Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

September 30, 2013

Fact check: Slippery claims on health law, budget

(Continued)

THE FACTS: McCarthy is correct, Obama said exactly that. It was an empty promise, made repeatedly. Sebelius picks her words more carefully but still offers misleading assurances.

Nothing in the health care law guarantees that people can keep the health insurance they already have. Costs can rise, benefits can change and employers can drop coverage.

Insurance policies that are offered must now meet minimum standards, covering more preventive services, for example, and larger employers that don’t offer insurance to workers will face penalties when that provision of the law, delayed by Obama, comes into effect. But that doesn’t mean the status quo goes on for those who like what they’ve got now.

Some larger companies are already curtailing their coverage to avoid taxes that start in 2018 on high-value plans, those worth $10,200 or more for individual coverage and $27,500 for family policies. The AFL-CIO, whose member unions had supported the law, now says it is being implemented in a way that is “highly disruptive” to some union health plans, driving up costs for these plans to a point that workers and companies must abandon them.

Continuing a long-term trend, many companies are shifting more costs to employees through higher premiums, deductibles and copayments.

OBAMA: “Our deficits are now coming down so quickly that by the end of this year, we will have cut them in more than half since I took office.” — Sept. 20 speech at Ford plant near Kansas City, Mo.

THE FACTS: Yes, but.

When Obama took office in January 2009, the deficit he inherited was $1.4 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated it will be $642 billion for the budget year ending Monday, down by roughly half since Obama became president.

An estimated $78 billion of that deficit reduction comes from automatic across-the-board spending cuts, called sequestration, that began taking effect in March — over Obama’s protests. As well, tax increases early this year have brought in more revenue. The economic recovery also has resulted in higher tax payments.

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