Commentary: Kansas congressmen fearmongering on health care reform

In the absence of formal legislation on health care for much of the year, members of Congress and others could itemize grievances about the reform effort freely, without regard to any facts.

The House vote earlier this month finally gave reform a working framework not only for the purposes of Senate consideration but also public debate.

Yet critics, including Republicans in Kansas' congressional delegation, continue to claim things about the legislation that are contradicted by independent sources such as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

For example, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., fretted in Lawrence last week about "rationing of Medicare" and the endangering of the rural health care delivery system (though Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently said "the biggest winners of health care reform will be rural Americans").

Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, has contended that the bill will "diminish health care for Kansans," as it "explodes the deficit," "eliminates jobs with an employer mandate, and enables bureaucrats to define what form of health coverage is acceptable for Americans."

Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, has said the bill would push people into a public-funded option and eliminate "5.5 million American jobs." At the Capitol rally on Nov. 5, he suggested it would "take away your freedom to choose your doctor," decide "how much you're going to pay for your insurance, where you can get your health care."

There are problems with such statements when measured against analyses by nonpartisan Web sites:

* Rather than constitute a government takeover of health care, the "public option" could cover just 6 million Americans by 2019, and at premiums "somewhat higher" than the average private plan (FactCheck.org).

To read the complete editorial, visit The Wichita Eagle.