Debunking a Health Care Reform Chain Email

[UPDATE 10/6/10]: According to this CNN Money Article, it looks like there will not be a COLA increase again for 2011 due to very little inflation or change in the CPI.

I loathe chain emails with no citations, and no links to the “facts” they proclaim. I spent a little bit of time looking into the claims of a forwarded email message purporting awful cuts to Social Security and Medicare- As I expected, it is using half truths to paint a much nastier picture than what happens in reality. When I saw the email initially, I looked online to see if anybody had critiqued it, and found nothing. So, seeing the need I have done just that. Lets break things down by each argument in the message (the entire email is quoted at the bottom):

Claim:
“THERE WILL NOT BE A COST OF LIVING INCREASE FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS IN SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS”

Truth:
Since 1975, COLA has been automatically determined based on the changes in the Consumer Price Index. This is good, because prior to the 1972 legislation (which enacted the 1975 change), it took a vote of congress to change the benefit allowances, so the SSI amounts would go unchanged, despite inflation. The 1972 legislation was a boon for people on SSI, making the benefit automatically adjust up with the CPI on a year to year basis (specifically 3rd quarter to 3rd quarter). For the 2008-09 FY, there was no change in the CPI, therefore there is no COLA increase for the 2010 year (the mess about 2 years is patently false). The CPI didn’t go up because of the recession. The message that “[t]hey, the Congress” were the cause of this is false- unless you consider “they” to be the 1972 congress who voted for the original COLA policies. Something tells me the email isn’t referring to them though.

Source from SSA: (http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/colafacts.htm)

Claim:
“ADDITIONALLY THEY WILL RAISE YOUR CO-PAY FOR YOUR RX MEDICARE BENEFITS!” (I fixed the grammar)

Truth:
This one is harder to pin down, but what I’ve found suggests they are not raising Medicare Part D Rx copays. For 2010, the copays range from $7-95 or 33% (for Tiers 1-4)1. In 2009, it was basically exactly the same, ranging from $7-98 or 33%. Furthermore, prior to the new Health Care Bill, the “donut hole” meant that covered seniors would pay for 100% of drug costs if the total cost was more that $2700 and less than $43502. The new bill will close this gap completely by 20203.

Sources:

12010 Copays (https://www.unitedmedicarerx.com/benefits_at_a_glance.html)

22009 Copays (https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com/online_documents/ovation/pdf/pdp/en/2009/SBPDP3064551_XAPE000.pdf)

3Part D donut hole closing (http://www.mysanantonio.com/life/columnists/paul_premack/89277787.html)

Claim:
“$24,000,000.00   FOR NEW ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS PROCESSING FOR OUR CONGRESSMEN AND SENATORS!! And these yahoos aren’t even in the S/S program!”

Truth:
The SSA will indeed fund $24 million in contracts to help move beneficiaries to electronic medical records1, but the way the email is stating this implies things that are not true. The $24 mil is to benefit all current and future users of SS- mainly through reduced paperwork and processing times. The claim about “medical records processing for our congressmen and senators” is indeed also true. The problem is that “all members of Congress, the President and Vice President, Federal judges, and most political appointees, were covered under the Social Security program starting in January 1984.” 2 They all pay into the same program as you do, so of course they would also benefit from the switch to electronic medical records processing. Thus, to clarify- these “yahoos” are indeed part of the SS program, and pay into it.

Sources:

1Press Release from SSA about $24 million (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/electronic-med-records-pr.htm)

2Does Congress participate in SS? See Q5 (http://www.ssa.gov/history/hfaq.html)

Claim:
“THEY ARE OBTAINING THESE FUNDS and I QUOTE DIRECTLY FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY WEBSITE “THIS MONEY WILL BE COME FROM THE SAVINGS TO BE GENERATED FROM WITHHOLDING “COST OF LIVING INCREASES FOR 2010 & 2011 in SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS FOR THE ELDERLY AND A $2.00 INCREASE ON ALL MEDICARE RX BENEFIT CO-PAY” ”

Truth:
See the previous 2 claims. As best I can tell, the Part D Rx highest copays WENT DOWN $3 from 2009-10! I looked, but found no such quote anywhere on the Social Security Website.

Claim:
“PROTEST THE IDIOTS WE ELECTED TO CONGRESS” who by the way, have just voted themselves ANOTHER 3% SALARY INCREASE!!! (I corrected the grammar once more)

Truth:
Congress in fact DID NOT vote itself a 3% pay raise. Actually quite the opposite is true. According to an Ethics Reform bill in 1989, Congress takes the COLA raises like SSI gets- unless they pass legislation to deny the COLA. They did just that for 2010, and 2011. So, members of Congress will not be taking any raises this year or next.

Some food for thought:
Rank and file Congress members’ pay for 2010-11: $174,000 in 2010
Typical lobbyist on K street (in DC) pay STARTS at $300,000, several lobbyist make much more….

Sources:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/04/22/politics/main6422372.shtml
http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/congresspay.htm
http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/97-1011.pdf
http://www.factcheck.org/2010/01/retribution-fabrication/


The rest of the email is propaganda rhetoric meant to perpetrate this lie. It took me a little over 30 minutes to uncover the truth of this message. If more people would just take a few moments to at least skim some of the parent source material from where emails like this “claim” to be quoting facts, we would be in a much better place. Hopefully, this blog post will help a few of those people who actually take the time to look!

The original, unedited email:

According to the Trustees for the Social Security Administration,

“THERE WILL NOT BE A COST OF LIVING INCREASE FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS IN SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS.. ADDITIONALLY THEY WILL RAISE YOUR CO-PAY FOR YOUR RX MEDICARE BENEFITS”!

They, the Congress ( BOTH “REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATS   TOGETHER”) say no increase is warranted because of the losses in gross national product and other cute things..

NOW HERE SPORTS FANS THIS IS THE ONE THAT WILL FLIP YOU OUT!! —

THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION IS FUNDING

TWENTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS–

LET ME REPEAT THAT AMOUNT SO YOU UNDERSTAND IT…

$24,000,000.00   FOR NEW ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS PROCESSING FOR OUR CONGRESSMEN AND SENATORS!!
And these yahoos aren’t even in the S/S program!

THEY ARE OBTAINING THESE FUNDS and I QUOTE DIRECTLY FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY WEBSITE……………

“THIS MONEY WILL BE COME FROM THE SAVINGS TO BE GENERATED FROM WITHHOLDING “COST OF LIVING INCREASES FOR 2010 & 2011 in SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS FOR THE ELDERLY AND A $2.00 INCREASE ON ALL MEDICARE RX BENEFIT CO-PAY”

do the words “BULL CRAP” ring a bell ?

Please pass this to ALL your friends and have them “PROTEST TO THE IDIOTS WE ELECTED TO CONGRESS” who by the way, have just voted themselves ANOTHER 3% SALARY INCREASE!!!
How they can justify giving themselves a raise while denying one for seniors is beyond me. Wasn’t there just a loss in “gross national product”?????

We must put a stop to this outright thievery!   It is THE CONGRESS AND THE SENATE, BOTH REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATS, WE CAN’T FIRE THEM, BUT WE SURE AS HECK CAN NOT RE-ELECT THEM, and WE CAN IMPEACH THEM or DEMAND RECALL ELECTIONS!!!

HOW ABOUT WE ALL GET TOGETHER AND DUMP THESE CLOWNS.

Just watch. They will spend this money and find the software doesn’t work, dump the whole thing and go back to the old steam driven system just like they did with air traffic control several years ago.   Don’t worry though, they’ve got health care all worked out.
They’ve already opted themselves out of ANYTHING that THEY may   pass as OBAMACARE. Oh yes, it’ll be a wonderful bill but just not good enough for them!
Well guys, if Obamacare isn’t good enough for YOUR family, it sure as hell ain’t good enough for MY FAMILY!!!!!

So here is what we CAN do….

All I ask is that you consider the suggestion here.
The entire Congress of the United States is corrupt. And I mean both Houses and I mean both major parties.

I realize that a few (and damn few) Members of each House are trustworthy, but, as a group they are absolutely the most corrupt bunch to ever disgrace our Nation.

In November of 2010 the entire House of Representatives will stand for re-election; all 435 of them. One third of the Senate, a total of 33 of them, will also stand for re-election.
We must vote every incumbent out.

And I mean every one of them.
No matter their Party   affiliation.
Let’s start all over in the House of Representatives with 435 people who have absolutely no experience in running that body, with no political favors owed to anyone but their own constituents.
Let’s make them understand that they work for us.

They are answerable to us and they simply have to run that body with some common sense.

Two years later, in 2012, vote the next third of the incumbents in the Senate out.

We can do the same thing in 2014 and, by that time we will have put all new people in that body as well.

We, the People, have got to take this Country back and we HAVE to do it peacefully.

That’s what the Framers of our Constitution envisioned.

I am also suggesting term limits on the NEW BUNCH —
8 YEARS FOR REPRESENTATIVES AND
12 YEARS OF SENATORS.   NO EXCEPTIONS.

THE LONGER THEY STAY IN OFFICE THE MORE POWER THEY GET. AND THEY LOVE IT AND WILL DO ANYTHING TO GET RE-ELECTED.

WE HAVE TERM LIMITED THE PRESIDENT — NOW LET’S
TERM LIMIT THE LEGISLATORS.

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5 responses to “Debunking a Health Care Reform Chain Email

  1. Hmmm…. here’s my wee little opinion..

    The author of this e-mail is an imbittered, fairly well educated individual with a particularly drab view of the current government system running today… possibly because they were thwarted when attempting to obtain some benefit from the government that they felt they were intitled to, and were denied, and for reasons that they felt were unfair. What better reason to malign a system that is not “directly” helping or supporting them at this current time in their lives. This person is angry, and is using the internet as a psuedo (sp) back fence to spread gossip around the neighborhood to “get even” with his/her enemy (in the past, looked at them wrong, now… denies them easy money..ie: the SS Admin.)

    It’s just the current version of a “Witch Hunt”. And the author is the “Sheriff of Salem”.

    Nyeaah!

  2. TY…TY…TY for exposing this dips…t for what he is. I feel very strongly about individuals who lie and distort info. Everyone has a right of opinion if in fact it is based on fact, not distorted , fabricated info. About to have some fun.

  3. HELLO JOHN, THANKS FOR SENDING ME THE INFORMATION BEING FASELY BEING CIRCULATED. WILL WRITE YOU AN E-MAIL. MURPHY

  4. I have one question regarding a claim made in this misleading e-mail that you did not address. Did Congress vote themselves a 3% pay raise? I really have a problem with them being able to determine their own pay and benefits. What other company or organization, other than private businesses, has the ability to decide their own pay and/or benefits? Don’t we elect our Senators and Representatives? Does that mean they work for us? Then why are we not allowed to decide when, if and how much they are paid?

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