Meet The Obamacare Enrollment Truthers

››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

On the final day of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, right-wing media have resorted to echoing Republicans and accusing the White House of "cooking the books" on the latest enrollment figures.

As Affordable Care Act Enrollment May Hit 7 Million By Deadline, Republicans Are In Denial

Bloomberg: "Early Returns Suggesting The Obama Administration May Approach The 7 Million Sign-Ups" Originally Expected. On March 31 Bloomberg reported that "he government last week said 6 million Americans had enrolled by March 27, and today reported that 2.9 million people visited healthcare.gov over the weekend." [Bloomberg, 3/31/14]

The New Republic: Republicans Insist New Enrollment Figures Aren't Real, Claim Administration Is "Cooking The Books." After noting the latest projections of nearly 7 million enrollees, The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn wrote:

Even accounting for the fact that some of these people won't actually pay their premiums, these figures would seem to undermine--or at least weaken--the argument that Obamacare is a catastrophic failure. Republicans and many of their allies obviously think otherwise. They are doing what they almost always do when data confounds their previously held beliefs. They are challenging the statistics--primarily, by suggesting that most of the people getting insurance already had coverage. Some, like Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, say the administration is "cooking the books." Others, like Senator Ted Cruz, say that the number of people without insurance is actually rising. [The New Republic, 3/31/14]

Right-Wing Media Echo GOP, Accuse White House Of "Cooking The Books" On ACA Enrollment Figures

Sean Hannity: "They Are Cooking The Books On This Thing." On the March 31 edition of his radio show, Sean Hannity claimed that "millions of Obamacare applicants appeared out of thin air" and accused the White House of "cooking the books" in his attack on the health care law. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show3/31/14

Fox's The Five Questioned How "Magically They Hit The Number." On the March 31 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-hosts Kimberly Guilfoyle and Eric Bolling touted Sen. John Barrasso's (R-WY) claim that the administration is "cooking the books" while mocking the White House claim that 6 million Americans have already enrolled. Guilfoyle asked how "magically they hit the number" while Bolling said "we don't know how many people have actually signed up, we have to take people's words for it." [Fox News, The Five3/31/14

Rush Limbaugh: "When Have They Not Lied About Obamacare?" On the March 31 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh doubted the enrollment figures and asked, "why should anybody believe it, why can't the government prove it?" Limbaugh insisted that "the real question is, when have they not lied about Obamacare?" [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show3/31/14]

But The Enrollment Numbers Include Figures From States, Not Just The White House

Los Angeles Times' Hiltzik: "The Most Encouraging Figures Don't Come From The Federal Government At All, but From States With Their Own Enrollment Programs." In a March 31 post, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik explained that accusations of the White House "cooking the books" ignore the fact that many people enrolled through state-based exchanges and not the federally-run HealthCare.gov:

What makes this claim particularly fatuous is that the most encouraging figures don't come from the federal government at all, but from states with their own enrollment programs. The eight states with the best records of signing up their eligible citizens in exchange plans (actually seven states and D.C.), all have their own exchanges and websites. Vermont leads the parade at 83% enrolled. California, which leads all states in number of exchange enrollees at more than 1 million, ranks fourth with a 41% outreach rate. 

If the feds are cooking the books, they've cooked them to look worse, not better -- the 36 states that dumped their enrollment responsibilities on the federal government are clustered at the bottom of the list, most of them with enrollment rates of 20% or less of eligible citizens. Many of these are states that actively discouraged or interfered with enrollments of their citizens in health insurance plans -- behavior that should be grounds for impeachment or recall of their governors and legislators. [Los Angeles Times3/31/14]

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