We’ve seldom seen a piece of legislation so widely misrepresented, and misunderstood, as the new health care law. We stopped counting the number of articles and items we turned out on the subject after the total reached 100.
Some of that is understandable. The debate went on for more than a year, while the different House and Senate bills changed their shape constantly. The final law was the product of an awkward two-step legislative dance that first enacted the Senate’s version, then quickly amended it with a reconciliation "fix." No wonder people are confused.
And even now the misrepresentations continue. The new law is no longer a moving target, but some opponents persist in making false or exaggerated claims about it. Our inboxes are filled with messages asking about assertions that the new law:
Does the new law cover Viagra for convicted sex offenders?
There’s no change from current law. Convicts who are not in prison can purchase whatever health plan they’d like and some plans could cover erectile-dysfunction drugs. The Congressional Research Service said that there was nothing in the new law that would "require health plans to limit the type of benefits that can be offered based on the plan beneficiary’s prior criminal convictions."
This mini-controversy erupted when Republicans introduced a string of amendments in a final effort to obstruct passage of the reconciliation bill. Republican Sen. Coburn of Oklahoma proposed the amendment to bar sex offenders from getting health plans that covered such drugs with federal money through the state-based exchanges. Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana called the amendment "a crass political stunt." And it failed by a 57-42 vote.