FACT CHECK: Health Care Reform Debate

Both sides in the health care debate are fighting hard to get their message out and win public support. To that end, they've launched an advertising blitz and so far, supporters of reform are outspending opponents 2-to-1.

"If all you knew is what you see on TV, you would not have a clue of what's going on," said Brooks Jackson, director of FactCheck.org.

An examination of some of the ads would make one think we were in the middle of a presidential campaign.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today launched a multimillion-dollar campaign in 21 states criticizing the House of Representatives' health care reform bill. The ad says there will be "big tax increases, even on health benefits."

President ObamaPlay

The House bill would raise taxes, though only on households earning more than $350,000 annually.

But the ad's claim that health benefits would be taxed? Not so fast. In the Senate there's an idea to tax only the most generous benefits, but that's not in any legislation yet.

Another ad from a conservative seniors advocacy group, the 60 Plus Association, plays on the fears of seniors by claiming that the Democrats' health care reform plans will mean cuts to Medicare.

VIDEO: Obama: Health Care Critics Creating Boogeymen That Arent RealPlay

"For seniors it will mean long waits for care, cuts to MRIs, CAT scans and other vital tests," the ad says.

The House bill does include cuts to Medicare spending, which is where this critique comes from, but the cuts are in payments to service providers. That will not necessarily lead to cuts in Medicare benefits for seniors.

"Any time somebody talks about finding savings in Medicare costs or holding down the very rapid growth costs, they get accused of cutting benefits," Jackson said. "But it's really misleading. You can't really show that there are going to be cuts in benefits."

Some ads are scary, but completely inaccurate. Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a Republican-funded group, recently ran ads featuring a woman who said she "survived a brain tumor but if I'd relied on my government for health care, I'd be dead."

The woman featured in the ad, Canadian Shona Holmes, claimed her country's single-payer health care system, which covers all Canadian citizens, made her wait six months to be treated.

Holmes traveled to the United States to get treatment, but she never had a life-threatening brain tumor.

Health Care Reform Plan Backers Hit the Airwaves

Backers of the reform plans are also hard at work on ads. A small business coalition and a teachers union started running an ad today that says, in part, "There's a bill in Congress that will lower health care costs for families and businesses. That's what we need. Now."

But the facts aren't clear on those claims.

Lower health care costs for families is certainly one of the goals of reform. Proponents of the bill say creating a public plan to compete with private insurance will reduce premiums for all, but it's unclear if that will actually happen.

And as for lower costs for businesses, that depends on their payroll. In the House bill, if it's more than $250,000, the company has to help employees pay for health insurance.

"If you mandate businesses to buy insurance for employees that don't have it now, that's a big expense," says Jackson.

Many of the ads supporting the current Democratic plans make sweeping promises, such as one ad being aired by the Democratic National Committee.

"President Obama's plan will end unfair insurance practices," the ads says. "Like denying coverage for a pre-existing condition, outrageous out-of-pocket expenses and dropping coverage when you get too sick."

The house bill does prohibit pre-existing condition exclusion in health plans, which says an insurance plan can't deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition or drop coverage if you get sick. But they have five years to comply with those new rules.

The house bill does limit out-of-pocket expenses for a family to $10,000 a year.

'Harry and Louise' Are Back, Backing Health Care Reform

And then there's that famous couple, Harry and Louise, who played such a big role in scuttling the Clinton administration's health care reform efforts.

In 1993 and 1994 the fictional suburban couple was featured in a series of national television spots sponsored by the health insurance industry.

This time around, their ad, produced by the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, a trade group representing drug makers, and Families USA, a nonprofit group advocating affordable medical care, supports a government overhaul of the medical system.

The new Harry and Louise ad says, in part, "a little more cooperation, a little less politics and we can get the job done this time."

That is almost undeniably true. If Congress could cooperate, eliminate the politics, they could pass health care reform for this country. But whether that will actually happen -- we can't fact check that.