Despite a night that was to be focused on foreign policy at the third and final presidential debate October 22 in Florida; health care reform still came up with Gov. Mitt Romney saying he would balance the budget in part by eliminating President Barack Obama’s signature Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But was that a fair claim? The editors at Bloomberg News Service checked the facts.

The Claim: Romney said he would balance the budget in part by eliminating Obama’s health care law. “There are a number of things that sound good, but frankly, we just can’t afford them. And that one doesn’t sound good and it’s not affordable,” he said.

The Background: Romney said he would repeal PPACA. The law requires most Americans to carry health insurance and provides subsidies and an expansion of Medicaid, the health program for the poor, to help low-income families pay for coverage. About 30 million people who would otherwise be uninsured would gain coverage under the law.

The Facts: Romney is wrong. Repealing the entire law won’t save money or help balance the budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which calculates the financial costs of legislation for lawmakers. In a July letter to House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, the CBO said that legislation the House passed to repeal the law would add $109 billion to the deficit through 2022. That’s because the law’s cost-saving features, including reductions in the growth of Medicare spending and new taxes, outweigh the expense of expanding insurance coverage. If Romney repealed only the coverage provisions of the law plus cost-savings related to them — such as a tax on people who don’t carry insurance — the government would save $1.2 trillion through 2022, according to the CBO. However, Romney says he would repeal the entire law, including all of its cost-saving provisions, which would add to the deficit.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nicole Gaouette in Washington at ngaouette@bloomberg.net; Flavia Krause-Jackson in Washington at fjackson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Clark Hoyt at choyt2@bloomberg.net; John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

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