Reading FAIL: Hannity's claims to have "read the entire bill" undermined by falsehoods

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

After claiming to have "read the entire bill, all 1,018 pages," Sean Hannity falsely claimed that if small businesses "don't go for the public option" under a House health care reform bill, "they're going to be punished," and that end-of-life provisions in the bill would establish "a bureaucrat that is designated to save money talking to an elderly person and offering them end-of-life advice." In fact, the penalty on small business would apply to businesses that don't provide health care, not specifically on those that "don't go for the public option," and the end-of-life provisions would reimburse physicians -- not "a bureaucrat" -- for voluntary counseling sessions.

Legislation does not require employers to "go for the government option"

HANNITY: Frank, I've read the entire bill, all 1,018 pages of it. And not only that, they will tax small businesses that have a payroll of $250,000 more if they don't go for the government option, to use your phraseology, then they're going to be punished.

8 percent tax is actually a penalty on employers who do not provide health care coverage to their employees. The House tri-committee bill does not require businesses to provide health care under the public option. Rather, the relevant provision states that the tax applies only to employers who elect not to provide sufficient health care coverage as described in the bill:

''(c) EMPLOYERS ELECTING TO NOT PROVIDE HEALTH BENEFITS. --

"(1) IN GENERAL. -- In addition to other taxes, there is hereby imposed on every nonelecting employer an excise tax, with respect to having individuals in his employ, equal to 8 percent of the wages (as defined in section 3121(a)) paid by him with respect to employment (as defined in section 3121(b)).

Employers can provide health care coverage other than through public option. An employer's obligation to provide qualified health insurance is not limited to the public option. The relevant provision states:

(a) In General- An employer meets the requirements of this section with respect to an employee if the following requirements are met:

(1) OFFERING OF COVERAGE- The employer offers the coverage described in section 311(1) either through an Exchange-participating health benefits plan or other than through such a plan.

(2) EMPLOYER REQUIRED CONTRIBUTION- The employer timely pays to the issuer of such coverage an amount not less than the employer required contribution specified in subsection (b) for such coverage.

(3) PROVISION OF INFORMATION- The employer provides the Health Choices Commissioner, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of the Treasury, as applicable, with such information as the Commissioner may require to ascertain compliance with the requirements of this section.

(4) AUTOENROLLMENT OF EMPLOYEES- The employer provides for autoenrollment of the employee in accordance with subsection (c).

Legislation allows a patient to request end-of-life counseling from a "qualified care provider," not a "bureaucrat"

CAROLINE HELDMAN (assistant professor of politics, Occidental College): We're in the land of fiction with health care, where there are death panels and euthanasia and abortion.

HANNITY: Fiction? I've read the entire bill.

HELDMAN: None of that is true.

HANNITY: Have you read the entire bill?

HELDMAN: I have read the entire bill, as well as --

HANNITY: Wait a minute. Page 425 and 430, and Chris, I'll throw this to you. It was very, very clear that end-of-life counseling -- I don't want a bureaucrat that is designated to save money talking to an elderly person and offering them end-of-life advice. Do you?

The provision that Hannity pointed to requires Medicare to cover voluntary end-of-life counseling. Section 1233 of America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 -- which includes pages "425 and 430" -- amends the Social Security Act to ensure that advance care planning will be covered if a patient requests it from a qualified care provider [America's Affordable Health Choices Act, Sec. 1233], not from "a bureaucrat."

According to an analysis of the bill produced by the three relevant House committees, the section "[p]rovides coverage for consultation between enrollees and practitioners to discuss orders for life-sustaining treatment. [waysandmeans.house.gov, accessed 7/29/09]

Practitioners limited to physicians, nurse practitioners, and qualified physician's assistants. The relevant provision -- on page 428 -- defines "practitioner" as follows:

"(2) A practitioner described in this paragraph is--

"(A) a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)); and

"(B) a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant who has the authority under State law to sign orders for life sustaining treatments.[America's Affordable Health Choices Act, Sec. 1233]

Numerous media conservatives have advanced myth that provision provides seniors mandatory counseling to end their lives. On July 16, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey falsely claimed that the House health care reform bill would "absolutely require" end-of-life counseling for seniors "that will tell them how to end their life sooner." Since then, numerous media figures -- including Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Rush Limbaugh -- have echoed McCaughey's claim -- even after the falsehood was debunked and McCaughey herself backtracked.

From the August 18 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

FRANK LUNTZ (Republican consultant): I think that this debate can and should be conducted in a civil and meaningful manner. That said -- again, I point to the language that -- "Not these wild misrepresentations." I started to read the bill. They're talking about lowering the reimbursements for Medicare. That is not a misinterpretation. That is a fact. And every senior has the right to know exactly what will be paid for and what won't be. And every doctor, Sean, has the right to know whether they're going to be reimbursed for their services.

HANNITY: Frank, I've read the entire bill, all 1,018 pages of it. And not only that, they will tax small businesses that have a payroll of $250,000 more if they don't go for the government option, to use your phraseology, then they're going to be punished.

But I'm all for civility, Frank, but I don't think the grandmothers and the veterans and the stay-at-home moms that are expressing passion have been disrespectful. As a matter of fact, I think it's quintessentially American what we have witnessed here. I can't think of an instance where anyone really crossed the line that I think that was inappropriate. You know, it seems that the fact that the American people have spoken up has offended them.

[...]

HELDMAN: Well, health care is a really complicated issue, and, so far, we're in the land of fiction, not the land of fact. We're in the land of fiction with health care, where there are death panels and euthanasia and abortion.

HANNITY: Fiction? I've read the entire bill.

HELDMAN: None of that is true.

HANNITY: Have you read the entire bill?

HELDMAN: I have read the entire bill, as well as --

HANNITY: Wait a minute. Page 425 and 430, and Chris, I'll throw this to you. It was very, very clear that end-of-life counseling -- I don't want a bureaucrat that is designated to save money talking to an elderly person and offering them end-of-life advice. Do you?

CHRIS CHOCOLA (CEO, Club for Growth): No, I don't.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sean Hannity
Show/Publication
Hannity
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