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Linda Bergthold Headshot

Is a Government Takeover of Health Care a Lie?

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As we limp into the end of 2010, the lies about health reform do not abate. PolitiFact, a website run by the St. Petersburg Times, has attempted to evaluate the various claims about health reform over the past two years, assigning "True," "Half True," "False" and "Pants on Fire" to the many different claims, both positive and negative, about what health reform means for America.

PolitiFact's "lie of the year" was that the Affordable Care Act was a "government takeover of health care." This of course stimulated a bit of a firestorm of controversy, including an editorial in the Wall Street Journal this week attempting to refudiate (yes I said refudiate -- it's a word now, right?) that claim. The Journal agrees that health reform was not an attempt by government to take over the means of production of health care -- in fact, reform leaves the private sector insurers pretty much in charge as they were before. But the Journal warns us that insurers will now be "government contractors" and that could lead to socialism and that would mean trouble in River City. Actually, the Medicare program already uses private insurers as contractors, and you don't hear a lot of crying by seniors over the fact that private insurers administer the Meidcare benefits to them.

So is health reform a government takeover or not? You all know that I do not believe it is, but let's see what Huffington Post readers think. Was PolitiFact right to call it the "lie of the year" or has the role of government been so enlarged that we can now assume Washington is in charge of what our physicians prescribe?

This debate will not die any time soon. But here's one final thought for you in 2010 -- just this week, the Los Angeles Times noted that because of the horrible spectre of health reform, a fear of losing market share, and federal and state regulation in California, has caused major health insurers to back down on their promise to stop offering individual health insurance policies for children. They will now begin offering those policies in 2011, and while they will charge more for children with pre-existing conditions, they have to accept them, If this is a government takeover of private health insurance, tell that to the families of these kids who have been priced out of the market or not even been able to insure their children at all.