Fox News attempted to spin reports that some health insurance plans that do not meet minimum standards under the Affordable Care Act will be discontinued as a "new Obamacare bombshell" and death blow to the health care law.
The October 9 edition of America's Newsroom raised concerns over recent news that some health insurance plans not in compliance with the Affordable Care Act would be cancelled at the end of the year. Fox Business host Stuart Varney declared the cancellations to be a "political bombshell." The previous day, network host Shannon Bream called news of the cancelled plans a "new Obamacare controversy."
A headline on FoxNews.com declared that the canceled plans were evidence of an "Obamacare Death Knell":
Of course, the cancellation of plans that do not meet minimum coverage requirements was always a "part of the design of the health care law," as the New York Times explained, and meant to allow new insurance plans to be "more comprehensive and fair, with prices less variable by customers' ages and health status."
Last year, the Obama administration delayed the requirement that all plans cover a minimum standard of health benefits and medical bills, giving states the ability to allow insurers to extend existing plans that were not up to par -- something many states and insurance providers opted against. As the Washington Post reported, federal policy allows these non-compliant plans to continue through 2017 in some states, but some insurers are cancelling them now in favor of ACA-compliant plans.
Non-compliant plans which fall short of now-basic standards can be dangerous to the policy holder -- as studies show being underinsured carries many of the same risks as lacking insurance all together. As a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services told the Post, those who may lose their non-compliant plans will "have access to better options through the health-insurance marketplace . . . [including] the opportunity to qualify for financial assistance to help them afford premiums and improved consumer protections."
Fox also ignored the realities of the insurance market -- these insurance plans may have been discontinued anyway. According to Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms (CHIR), most consumers have year-long policies with health insurance companies that often changed at the end of the policy year, and "in most states insurers are allowed to increase premiums, increase cost-sharing, and/or reduce the scope of benefits covered."
Such phony outrage over discontinued plans is just the latest in Fox News' sustained campaign to undermine the ACA with misinformation, spin, and zombie lies -- despite news that the health care law has greatly reduced the nation's uninsured rate.
Following the Obama administration's announcement that 7.3 million Americans have enrolled in Obamacare, Fox News dishonestly spun the enrollment numbers as proof both of the law's failure and that the administration inflated its initial numbers.
The September 18 announcement that 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in health insurance plans through the Obamacare exchanges incited a new wave of right-wing criticisms and accusations over the health care reform law.
On the September 22 edition of Special Report, Fox's chief national correspondent Jim Angle spun the enrollment numbers, reporting that "President Obama's repeated claims about enrollment in Obamacare are getting a significant downgrade," pointing to "erosion" of 700,000 enrollments from the 8 million plans that had been selected by the end of open enrollment in April:
A Fox News correspondent blamed the Obama administration's tweaks to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) announcement that it would no longer estimate the total cost of the law, and suggested that the changes may increase deficits. In fact, the CBO and budget experts explained that the CBO routinely stops providing budgetary estimates once a law is implemented, and that the CBO's estimate that the ACA would reduce the deficit remains correct.
Fox News hyped a lawsuit by Republican Senator Ron Johnson (WI) against the federal government to revive the long-debunked myth that Congress got exemptions from the Affordable Care Act by receiving the same employer contribution for its insurance that it traditionally received.
Fox News attempted to discredit a Congressional Budget Office report that estimated lower costs for the Affordable Care Act, while it also embraced a dubious survey claiming that health care premiums are skyrocketing.
On the April 14 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto brought on Fox contributor and serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey in order to baselessly attack the CBO's latest projections, which show that the ACA will cost $104 billion less over 10 years than previously projected and that premiums for the most popular plans under ACA are expected to rise only "slightly" for 2015. McCaughey unleashed a series of already debunked lies about the health care law. After Cavuto called the CBO's savings estimates "deceiving," Mccaughey agreed and denied there would be any savings,asserting that it is actually "a cost-shifting":
CAVUTO: So what is the CBO looking at? It's limiting it to what they expect it to be, that millions more will sign up under these exchanges, and I guess because of subsidies and special breaks see their premium increases actually stabilize. Do you buy that?
McCAUGHEY: Well, no, I don't buy that. I think the insurance company executives know exactly what they're talking about, and they're worried about the public pushback from these huge premium hikes ahead. That's only part of the bad news. You're also going to see a million people or more default. In other words, they've paid their first premium, but when they discover what it really means to pay a three or five thousand dollar deductible on their plan, they go to their doctor again and again and have to pay full freight even though they're paying their premium, they're going to stop paying their premium.
Another big problem ahead is the 25 to 30 million people who currently get on the job coverage who are going to lose it in the coming months when their employers realize that they're not going to be able to renew those old plans and they're stuck between the very costly Obamacare plans or sending their workers and their families onto the exchanges. And finally, you're going to hear a lot of desperation from cancer patients when they discover these Obamacare exchange plans won't let them go to any specialty cancer hospitals, even though the data show that, for example, women with ovarian cancer live longer when they're treated at a high-volume cancer hospital.
CAVUTO: But the argument that the CBO is raising that all those problems notwithstanding -- they're big ones, it's like saying "Outside that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show?" -- they're still going to see premiums for those in these exchanges go down. But what I did look at in the CBO study, it's all dependent on these special write-offs and allowances and subsidies that those in a certain income group get to give you what seems like a deceiving savings.
McCAUGHEY: That's right, and I'ts really not a savings, Neil. It's just a cost-shifting.
In contrast to Fox's attack on the CBO report, earlier in the day it uncritically promoted a discredited Morgan Stanley survey claiming "rate acceleration" in ACA premiums. Correspondent Jim Angle appeared on both Fox's Happening Now and The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson to hype fears that fit into the channel's narrative that Obamacare will causes insurance premiums to soar. However, the report Angle cited has been discredited for its absence of methodology and small survey sample. Even Fox News' sister organization, Fox Business, pointed out problematic elements of the study, noting that "some states had only one broker respond to the Morgan Stanley survey so the results may not be reliable."
Fox News' willingness to dismiss a report from the respected and nonpartisan CBO while embracing a flawed study is just the latest effort in Fox News' struggling crusade to discredit the ACA by stoking fears of negative impact.
From the January 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Fox News' Special Report made the startling claim that Republicans' alternative health care plans "cover everyone," even though almost none of them have been examined by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for their effects on Americans' insurance coverage.
On January 17, Fox's chief national correspondent Jim Angle promoted Republican healthcare plans serving as alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, saying "all Republican plans, one way or another, would cover everyone, including those with pre-existing conditions." Angle also specifically hyped the plan of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA):
Contrary to Angle's rosy depiction, the reality of Republicans' alternative health care plans is that they're unlikely to cover more Americans than Obamacare. In November 2009, the CBO analyzed a failed health care reform plan that then-Minority Leader John Boehner offered in place of the House Democrats' plan. The CBO found that, after 10 years, the share of Americans with insurance coverage would be unchanged:
By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 3 million relative to current law, leaving about 52 million nonelderly residents uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, roughly in line with the current share. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the amendment's insurance coverage provisions would increase deficits by $8 billion over the 2010-2019 period.
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."
Fox News has repeatedly misrepresented Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's proposal to reform the filibuster and is conflating his current plan with a broader one that Reid clearly rejected.
Reid has announced he will confront current GOP filibusters on seven presidential nominees, including leadership positions for the Department of Labor, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in addition to the Democratic members of a bipartisan slate to staff the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). If Republicans continue to refuse to allow an up-or-down vote on these nominees to the executive branch, Reid has indicated he has backing from his caucus to change Senate rules and eliminate this specific type of filibuster.
Chief National Correspondent Jim Angle, however, continued Fox News' recent misleading coverage on the topic and confused the proposal with one that would also require up-or-down votes for judicial nominees, a change Reid has currently ruled out. During the segment, Angle repeated GOP talking points that President Obama "is getting faster nominations than [President George W.] Bush did" and that the proposed rule change resembles one that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell floated in 2005. From the July 15 edition of America Live:
The Equal Pay Act was signed into law on June 10, 1963, by President Kennedy to prohibit wage discrimination based on sex. Fifty years later, as the issue of gender income inequality continues to affect America, conservative media figures have consistently tried to downplay and minimize these concerns.
Breitbart.com and National Review Online (NRO) are using today's Equal Pay Day holiday to misinform about gender wage inequality. Right-wing media have routinely downplayed and obscured legitimate concerns about wage inequality.
Equal Pay Day was created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages. According to a White House proclamation released on Equal Pay Day in 2012, "National Equal Pay Day represents the date in the current year through which women must work to match what men earned in the previous year, reminding us that we must keep striving for an America where everyone gets an equal day's pay for an equal day's work."
Breitbart.com and NRO both posted a video today that claims the gender wage gap is a myth, positing that the gap fails to account for women's choices, which are primarily responsible for any discrepancies in salary. The video comes from the conservative Independent Women's Forum, a group The New York Times described as "a right-wing public policy group that provides pseudofeminist support for extreme positions that are in fact dangerous to women."
Although the wage gap has decreased since the 1963 passage of the Equal Pay Act, women's earnings remain far below that of men. A report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that "in 2011, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 77 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 23 percent." According to the National Women's Law Center, the wage gap for minority women is even worse: African-American and Hispanic women make 64 and 55 cents for every dollar their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts earn. The claim that personal choice is responsible for the gender wage gap has also been debunked, mostly recently in the AAUW's 2013 Gender Pay Gap Report.
Breitbart.com and NRO's misleading claims about gender wage inequality follow a long trend of right-wing media's misinformation on equal pay. Here are just a few examples since 2012:
Fox News pushed long-debunked myths about health care reform in order to promote Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) reported plans to repeal the law as part of his upcoming budget.
Conservative media have denigrated solar energy by denying its sustainability, ignoring its successes, and arguing the U.S. should simply cede the solar market to China. Yet this booming industry has made great strides, and with the right policies can become a major source of our power.
Fox News chief national correspondent Jim Angle provided a misleading fact check of Mitt Romney's ad claiming that Chrysler is sending a Jeep production line to China. Angle cherry picked a line from Chrysler's CEO to portray Romney's ad as accurate. In fact, Chrysler has made it clear that Romney's claims are false.
In response to Romney's Jeep-to-China television ad, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sent an email to shareholders on October 30 explaining that Romney's claim is "inaccurate" and "Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China." Marchionne added that Chrysler is planning to "return Jeep production to China, the world's largest auto market, in order to satisfy local market demand," and explained that Chrysler intends to add Jeep jobs in the United States.
But during his "fact check" of Romney's ad on America Live on Friday, Angle claimed that "the head of Fiat-Chrysler confirmed exactly what the Romney ad said," because the company stated it "had intended to return Jeep production to China, the world's largest auto market in order to satisfy local market demand."
Marchionne's statement was not the only one issued rebutting Romney's claims. In a statement on October 25, Chrysler wrote on its website that "Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China." The Romney campaign went ahead with its television ad in Ohio on October 27 despite this statement. Then, on October 30, Romney doubled down on the Jeep attack on Tuesday with a radio ad in Toledo, Ohio, the site of a Jeep plant. That same day, Marchionne sent his email to Chrysler shareholders.
In addition to Chrysler, there has been strong criticism from GM, fact checkers, and local media in Ohio of Romney's false claims that Jeep is sending U.S. jobs to China. On Tuesday, GM spokesman Greg Martin stated: "No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country." PolitiFact rated Romney's claim "pants on fire" false, and The Washington Post's resident fact checker, Glenn Kessler, gave the ad "four Pinocchios."
Fox previously attempted to hide the backlash to Romney's ad.
Fox's Jim Angle trumpeted a study from the Tax Policy Center to claim that President Obama was wrong when he said that Mitt Romney's tax reform proposal raises taxes on middle-income households. In fact, in two different assessments of Romney's proposals, TPC has maintained that his plan would result in higher taxes for middle class Americans.
On Happening Now, Angle asserted that while an earlier study from the center corroborated Obama's assertion, TPC "later issued a clarification" that "concluded that there is no reason why a reform proposal, quote, 'would have to raise taxes on middle-class households.' "
But the authors of that second TPC study -- which explored what would happen if Romney outlined two additional deductions and loopholes to close -- affirmed their earlier conclusion that Romney's tax proposals would necessitate raising taxes on middle-income households:
A recent TPC paper examined tradeoffs among revenues, progressivity and tax rates in tax reform. It concluded that, under certain assumptions, any revenue-neutral plan along the lines Governor Romney has outlined would reduce taxes for high-income households, thus requiring higher taxes on other, even if the plan's financing is as progressive as possible, given the available tax expenditures.
This paper addresses questions about that study and discusses new estimates that incorporate the taxation of municipal bond interest and the taxation of inside buildup in life insurance vehicles. These additions do not change the basic results.
TPC went on to add: "Adding these two provisions to Governor Romney's list of tax preferences potentially on the chopping block would thus not reverse the basic conclusion of our paper: simultaneously pursuing the five goals noted above would make the tax system less progressive, even if the tax expenditures used to finance the proposals are reduced in the most progressive way possible."
In its original study, TPC had similarly stated that "a revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed ... would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers."
But there is one crucial point Angle appears to have missed in his rush to indict Obama using TPC's supposed final verdict on Romney's tax goals.
Angle claimed that TPC said Romney's proposals wouldn't necessitate raising taxes on middle-class households and that, in fact, "there is no reason why a reform proposal, quote, 'would have to raise taxes on middle-class households.' "