From the 09.26.2014 edition of FNC’s Fox and Friends:
Tea Party-backed Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Tuesday warned that if President Barack Obama’s health care law was not repealed then it would never fall of its own weight because people would be “put on lists” and allowed to die, and the program…
Cal Thomas Says Public Schools Are 'The Enemy's Re-Education Camps,' Evolution Will Kill Seniors And People With Disabilities | Right Wing Watch
After warning that marriage equality for gays and lesbians will destroy America, conservative columnist Cal Thomas told Daystar’s Marcus and Joni on Monday that public schools are instruments of “the enemy” and warned that Obamacare and the belief in evolution will lead to the deaths of senior citizens.
“Don’t put your children in the enemy’s re-education camps where they’re taught they evolved from slime and their nearest relative is down at the zoo and that’s why they like bananas on their cereal, and where they don’t learn the real history of America,” Thomas said before charging that the “government education system” is state-imposed Unitarianism that unfairly demonizes the Pilgrims as people who “hated the Indians and deprived them of their land.”
Later in the interview, Thomas said the theory of evolution will inevitably lead to the murder of “the elderly and then, soon after that, the handicapped, the unwanted, the mentally unfit and the rest” while Obamacare will establish death panels that will decide “who gets care” based in part on “how much you’re contributing to the tax base.”
“I spent a lot of time in the UK and I studied the NHS and I hear these horror stories. This is coming to America. You’re going to have — now Sarah Palin called them death panels, the left didn’t like that— but there will be bureaucrats deciding who gets care, who gets surgery and who doesn’t based on your age, the cost of the procedure and a lot of other factors, how much you’re contributing to the tax base,” he said.
“It’s coming and the reason it’s coming is we’ve devalued human life among the unborn. It will now be attacked at the other end of life among the elderly and then soon after that the handicapped, the unwanted, the mentally unfit and the rest because once you decide that we’re evolutionary accidents, we weren’t created in the image and likeness of an objectively existing God who endows us with a right to life, then all bets are off.”
Host Joni Lamb then asked Thomas and Ralph Reed, the head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, “Twenty years ago, could you have ever imagined that America would have deteriorated in its moral values to the degree that we have here in 2014?”
“No, I would never have thought that it was possible,” Reed responded.
But Thomas said that Jesus “foresaw everything that was to come,” including the apparent collapse of America.
From the 04.14.2014 edition of Daystar’s Marcus and Joni:
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Baptist preacher Rafael Cruz: Sarah Palin was right about the tyrannical dictatorship of death panels | video
Conservative pastor Rafael Cruz warned Monday that “tyrannical dictatorship” was coming to the United States in 2017 in the form of “death panels.”
Phony Christian Michele Bachmann at #VVS13: "Obama's Health Care Law Will Be Known As 'DeathCare'" | Right Wing Watch
Michele Bachmann tried to outdo Ben Carson at today’s Values Voter Summit in her attack on health care reform, calling Obamacare an “egregious system” that “will ultimately be known as DeathCare.” Such language comes as no surprise from the Minnesota congresswoman, who has repeatedly warned that Obamacare will establish death panels and “literally” kill people.
H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW
15 Conservative-Based Myths The Media Should Ignore During Obamacare Implementation | Research | Media Matters for America
Right-wing media have consistently hyped several myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the lead up to open enrollment for state-based exchanges. As media outlets report on implementation of the health care law, they should be aware of these false claims, including zombie myths that the law includes “death panels” and that Congress is “exempt” from the law.
Myth #1: Congress Is “Exempt” From The Affordable Care Act
Fox’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck: Obama Administration “Has Decided That Congress And Their Staff Will Receive Extra Benefits That No Other American Gets.” Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck claimed that congressional members and staff got an “exemption” from the Affordable Care Act because of an Office of Personnel Management decision:
HASSELBECK: The president’s health care law [is] supposed to apply to everybody, but now President Obama’s Office of Personnel Management has decided that Congress and their staff will receive extra benefits that no other American gets. How fair is that? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/19/13, via Media Matters]
CNS News: Congress And Staff Members Will Get “Special Taxpayer Subsidies.” An August 27 article discussed Rep. Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) proposed legislation seeking to block Congress and its staffs from receiving “special taxpayer subsidies”:
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) says it’s not fair that members of Congress and their staffs will get special taxpayer subsidies to help them pay their Obamacare premiums in the new health insurance exchanges.
"I don’t think it’s fair at all," DeSantis told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren. [CNS News, 8/27/13]
NRO’s John Fund: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) Is Seeking To “End An Exemption” That Gives Congress “Generous Subsidies” To Pay For Health Insurance. In a September 16 article by John Fund on the National Review Online, Fund highlighted the argument in Congress over “whether Congress should be treated like the rest of the county when it comes to Obamacare.” The article stated further:
Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has demanded a floor vote on his bill to end an exemption that members of Congress and their staffs are slated to get that will make them the only participants in the new Obamacare exchanges to receive generous subsidies from their employer to pay for their health insurance. Angry Senate Democrats have drafted legislation that dredges up a 2007 prostitution scandal involving Vitter. The confrontation is a perfect illustration of just how wide the gulf in attitudes is between the Beltway and the rest of the country — and how viciously Capitol Hill denizens will fight for their privileges.
Democratic and Republican staffers alike were furious, warning that Congress faced a “brain drain” if the provision stuck. Under behind-the-scenes pressure from members of Congress in both parties, President Obama used the quiet of the August recess to personally order the Office of Personnel Management, which supervises federal employment issues, to interpret the law so as to retain the generous congressional benefits. [National Review Online, 9/16/13]
Heritage Foundation: “Washington’s Arrogant Political Class Is Getting Exemptions Or Special Treatment Denied To Ordinary Americans.” According to a September 16 post on the Heritage Foundation’s The Foundry blog, Congress is getting a special subsidy “through questionable administrative action” and is getting “special treatment” not available to the general public:
While Members of Congress and their personal staffs are required to enroll in Obamacare’s exchanges, the White House, through questionable administrative action, is providing them hefty taxpayer subsidies to offset the resultant increase in their personal health care costs. In other words, Washington’s arrogant political class is getting exemptions or special treatment denied to ordinary Americans. [Heritage Foundation, 9/16/13]
FACT: The Obama Administration Is Not Exempting Congress From The Health Care Law
FactCheck.org: “‘Special Subsidy’ … Is Simply A Premium Contribution” The Federal Government Has “Long Made To The Health Insurance Policies Of Its Workers.” A FactCheck.org article from August 30 explained that a similar claim made by Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) was “misleading” and that “lawmakers and their staffs face additional requirements that other Americans don’t”:
Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger is misleading his constituents by saying that he will decline the health insurance offered to members of Congress next year because it includes a “special subsidy” from the president that “exempted” Congress from the Affordable Care Act.
Congress isn’t “exempt” from the law. It wasn’t exempt back in 2010, when we first debunked such a claim; nor were lawmakers exempt in May when the bogus bit surfaced again. Three months later, they’re still not exempt. In fact, as we’ve said before, lawmakers and their staffs face additional requirements that other Americans don’t. And the “special subsidy” to which Pittenger refers is simply a premium contribution that his employer, the federal government, has long made to the health insurance policies of its workers.
Our readers may recall that before this provision was created, there were claims circulating that Congress was “exempt” from the law. This twisted reading of the legislation was based on the fact that originally Congress, like other Americans with work-based insurance or Americans on Medicare and Medicaid, wouldn’t be eligible for the exchanges. In other words, Congress was supposedly “exempt” when members couldn’t participate in the exchanges, and now that they are required to do so, they’re still somehow “exempt” from the law. Neither of these convoluted claims is true. [FactCheck.org, 8/30/13]
Myth #2: Premium Prices Will Increase Due To Health Care Law
Fox News: Dropping Out Of Exchanges Would Increase Premium Prices. A September 16 segment on Fox News’ Fox & Friends discussed insurers dropping out of some state exchanges, which Fox Business Network’s Kate Rogers claimed could spike prices:
ROGERS: Well we’ve long known that the Affordable Care Act would propel people into our U.S. health care system, increasing demand for coverage. But what we’ve seen starting since this past May, were insurers actually dropping out of the individual market and that means that costs could really go up for consumers if demand is going up and supply is going down, both of those things can spike prices. [Fox News, Fox & Friends,9/16/13]
Daily Caller: HHS Released Its Premium Rates And One Think Tank Analysis Found “Many Consumers Are In For Higher Costs.” A September 25 article in The Daily Caller claimed that an analysis by the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research found that, compared to current insurance rates, many consumers will face higher costs:
Just days away from its launch, the Department of Health and Human Services has finally released premium rates for the 36 state Obamacareexchanges it will run. One analysis found many consumers are in for higher costs.
HHS proudly announced that the final premiums it’s decided on are lower than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had originally predicted. But though the prices are lower than the CBO had thought, both of those numbers are dramatically higher than what Americans currently pay.
The conservative Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research compared HHS’s numbers to current insurance premium averages and found thatObamacare will almost double underlying insurance rates for the average 27-year-old man, Avik Roy reported in Forbes. [The Daily Caller, 9/25/13]
FACT: Premiums Will Be Lower Than Expected
CBS News: “Premiums Nationwide Are Expected To Be Around 16 Percent Lower Than Originally Predicted.” A September 25 CBS News article highlighted a recent report released by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department which found that premium prices nationwide are “expected to be around 16 percent lower than originally predicted” :
When open enrollment begins on the online, state-based marketplaces established under Obamacare, premiums nationwide are expected to be around 16 percent lower than originally predicted, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department said in a new report released Wednesday.
The administration sees the lower-than-expected premiums as a sign that the plan to drive down health costs for consumers by increasing competition is working. They also point to the insurers entering the individual health insurance market for the first time as a sign of strong competition, as well as the variety of plans that will be available on the market.
For families nationwide, “these new options will finally make health insurance work within their budget,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters Tuesday. [CBS News, 9/25/13]
HHS: “Nearly 6 In 10 Uninsured Americans Can Pay Less Than $100 Per Month For Coverage In The Health Insurance Marketplace.” A September 17 press release by HHS found that under the new state-based exchanges six in 10 uninsured Americans can pay less than $100 a month with subsidies included:
A new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that 56 percent, or nearly six in ten of the people who don’t have health insurance today may be able to get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for less than $100 per month.
Beginning on October 1, individuals and families will have a new way to shop for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. They’ll be able to compare their options using side-by-side information about price, quality and benefits. With one application they’ll be able to see if they qualify for premium tax credits or Medicaid that lower the costs of coverage right away. Coverage through the Marketplace starts as early as January 1, 2014. [HHS.gov, 9/17/13]
Fox’s Sarah Palin: “Of Course There Are Death Panels” In “Evil” Obamacare. During a segment on Fox News’ Cashin’ In, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin advanced the “death panels” myth, saying:
PALIN: Of course there are death panels in there. But the important thing to remember is that’s just one aspect of this atrocious, unaffordable, cumbersome, burdensome evil policy of Obama’s and that is Obamacare. [Fox News, Cashin’ In, 8/10/13]
Breitbart.com’s John Nolte: Death Panels “Are Already A Part Of Obamacare.” Breitbart.com columnist John Nolte claimed that “death panels” are included in the health care law:
The first services usually axed by death panels staffed with a handful of bureaucrats are the costly and uncertain experimental procedures that sometimes fail many times before leading to a breakthrough, as well as expensive, life-saving operations on the ill, handicapped, and elderly.
Some Democrats, most notably Howard Dean, are already pushing back against the “death panels” that are already a part of ObamaCare. [Breitbart.com, 8/10/13]
Fox’s Marc Siegel: IPAB Is “A Death Panel, It’s A Rationing Board.” On Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News contributor Marc Siegel called the Individual Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) “a death panel” and “a rationing board.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 8/6/13, via Media Matters]
Fox’s Eric Bolling: IPAB Decides “What Medical Treatment I’m Going To Be Able To Get.” On Your World, Fox host Eric Bolling said that “the whole point of [IPAB] is to decide what medical treatment I’m going to be able to get.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 8/6/13, via Media Matters]
Rush Limbaugh: “Death Panels” Will Decide “Who Gets What, Who Gets Paid For And Who Doesn’t.” On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed, “There’s a thing in Obamacare called death panels that are going to decide what, you know, who gets what, who gets paid for and who doesn’t.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/1/13]
Fox’s Sean Hannity: “Obamacare Death Panels Are In Fact Alive And Well.” On his Fox News show, host Sean Hannity said that “there is new evidence to suggest the so-called Obamacare death panels are in fact alive and well.” Hannity interviewed Palin, who said that her “claim that death panels were a part of Obamacare and the rationing of health care services” has “proven to be true.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/30/13, via Nexis]
FACT: Law Does Not Allow IPAB To Recommend Rationing Health Care
Health Care Law Explicitly States That IPAB Cannot Make “Any Recommendation To Ration Health Care.” The text of the ACA confirms that IPAB cannot make “any recommendation to ration health care… or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria”:
The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1818, 1818A, or 1839, increase Medicare beneficiary cost- sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria. [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accessed 8/13/13, OpenCongress.org]
PolitiFact: IPAB “Wouldn’t Make Any Health Care Decisions For Individual Americans.” A PolitiFact analysis of the claim that IPAB would make the final decision on available treatments found that IPAB would make broad policy decisions, not individual recommendations. It also noted that IPAB is “forbidden from submitting ‘any recommendation to ration health care’”:
The health care law directs a new national board — with 15 members who are political appointees — to identify Medicare savings. It’s forbidden from submitting “any recommendation to ration health care,” as Section 3403 of the health care law states. It may not raise premiums for Medicare beneficiaries or increase deductibles, coinsurance or co-payments. The IPAB also cannot change who is eligible for Medicare, restrict benefits or make recommendations that would raise revenue.
What it can do is reduce how much the government pays health care providers for services, reduce payments to hospitals with very high rates of re-admissions or recommend innovations that cut wasteful spending. Some argue that because the IPAB can reduce the money a doctor receives, this could lead to an indirect form of rationing.
But the board wouldn’t make any health care decisions for individual Americans. Instead, as PolitiFact Georgia reported, it would make broad policy decisions that affect Medicare’s overall cost. [PolitiFact, 10/3/12]
Wash. Post's Glenn Kessler: The ACA “Explicitly Says That The Recommendations Cannot Lead To Rationing Of Health Care.” Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote that IPAB “appears aimed at doing the same thing as the House Republican Medicare plan”:
The health-care law explicitly says that the recommendations cannot lead to rationing of health care. Of course, “rationing” is in the eye of beholder, and one common complaint is that rationing is not defined. The law also limits recommendations that would change benefits, modify eligibility or increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing, such as deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments.
On the surface, the IPAB appears aimed at doing the same thing as the House Republican Medicare plan — reducing the runaway costs of Medicare, except on a faster track. (The GOP plan would not kick in until 2021, just a few years before the Medicare hospital fund begins to run dry.) [The Washington Post, 10/4/12]
PolitiFact: “Of All The Falsehoods And Distortions In The Political Discourse This Year, “Death Panels “Stood Out From The Rest.” In December 2009, PolitiFact named “death panels” its 2009 “Lie of the Year”:
Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.
The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn’t made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.
Her assertion — that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care — spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, “Death panels? Really ?”
The editors of PolitiFact.com, the fact-checking Web site of the St. Petersburg Times , have chosen it as our inaugural “Lie of the Year.” [PolitiFact,12/18/09]
Fox’s Erick Erickson: Shutting Down The Government Over Obamacare Is “The Right Thing To Do.” On the September 13 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox contributor Erick Erickson called defunding Obamacare ”the right thing to do”:
ERICKSON: You’ve got dozens and dozens of Republicans who ran into office and got elected saying they were going to do every single thing they could to stop Obamacare. They have a choice now right now to defund it. And now they’re saying, “Oh well we can’t do that because we might get blamed for a shutdown.” So what? It’s the right thing to do. American companies are shutting down because they won’t shut down Obamacare. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 9/13/13, via Media Matters]
Fox News Radio Host Todd Starnes On Defunding: “Anything Less Is A Betrayal To The People.” Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes called on Republicans to defund Obamacare, even if it leads to a government shutdown:
Push will come to shove and Republicans need to be willing to shove back. If that means a government shutdown in October — so be it.
"If there’s ever been a time for politicians to take a risk on their next election, it’s stopping the government takeover of healthcare," said Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation. "This is not about political party or political calculation."
We need men and women who share DeMint’s fortitude in the House and Senate. We need lawmakers who are willing to stand their ground and stand up for the American people.
It’s time for Republicans to stand up and do the job they were elected to do. Anything less is a betrayal to the people who sent them to Washington, D.C. [FoxNews.com, 9/20/13]
Hannity Applauds Sen. Cruz’s Defunding Effort: “I’m With You In This.” On the September 23 edition of his Fox News show, host Sean Hannity interviewed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on his efforts to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act. After allowing Cruz a platform to criticize ACA and advocate defunding measures which could lead to a government shutdown, Hannity agreed, saying “I applaud your efforts. I’m with you in this. To me, this is a tipping point for the country.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/23/13, via Nexis]
FACT: Health Care Law Would Continue Even During A Government Shutdown
Washington Post: Affordable Care Act Implementation Would Continue Even During A Government Shutdown. According to an article in The Washington Post, “Eighty-five percent of the Affordable Care Act’s funding comes from mandatory spending that would not be affected by a shutdown.” Therefore, as, David Simas, White House deputy senior adviser for communications and strategy, explained, that while there may be some impacts of a shutdown, “it does not go into the core of what we are doing.” [The Washington Post, 9/25/13]
Myth #5: The Affordable Care Act Is “Socialized Medicine” And A “Government Takeover” Of Health Care
Fox News’ Monica Crowley: “You Don’t Surrender The Nation To Socialized Medicine Just Because You Think That You Can’t Win The PR Battle.” Fox News’ Monica Crowley pushed the idea that Congress should consider a government shutdown unless a resolution funding the government included defunding the Affordable Care Act. When faced with opposition to that opinion from a Fox colleague, Crowley explained that, “You don’t surrender the nation to socialized medicine just because you think that you can’t win the PR battle.” [Fox News, Happening Now, 9/20/13, via Media Matters]
Fox Quotes Heritage Foundation’s Jim DeMint: Politicians Need To Stop “The Government Takeover Of Healthcare.” According to a September 20 piece on FoxNews.com by Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes, Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint defended a decision to cause a government shutdown over funding the Affordable Care Act claiming it was worth it to”take a risk” in order to stop “the government takeover of healthcare”:
"If there’s ever been a time for politicians to take a risk on their next election, it’s stopping the government takeover of healthcare," said Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation. "This is not about political party or political calculation." [FoxNews.com, 9/20/13]
FACT: The Affordable Care Act Is Not Socialized Medicine Or A Government Takeover Of Health Care
PolitiFact Named “Government Takeover Of Health Care” As Its 2010 “Lie Of The Year.” In its article declaring “a government takeover of health care” to be the Lie of the Year, PolitiFact explained how the law “relies largely on the free market” and “private companies”:
"Government takeover" conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market:
- Employers will continue to provide health insurance to the majority of Americans through private insurance companies.
- Contrary to the claim, more people will get private health coverage. The law sets up “exchanges” where private insurers will compete to provide coverage to people who don’t have it.
- The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors.
- The law does not include the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would have competed with private insurers.
- The law gives tax credits to people who have difficulty affording insurance, so they can buy their coverage from private providers on the exchange. But here too, the approach relies on a free market with regulations, not socialized medicine.
PolitiFact reporters have studied the 906-page bill and interviewed independent health care experts. We have concluded it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers.
It’s true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market.
Republicans who maintain the Democratic plan is a government takeover say that characterization is justified because the plan increases federal regulation and will require Americans to buy health insurance.
But while those provisions are real, the majority of Americans will continue to get coverage from private insurers. And it will bring new business for the insurance industry: People who don”t currently have coverage will get it, for the most part, from private insurance companies. [PolitiFact, 12/16/10]
Times-Dispatch: “People Who Want Federal Help Paying For Their Health Insurance Will Not Have To Prove They Are Eligible For It.” A September 23 editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch claimed that the Obama administration announced in July that people requesting subsidies under the Affordable Care Act’s individual exchanges will not have to prove they are eligible for the subsides nor will anyone “check to see whether you’re legally entitled to collect them”:
People who want federal help paying for their health insurance will not have to prove they are eligible for it, the Obama administration has announced. (“Announced” isn’t quite the right word, though - given that the decision was buried in a 600-page regulation quietly released over the Fourth of July weekend.) This means you can apply for insurance subsidies through Obamacare’s new state-by-state exchanges, and nobody will check to see whether you’re legally entitled to collect them. [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/23/13]
Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy: Obama Administration Is “Deliberately Encouraging Tens Of Billions Of Dollars Of Waste, Fraud, And Abuse” By Not Requiring Eligibility Verification. A July 6 opinion piece in Forbes by Manhattan Institute senior fellow Avik Roy explained that the law doesn’t require verification before giving subsidies to those who are enrolling in the exchanges and initially only works on the “honor system.” The piece continues:
The goal here is plain as day. The Obama administration is laser-focused on making sure that enough Americans enroll onto Obamacare-subsidized health insurance platforms, because if they do, it will be politically impossible for Republicans to repeal Obamacare in the future.
Politics ain’t beanbag, they say. But deliberately encouraging tens of billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse in order to achieve a political objective is profoundly immoral. It’s a breach of faith with the hard-working taxpayers whose paychecks are being harnessed to a cause many of them don’t support. [Forbes, 7/6/13]
Breitbart.com: “Experts Say” Lack Of Eligibility Verification “Could Result In Billions Of Dollars In Waste, Fraud, And Abuse.” A Breitbart.com piece pushed comments by Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy who claimed that subsidy fraud could result in “billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse”:
Obamacare’s delayed implementation of the employer mandate means health insurance exchanges and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be unable to determine whether individuals are eligible for taxpayer-funded subsidies and will instead now rely on the honor system. Experts say the shift could result in billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse.
Forbes writer Avik Roy says the reason for the Obama Administration’s decision to move forward with the new scheme is clear.
"The goal here is plain as day," writes Roy. "The Obama administration is laser-focused on making sure that enough Americans enroll ontoObamacare-subsidized health insurance platforms, because if they do, it will be politically impossible for Republicans to repeal Obamacare in the future."
Roy added: “Deliberately encouraging tens of billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse in order to achieve a political objective is profoundly immoral.” [Breitbart.com, 7/7/13]
FACT: Government Has Established Subsidy Verification Measures
Full Verification System Is Delayed Until 2015, But Government Will Conduct Audits Of Those Suspected Of Fraud. According to an article in The Washington Post discussing the Obama administration’s decision to delay full verification measures until 2015, the federal government will conduct audits for federally managed exchanges and some state exchanges of “a statistically significant sample” of those who underreport their income. [The Washington Post, 7/5/13]
CNN Money: “Exchanges Must Still Check The Applicant’s Income Against A Federal Database.” According to a July 15 CNN Money article, eligibility will still be checked against an applicant’s income. However, the exchange may “choose to rely on what the applicant says”:
The new rule doesn’t fully excuse exchanges from having to verify income, said Judy Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Exchanges must still check the applicant’s income against a federal database, which will include information from his federal tax returns and a record of Social Security benefits.
The exchanges will be looking for disparities between what the applicant says and what’s in the database.
If it looks like someone is understating his income by more than 10%, and the exchange doesn’t have other sources to quickly check against, the exchange may choose to rely on what the applicant says.
But in those cases, the exchange must also conduct a random sample of similar applicants to make sure the verification process is working. [CNN Money, 7/15/13]
Federal Government Already Has Income Verification Tools Which Could Aid In Verifying Eligibility. A September 16 Health Affairs post explained that the federal government can use “Medicaid’s third-party liability system and Medicare’s coordination-of-benefits mechanisms,” which already collect information on “which companies offer and which employees and dependents receive ESI [employer-sponsored insurance].” [Health Affairs, 9/16/13]
Health Insurance Marketplaces Can Verify “7 In 10 Subsidy-Eligible Consumers” By Ensuring Recipients Or Their Spouses Don’t Work For Companies That Offer ESI. The Health Affairs article explained that if health insurance marketplaces establish which employers give employer-sponsored insurance by using federal verification tools, they would “verify eligibility for more than 7 in 10 subsidy-eligible consumers,” which would allow audits to “focus exclusively on subsidy recipients who work for companies that offer ESI.” [Health Affairs, 9/16/13]
CNN Money: Exchanges Are “Only Approving Estimated Tax Credits,” IRS Does Final Subsidy Calculation. According to CNN Money, someone who “slips through the cracks - and gets more of a subsidy than he is entitled to” - can still be identified because the exchanges are “only approving estimated tax credits,” and the “final calculation of a subsidy’s size will be done after the fact by the IRS.” [CNN Money, 7/15/13]
Washington Post: “Lying On The Exchange Form Carries With It A Penalty Of As Much As $25,000.” According to an article in The Washington Post, “lying on the exchange form carries with it a penalty of as much as $25,000,” and an individual who lied about income on the form would have to “pay back the extra subsidies when filing a tax return for 2014.” [The Washington Post,7/5/13]
Government Currently Uses The “Honor System In Situations In Which It Collects Data On Millions Of Individuals.” The Washington Post quoted Washington and Lee University law professor Timothy S. Jost who explained that “the honor system” — or the consumer self-reporting system that the government will rely on until other verification measures are in place — is not unprecedented and is used “in situations in which [government] collects data on millions of individuals” such as “people [who] are expected to report their cash tips to the Internal Revenue Service as income.” The article continued:
"An awful lot of the economy is a cash economy," [Jost] said. "If we had to verify every statement that was made to the IRS, our economy would collapse." [Washington Post, 7/5/13]
Las Vegas Review-Journal: If Your Doctor Isn’t In The Narrow Network, “You Will Not Be Able To Keep Your Doctor. Period.” According to an editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, President Obama’s promise that Americans can keep their doctors and health care plans if they like them is false because of “skinny networks” which would cut “the number of doctors and hospitals they contract with”:
President Barack Obama’s 2009 guarantee was emphatic. “We will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period.”
ObamaCare exchanges roll out in less than two weeks. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — or at least the portions of it the president deems politically expedient — takes effect Jan. 1. And many Nevadans are about to learn the value of the president’s word — and get notice worthy of an exclamation-point tirade.
As reported by the Review-Journal’s Jennifer Robison on Sept. 12, Nevada’s insurers are expected to control the costs of dozens of coverage mandates by slashing the number of doctors and hospitals they contract with, creating what local employee benefits consultants call “skinny networks.”
If you like your doctor, and your doctor isn’t in your new skinny network, then guess what? You will not be able keep your doctor. Period. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9/19/13]
Union Leader: Insurers Under Obamacare Will Limit Health Care Access For All. A September 23 Union Leader editorial pointed to limited insurance networks, or narrow networks, created to cover the uninsured as a failure of the ACA:
It turns out that New Hampshire is not alone in having health care choices constrained by Obamacare. The New York Times reported on Sunday that insurers in many states are shrinking their provider networks because of the Affordable Care Act.
"Federal officials often say that health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama’s health care law," the Times reported. "But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers." [New Hampshire Union Leader, 9/23/13]
FACT: Narrow Networks Provide Health Care Coverage While Keeping Costs Low
NYT: Narrow Networks Hold Down Costs For “Low- And Moderate-Income People.” According to a September 22 New York Times article, narrow networks make health insurance affordable to the uninsured by reducing costs due to streamlined provider networks:
When insurance marketplaces open on Oct. 1, most of those shopping for coverage will be low- and moderate-income people for whom price is paramount. To hold down costs, insurers say, they have created smaller networks of doctors and hospitals than are typically found in commercial insurance. And those health care providers will, in many cases, be paid less than what they have been receiving from commercial insurers. [The New York Times, 9/22/13]
BDC Advisors: New Narrow Networks Have An Emphasis On Quality And Cost Savings. According to BDC Advisors, a strategy consulting firm, new narrow insurance networks are focused on providing quality care and cost savings:
A recent BDC survey of national and regional Health Plans indicates there is a resurgence of narrow, tailored, tiered and high performance networks products in the market with premiums substantially below traditional open access offerings and with a new focus on quality. These new benefits plans are now being embraced by the market after falling into disfavor over the past decade for allegedly sacrificing quality for cost, as benefits managers opted for full service HMOs and open access PPO alternatives. Now with employers and patients seeking greater value for their health care dollars, businesses are showing a new willingness to offer narrow network products which encourage members to use more efficient health care alternatives, either by restricting networks to the most efficient providers and/or by having different copays and coinsurance for providers in different tiers of the network. [BDC Advisors, accessed 9/24/13]
EBRI: Employee Benefits Have Generally Relied On Restricted Networks. According to a 2009 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) study, many Americans who receive employee health benefits coverage are already enrolled in a type of narrow network:
In 2008, 98 percent of Americans with employment-based health benefits were enrolled in some kind of managed care plan (Claxton et al., 2008). Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs) represent a great majority of that enrollment, with approximately 80 percent. A managed care system typically provides, arranges for, and finances medical services using provider payment methods that encourage cost containment by contracting with select networks of providers.
Before the spread of managed care in the 1990s, insurance coverage was mostly based on a fee-for-service (FFS) system. Beneficiaries in the plan picked their doctors and hospitals at will. Payment was made by the beneficiary when service was rendered, or the health care provider accepted assignment of the claim from the beneficiary, and afterward claim forms were submitted to the insurance company (or self-insured plan sponsor) for reimbursement. Under managed care, enrollees are often required to follow utilization review and disease management procedures in order to secure coverage for services received. [Employee Benefit Research Institute, accessed 9/24/13]
Massachusetts, Which Uses Narrow Networks, Matches National Average In Health Access And Availability Of Care. According to the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis, the state’s health plan performance —which includes narrow networks— matches the national average of health care access:
Massachusetts health plan performance was in line with the national average. There was also little variation across plans on two HEDIS measures used to evaluate adults’ and childrens’ access to primary care practitioners and preventive care, a key indicator of health care access. The measures evaluate the proportion of enrollees that had the recommended preventive care visits; higher rates indicate greater access to preventive care.
For adults, the Massachusetts average score (96%) was in line with the national average (95%) (Figure 14). Among the health plans examined, there was little variation; performance ranged from 94% (Neighborhood Health Plan (NHP)) to 97% (HPHC PPO). On the children’s access measure, the average scores were between 97% and 99%. For the seven payers analyzed, scores exceeded national averages and, in all age ranges for children, every product scored above 95% on these measures. [Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis, August 2013]
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Narrow Networks On The Exchanges Apply To Newly Insured Or Those Who Switch Coverage. According to an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, narrow networks will appear on exchanges used by people seeking new insurance coverage:
Whether you’ll see a trimmed-down network in 2014 depends on your current coverage. If you have a policy through a big company or a self-insured business, and you don’t change plans Jan. 1, your network should stay the same. If you have to change plans, or if you’re buying for the first time, you could see thin networks. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9/11/13]
Myth #9: The Affordable Care Act Covers Abortions
Washington Times: "Taxpayer Funding Of Abortions Set To Increase Under Obamacare."According to The Washington Times, ACA funding will be used to provide abortions:
As Americans cast ballots in one of the most critical elections in decades, many would be surprised to learn that the current administration is prepared to funnel millions of dollars in new Medicaid funding to abortion providers. Only President Romney working with the new Congress can stop it. [The Washington Times,10/31/12]
Union Leader: Planned Parenthood Will Receive ACA Funds To Provide “Abortion On-Demand.” An August 19 editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader used the announcement that Planned Parenthood of Northern New England would receive navigator grant money to claim that Planned Parenthood’s “core business includes abortion-on-demand,” and quoted a source who said that “federal dollars and public funds shouldnot be granted to this organization.” [New Hampshire Union Leader, 8/19/13]
FACT: Funding Stemming From The ACA Will Not Cover Abortions
Planned Parenthood VP: Navigator Grants “Have Nothing To Do With Abortion And Won’t Be Used For Abortion Services.” Planned Parenthood Vice President Eric Ferrero stated that more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood health centers provide ”basic, preventative care” for women, and the funds received under the navigator grant program “won’t be used for abortion services” and “have nothing to do with abortion.” [Reuters, 8/16/13]
CMS: Planned Parenthood Of Northern New England Will Assist Patients With “Navigating The Health Insurance System.” According to the list of navigator grant recipients provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England fulfills the requirements of the grant program because they are a nonprofit health care provider which will assist patients with “understanding new programs” and “navigating the health insurance system to find the most affordable coverage that meets their needs.” [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 8/15/13]
Columbus Dispatch: “Many Employers Are Cutting Employee Hours” So They Do Not Have To Pay For Health Insurance For Their Employees. The Dispatch editorial claimed that “many employers” are cutting their employee’s hours to less than 30 hours per week in order to avoid paying their health care costs:
Because the law says full-time employees must be offered health insurance, and then redefines full time as 30 hours, rather than the traditional 40 hours, many employers are cutting employee hours so they don’t hit the 30-hour threshold. [The Columbus Dispatch, 8/28/13]
Fox News: “Ohio Clinic Touted By Obama Slashes Budget Due To ObamaCare.” According to a September 19 Fox News report, the Cleveland Clinic - the “largest employer in Northeast Ohio” - was forced to cut its budget due to the ACA:
An Ohio clinic that was touted by Obama while he was speaking on health care reform is now blaming ObamaCare after it was forced to cut $330 million from its budget.
Fox 8 reports the Cleveland Clinic, which is the largest employer in Northeast Ohio with about 39,000 workers in the region, announced the cuts to its 2014 budget at a meeting Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the clinic tells Fox News the clinic is being forced to cut back to prepare for increased costs and decreased revenue under the health care reform law.
These changes will include offering early retirement to approximately 3,000 employees, reducing operational costs, and then layoffs as needed.
The clinic says its main priority is to continue to provide a high quality of care during the transition, an attribute that led Obama to tout it in 2009 as an example of what hospitals could be under ObamaCare. [FoxNews.com, 9/19/13]
FACT: Small Businesses Have Seen Increased Hiring As Economy Improves; Employers Show Few Signs Of Reducing Work Force Due To The ACA
USA Today: The Individual Mandate For Businesses To Provide Coverage Has Not Deterred Hiring. According to an August 21 USA Today article, there is no evidence that the ACA has caused small businesses to stop hiring:
The gains are beginning to shift the terms of the debate over the health care law. Under the law, businesses with 50-plus full-time-equivalent workers must offer insurance to people working 30 hours a week beginning in 2015. That mandate, originally slated for 2014, has not deterred hiring as feared, some economists now say.
As more data come in, the law’s impact can’t be seen in hiring statistics, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.
"I was expecting to see it. I was looking for it, and it’s not there,” says Zandi, whose firm manages ADP’s surveys of overall private-sector job creation. If the Affordable Care Act "were causing a drop, you would see meaningful slowing.” [USA Today, 8/21/13]
Federal Reserve Bank Of Minneapolis Study: 89 Percent Of Individuals Surveyed Said Their Companies Did Not Plan To Cut Hours For Employees. According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, of the 205 contacts surveyed, 89 percent reported no plans to cut workers’ hours due to the Affordable Care Act:
The survey asked: Has your company or organization shifted to more part-time workers in response to the Affordable Care Act (federal health insurance requirements)?
Only 4 percent said they had shifted to more part-time workers, while another 7 percent said they planned to do so. But 89 percent said they had not made, nor were planning, such a move.[Federal Reserve Bank Of Minneapolis, 3/20/13]
CEPR Study: Only 0.6 Percent Of The Workforce Work Just Below 30 Hour Cutoff. According to a July 2013 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, an analysis of the Current Population Survey shows that only 0.6 percent of the workforce is currently working just under the 30 hour cutoff for a full-time employee, suggesting “that employers do not appear to be changing hours in large numbers in response to the sanctions in the ACA.” [Center for Economic and Policy Research, July 2013]
Federal Reserve Bank Of San Francisco Study: Any Effect ACA Has On Reduced Hours For Workers Is “Likely To Be Small.” According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, “most large employers already faced IRS rules” preventing them from denying coverage to full-time workers but haven’t reduced workers’ hours to avoid paying those costs. The report further notes that once the ACA is fully implemented, ”the ultimate increase in the incidence of part-time work […] is likely to be small, on the order of a 1 to 2 percentage point increase or less.” [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 8/26/13]
The Atlantic: “Much Of What The Cleveland Clinic System Is Doing Follows The Recommendations Of Health-Care Analysts Closely.” According to a September 20 story in The Atlantic, the Cleveland Clinic has been “working on reducing costs for years” to be viable but reports it is ”still hiring” and is following normal procedures in cutting its budget:
In fact, the “Obamacare is killing jobs” story isn’t really accurate. It’s not totally false — the Cleveland Clinic will in fact take in less money because of the law —but it’s a more complicated story about changes in medicine. When I reached Sheil on Thursday, she seemed a bit confused by the emphasis on Obamacare in reports. “We’ve been working on reducing costs for years,” she said.
"We felt health-care reform was absolutely necessary," Sheil said. "This is the new normal. This is where hospitals have to focus to be viable in the long run. This is not doomsday for the clinic. We’re still growing — we’re still hiring. The hardest thing is when it affects people."
Actually, much of what the Cleveland Clinic system is doing follows the recommendations of health-care analysts closely. For example, it has consolidated closely located neonatal intensive care units, because high volumes tend to lead to better results. It’s working to reduce the number of procedures its staff performs, since in the current system “physicians are rewarded to do more, not to do the right thing for the patient,” as Sheil put it. And there’s a new focus on chronic diseases, which are an increasingly important and costly area for treatment. [The Atlantic, 9/20/13]
had my annual physical exam this week, and since I had to take time off work to do it, I figured I’d at least get a little bit of research done since I knew I wanted to do some kind of essay about it today, given the exchanges open for business in two days. So I queried my doctor about what he’s hearing from patients when they talk to him about Obamacare. Do they have questions? Are they confused by any particular part of it?
He just sort of shook his head and sighed. Understand that this is Idaho, and he’s a doctor. So he’s pretty much a Republican. But he’s a very frustrated Republican who keeps hearing his patients recite back to him Fox News talking points. They think government is going to dictate what kind of care they can get. They think they’re losing their freedom. And don’t get him started on death panels. Yes, death panels. Still. He talked to me about the real death panel experiences he’s had. The ones with the insurance companies. Like last year when he had a patient in her sixties with early stage liver cancer. She was a fantastic candidate for a relatively new, very effective treatment in which the tumor is cauterized in a minimally invasive procedure. Nope, her insurance company said. It’s not an approved procedure, so she didn’t get it. And she didn’t make it.
We all know those kinds of stories. Presumably, even the people who are duped in to believing that there really are death panels in Obamacare either have been or know someone who has been screwed over by their insurance company. And yet, this new law that will rein in some of the worst abuses of those insurance companies is scarier to them than the status quo. Because they just keep hearing the myths. So let’s go through it one more time, those persistent myths that just won’t go away. Because in just a few days the exchanges open, everybody’s talking about it, so that makes now a really good time to inject some truth.
Let’s head below the fold and talk it out.
Almost all of the big lies are aimed at, as usual, the people who are the “haves.” That’s why the people my doctor has been talking to are so scared. That’s why they’ve been talking about losing “freedom.” They’ve been listening to Fox News and hearing that Obamacare is going to take what they already have away from them.
Obamacare will take the insurance I have away.
Let’s just get this straight: If you already have insurance, Obamacare is not taking it away. If you do lose it, it’s because your employer has dropped your coverage. It’s true that some employers might drop it, either to make a political point or because it would cost them less to pay the penalty for not providing coverage than to continue to carry it. But that’s not something Obamacare is forcing them to do.
Obamacare won’t let me see my doctor anymore.
Trust me, the government doesn’t care what doctor you see. If you have insurance, and you have a primary doctor, that won’t change unless your insurance company decides it will change. The power to force you to find a new doctor is something insurance companies have always had, and still do.
The IRS will control my health care.
That’s a persistent and difficult one to shake. Everyone hates the IRS, so it’s easy to believe the worst here. The IRS has a big role: It’s going to be verifying how much of a subsidy you’re going to be getting to help pay for insurance if you purchase it on the exchange. If you already have health insurance, the IRS will have nothing to do with it, with you, with your health care. They don’t know who your doctor is. They won’t see your medical records. They don’t care about your medical records.
It’s taking Medicare money away from me.
Scaring old people is the easiest and favorite thing for Republicans to do. Obamacare will not make you pay more for your Medicare, it will not take it away, and if you’re on Medicare, you don’t have to do anything at all on Oct. 1. But if you are on Medicare, you will see some additional benefits from Obamacare: more preventative care services and more savings on prescription drug coverage.
Obamacare is going to ration my health care (a corollary of death panels).
Your insurance company already rations your health care, but much of that’s changed with Obamacare: you can now get preventive care services without having a copay; you don’t face annual or lifetime caps on how much your insurance company will pay out for you if you get seriously, chronically ill; your insurance company can’t deem a condition “pre-existing” and refuse to cover it.
The Independent Payment Advisory Board, the supposed death panel, is prohibited in the law from rationing health care. It’s right there in black and white: It cannot make "any recommendation to ration health care … or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria."
This is a government take-over of health care in America.
We should be so lucky. Your insurance company won’t be going out of business, turning all your records over to the government. The insurance industry will continue to flourish, albeit with some new regulations that even the people propounding this one like, number one being no more pre-existing conditions.
There are a lot more, really crazy, chain-email type ones like “you won’t get cancer treatment after age 76,” or “government workers will force their way into your home to inspect it,” or “this is the biggest tax increase in the history of the world,” or “Obamacare creates a database of people’s sex lives.” Occasionally, PolitiFact is useful debunking lies. They do a good job with these and a handful of others.
But the lies directed toward the uninsured are the ones that really expose just how immoral Republicans are. They are trying to convince people, particularly young people, that it’s better to go without the protection of health insurance to make a political statement.
PolitiFact has been fact-checking claims about the federal health care law since lawmakers started drafting the legislation in 2009. Long controversial, the law has been no stranger to attacks by detractors. Here are 16 of the biggest falsehoods PolitiFact has rated.
( Fact-checks are listed in no particular order. The links will take you to a full report and a source list for each fact-check.)
1. The health care law rations care, like systems in Canada and Great Britain. False.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, July 2, 2012, in an interview on Fox News
The health care law is not socialized medicine. Instead, it leaves in place the private health care system that follows free market principles. The law does put more regulations on health insurance companies. It also fines most large employers who fail to provide insurance for their employees, and it requires all individuals to have health insurance. This is unlike the systems in either Britain or Canada. In Britain, doctors are employees of the government, while in Canada, the government pays most medical bills as part of a single-payer system. The U.S. health care law has neither of those features. PolitiFact has rated this claim and others like it False.
2. The health care law has “death panels.” Pants on Fire.
Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor, Aug. 7, 2009, in a message posted on Facebook
Back in 2009, it was a popular talking point to claim that the health care law had “death panels” to determine if individuals are worthy of receiving health care coverage. The claim was widely debunked and named PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year. The talking point started in reaction to an idea for Medicare, that the Medicare program for seniors should specifically cover doctor appointments for seniors who wanted to discuss do-not-resuscitate orders, end-of-life directives and living wills. The visits would have been completely optional and only for people who wanted the appointments. After controversy, the provision was dropped from the final legislation. We rated the “death panels” claim Pants on Fire.
3. Muslims are exempt from the health care law. Pants on Fire.
Chain email, May 29, 2013
A widely circulated chain email claims that the word “dhimmitude” is on page 107 of the health care law, and it means Muslims will be exempt. Actually, the health care law does not include the word “dhimmitude” (a recently coined word that seems to refer to non-Muslims under Muslim rule). Also, the health care law doesn’t exempt Muslims. There is a “religious conscience exemption,” but it applies to groups that disavow all forms of insurance, including Social Security. Muslim groups have supported the Affordable Care Act. We rated the chain email’s claim Pants on Fire.
4. The IRS is going to be “in charge” of “a huge national database” on health care that will include Americans’ “personal, intimate, most close-to-the-vest-secrets.” Pants on Fire.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., May 15, 2013, in an interview on Fox News
The Internal Revenue Service does have a role to play as part of the health care law, but it’s not the role suggested here. If you buy insurance on the marketplace and you get a subsidy, officials will check tax records to make sure you qualify. That communication with the IRS happens via a data hub that’s also connected to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s important to note, though, that the hub isn’t a database. The IRS isn’t running it. And it doesn’t include “intimate” health data. The hub is for signing up for health insurance, not for storing medical records. We rated the claim Pants on Fire.
5. Congress is exempt from Obamacare. False.
Chain email, Jan. 6, 2013
Even a few sitting lawmakers have repeated this claim, but it’s not true. Congress is not exempt from Obamacare. Like everyone else, lawmakers are required to have health insurance. They’re also required to buy insurance through the marketplaces. The idea is to have lawmakers and their staff buy insurance the same way their uninsured constituents would so they understand what their constituents have to deal with. Most Americans who already get insurance through work are left alone under the law; members of Congress have insurance through work but are treated differently in this regard. Recently, a rule was added so that lawmakers’ could keep the traditional employer contribution to their coverage. But they weren’t exempt from requirements that other Americans face. We rated this claim False.
6. Under Obamacare, people who “have a doctor they’ve been seeing for the last 15 or 20 years, they won’t be able to keep going to that doctor.” Mostly False.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., July 31, 2013 in a Fox News interview
Some have suggested that Obamacare would interfere with doctor-patient relationships. Actually, there’s no more interference than what existed before Obamacare. Right now, patients can lose access to their doctors when their insurance policies change. This typically happens when employers switch plans or when workers switch (or lose) jobs. Under Obamacare, some patients who buy health insurance through the marketplace could lose access to their current doctor, but it’s difficult to predict how many. And it would be because they have a new insurance plan. We rated this claim Mostly False.
7. The health care law is a "government takeover" of health care. Pants on Fire.
U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, Feb. 20, 2010, in a speech to Pinellas County Republicans.
"Government takeover" conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed relies largely on the free market. It’s true that the law significantly increases government regulation of health insurers. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market. The majority of Americans will continue to get coverage from private insurers. We rated the claim Pants on Fire.
8. “All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free health care services.” Pants on Fire.
Chain email, July 28, 2009
The health care law does not provide free health care services to anyone, and especially not to people in the United States illegally. Illegal immigrants may not enroll in Medicaid, nor are they eligible to shop on the marketplace for health insurance. Permanent legal residents are eligible for health insurance subsidies on the marketplace, as are U.S. citizens. Current law says that hospital emergency rooms must stabilize illegal immigrants with medical emergencies, but that law predates Obamacare. We rated this claim Pants on Fire.
9. Because of Obamacare, health care premiums have “gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years.” False.
President Barack Obama, Oct. 3, 2012, in a presidential debate
The historical data for health care premiums only goes back 14 years; there’s no evidence to support the idea that premiums are at a 50-year low. Overall health care costs have slowed down, but even there, Obama exaggerated the impact of his health care law. Experts say slowing costs are due to a variety of reasons, including the recent recession. Giving all the credit to the new law overstates the case. We rated the statement False.
10. Under Obamacare, “75 percent of small businesses now say they are going to be forced to either fire workers or cut their hours.” Pants on Fire.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., July 25, 2013 in a FoxNews.com op-ed
Suggestions that business are laying off workers because of the health care law have so far proven to be largely unfounded. Most small businesses — those with fewer than 50 employees — do not have to provide health insurance to their employees. (In fact, some very small businesses with fewer than 25 employees may qualify for tax credits under the law.) The claim here that 75 percent of small business were reducing their workforce was based on a misreading of a study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The study actually found that less than 10 percent of small businesses said they will be forced to reduce their workforce or cut hours. We rated the claimPants on Fire.
11. “At age 76 when you most need it, you are not eligible for cancer treatment" under the health law. Pants on Fire.
Chain email, June 3, 2013
Some misinformation about the health care law has been specifically aimed at seniors, even though the law largely leaves the Medicare program alone. This particular claim, that older cancer patients will go without treatment, is wrong on several levels. For one thing, the health care law didn’t make changes to patient benefits in the Medicare program. Cancer treatment will still be covered by Medicare. Also, there are no changes in the law aimed at people 76 or older. This claim seems to have been invented out of whole cloth as a scare tactic. We rated it Pants on Fire.
12. The health care law includes “a 3.8% sales tax" on "all real estate transactions." Pants on Fire.
Chain email, July 24, 2012
An anonymous chain email claims that the health care law puts a 3.8 percent tax on home sales. This is not correct. The law does include new taxes, but the taxes are primarily on the health care industry and on investment income for the wealthy. For middle-class homeowners, there are long-standing tax exemptions on the profits from home sales, and the health care law didn’t change them. We rated this statement Pants on Fire.
13. “Obamacare is … the largest tax increase in the history of the world.” Pants on Fire.
Rush Limbaugh, June 28, 2012, on his radio show
Radio host Rush Limbaugh and others have claimed the health care law includes historically high tax increases. While there are new taxes in the health care law — representing the first significant federal tax increases since 1993 — they are not the largest increases in the history of the United States, much less the world. When accounting for the size of the overall economy, tax increases signed into law by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were larger than the tax increases in the health law. We rated this statement Pants on Fire.
14. A “hidden” provision in the health care law taxes sporting goods as medical devices. Pants on Fire.
Chain email, June 12, 2013
A chain email claims that common sporting goods equipment — fishing rods, outboard motors, tackle boxes — will be taxed at 2.3 percent under Obamacare. There is a 2.3 percent tax in the law, but it applies to medical devices, not sports equipment. Also, the medical devices tax applies to manufacturers and makers, not consumers. This chain email seems to stem from a mistake made at Cabela’s, a Nebraska-based retail store that sells sporting goods. At the beginning of 2013, Cabela’s accidentally started taxing its sales and labeling it a medical excise tax. But that move was in error, and the company quickly reversed itself the same day. As for the chain email, we rate its claim Pants on Fire!
15. Obamacare will question your sex life. Pants on Fire.
Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York, Sept. 15, 2013, in an op-ed in the New York Post
In the op-ed, McCaughey claimed the law pressures doctors into asking about people’s sex lives and recording those answer in electronic health records. Actually, it was the economic stimulus that created incentives for doctors to move to electronic health records. And, none of the criteria require questions about people’s sex lives. Instead, doctors are asked to record standard diagnostic criteria like vital signs, diagnoses, medications and the like. Privacy advocates do have concerns about electronic health records, but it’s not about people getting asked embarrassing questions about their sex lives. We rated this claim Pants on Fire!
16. An Obamacare provision will allow “forced home inspections" by government agents. Pants on Fire.
Bloggers, Aug. 15, 2013
State lawmakers in South Carolina got this one going by claiming they were concerned that the health care law allowed forced home inspections. People can relax, though: There are no forced home inspections. What got people concerned is an optional home health care program that sends nurses on house calls to the homes of pregnant, poor women. The idea is that the nurses will check on the moms and offer prenatal advice in a comfortable environment. And the program is not mandatory. We rated this claim Pants on Fire!
On Sunday, CNN’s State of the Union invited Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus to offer what turned out to be little more than a dump of Republican talking points opposing the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare is “European, socialist style-type health care,” Priebus told CNN. He even claimed that Republicans — who have now voted to repeal Obamacare’s protections for people with preexisting conditions 40 different times — are the true defenders of people who are unable to obtain health insurance without health reform. And then he dropped the death panels line — “what people don’t want are government panels deciding whether something’s medically necessary.”.
Priebus’ decision to drop this line without any context whatsoever represents an innovation in Republican messaging against providing health care to millions of Americans. The “death panel” smear originally emerged on former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) Facebook page, and was widely viewed at the time as an attack on a bipartisan proposal to enable Medicare to cover voluntary end-of-life counseling. After that proposal was dropped from the bill that ultimately became the Affordable Care Act, several Republicans — including Palin once again — retconned the term “death panels” to refer to a cost-cutting measure known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board or IPAB.
Although the IPAB is empowered to take some measures to bring down Medicare costs if those costs grow faster than a certain rate, it is expressly forbidden to take any action that might qualify as rationing care. Under the Affordable Care Act, no proposal generated by the IPAB may include “any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1818, 1818A, or 1839, increase Medicare beneficiary cost sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.” Moreover, it is not at all clear that the IPAB will do anything at all, because Medicare costs are currently not growing fast enough to trigger the IPAB’s authority.
So the first provision Republicans labeled as a “death panel” wasn’t actually a death panel, and it didn’t even make it into the law itself. The second provision they labeled a “death panel” also isn’t a death panel, and it may not actually do anything at all. Four years after Sarah Palin invented this canard, the Republican National Committee Chair is reduced to simply asserting, without context or explanation, that death panels exist — and hoping someone out there will still believe him.
And why they’re wrong.
One of the largest components of the Affordable Care Act—the health exchanges from which Americans can buy discount health coverage—will go into effect on October 1. And that has right-wingers in conspiracy theory high gear. Here are seven conspiracy theories about the health care law, along with debunkings from the fact-check websites PolitiFact and Snopes:
1. Obamacare Will Tax Your Outboard Motor
The Claim: A chain email making the rounds this summer claims that a “hidden” provision of Obamacare taxes sporting goods as medical devices, including “Sport fishing equipment; Fishing rods and fishing poles; Electric outboard motors; Fishing tackle boxes; Bows, quivers, broadheads and points; Arrow shafts; Coal; Taxable tires; Gas guzzler automobiles.” Yikes!
The Reality: Obamacare does impose a 2.3 percent tax on some medical devices to offset the added costs of expanding health coverage to the uninsured, which went into effect at the beginning of the year. But, as PolitiFact points out, none of the items listed in the chain email is labeled as a medical device by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which defines the types of devices that can be taxed. No, Obamacare won’t be taxing your golf club after all.
2. Obamacare Will Kill Your Grandma
The Claim: Another zombie chain email warns that Obamacare will deny old people cancer treatment: “Please for the sake of many good people, please… pass this on. We all need to be informed. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LIKE THIS… At age 76 when you most need it, you are not eligible for cancer treatment.”
The Reality: This particular email has been making the rounds for a good four years, according toSnopes, and is based on an old version of the law that didn’t pass. But even that version of the legislation did not ration cancer care; in fact, the American Nurses Association says the cancer treatment section of that law would implement ”the opposite of rationing. The section allows Medicare to pay cancer hospitals more if they are incurring higher costs.” Similarly, there is no cut-off age for cancer treatment under the law that passed, known as Obamacare. “The claim is based on an inaccurate reading of a bill that went nowhere,” PolitiFact concludes.
3. Obamacare Comes With Microchips
The Claim: Beware, Obamacare is going to implant a microchip in you, cautions yet another chain email batting around the internet: “This new Health Care (Obamacare) law requires and RFID [radio frequency identification] chip implanted in all of us. This chip will not only contain your personal information with tracking capability but it will also be linked to your bank account.”
The Reality: As Snopes points out, “[C]laims that health care reform legislation will require such implantations date to the Clinton administration” and are “often linked to the ‘mark of the beast’ referenced in Revelations.” The sections of legislation referenced in the email and others like it pertain to a passage in a previous version of the health care law that called for the creation of a registry that would allow the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect data about medical devices “used in or on a patient”—such as pacemakers or hip replacements—in order to track their effectiveness. Nothing in the Affordable Care Act calls for the government to stick a microchip in your wrist.
4. Illegal Immigrants Are Eligible for Obamacare
The Claim: Illegal immigrants will get health coverage under Obamacare, warns one widely circulated, oft-debunked, and still undead chain email.
The Reality: The health care law requires Americans (Americans) to purchase health insurance. Undocumented immigrants “don’t have to follow the mandate because they shouldn’t be here,”PolitiFact reiterates. “They [also] remain ineligible for regular Medicaid coverage, just as they are ineligible for food stamps.”
5. Thomas Jefferson Warned Us About Obamacare
The Claim: Thomas Jefferson warned of the dangers of government interference in health care. Here is the purported quote from our founding father, via a chain email: “If the people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in a sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
The Reality: Jefferson did write something similar in a book published in 1785 called Notes on the State of Virginia: “Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet,” he wrote, “our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.” The latter quote was transformed into the former in the 1990s, Snopes explains, and has been trotted out repeatedly as a caution against government meddling in private medical practice. But that wasn’t Jefferson’s argument; he was suggesting that legislating morality was as useless as legislating what a person eats.
6. Almost Everyone Who Works for a Small Business Is Getting Fired
The Claim: In late July, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), citing a study by the Chamber of Commerce, asserted that three-quarters of all small businesses have said they’re going to fire workers or cut hours. Rubio said this is due to the provision in the law that requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer affordable health coverage or face a penalty.
The Reality: The Chamber study involved 1,300 small business executives, but PolitiFact did some digging and found out that the Chamber did not actually survey the entire group on whether they’d fire employees because of the law. Only 17 percent of survey members said they would be impacted by the law’s so-called employer mandate. Out of that 17 percent of small businessmen and women, the study purportedly found that 75 percent of them said they would cut hours or replace workers, but Politico found that even that number was fudged by lumping survey questions together. Math shows that out of all small business execs in the study, only 5 to 9 percent actually said they would cut back hours or replace full-time workers in response to the health care law.
7. The Giant Obamacare Database
The Claim: In May, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) warned of a “huge national database” created by the health care law that will collect Americans’ “personal, intimate, most close-to-the-vest-secrets.” The claim has been widely discredited, but fringy conservative email chains continue to perpetuate the falsehood.
The Reality: The government is not constructing a database that collects, centralizes, and stores data. The health care law does create something called a Federal Data Hub which will allow HHS to extract data—such as whether a person already has health insurance—from already existingdatabases at other state and federal agencies. The hub will be used to verify consumer information when they are purchasing health insurance on the exchanges. The hub also has the ability to access income data and Social Security numbers, but that information already exists in other federal databases, “so the hub wouldn’t represent an expansion of federal data collection,” according toPolitiFact. Brian Cook, a spokesman for HHS, told the fact-checking organization that the hub will have “strict privacy controls to safeguard personal information.”
Faith2Action's Porter: "Obama Threatens Our 'Ability to Exist,' Committed 'Ultimate Hate Crime'" | Right Wing Watch
Janet Porter stopped by TruNews with Rick Wiles on Wednesday to publicize her new film project, The Criminalization of Christianity, and discuss the alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups. After making the laughable claim that conservative groups “weren’t allowed to exist” during the 2012 election cycle, she made the even more absurd argument that Obamacare will jeopardize our “ability to exist as a live human being” and that conservatives will be denied “lifesaving treatment.”
For the conservatives who do survive the “Obamacare death panels,” Porter predicts a grim future where people are thrown in jail for speaking against gay marriage or refusing to perform gay nuptials. She also alleged that Obama’s gaffe about visiting fifty-seven states was really a sign that he is a Muslim because there are fifty-seven members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
She added that Obama and Hillary Clinton used (or orchestrated) the Benghazi attack to criminalize anti-Muslim speech. Repeating Bill Federer’s debunked claims about the Benghazi attack, Porter said the Obama administration committed the “ultimate hate crime” and “hate crime of hate crimes” over the death of Amb. Christopher Stevens, whom she thinks was gay.
From the 06.12.2013 edition of TruNews:
Conservatives have been using a 10-year-old child in need of an organ transplant as a prop for their latest lies about ObamaCare.
Although conservatives have tried to tie this case to Obamacare, the rule barring children under 12 from being placed on the adult transplant list was promulgated in 2005 under the Bush administration.
A Fox News analyst invoked the discredited “death panels” myth to stoke fears that cancer clinics are turning away patients as a result of the 2010 health care reform law, even as those clinics say they are being forced to turn away patients because of automatic across-the-board budget cuts that took effect last month.
On April 5, Fox News analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss the story and blamed not only sequestration, but President Obama’s health care reform law, saying: "This is about people dying as a result of Obamacare and as a result of the sequester." Johnson then claimed that Medicare growth reduction, which is in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would lead to similar problems for Medicare patients. Later, Johnson used this situation to push the right-wing myths about “death panels” under the ACA.
ohnson’s claim that the ACA resulted in cancer patients losing chemotherapy treatment is groundless. The Post’s Kliff explained in her post how sequestration is solely responsible for this reduction in care.
Johnson’s claim that the ACA will cause reductions in care for Medicare beneficiaries is also false, and haslong been pushed by right-wing media. The ACA does not cut Medicare benefits - it actually reduces future payments in areas seen as inefficient or wasteful, and health care experts have said that it shouldn’t negatively affect the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.
Finally, Johnson’s “death panel” fearmongering stems from a baseless right-wing myth that has persisted since mid-2009.
As the country prepares to celebrate the third anniversary of health care reform, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) insisted on Thursday that the Affordable Care Act will “kill” vulnerable women and children during a speech on the floor of the House.
In a long diatribe against the law, Bachmann predicted that the American people will “pay more” and get less, before suggesting that the provisions of Obamacare will “literally” kill people:
BACHMANN: That’s why we’re here because we’re saying let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. Let’s not do that. Let’s love people, let’s care about people. Let’s repeal it now while we can.
Gordon Klingenschmitt typically uses his Pray In Jesus Name Project email list to attack gays and gay right supporters, but yesterday he asked members to join renewed efforts by the House GOP to repeal the health care reform law. Klingenschmitt, a longtime Religious Right activist who once performed an exorcism on a gay rape survivor, warned that “federal bureaucrats will enforce Obamacare to exterminate the elderly, systematically” and claimed that “the government is now abolishing the church with the state sword.”