Fox News' Bill O'Reilly baselessly accused a noted health care expert of "propaganda" for pointing out that the Affordable Care Act will not negatively affect the vast majority of Americans.
On the October 7 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly claimed "millions of Americans will see their health insurance costs, their deductibles, their copays go up because of Obamacare. So here is the question: Is it morally right to hurt some Americans to help other Americans?" After Fox contributor Juan Williams pointed out that most Americans "will see no change," O'Reilly responded, "I don't believe that for a second, I think that's propaganda." O'Reilly then said, "That's what some pinhead says, that's not a fact."
Williams was citing Jonathan Gruber, a health care economist at MIT and an architect of the Massachusetts health care law. In an interview with Esquire magazine, Gruber argued that "about two or three percent" of health care consumers will be worse off under the Affordable Care Act:
The analogy I like to use is a building that's burning down. The number of people covered by employer-based health-care plans is dropping by a percentage point a year. The system is falling apart. So you put in a new safety net. That means a few more people are going to come in. If you're not willing to risk making some things worse, you're never going to make anything better. My estimate is that 80 percent of the people are not going to feel any change at all, and that 17 percent or so are going to find that things are better, and that about two or three percent will be worse off, and those are the people who benefit from the discriminatory nature of health-insurance at the present time. If health-insurance companies can't discriminate any more, those people will have to pay a little more. When we decided that people couldn't discriminate in what they paid black people or women any more, people had to pay more because employers couldn't discriminate in what they paid black people and women. Was that a bad thing?
As Huffington Post health care reporter Jeffrey Young also pointed out, according to the U.S. Census, 80 percent of health care consumers are covered by their employer or enrolled in Medicare and won't be affected by the health care exchanges:
The biggest part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is just days away from its debut, and the American public remains confused. For many consumers, the most important question is personal: What do I have to do?
If you're one of the roughly 80 percent of Americans who already has health insurance through an employer or is enrolled in a government program like Medicare, the answer is: probably nothing.