Fox News is rewriting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to warn young people they could face prison time if they fail to pay the fine for not having health insurance -- a penalty the law expressly prohibits.
Commonly called the individual mandate, a provision of the ACA requires uninsured Americans to obtain health coverage by the end of March. Those who do not will owe the government a fine -- this year, $90 or 1 percent of income -- in part to help mitigate the cost to taxpayers of medical care for the willfully uninsured.
Fox & Friends took the repercussions of not paying this fine to the extreme. On the October 28 edition of the program, co-host Brian Kilmeade asserted that young people's motivation in paying the penalty will be "in order to avoid prison time or whatever ramifications."
PolitiFact rated statements like Kilmeade's a "pants on fire" lie. The Affordable Care Act specifically precludes jail time or any criminal prosecution as a penalty for those who do not gain insurance and refuse to pay the fine. The law clearly states, under the section "WAIVER OF CRIMINAL PENALTIES":
In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.
Fox's Bill Hemmer refused to accept a U.S. senator's correction and admonishment of the network's misreporting on the health care plans of Congress and congressional staff under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare).
During the fight over the government shutdown and Affordable Care Act, a favorite refrain of the right-wing media and the tea party has been the line that Congress is receiving exemptions and special treatment under the ACA that normal Americans cannot obtain. This is not true -- staffers receive the same employer-sponsored health care that most employed Americans receive.
A conservative pundit repeated this myth in an October 23 segment on America's Newsroom, and when Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) came on after a commercial break to discuss violence in Egypt, he wanted to correct the record -- but Fox host Hemmer wouldn't allow it.
Near the end of Corker's interview, Hemmer revealed that the senator was displeased with Fox's handling of the Congressional exemption story in the previous segment, saying in part, "You were listening to our program a bit earlier during the commercial break. You took strong exception to the fact that you think Congress is playing by the same rules that regular Americans are playing by when it comes to Obamacare."
Corker replied, "I think there's been a lot of misreporting and sort-of a myth around what's happening with Obamacare."
The senator then made three different attempts to tell the truth about congressional coverage.
Each time, Hemmer interrupted Corker. He parroted the myth that Congress receives special treatment and rebuked Corker's explanation with claims that people "get lost" in the facts.
Consumer Reports rebuked conservatives who misconstrued their position on Healthcare.gov, but that didn't stop Sean Hannity from repeating the spin in order to demonize health care reform.
In acknowledgement of the bumpy rollout of Healthcare.gov, the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) online insurance exchange, Consumer Reports spent the first weeks in October detailing updates to the site and guiding readers step-by-step on how to navigate the site's glitches.
The publication advised still-confused readers to hold off briefly on signing up:
If all this is too much for you to absorb, follow our previous advice: Stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can. Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they've made. The coverage available through the marketplaces won't begin until Jan. 1, 2014, at the earliest, and you have until Dec. 15 to enroll if you need insurance that starts promptly.
Conservative pundits pounced on the language. Sean Hannity cited it during an October 21 rant against the ACA on Hannity as evidence that health care reform has been discredited, yelling to guest Ann Coulter, "Consumer Reports, Ann, they're telling people, 'Stay away from the website!' "
Consumer Reports never warned consumers to stay away from the website for good, as Hannity intimates -- only for a few weeks while glitches are ironed out. And the publication isn't happy with the spin conservatives are using to attack the ACA. Also on October 21 -- more than three hours before Hannity cited the publication -- Consumer Reports chastised mischaracterizations of their position. They wrote:
A since-clarified NBC News report on repairs to the website for the new federal health insurance exchange is providing fodder for Fox News to continue its denigration of health care reform.
Observers on all sides of the debate have acknowledged that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act's (also known as the ACA or Obamacare) insurance exchanges site has been bumpy. That website, Healthcare.gov, up and running since October 1, has dealt with many glitches due to the large number of visitors to the site and other technical problems.
But this fact does not permit news outlets to fabricate problems.
On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace kicked off a discussion of the exchanges with Republican Senator Marco Rubio (FL) by telling him, "The federal website for Obamacare is once again down for repairs this weekend."
But Healthcare.gov was not down for the entire weekend, as Wallace suggested. The Fox anchor's comment mirrors a misleading report from NBC that the network subsequently clarified.
On Friday evening, NBC Nightly News misleadingly tweeted that the White House would be taking down Healthcare.gov for repairs:
Fox News' concerted campaign against government social programs is not resonating with the American people, according to a new NBC/WSJ poll.
An October NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey determined that a majority of Americans now favor the government doing more, not less, to solve problems and meet the needs of the public. This finding runs counter to the Republican party's desire for limited government, as NBC explained:
As the [Republican] party has used the shutdown and fiscal fight to campaign against the nation's health-care law and for limited government, the poll shows those efforts have backfired.
And by a 52-percent-to-44 percent difference, respondents believe the government should do more to solve problems. Back in June, the public was split, 48 percent to 48 percent, on whether the government should do more or less.
The poll found that support for increased government intervention jumped during the 16-day government shutdown forced by the House of Represenative's tea party faction:
These results should be especially interesting to Fox News -- long before it was championing a government shutdown, the network was leading the charge against government programs and regulation. Fox has tirelessly demonized federal social programs and disparaged those they help, a campaign that does not appear to have had much effect upon the opinions of the public at large.
Here are some of Fox's most strident attacks:
Fox campaigns tirelessly against the federal minimum wage requirement for private businesses. According to Fox, any increase in the wage creates drastic job losses for small businesses and results in the automation of entry-level service work.
Some at the network have even posited that raising the wage rewards mediocrity.
In apparent attempts to downplay the necessity of the federal requirement, Fox argues that it's mostly teenagers who comprise minimum wage earners, not people expecting to earn a living, and regardless the minimum wage has already been sufficiently raised.
Economists disagree -- as the Center for Economic and Policy Research explained, raising the minimum wage has no "discernible impact" on employment, and in fact, wage increases often result in more jobs rather than less. Adjusting for inflation, the real value of the minimum wage has declined eight percent since 2009, a fact which drives growing income inequality and places an extraordinary financial burden on the millions of adults -- not teenagers -- who depend on these jobs to survive.
Fox News proposed that uninsured young adults should reject coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because they can gain it at any point after an accident to cover medical expenses -- irresponsible advice that could wreak havoc on millennials' financial futures.
Gretchen Carlson hosted Fox contributor Guy Benson on the October 11 edition of her new daytime program The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson to discuss whether young adults will sign up for health coverage on the exchanges. The two repeatedly suggested that "healthy" millennials may pay for coverage "they are not going to need," going so far as to suggest it would be more fiscally responsible for young adults to go uninsured until a major trauma occurs:
BENSON: If they say, 'forget it I'm going to wait, pay the relatively cheap tax and then if I get sick and if I get into an accident, then the insurers have to take me because I have a pre-existing condition,' it just makes more sense to do that --
CARLSON: You just brought it full circle for us.
BENSON: -- from a dollars and cents perspective. I'm not trying to make a political point there, I'm trying to make an economic point. And a lot of people are realizing that.
Benson's advice is not only wrong, it's dangerous.
While insurers are required to cover people with pre-existing health conditions under the ACA, coverage isn't available all the time. Those seeking insurance through the exchanges can sign up only during the open enrollment period, which starting next year will run from approximately October 15 -- December 7 annually. Exceptions are made for qualifying life events like marriage or birth of child -- not for sudden illnesses or accidents.
Young adults who opt out of coverage will be responsible for the full costs of these events. And when the average hospital stay or treatment for a broken leg is approximately $10,000 without insurance, footing the bill would likely be unaffordable.
It's not just Fox doling out this irresponsible advice to millennials -- conservative activist groups with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers have been running ads to scare young adults away from gaining coverage. At the same time, Fox has actively avoided acknowledging that many young adults are in fact eager to buy health insurance under new ACA provisions.
Following news that the government shutdown will bar the Pentagon from providing death benefits to the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan, Fox News is ignoring the role the network and the Republican Party played in causing the painful closure.
The federal government has been shut down since October 1 after House Republicans refused to vote on the Senate funding bill unless President Obama agreed to significant changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). To mitigate public outcry over withheld federal paychecks, cancelled food inspections and cancer treatment, and closed national parks, Republicans have attempted a piecemeal approach of proposing narrow bills to keep specific government programs funded, while President Obama and Democrats have demanded that the full government be reopened.
Fox News' Sean Hannity has been leading the charge for a government shutdown for the better part of 2013, repeatedly pushing congressional Republicans to hold the government hostage unless demands to alter the ACA are met.
Hannity, it turns out, was in good company. According to a new report in The New York Times, the tea party caucus in Congress and conservative activists have been planning the shut down over Obamacare since 2012. Financed by the likes of Freedomworks and the billionaire Koch brothers, the Times exposed how the congressmen practiced defending their shutdown by arguing they desired to fund the entire government, just not the ACA.
On October 8, one week into the government shut down, news surfaced that the Pentagon is unable to pay death benefits to families of soldiers killed at war in Afghanistan over the weekend because of the shutdown.
Fox reacted to this news by blaming President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). On The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, reporter Jennifer Griffin decried this "horrible impact" of the shutdown and argued that "the president should be asked about this."
Carlson and Griffin brainstormed Republican-backed strategies -- e.g., the pair discussed the feasibility of a piecemeal CR bill funding payments to veterans' families -- but they ignored any solution that includes the GOP passing a single CR funding the entire government.
Fox News avoided acknowledging that many young adults are anxious to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act exchanges (ACA or Obamacare), even though recent surveys show that many young adults are likely to buy health insurance under new Affordable Care Act provisions.
During Fox's evening news program Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Jim Angle reported on this week's roll out of new state health insurance exchanges that were implemented under the ACA. After the prepared package aired, host Bret Baier asked Angle, "What do we know about the young and their inclinations to buy insurance or not?"
Angle dodged the question, instead answering, "Now we know of widespread reports their rates will soar over what they could pay now on the open market." He concluded, "We don't know what the young will do, but we do know the numbers they're looking at."
While Angle refused to acknowledge it, polls reveal many young adults are eager to buy health coverage.
A Reuters poll of uninsured Americans found that one-third of young adults "said they are 'very' or 'somewhat' likely to buy insurance through their state's exchange."
Conservative media viciously attacked Texas State Senator Wendy Davis after she announced her candidacy for governor, linking Davis to infanticide and calling an image of her with kids "sick" and "disgusting."
After repeatedly begging Congressional Republicans to continue the federal government shutdown, Sean Hannity is ratcheting up his expectations. He encouraged conservatives to leave the government inoperable for up to two months if that's what it takes for Democrats to acquiesce to GOP demands -- advice that would carry devastating effects for the American people.
October 1 marked the first day of a federal government shut down, as House Republicans refuse to fund the government unless Democrats and President Obama agree to significant changes to the three-year-old Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare").
Fox host Sean Hannity has spent the last year begging Republicans to hold America hostage and shut down the government over Obamacare. Now that he's gotten his wish, Hannity is ordering conservatives to keep the government closed, even if it takes "a month or two months." As he told Republican Sen. Rand Paul (KY) on Hannity about the shutdown:
HANNITY: I think the worst outcome, though, for the Republicans in the House at this point -- as they have been reasonable and the president totally unreasonable, Reid unreasonable -- is to cave. I don't think they should give in at all. And if that means that they're going to sit this out for a month or two months, or however long the president wants to be arrogant and not talk to anybody, then just sit it out.
The effects of a protracted government shutdown would be catastrophic.
After only two or three weeks, veterans' disability claims and pension payments to approximately 3.6 million veterans likely won't be paid.
Funding for the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC), which gives grants to states for low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and infants, will run dry after one week of a shutdown. WIC, which serves 53 percent of all babies born in the U.S. has contingency funds are available, but they will be exhausted by the end of the month.
Food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will run out of money to operate by the end of October if the shutdown is ongoing.
Importantly, this damage would pile on top of the chaos the shutdown immediately caused. After House Republicans forced the government to close, over 800,000 federal workers were furloughed and may not receive pay. National parks and landmarks closed. Many home loans no longer processed and economic growth will slow. The Center for Disease Control will cease some disease-prevention programs and most of the Food and Drug Administration's food-safety operations will end.
Unsurprisingly, Hannity is unconcerned by this impact, as it "doesn't impact [him] mentally."