Fact Checking President Obama's State of the Union Address


"What I'm not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I'm not willing to tell James Howard, a brain cancer patient from Texas, that his treatment might not be covered. I'm not willing to tell Jim Houser, a small business man from Oregon, that he has to go back to paying $5,000 more to cover his employees."

While it's true that the Affordable Care Act bars insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, the provision for adults does not take effect until 2014. In 2010, a temporary program was created that would provide health coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions who had been uninsured for six months at the least. Also starting last year, insurance companies were prohibited from denying children with pre-existing conditions health insurance.

The new health care law provides some tax credits for small businesses, but they vary depending on the size of the company. Small businesses with 25 employees or less whose average annual salary is less than $50,000 are eligible for tax credits of up to 35 percent of employer cost between 2010 and 2013, and up to 50 percent after 2014, if the employer purchases insurance through the exchange. That still leaves out a majority of businesses that are defined as small by the Small Business Administration.

Medicare and Medicaid:

"This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. The health insurance law we passed last year will slow these rising costs, which is part of the reason that nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit."

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, implementing the changes in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program mandated under the Affordable Care Act would actually cost the administration $5 billion to $10 billion over the next decade. CBO did, however, estimate that Medicare spending would increase significantly more slowly during the next two decades compared with the past two decades.

But a report by economic experts at the Department of Health and Human Services in April found that Medicare cuts in the law may be unrealistic and unsustainable, and may not control costs that the president hoped for. The report by Medicare's Office of the Actuary projected that Medicare cuts could drive about 15 percent of hospitals and other institutional providers into the red, "possibly jeopardizing access" to care for seniors.

It's true that the CBO found that repealing the health care law would negatively affect the deficit. CBO estimates that undoing the bill would add to the federal deficit by $230 billion over the next decade and leave 32 million more Americans uninsured. Republicans have dismissed those numbers, saying that estimate is based on figures in the health care law, which are not quite accurate.

The Deficit:

"We are living with a legacy of deficit spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people's pockets."

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...