During the July 25 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), a Fox News contributor, falsely claimed that the House Democrats' Tri-Committee health care reform bill "is very specific that private insurance would be ended." Santorum added: "You have to go through this government system, which again mandates certain benefits to be covered." Santorum's claim echoes a July 15 editorial by Investor's Business Daily, which stated that the House health care reform bill includes "a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal" and that the "provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage." In fact, as former Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro said in response to Santorum, the bill does not say "you can't go into your private insurance."
As Media Matters for America has noted, the provision to which the IBD editorial referred establishes the conditions under which existing private plans would be exempted from the requirement that they participate in the Health Insurance Exchange. Individual health insurance plans that do not meet the "grandfather" conditions would still be available for purchase, but only through the Exchange and subject to those regulations.
In its editorial, Investor's Business Daily claimed:
When we first saw the paragraph Tuesday, just after the 1,018-page document was released, we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.
It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised -- with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
In fact, the paragraph in question states in context [emphasis added]:
SEC. 102. PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT COVERAGE.
(a) GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DEFINED. -- Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term ''grandfathered health insurance coverage'' means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1  if the following conditions are met:
(1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT. --
(A) IN GENERAL. -- Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.
(B) DEPENDENT COVERAGE PERMITTED. -- Subparagraph (A) shall not affect the subsequent enrollment of a dependent of an individual who is covered as of such first day.
Sec. 102 subsection (c) states: "Individual health insurance coverage that is not grandfathered health insurance coverage under subsection (a) may only be offered on or after the first day of Y1 as an Exchange-participating health benefits plan."
According to the House Ways and Means Committee's summary of the bill, the Health Insurance Exchange "creates a transparent and functional marketplace for individuals and small employers to comparison shop among private and public insurers."
From the July 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
CLAYTON MORRIS (co-host): Let's bring the senator back in. You know, the president says that your coverage wouldn't change. You would have the choice here.
SANTORUM: That's --
MORRIS: Do you agree or disagree?
SANTORUM: That's a lie. I mean, it's an outright lie. The fact -- the House bill is very specific that private insurance would be ended. You have to go through this government system, which again mandates certain benefits to be covered. The bottom line is, Gerry, that cancer survival rates in America are the highest in the world.
FERRARO: OK. Wait --
SANTORUM: The places that have socialized medicine are lower.
FERRARO: Let me just tell you what I'm holding up.
MORRIS: What are you holding up there?
FERRARO: What I'm holding up here -- these are the comparison of Senate and House health care reform bills. And, actually, it gets changed -- it has been changed since -- this was started June 9, it was changed again --
ALISYN CAMEROTA (co-host): OK, but what about --
FERRARO: -- later on, so it keeps on going on.
CAMEROTA: But what I said about private insurance --
FERRARO: None of these people say that you can't get -- you can't go into your private insurance. Every single one of them provides -- every single one of these bills that the Democrats have put in have provided.