Add this one to the already painfully long list of things that Alabama's junior senator does not know. At his health care town hall meeting in Huntsville, AL this morning, Senator Sessions was asked this:
If health insurance reform passes, “will the government have direct access to our bank accounts?”
Instead of shooting down the latest fad in GOP health insurance reform LIES, Sessions paused, cocked his head and offered this response: “I'm not sure” before joking that the government “sure wants access to our pockets!”
NOT SURE? Let me help you, Senator. NO. It's not true even though talk radio hosts and your fellow Republican Congressmen have been happily spewing the lie for weeks now.
According to PoliFact (the St. Petersburg Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning effort to track statements by lobbyists, journalists, politicians, and intrest groups and rank them on the “Truth-O-Meter”), this claim originated in one of those anonymous chain emails so packed with false claims, scare tactics, and outright lies that it received the rare “Pants on Fire” rating from PoliFact:
• Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer. Barely True: Section 163 sets out goals for electronic health records. One of the goals is to include features that “enable electronic funds transfers, in order to allow automated reconciliation” between payment and billing. The legislative summary says the intent in the section is “to adopt standards for typical transactions” between insurance companies and health care providers. The legislation generically describes typical electronic banking transactions and does not outline any special access privileges.
Now, I realize that there's a whole subset of people willing to believe any health care lie, no matter how egregious (I'm looking at YOU, Sarah Palin), but doesn't it seem that Senators themselves should have the facts? And shouldn't they be trying to elevate the debate so we can have a real discussion about our health care delivery system and health insurance reform?
In an ideal world, sure. Sessions had a golden opportunity to shoot down a conservative talking point that's just a lie. And he couldn't bring himself to do it.
Want to learn more about the various health insurance reform bills pending? The Kaiser Foundation has a point-by-point analysis and side by side comparison of the major proposals. Ok, so it's not an anonymous email – that bastion of rectitude and reliability – but it's great information nonetheless.