With a non-stop geyser of news hitting digital media every day, a lot of material tends to slip through the cracks. For example, we somehow missed an op/ed from several days ago that’s packed wall-to-wall with lies and misinformation about Obamacare. Naturally, it was co-authored by a prominent tea party Republican along with a senatorial candidate from Nebraska, and published in the very dubious Washington Examiner.
The article, titled “Republicans can’t beat Obamacare without effective health care solutions of their own,” written by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who’s Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) toady and co-filibusterer, and Midland University’s president Ben Sasse, who also happens to be running for Senate, was billed as a prescriptive, strategic item for the benefit of GOP midterm candidates. It wasn’t. Instead, it was another syllabus of unsourced myths and nonsense about the healthcare law.
So here we go again.
MYTH: Regarding the enrollment numbers announced by the administration, Lee and Sasse wrote, “Americans are smart to be skeptical about these assertions.”
REALITY: Americans should only be skeptical insofar as the actual enrollment numbers are significantly higher. As we reported earlier in the week, the independent RAND American Life Panel found that 9.3 million people enrolled through both the exchanges and employer-sponsored insurance between September and mid-March. An additional 5.9 million Americans enrolled through the expansion of Medicaid. 3 million young people were insured due to the expanded age limit for staying on their parents’ policy. And a further 9 million Americans signed up for policies directly through insurance providers, outside of the marketplaces.
Again, this isn’t the Obama administration reporting these numbers. This is an outside survey from a very reliable source. Once again, numbers don’t lie. But clearly the tea party does.
MYTH: “[Obama] has ignored the economic damage done to individuals who have lost their jobs…as a result of his signature achievement in office.”
REALITY: Wrong. The CBO’s director, Doug Elmendorf, testified to Congress that Obamacare “spurs employment and would reduce unemployment over the next few years.”
MYTH: Obamacare will “Force people on to government-approved plans and limit their health care options.”
REALITY: Limited options? Really? The marketplaces offer literally dozens of options from multiple insurance companies and with numerous tiers of coverage from each provider. For example, Kaiser-Permanente offers Bronze, Silver and Gold plans, but within each tier there are multiple policies with different options. KP’s various Silver plans range from Silver III, Silver II and Silver I with subsets of their own. I’d be happier with the law if there had been a government-run public option, but my marketplace experience was by no means limited. Furthermore, who the hell wants a plan that’s not approved by the government? Would you take a pill that wasn’t approved by the FDA? Would you buy a slab of meat that wasn’t inspected by the USDA? I suppose if you’re insane you would, but most of us want to know that we’re not being screwed or poisoned.
MYTH: Obamacare will “Require millions of people to pay for services they’ll never use, such as seniors with adult children paying for maternity care.”
REALITY: First of all, seniors are generally defined as being 65 and older, so they’re not buying Obamacare. They’re covered by “government-approved” Medicare. Duh. But if there was a coup d’etat and the Republicans somehow repealed Obamacare tomorrow, Americans would still be enrolled in policies that include coverage for treatments they’d never use. That’s just how insurance works. Health insurance, like cable television, isn’t sold a la carte. You can’t pick and choose coverage solely based on medical care you predict you might need.
MYTH: Obamacare will “Vacuum great sums of wealth from the middle class and put it under the control of government bureaucrats.”
REALITY: I have no idea what Lee and Sasse are talking about here. Taxes? Premiums? I don’t get it. Not a penny of my insurance premiums will fall under the control of government bureaucrats. We’ll chalk up this line to baseless scare-mongering.
MYTH: “[The] president has delayed, repealed, and waived parts of Obamacare more than 30 times. Because it’s ‘working.'”
REALITY: Nice try with the snark there, but nope. Politifact determined that the administration had only unilaterally adjusted the implementation of the law around five times, while the rest of the adjustments were accomplished legislatively. But the number could be double or triple and it wouldn’t matter. Administrations routinely adjust a law’s implementation after passage, and many of the changes were either minor or concessions to GOP demands (the extension of the deadline for the business mandate, for instance). The Bush administration did the same thing with the Medicare Part-D program.
MYTH: “Meanwhile, premiums have increased by $2,900 per family per year.”
REALITY: I searched for quite a while but dammit if I couldn’t find any verification of this number. But let’s take Lee and Sasse at their word. Using the Kaiser subsidy calculator, a family of four earning the national median income of $51,017 per year would only pay $3,511 in annual premiums for a Silver plan, or $292 per month after a $5,905 government subsidy, which, by the way, can be paid out in advance. What the hell were these families paying before Obamacare?
MYTH: “[B]usinesses are being forced to let workers go or cut hours…”
REALITY: Good gravy, it’s the repeatedly debunked CBO zombie lie again. When the CBO reported that work hours would be rolled back by the equivalent of around 2 million jobs over the next 10 years, the Republicans immediately lied about the report and claimed that 2 million jobs would be lost, as in people being fired. That’s not the case at all. The CBO report explicitly states that these are people leaving the workforce or reducing their hours voluntarily.
That’s a lot of lies for a 700-word article. The authors recommended that “conservatives should have an honest conversation with the American people about the problems with the president’s health care law.” Yeah, “an honest conversation” that clearly won’t be honest in any way. It’ll just be more of the same hokum, and a lot more. Lee and Sasse tossed in a couple of nonspecific paragraphs suggesting that Republicans come up with an alternative to Obamacare, but it really wasn’t the point. The point was to reinforce the falsehoods. Why? Because it works.