Fox News' dishonest campaign against Planned Parenthood took a new turn when the network promoted its own deeply misleading "Taxpayer Calculator" purporting to show how much an average American taxpayer has contributed to the health care provider over the past decade.
On the July 27 editions of Fox News' America's Newsroom and Happening Now, correspondent Shannon Bream continued her network's smear campaign against Planned Parenthood Federation of America centered around a deceptively-edited video alleging to show PPFA employees negotiating the sale of "fetal body parts for medical research." Bream promoted the efforts of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) to strip federal funding for the organization before referring viewers to a so-called "Taxpayer Calculator" created by the network to show people how much they have contributed to Planned Parenthood over the past decade. From America's Newsroom:
BREAM: Over the past 10 years, it's estimated Planned Parenthood has received more than $4 million [sic] in federal and state government funding. Here's a look at what you, the taxpayer, have contributed based on your income level. Now, if you want a more specific estimate on just how much you've given to Planned Parenthood, head to FoxNews.com and click on "Taxpayer Calculator." Martha.
MACCALLUM: That's going to get a lot of people's attention.
BREAM: It will.
First, and perhaps most egregiously, the on-screen graphic Fox shows during both segments falsely claims that Planned Parenthood received $4.3 billion-worth of federal funding "over 10 years." According to the "Taxpayer Calculator" Bream referenced during the segment, Fox News does not actually know how much public support comes from either federal or state sources (emphasis added):
Planned Parenthood and its affiliates have received $4.3 billion in government funding over the last ten years, according to the group's annual reports. Their government funding comes from both federal and state governments. We do not know exactly how much of Planned Parenthood's funding comes from the federal government.
According to Planned Parenthood's most recent annual report, the organization received $528.4 million from "Government Health Services Grants & Reimbursements," which amounted to just over 46 percent of its operational revenue as of June 30, 2014. Some of this funding came in the form of federal Medicaid reimbursements for health care services for low-income Americans, while other funds came from various local, state, and federal grants -- the Hyde Amendment "excludes abortion from the comprehensive health care services provided to low-income people by the federal government through Medicaid."
After incorrectly assuming that all public money received by Planned Parenthood comes from the federal government, Fox News staff then based their taxpayer contribution calculations on the proportion of federal tax revenue derived from different income tax brackets. Federal income tax rates are higher than state and local income tax rates. In fact, seven states levy no income taxes at all while two others tax only capital gains and dividends, not traditional wages. Fox's sloppily constructed "average taxpayer share" does not reflect reality -- it's simply the highest estimate the network's research team could produce.
Finally, Fox's investigation of Planned Parenthood's revenue and the American taxpayer's contribution to that revenue provides no useful context for the viewer. In 2014, the federal government spent nearly 900 times more than Planned Parenthood collected from all government sources in 10 years; the $4.3 billion price tag Fox highlighted represents a miniscule portion of total government spending over the same period. Likewise, the 10-year burden shouldered by Fox's "average taxpayer" represents a tiny fraction of their total income over that period. According to Fox News, a taxpayer with earnings in excess of $2.5 million over a decade would contribute only about $40 annually. Meanwhile, the average taxpayer, with a median household income of roughly $52,000 per year, would contribute only about $1.50 per year to Planned Parenthood, according to Fox's own calculations.
The deceptive "Taxpayer Calculator" is a continuation of Fox News' long campaign of deceit against Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the work performed by the organization (97 percent) is not related to abortion services. Fox has demonstrated on many occasions that it has no clue what Planned Parenthood does or the vital services it provides for millions of men and women every year; including cancer screening and preventative treatment, contraceptive services, family planning, STI/STD screening, and assorted other women's health services.
Fox host Sean Hannity allowed Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to walk back comments he made during a 2013 New York Times interview in which Kasich expressed his concern "about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor" emanating from his own party.
On the July 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity interviewed newly-declared Republican presidential candidate John Kasich at Ohio State University. Kasich used the softball interview to rehabilitate his conservative credentials while quietly disavowing his previous comments about the draconian agenda of GOP policymakers on Capitol Hill. When asked whether or not he truly believed "Republicans are waging war" on the poor, Kasich deflected the question by saying, "I don't know where that came from." Both then impugned the credibility of The New York Times while Kasich outlined the ways he plans to help poor and struggling Americans as president, including repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
HANNITY: Let me ask you, in the lead up to this, a lot of articles were written -- "Is John Kasich conservative enough?" Now, you were quoted in The New York Times as saying about your party, the Republican Party, that it's waging "a war on the poor." When you accepted Medicaid expansion, you went out there and you talked about St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he's not gonna ask me if I decreased the size of government but whether I helped the poor. Do you really believe Republicans are waging war on--
KASICH: No, no, but look, I don't know where that came from, but here's what I will tell you--
HANNITY: The New York Times.
KASICH: Yeah but, I-- Okay, well then it has to be true, okay? But here's the thing--
HANNITY: How dare I quote a New York paper.
In fact, during an interview with a New York Times reporter following his October 22, 2013 decision to accept Medicaid expansion in the state of Ohio under the ACA , Kasich expressed his concern that "there seems to be a war on the poor" coming from Republican ranks, including the stigma that low-income Americans are "shiftless and lazy":
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In his grand Statehouse office beneath a bust of Lincoln, Gov. John R. Kasich let loose on fellow Republicans in Washington.
"I'm concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor," he said, sitting at the head of a burnished table as members of his cabinet lingered after a meeting. "That if you're poor, somehow you're shiftless and lazy."
But few have gone further than Mr. Kasich in critiquing his party's views on poverty programs, and last week he circumvented his own Republican legislature and its Tea Party wing by using a little-known state board to expand Medicaid to 275,000 poor Ohioans under President Obama's health care law.
Kasich's remarks were widely reported at the time by numerous reputable news outlets, including New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. A November 1, 2013 column by Salon editor-at-large Joan Walsh pointed out the hypocrisy of Kasich lamenting his party's "war on the poor" while he simultaneously pushed an initiative to cut food assistance for up to 130,000 Ohio residents. Kasich's supposed willingness to take on the GOP's backwards anti-poverty agenda is often pointed to as an indication of his seriousness as a president candidate.
Fox's decision to let Kasich disavow his "war on the poor" comment is interesting, particularly in light of recent criticism from Heritage Foundation economist and Fox News contributor Stephen Moore that the governor's stance on poverty is "not an answer that conservatives are very persuaded by." Moore's intuition may be right. Kasich is a distant 11th -place contender in the Real Clear Politics polling average of the 16 declared Republican candidates. Kasich is also far behind in the crucial Fox News Primary and is in desperate need of positive exposure on the network.
Tampa Bay Fox television station WTVT left out the fact that Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led legislature refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its story about an ailing young boy whose family might have to struggle to pay for health care as a result of reductions in federal Low-Income Pool (LIP) funding, even though experts say that expanded Medicaid would cover many such people at risk.
In a July 13 report, WTVT - which is owned and operated by parent company 21st Century Fox -- profiled a seriously ill young boy whose medical care could be jeopardized by reductions in federal LIP funding - money provided by state and federal resources "to support health care providers that provide uncompensated care to Florida residents who are uninsured or underinsured." While the report noted that federal matching funds for LIP would be phased out in the near future, it made no mention of the fact that expanding Medicaid in Florida -- which the state legislature and Gov. Scott has rejected -- would protect many families and individuals affected by LIP funding reductions:
Experts agree that expanding Medicaid could solve many of the problems created by reduced LIP funding. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained, reductions in LIP funding are a result of the ACA's "creation of an explicit pathway for Medicaid coverage for adults with incomes below 138 percent of the poverty line, which changed CMS's (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) criteria for approving state plans to fund uncompensated care." As Politifact Florida reported, the two programs are not directly connected, but Gov. Scott's acceptance of the Medicaid expansion funds could mean continued health care coverage for many who currently benefit from LIP funding (emphasis added):
The LIP started in 2005 and was renewed until 2013. But when it came time to negotiate another extension for 2014 and beyond, Florida upped the funding request to a whopping $4.5 billion to expand the program. This was after the state refused some $51 billion in Medicaid expansion money over 10 years under the Affordable Care Act, to expand that program to anyone making up to about 133 percent of the poverty level, as the Obama administration wanted. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 ruled states had a choice whether to take the money or not.
In many ways, LIP isn't associated with Medicaid expansion, [Joan] Alker said, given that LIP started while Jeb Bush was governor and George W. Bush was president. But an expanded Medicaid would cover many of those patients, or use preventive care to keep them out of the hospital to begin with, she said.
Washington and Lee University professor Timothy Jost added that money for the Medicaid expansion was guaranteed by law in the Affordable Care Act, something not true about the program that created LIP, which is doled out as discretionary spending. (Jost supports the health care law.)
Of course, it's technically possible the federal government could change the law to do away with whatever program they like, including Medicaid. But that would require both houses of Congress and the president to agree on the terms, something "that isn't likely to happen anytime soon," Jost said.
Now Florida faces a tough set of choices: Find a new source of LIP funding, end the program altogether or negotiate with CMS to either revamp the program or get another extension, possibly for as short as one month. Florida also could decide to cover those patients by expanding Medicaid.
From the July 13 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Sean Hannity Show:
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A segment on Fox News' Special Report attacked a law in Oregon that allows transgender individuals to receive medical treatments according to their gender identity by calling teens who can seek the treatment "fickle" and falsely claiming that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has labeled gender dysphoria as a mental disorder. But studies show that medical care for transgender individuals is important for their mental health and the APA stopped classifying "gender identity disorder" as a mental disorder in 2012.
In January, Oregon's Medicaid began covering medical treatments for transgender individuals as young as 15 -- the age of medical consent in the state -- to alleviate depression and suicide." Teens 15 and older can receive the treatment without parental consent.
On the July 9 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier reported on the law by commenting that 15-year-olds are impressionable and fickle. Fox correspondent Dan Springer then falsely argued that gender dysphoria is classified as a mental disorder by the APA.
A January psychological study that was published in the journal Psychological Science "found that young people who claim a different gender than what was assigned at birth identify as consistently and innately with that gender identity as other kids their age that are not trans." And in 2012, the APA removed "gender identity disorder" from The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. ThinkProgress noted that the APA has issued statements in support of medical care for transgender individuals and their civil rights:
Following up on guidelines generated by a report on transgender healthcare last month, the American Psychiatric Association has issued official position statements on the care and civil rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. The new statements reflect this year's editions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM-V) that will identify being transgender as "Gender Dysphoria," removing the classification of "Gender Identity Disorder." The APA explained the importance of standing up for the trans community, citing the "significant discrimination, prejudice, and the potential for victimization from violent hate crimes, as well as denial of many basic civil rights, protections, and access to health care, to the severe detriment of their mental health.
Studies found that the rate of suicide attempts in the transgender community are "staggering." According to the LA Times, a "whopping 41% of people who are transgender or gender-nonconforming have attempted suicide sometime in their lives, nearly nine times the national average." The same study also found that "78 percent who experienced social and family rejection attempted suicide, as did 65 percent who experienced work-based violence and over half who experienced anti-trans bullying at school."
CORRECTION: The original post stated that the APA stopped listing "gender dysphoria" as a mental disorder in 2012. In fact, the APA stopped listing "gender identity disorder" as a mental disorder, replacing with with the term "gender dysphoria" to describe the clinically significant stress a person experiences when their gender identity does not align with their biological sex.
Since 2010, Fox News' hosts and analysts have kept up a steady drumbeat of dire warnings that the United States is on a road to financial and economic ruin and could meet the same fate as Greece if it doesn't implement draconian cuts to social safety net programs as a way to cut the debt and deficit. But Greece, which pursued such cuts, accelerated its economic deterioration, while the United States has rejected extreme austerity measures and enjoyed six years of continuous economic recovery.
Colorado's two largest newspapers, The Denver Post and The Gazette, have rarely mentioned Hispanic voters and the issues that matter to this key electoral bloc in their coverage of the state's U.S. Senate race.
The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, sister papers both published by the Miami Herald Media Company, barely mentioned the importance of Medicaid expansion to the Hispanic community in their coverage of the issue following the end of Florida's congressional session despite Medicaid expansion being a prominent campaign issue. Studies have shown that Medicaid expansion in Florida, an issue polling has found important to Hispanics, would have a significant beneficial impact on the Hispanic community.
From the August 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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The Fox-led campaign to pressure GOP governors to decline the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion has left 5.7 million people uninsured who could have gained coverage under the law.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that states could decide whether to expand Medicaid eligibility to all adults living below 133 percent of the federal poverty line, under a provision of the ACA which would provide federal funding for the expansion.
Immediately following the ruling, Fox News began a campaign to convince Republican governors to turn down the funding and refuse to expand the program. On July 2, 2012, Fox & Friends praised Florida governor Rick Scott for turning down Medicaid expansion. The same day, then-Fox News contributor Sarah Palin appeared on On the Record and said she "would like to see governors be tough and opt out" of the expansion":
PALIN: Many, many states are not going to be able to afford expansion of Medicaid and these exchanges that are going to try to be forced down states' throats through "ObamaCare." I would like to see governors be tough and opt out of this and exert our 10th Amendment rights and tell President Obama, who does not understand the Constitution -- he even being a constitutional lecturer and supposed scholar in our Constitution, not understanding and probably never reading or absorbing the 10th Amendment to understand that states have rights.
Fox continued to demagogue the program long after the Supreme Court's decision, misleading on its costs, falsely claiming it would bankrupt states, and ultimately blaming the ACA for the coverage gap that resulted from the very expansion refusal it advocated.
The decision not to expand Medicaid is not without consequences. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 19 states are not moving forward with expansion, while five more are engaging in debate, but have not made a decision. Today, the White House revealed the human costs of the campaign to demonize Medicaid: (emphasis added)
In the five years since President Obama's health care reform plan -- which became the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- was first introduced, the right-wing media has waged a continuous campaign to attack the law through misinformation, deception, and outright lies.
Fox News attacked a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that allows certain inmates to be enrolled in Medicaid as "ridiculous and unfair to every taxpayer." But according to health care and correctional experts, increasing access to health services reduces both the costs associated with incarceration and decreases inmates' chances of being incarcerated again.
Fox News' Dana Perino falsely claimed that the Affordable Care Act would be responsible for deepening income inequality in the United States and would hurt low-income families.
The co-hosts of Fox News' The Five attacked the ACA on the last day of open enrollment in the law's health care exchanges. Amid reports that a last-minute surge had brought enrollment over 6 million people, Perino declared that the law "exacerbates income inequality" and will "end up hurting low-income people":
PERINO: My big concern from the beginning on this, on the bigger picture Tom that you were talking about, is actually how it exacerbates income inequality. And it actually will end up hurting low-income people a lot more because as we've seen in the last few weeks you have more and more doctors deciding not to take insurance at all and not to take Medicaid patients, and they're not going to be told that they have to.
Perino's claim is absurd for a number of reasons. A January 2014 study by the Brookings Institution found that the Affordable Care Act will boost the incomes of Americans in the second-lowest income decile by more than 5 percent and those in the bottom income decile by more than 7 percent:
Perino's suggestion that the ACA will cause doctors to refuse Medicaid patients is also dubious. The ACA expands Medicaid eligibility for adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson foundation estimated that the expanded eligibility meant that about 15.1 million uninsured adults could gain coverage. The ACA also increases certain payments to health care providers, a change that Wonkblog pointed out could "entice more providers to participate":
That could mean that the states with the highest likelihood of expanding Medicaid might be those with the lower reimbursement rates - and fewer doctors willing to accept these patients by proxy. That could prove true in a state like California, where 1.8 million residents are expected to gain coverage - but fewer than 60 percent of providers accept new patients in the program.
It could also speak to the importance of some of the payment increases in the Affordable Care Act. The law increases Medicaid reimbursements for primary care doctors to match those of Medicare providers. That means that everyone on the right side of this chart will move over to the left. And that could entice more providers to participate. Decker estimates using this data set that it would raise the Medicaid participation rate to 78.6 percent, an 8.6 percent increase from where it stood in 2011.
Fox News is helping promote Sen. Tom Coburn's misleading report on health care spending, which attacked the Affordable Care Act by cherry-picking data on the rise of spending in health care systems.
The Oklahoma Republican released a report this week titled "The History of Federal Health Care Spending," which attempted to rebut projections that the ACA will reduce the deficit and lower health care costs by presenting data on the cost growth of other federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare. The report argued that that "the government's spending on health care programs usually outpaces economic growth" and that "compared with initial government estimates and outlays, most programs have experienced exponential growth."
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer said the report revealed "stunning numbers," while Fox contributor Charles Gasparino endorsed the report's suggestion that the growth in government health care programs contradicted positive projections of the ACA's impact, claiming "when government is this much enmeshed in a program like this, it always leads to disaster":
But Fox's hype ignores the crucial flaw in Coburn's report -- it omits crucial context about why the programs' costs have increased and how they perform at controlling costs when compared to private health insurance.
While it's true that spending on programs such as Medicaid and Medicare have increased over the last 50 years, the cause of those rising costs are not a result of government involvement, but due to the fact that overall spending on health care has increased exponentially. A 2010 report in Health Affairs which tracked Medicare spending over roughly 20 years found that much of the growth "is attributable to rising spending on chronic conditions -- specifically diabetes and hypertension, both of which rose considerably in treated prevalence over the past two decades."
Notably, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that "Since Medicare's inception, however, growth in annual spending per beneficiary has been approximately one percentage point lower than private health insurance spending":
Fox News disingenuously blamed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for a "coverage gap" that could leave 5 million low income Americans without health insurance. In doing so, Fox absolved the sins of the Republican governors whose refusal to expand Medicaid is responsible for the gap and will cost states money.
The ACA allows states to expand Medicaid programs to provide coverage for people whose income falls below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Initially, the federal government covers the full cost of new enrollees for the first three years. However, many states have refused to expand their Medicaid coverage under the law, "thanks largely to hostility to the law among GOP governors," according to The Washington Post's Greg Sargent.
On the February 10 edition of Fox's America's News HQ, host Bill Hemmer condemned the coverage gap as "another problem growing out of Obamacare." Fox business host Melissa Francis explained that 5 million Americans fall into a gap where they earn too little for federal subsidies but too much for Medicaid benefits and argued that many states did not expand Medicaid benefits under the ACA because they can't afford it:
FRANCIS: The Kaiser Foundation studies this and they say there's about 5 million people between the ages of 18 and 64 who fall into this gap. And it all comes from that Supreme Court decision that said that we couldn't force states to expand Medicaid. Now places like Alabama where this one gentleman who is the example lives, they have said that they can't cover more people with their state program because they simply can't afford it. So that's how these people got left out in the middle but there is a lot of them, 5 million.
FRANCIS: The states, though, are pushing back and saying look, we didn't expand Medicaid because we can't afford it, and even though the federal government will pay for it for 3 years, after that it's on us and we just simply can't afford this. So it's going to be a really tough problem to fix.