PoliGraph: Bachmann wrong on health law claim

Michele Bachmann has a bone to pick with the authors of the health care reform bill.

“There was a Congressional Research Service report that just was issued in February, and we discovered that secretly, unbeknownst to members of Congress, over $105 billion was hidden in the Obamacare legislation to fund the implementation of Obamacare,” she said during her March 6, 2011 appearance on Meet the Press.

In a separate press release issued March 4, she said the funding was a “new $105 billion levy on American taxpayers.”

Bachmann’s figure of $105 billion is in the ballpark. But she’s wrong to say the number was a secret.

The Evidence

Bachmann’s office did not return PoliGraph’s emails or phone calls for clarification on her statement, but it appears she’s referring to a February, 2011, Congressional Research Service report that outlines appropriations and funding transfers in the health care overhaul.

According to that CRS report, the bill includes nearly $105 billion in spending through 2019 for new programs created by the health care bill, such as the health insurance exchanges, and existing programs, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

But to say that this funding was somehow hidden from lawmakers is false. Spending was clearly outlined in the legislation, and lawmakers had about three months to read the text before voting on it. Furthermore, many of these provisions, such as a temporary program for those who have pre-existing conditions, which will get $5 billion, and a plan to create health insurance co-ops, which will get $6 billion, got a lot of media attention throughout the health care debate.

Bachmann’s separate claim that the $105 billion in spending is a “levy on American taxpayers” is false. While the health care bill is paid for partly with tax increases and partly with savings from programs like Medicare, Bachmann is referring to spending appropriations, not new taxes as her claim would imply. And at least $11.8 billion of that funding is simply being transferred from existing spending, such as Medicare Part A, to new programs.

The Verdict

Bachmann is correct to say that there is $105 billion in funding in the health care bill. But her claim makes it appear that this is news. It is not. And the appropriations she’s referring to are not tax increases.

By cloaking the numbers in claims that the Obama administration is hiding the money, her claim goes beyond misleading to false.


Meet the Press, Sunday, March 6, 2011

Press Release, Bachmann Calls on President to Apologize, March 4, 2011

The Congressional Research Service, Appropriations and Fund Transfers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), by C. Stephen Redhead, October 14, 2010

The Congressional Research Service, Appropriations and Fund Transfers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), by C. Stephen Redhead, February 10, 2011 (Get link)

The House of Representatives, Compilation of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended through May 1, 2010, accessed March. 7, 2011

Thomas, Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, accessed March 7, 2011

Thomas, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accessed March 7, 2011

The Kaiser Family Foundation, Summary of the New Health Reform Law, March 26, 2010

The Congressional Budget Office, Selected CBO Publications Related to Health Care Legislation, 2009-2010, December 2010

Reuters, FACTBOX-Major tax provisions in U.S. healthcare bill, March 22, 2010


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