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Sen. Richard Burr continues to lie about health reform

imagesAs we’ve noted before, Burr comes up with a new misrepresentation about health reform every month. In a Fox News interview [1] Burr even claimed that no plan being considered in Congress covers the majority of Americans. This despite the fact that every Democratic plan extends health insurance to nearly everyone.

In a recent interview [2] with the conservative radio host Bill LuMaye, Burr told several whoppers about the health care legislation that recently passed the House. Here are some highlights:

Burr: It scored a $1.2 trillion but if you look at it over actually ten years worth of benefits paid out it’s actually a $1.8 trillion bill. So in the out years it’s not paid for. It does contribute to the debt.

Burr cribs his information from a conservative editorial [3] in the New York Post that attempts to misrepresent the costs of the bill. Republicans keep trying to move the projections past the standard ten years to say the House bill will cost more than estimated or add to the debt.

But the Congressional Budget Office notes [4] that even after the ten year window the health care bill will still reduce the deficit. From the CBO analysis:

According to CBO and JCT’s assessment, enacting H.R. 3962 would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2010-2019 period (see Table 1). In the subsequent decade, the collective effect of its provisions would probably be slight reductions in federal budget deficits.

Another distortion:

Burr: It doesn’t have reforms in it. The only reform that’s really there is that we do away with preexisting conditions.

The House legislation is full of reforms [5], especially in the individual insurance market. Not only does the bill eliminate preexisting conditions, it increases Medicaid coverage, provides subsidies to help pay premiums, it eliminates lifetime limits on insurance benefits, it caps out-of-pocket expenses, and it creates more transparency and accountability by establishing health insurance exchanges.

And these are just a few of the reforms in the House bill.

North Carolina’s senior senator also repeats the canard about prison time for the willfully uninsured. He says:

Burr: We’re taxing individuals if they won’t take insurance and if they still don’t take it they still could be incarcerated for 5 years.

Not everyone is subject to the individual insurance mandate, but once health care is made affordable most people will have to purchase a policy. The fee for not buying a policy is a tax penalty.

There are a variety of ways that the federal government pursues tax dodgers; people don’t get automatically tossed in jail.

As the Joint Committee on Taxation pointed [6] out in a letter to Rep. Dave Camp:

The IRS attempts to collect most unpaid liabilities through the civil procedures described above. A number of factors distinguish civil from criminal penalties, in addition to the potential for incarceration if found guilty of a crime. Unlike the standard in civil cases, successful criminal prosecution requires that the government bear the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt of all elements of the offense.

The letter goes on to say that in 2008 there were 1,531 tax crimes investigated with 666 convictions, fewer than 100 were for willful failure to pay taxes.