Karl Rove’s conservative super PAC, Crossroads Generation, released an ad attacking President Obama’s health care reform law. Its fast-talking narrator tries to mislead young Americans by making several false claims about the law and how it helps them access affordable, quality health insurance.
Here are the facts about what health reform does for young people and what they could lose if Romney repeals Obamacare:
The Affordable Care Act enables young Americans to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they’re 26 years old. The ad falsely dismisses this popular provision by arguing that states already allowed young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance before the law was enacted. The facts, however, tell a different story. While some states had pre-existing laws on the books, broad-based restrictions—including age limits, requirements for student status, and exclusions for married young adults—rendered the majority of young adults ineligible for coverage. In fact, the pre-existing state laws did not even apply to the 60 percent of U.S. workers who rely on private self-insured plans. President Obama’s health care reform eliminated these restrictions and extended coverage to 3.1 million young people who would otherwise be uninsured. As a result of the law, the proportion of insured adults ages 19 through 25 has increased to nearly 75 percent.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act would allow insurance companies to deny coverage to children and adults with pre-existing conditions. While the ad attempts to distort and dismiss this central part of the law, the fact is that the President’s health care reform prevents insurers from denying coverage to children under age 19 with pre-existing conditions, of whom there are as many as 17 million. Starting in 2014, no American with a pre-existing condition can be denied coverage, charged higher premiums, or be subject to other discriminatory actions. Romney, on the other hand, would allow insurance companies to kick young adults off their parents’ plans when they graduate, discriminate against Americans with pre-existing conditions, and charge women higher premiums than they charge men for the same coverage. Romney’s campaign has even admitted that his plan would allow insurance companies to discriminate against as many as 129 million children and adults with pre-existing conditions from asthma to breast cancer.
Health care reform works to make health care premiums more affordable for middle class families. In its attempt to bash the law, the ad notes that “premiums are already up 9 percent.” This statistic is misleading because the premium increases of 9 percent for 2011 were generally set in 2010, when insurers thought medical costs would be significantly higher. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the health insurance employer cost index was the lowest in over 10 years in the first half of 2011. In 2014, annual premiums are projected to fall compared to what they would be without the Affordable Care Act, with savings of up to $2,300 for families purchasing through exchanges. Analysts predict that premium growth should slow after 2014 because of the law, predicting $2,000 in family savings by 2019, and the Congressional Budget Office projected savings of 14 to 20 percent through exchanges and new rules in the market.
The Affordable Care Act lowers health care costs for millions of Americans through health insurance exchanges, caps on out-of-pocket payments, tax credits, and expanded access to Medicaid. The law will cap how much those covered in the health insurance exchanges will have to pay out-of-pocket for health services covered in the law’s essential benefits package. Beginning in 2014, many individuals and families will be eligible for a new health care premium tax credit to help them afford insurance purchased through an Affordable Insurance Exchange—and a typical middle class family will see their costs cut by 60 percent when using these tax credits in the Exchange. And health care reform expands Medicaid to cover nearly everyone under 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
The ad’s distortions are part of a concerted effort by Republicans to use false, unsubstantiated claims to mislead the public about the nature of President Obama’s health care reform. That’s not the conversation that the Romney campaign—or the anonymous billionaire donors bankrolling this misleading advertisement—wants to have. The plain-and-simple fact is that Romney would gut health care reform and deny coverage to millions of Americans.