The Misleading Language of Healthcare Reform


It’s hard to understand anyone when you don’t speak their language. In politics there is a language of its own that will leave you confused unless you understand what people, and the media, are saying. Here are some examples of language used in the healthcare debate that may have you confused:

When is a “cut” not a cut?

When critics, or even the media, are talking about the GOP Medicaid reform legislation that doesn’t “cut” spending. It merely slows the rate of growth of spending from a current twice inflation to a new growth rate of medical inflation (higher than overall inflation) until 2025. Thereafter it will continue to grow at the rate of overall inflation. In Washington, anytime Congress reduces the growth of spending it is referred to derisively, and inaccurately, as a “cut.”

When does voluntarily dropping your health insurance mean the government forced you to “lose” your coverage? When critics are talking about the CBO scoring of the GOP healthcare legislation that gives people a choice about buying insurance. The CBO believes that merely dropping the Individual Mandate that forces people to purchase insurance will result in 15 – 18 million Americans voluntarily choosing to drop their insurance that they don’t believe they need nor want to pay for. The CBO actually just predicts fewer people will have coverage, but critics mislabel this as “lost coverage.”

When does stimulating the economy to create more jobs for everyone mean a “tax cut for the rich?” When critics are talking about the GOP elimination of ObamaCare taxes on investment. ObamaCare raised taxes on everyone, but especially on higher income Americans with a 3.8% tax on investment income. Although the rich can afford this, economists agree this investment tax acts as a disincentive that harms the economy, costing America thousands of jobs; jobs mostly for low-income people. If the final bill retains this tax, as liberals and moderates demand, it may seem “fairer” because it taxes the rich more, but the real losers will be people looking for jobs.

When does reducing the growth of an out of control entitlement mean “throwing people off Medicaid?” When critics describe the changes the GOP wants to make to ensure Medicaid will be available for those who really need it in the years to come. ObamaCare changed the original intent of Medicaid to cover the poor, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and the disabled into an entitlement for able-bodied unemployed adults for the first time. The GOP Senate bill calls for states to decide for themselves if they want to continue to cover these adults who refuse to go back to work. States with innovative Medicaid programs with work incentives, like Indiana, have reduced their rolls of Medicaid as people go back to work and get employer-provided or subsidized private insurance. Expansion of Medicaid has actually resulted in fewer dollars to cover those who really need the help because of the expanded coverage of those who don’t.

When does asking people with expensive health conditions to pay a little more than healthy Americans for their health insurance mean “eliminating coverage of pre-existing conditions?” When critics misrepresent the GOP changes to ObamaCare. Pre-existing coverage will still be available to everyone but with new provisions to prevent “gaming the system” which raises premiums for everyone. Those who have chronic, expensive conditions rightly will pay a little more than the healthy but not the actual full cost (which is subsidized by high-risk pools). The bill calls for $138 Billion in funding for these high-risk pools. No one will be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions as in the pre-ObamaCare era.

When does “millions of people will die” from loss of health insurance mean millions chose to drop insurance coverage they didn’t need and didn’t want? When critics describe the CBO projections for insurance coverage after the GOP healthcare bill is passed. This alarmist rhetoric is designed only to frighten the uninitiated. No one needs to die for lack of healthcare treatment – unless we adopt a single-payer system (which Democrats want!) that allows the government to decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t. (See Charlie Gard crisis in Great Britain.)

When is it considered “fair” to force young and healthy people to pay more than the actual cost of their health insurance premiums? When progressives passed ObamaCare. Though they usually promote “redistribution of income” from the wealthy to those with less income, ObamaCare actually did the opposite in some ways; forcing young and healthy people (who are usually poorer) to pay more so that older and sicker people (who are generally wealthier) could pay less. Now, as the GOP tries to correct this problem, critics argue they are being “cruel” to make older people pay more. If the young and healthy people aren’t given a good value for their insurance premium they will refuse to enroll (which they did!) forcing everyone to pay more and undermining the financial stability of the system. That’s one of the main reasons ObamaCare is currently collapsing.

Cruz Compromise

As I write these words, Senator Ted Cruz has offered a compromise in the Senate bill to address this last problem. He wants to allow insurance companies to provide low cost insurance plans with less complete coverage to those young and healthy people who don’t need the expensive coverage of ObamaCare. These “mini-med” plans were widely available before ObamaCare and were quite popular, but the Obama administration outlawed them when passing ObamaCare.

I hope this post will better educate you on the “language” of this healthcare debate. Unfortunately, you can’t count on critics of Republicans, or even the media, to explain exactly what they are saying.

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