Health Insurance Reform Mythbuster: 'Rationing of Care and People with Disabilities'

Posted on by Karina

Health insurance reform opponents continue to spread myths about components of America's Affordable Health Choices Act, including the outrageous scare tactic that reform will lead to rationed care and will harm people with disabilities. In fact, the House bill protects people with disabilities from discrimination and unfair business practices that have resulted in loss of coverage and denial of care. This critical legislation will help ensure that all Americans — including those with disabilities — have access to affordable, high quality health coverage … and that insurance company bureaucrats are no longer rationing care based on health, age, or ability to pay–instead putting doctors and patients back in charge of health care decisions.

MYTH: “Health insurance reform will ration care, harming people with disabilities.”

FACT: Forty-three organizations representing individuals with disabilities, chronic conditions and their families signed a letter in support of the House bill stating:

We believe that there are numerous provisions in the America's Affordable Health Choices Act (H.R. 3200) that greatly benefit children and adults with disabilities and chronic conditions. The following stand out as signature achievements of the legislation:

Major insurance market reforms such as the elimination of discrimination based on health status, a prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions, guaranteed issue and renewal requirements, elimination of annual and lifetime caps, and mental health and substance abuse parity requirements;

Significant investments in Medicaid to provide health care services to those with low incomes and disabilities;

A serious commitment to expand access to affordable coverage through credits for the purchase of insurance through the new Health Insurance Exchange.

MYTH: “Health insurance reform will lead to rationed care for everyone.”

FACT: Under America's Affordable Health Choices Act, there is not one provision in the bill that gives any “government bureaucrat” the ability to determine what treatments an individual can receive. The House bill will put patients and doctors where they belong — in the driver's seat. Actually, care is being rationed now–by insurance companies–which are making coverage and care decisions based on profits, not what's best for patients.

The bill's creation of a Health Benefits Advisory Committee will in no way ration care– it has no role in determining what treatments individuals are entitled to; its primary role is simply to recommend the minimum benefit package insurers must offer under the bill, to protect consumers.

Comparative effectiveness research, which has been funded by the Federal Government for years, has nothing to do with rationing. Instead, this research is simply about giving doctors information they need and want to better serve their patients. The bill explicitly prohibits the Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research and the Comparative Effectiveness Research Commission from using this research to define, limit, or mandate treatment or services.

Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy explains why comparative effectiveness research is so important in an AARP Bulletin Today:

Did you know that once a new piece of scientific evidence emerges as a medical advance, it takes up to 17 years before doctors routinely incorporate that information into how they practice medicine?

One of the reasons health care quality varies so much is that sometimes doctors or nurses just don't know or follow the latest research. And, even when they do keep up, often through extensive effort, it is usually not possible to find valid information that applies to the question at hand. Modern medicine is highly advanced, but the science does you no good if you don't get the right advice from your doctor or other health care professionals.

It's also important to keep in mind what comparative effectiveness doesn't do. It does not make policy or health care decisions for you. It does not tell your doctor how to practice medicine. And it does not make decisions about what kind of treatments your insurer will pay for.

Instead, comparative effectiveness research will help you and your doctor determine what you should do to treat or manage an illness. Medicine is performed best when doctors and patients together make choices based on the best available information. That's what comparative effectiveness research does: It weighs the evidence to help guide your decisions and presents that information to you and your doctors in a way you can use.

FalseThe Pulitzer prize-winning Politifact website says it clearly:

Some opponents, however, claim the government would use findings from this research to ration care. We looked into this issue in detail and concluded that claim is False.

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