For four years, we've witnessed a nonstop political brawl over the Affordable Care Act.
Now rhetoric has again reached a fever pitch since the botched Oct. 1 launch of the new insurance exchanges at the heart of President Barack Obama's signature health care reforms.
While Obama and Democrats scramble to reassure supporters and a skeptical nation that the dysfunctional health care website can be fixed and the reforms will work, Republican opponents seize every opportunity to attack the 2010 Affordable Care Act they consider to be big government run amok.
Not surprisingly, such partisan back-and-forth has generated persistent myths about the ACA that foment confusion, if not outright ignorance, about the reforms. In other cases, both sides try to quickly exploit newer issues.
Here is an attempt to debunk some of them:
1. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan
Let's start with the obvious -- Obama's oft-repeated pledge in selling the reforms that they wouldn't require people to change health coverage or doctors.
While the administration depends on a technicality to explain what Obama meant -- he was referring only to individually owned policies already in place back in March 2010 when the ACA became law -- it was misleading when he started saying it back in 2008 and definitely is false today.
Yes, anyone with an individual policy dating back more than three years can keep it, as long as it hasn't been changed by the insurance company.
However, that is unlikely in the volatile individual market that comprises about 5 percent of Americans, a relatively small group compared to the 80 percent who get coverage through their jobs or government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Instead, at least 1 million individual policy holders have received letters from their insurers in recent months informing them that their plans are being discontinued at the end of the year or changed to cost more. The reason cited is added benefits required by the ACA.
"The fact that the president sold it on a basis that was not true has undermined the foundation of his second term," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who lost to Obama in last year's presidential election, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
Obama and his aides argue the president kept his word by including a "grandfather" provision that allowed people to keep their plans from before the health care law was passed, as long as the policies hadn't been changed by the insurance companies.
At the same time, they contend most policies no longer eligible for the "grandfather" provision -- and therefore being canceled by insurers -- offered substandard coverage, leaving people at risk of bankruptcy for hospitalization or other major medical needs.
"If you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really like that plan, what we said was you could keep it if it hasn't changed since the law was passed," Obama told supporters on Monday night.
"But if the insurance company changes it, then what we're saying is they've got to change it to a higher standard," he said, adding that "if we had allowed these old plans to be downgraded or sold to new enrollees once the law had already passed, then we would have broken an even more important promise -- making sure that Americans gain access to health care that doesn't leave them one illness away from financial ruin."
His explanation differed from the repeated promises on the campaign trail that if people liked their coverage, they could keep it, period. Obama aides note that for most Americans who get their health care through their jobs, Medicare and Medicaid, that remains true.
2. Everyone's health insurance costs will rise because of the ACA
Republicans regularly declare that the end result of the ACA will be higher health insurance costs for all.
If that happened, it would continue what was going on before the health care reform law, when skyrocketing health care costs put effective insurance coverage out of reach for millions of Americans.
The ACA requires virtually everyone to have health insurance, which would create large markets of previously uninsured or underinsured people to stimulate competition and presumably hold down prices.
That means some will pay more than before, such as healthier young people now required by the ACA to have coverage, and some will pay less.
Under the reforms, some people who make too much to be eligible for Medicaid coverage but not enough to afford high-quality plans can get government subsidies in the form of tax credits to ease the burden.
Ezekiel Emanuel, an ACA architect from the University of Pennsylvania, told Fox News Sunday that the reforms were based on the concept of shared responsibility.
"We all share in the costs so that everyone can get it," he said, adding that if people don't have coverage and need health care, "they transfer those costs to the rest of us. That's the whole point of part of Obamacare, to eliminate this cost shifting."