored insurance in a worst-case scenario, but the CBO put the likely number at between 3 million and 5 million, according to FierceHealthcare.com and FactCheck.org. Some of those who may lose employer-sponsored coverage may also qualify for federal subsidies to purchase insurance on the new state insurance exchanges that will begin operating in 2014.
  • Obama said that if Romney repeals the health care law as he has promised to do if elected, insurers would no longer be required to provide coverage to those with pre-existing medical conditions. Romney replied during the debate that “pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” But according to The New York Times and Politico, Romney’s plan would only guarantee insurance for people with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage (those who move from job to job were already covered). Obama said during the debate that Romney’s plan copies what was already law before the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing condition clause goes into effect in 2014. A 1996 federal law limits insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions who failed to purchase an individual policy within two months of losing group insurance coverage, according to The New York Times.

The debate over the controversial health care law is expected to continue, as will the need for fact checkers. Stay tuned for more updates. For more info on the Affordable Care Act, visit BCBSND.com/healthreform.

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