Rove's anti-health care reform column full of misinformation

In a March 11 Wall Street Journal editorial, Fox News Contributor Karl Rove falsely claimed that the Senate health care bill has “abortion-funding language,” adds to the deficit and contains no immediate benefits. In fact, the Senate bill prohibits federal funding of abortion, contains numerous immediate benefits, and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, reduces the deficit.

Rove: Senate bill funds abortion, adds to the deficit, and doesn't provide immediate benefits

Rove: Senate bill contains “abortion funding language.” In a March 11 Wall Street Journal editorial, Rove falsely suggested the Senate bill allowed for federal funding of abortion. Rove wrote, “Pro-life House Democrats are deeply disturbed by the Senate abortion-funding language.”

Rove: “Senate bill adds hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit.” Rove also falsely claimed the Senate bill would add to the deficit, writing, “Blue Dogs are upset by the fact that the Senate bill adds hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit.”

Rove falsely suggested Senate bill contained no immediate “benefits.” Rove also claimed that "[t]he Senate bill's tax increases and Medicare benefit cuts kick in right away while its benefits (subsidies for health-care coverage) don't start until 2013 and aren't fully operational for seven years," falsely suggesting that the only “benefits” in the bill are “subsidies for health-care coverage.”

Senate bill prohibits health insurers from using federal subsidies to pay for abortion services restricted by Hyde

The Senate health care reform bill as passed states that if a “qualified health plan” offered under the health insurance exchange provides coverage of abortion services for which public funding is banned, “the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable” to the subsidies created under the bill “for purposes of paying for such services.”

Senate bill establishes a separate premium to segregate funds used to pay for abortions from federal funds. The Senate bill as passed further requires issuers to “collect from each enrollee” in plans that cover abortions a “separate payment” for “an amount equal to the actuarial value of the coverage of” abortion services. This value must be at least $1 per enrollee, per month. All such funds are deposited into a separate account used by the issuer to pay for abortion services; federal funds and the remaining premium payments are used to pay for all other services.

Current law allows for Medicaid to provide coverage for abortions restricted by Hyde by using similar fund segregation. According to a November 1, 2009, study by the Guttmacher Institute, 17 states provide coverage under Medicaid for “all or most medically necessary abortions,” not just abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. Those states “us[e] their own funds” -- not federal funds -- “to pay” for the procedures. Therefore, in 17 states, Medicaid, a federally subsidized health care program, covers abortions in circumstances in which federal money is prohibited from being spent on abortion.

CBO: Senate health care bill will lower the deficit

CBO: Senate bill yields “a net reduction in federal deficits of $132 billion” over 10 years. On December 19, 2009, CBO reported of the Senate bill incorporating the manager's amendment:

CBO and JCT estimate that the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act incorporating the manager's amendment would yield a net reduction in federal deficits of $132 billion over the 2010-2019 period.

CBO: Over second 10 years, Senate bill would save “between one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP.” In a December 20, 2009, letter amending the December 19 report, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf wrote:

All told, CBO expects that the legislation, if enacted, would reduce federal budget deficits over the decade after 2019 relative to those projected under current law -- with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP.

Numerous benefits from Senate health care bill would “be available in the first year after enactment” of the bill

Senate Democrats note “Immediate Benefits” of health care bill. Despite Rove's suggestion, according to a document put forth by Senate Democrats summarizing the “Immediate Benefits” of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the bill includes numerous benefits that would “be available in the first year after enactment” of the bill. The benefits include “access to affordable coverage for the uninsured with pre-existing conditions,” “access to quality care for vulnerable populations,” “no pre-existing coverage exclusions for children,” “re-insurance for retiree health benefit plans,” “closing the coverage gap in the Medicare (Part D) Drug Benefit,” “small business tax credits,” “ensuring value for premium payments,” protection of “patients' choice of doctors,” “prohibiting insurers from requiring prior authorization before” a “woman sees an ob-gyn,” “ensuring access to emergency care,” “extension of dependent coverage for young adults,” “coverage of prevention and wellness benefits”; “free, annual wellness visit” for Medicare beneficiaries," a prohibition on “insurers from imposing lifetime limits on benefits,” “restricted annual limits on coverage,” and prohibiting “insurers from rescinding insurance when claims are filed,” among other immediate benefits.