As the debate about the health overhaul bill goes on (and on and on) you might find that sometimes what one Senator says seems to be the exact opposite of the next. If you're like us, you've probably found yourself yelling "Is that so?" at C-SPAN a little too often lately. Instead of waiting for the television to respond, we took the question to NPR health policy correspondent — and our own in-house truth squad — Julie Rovner.
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Sen. Dodd is one of many senators we fact-checked.
Many of the questions stirring up trouble have to do with money. Rovner pulled together some of the more prickly claims to vet on Friday's Morning Edition. Here's a preview:
A major debate surrounding the health care bill has to do with how it will benefit consumers, or not. Sen. Christopher Dodd said, "On the day this bill is enacted, health insurance becomes a buyer's market, not a seller's market. And that's as American as apple pie." But is that so?
Well, it may be so eventually, but definitely not on the day the bill is enacted. One of the things about both the House and Senate bills that may come as a rude surprise to many people is that most of the big changes won't take effect for several years.
Things like the new health insurance marketplaces called exchanges, bans on pre-existing conditions, and subsidies to help people buy insurance won't kick in until 2013 in the House bill and not until 2014 in the Senate bill.
Republicans say that's on purpose to make the bill look less costly. The Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, the folks who officially estimate the cost of bills, only looks at the first ten years of a law's life. But frankly, it takes a while to get new programs of that magnitude up and running.
On that note, Sen. Charles Grassley said the bill appears to be revenue neutral. He says that's because CBO counts only the first ten years — that's 10 years of tax collection and only six years of benefits. He says in the later years, the bill would eventually cause a deficit. Is that so?
Well, according to the Congressional Budget Office, no. The Senator is right that the first ten years do include ten years of tax collections and only six years of expenditures. But according to the CBO, in the second decade, the effect would likely be "small reductions in federal budget deficits if all the provisions continued to be fully implemented." So no, Sen. Grassley, that's not really so.