Do Obama's Health Care Claims Hold Up?

President Obama goes before the country tonight to make his case for sweeping health care reform. He's already been pushing his health care agenda for months. But some of his claims deserve a second look.

CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews provides this reality check.

"It will mean lower costs and more choices and coverage you can count on"

Claim: expand coverage to most uninsured

Fact: All bills do this. Fine Print: Coverage starts in 2013

Of all the President's goals for health reform, he's clearly on track to expand insurance coverage. Where he's claimed the reform will cover most of the nation's uninsured, the fact is that's true. The key bills before Congress actually require that everyone has insurance.

In the fine print however, full coverage for the uninsured doesn't start until 2013, three and a half years from now.

Claim: Reform will bring costs down

Fact: Current proposals can't prove savings

Where the President claims any reform will bring down costs, the fact is nothing on the table right now leads to savings the administration can prove. Democrats are facing an internal revolt because the Congressional Budget Office said the House proposal would not reduce out of control spending.

One big hurdle is this: Mr. Obama, and most experts, believe costs will go down when doctors and hospitals are paid differently - not for every single test and procedure but for healthier patients.

But the House bill only calls for a series of "pilot programs," including one paying doctors "to improve health." In other words, one of president's most important reforms has to be tested first.

"There's not what you'd call a rock solid commitment to changing the incentives," said Len Nichols, health policy program director at the New America Foundation. "We will do experiments, but they don't yet say we will move in this direction."

Tonight in effect the President will argue we have to spend a trillion dollars in order to save long term. He may be right - but he'll need serious changes in both House and Senate before he can prove that in advance.
  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.

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