Fox: Even after passage, bill misconceptions persist

Friday, March 26, 2010

Now that the health-care reform package has passed, here are 10 misconceptions about it and the furor surrounding it:

MYTH: This is only about robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.

That philosophy ignores the fact most people are uninsured because of pre-existing conditions. The bill will provide immediate assistance for these patients, and prohibits pre-existing condition exclusion for children immediately. A prohibition on all denials based on pre-existing conditions begins in 2014.

MYTH: This will hurt small businesses.

The bill offers tax credits -- up to 35 percent the cost of premiums -- to small businesses to make it easier to cover employees this year. Companies with 50 or fewer workers are exempt from the requirement.

MYTH: This is a gateway to taxpayer-funded abortion.

No health plan would be required to offer coverage for abortion. In plans that do cover abortion, policyholders would have to pay for it separately, and that money would have to be kept in a separate account from taxpayer money. States could ban abortion coverage in plans offered through the exchange. Exceptions would be made for cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother.

MYTH: Mandating everyone buy insurance is unfair.

The argument is this: if you elect not to have insurance and subsequently require hospitalization, the hospital incurs the cost, passes that cost to insurers and insurers raise their premiums. In short, society pays for your irresponsible behavior. Mandating insurance forces you to behave responsibly.

MYTH: The overwhelming majority of Americans think this is socialist.

This is an overwhelming myth. A USA Today poll says 49 percent of people think the bill being signed on Tuesday "is a good thing", and that 40 percent do not. A CBS poll says the bill's disapproval rating (46 percent) is slightly higher than its approval rating (42 percent).

MYTH: This will be the death knell of Democrats.

A lot of Democrats were pleasantly shocked their party got something done, and now feel they can, in fact, make a difference. It rivals Medicare and The Civil Rights Act as the party's biggest non-electoral victories. And had the bill been defeated, I think a lot of Democrats would have wanted to defect and form a party with a spine.

MYTH: Theis will be the beginning of the end for the Tea Party.

Hardly. The Tea Party crowd now has a cause to unite, for they have seen their worst fears come to fruition. Government spending is now their big issue, and that's why they formed (where were they a few years ago?). They can make a lot of political hay out of this, and perhaps supplant Republicans as a major party.

MYTH: This will be overturned in the courts.

Not according to the commerce clause of the Constitution, which grants Congress the power "to regulate commerce ... among the several states." And a new insurance tax for those who don't buy insurance isn't unprecedented. The new tax is at least as indirect as unemployment insurance, more indirect than either Social Security or Medicare taxes, and less mandatory than any of the three. Pursuing a court fight is pure folly.

MYTH: This will be repealed by the next Congress.

No chance. Even in the unlikely event Republicans win back both houses of Congress, not every member will want to spend 2011 or 2013 fighting this battle all over again. That just doesn't happen in politics. If it did, the Bush tax cuts would have been repealed. Ditto Medicare and Social Security.

These views are the author's and not necessarily reflective of the Tribune's views.