Nel's New Day

December 21, 2013

Why Does the GOP Need to Lie?

The primary obsession for GOP members of Congress has been the health care law as it was approved (mostly) by the U.S. Supreme Court, demonized by the Catholic Church, and then suffered a discouraging lift-off. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a friend who could not afford $1,500 per month for health insurance. Despite her fears about identity theft, fomented by the far right, she bravely contacted Cover Oregon. She now has a policy for $118 per month with a $5,500 deductible. The most she would have to pay per month would be $534, about one-third without the Affordable Care Act. It is the first time in two years that she has had health insurance.

Luckily, she lives in a blue state. At least 4,831,590 of low-income people in the United States cannot have health coverage through Medicaid because Republican governors and legislatures refuse to take federal money to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act. These states are giving up billions in tax dollars, yet pay more as they fund uncompensated care for the uninsured. Texas loses out on more than $9 billion, while Florida is giving up more than $5 billion.

States pay more when the uninsured are forced to use emergency rooms for their regular health care. Also taxpayers in states that don’t expand their Medicaid programs will still be paying federal taxes that cover costs in other states.

states lose money medicaid

In the United States, only the old, disabled, and poor—sometimes very poor—are guaranteed health care. Everyone else falls through the cracks.Those are a few of the reasons that Rep. Bernie (I-VT) Sanders introduced S. 1782, the American Health Security Act of 2013, that would create universal health care and incorporate all the health care programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program into one program. Private health insurance could continue to sell supplemental coverage. 

Last March, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) filed H.R.1200, against a single-payer healthcare system. Putting this into law would save people—and the government—a great deal of money. Administrative costs for private insurance is at least 20 percent; for Medicare, it’s 3 percent.

At this time, people living legally in the United States who make under 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) can get advanced premium tax credits; those making less than 250 percent FPL can lower out-of-pocket costs through subsidies. Medicaid covers those making under 138 percent of FPL in states that accept the federal plan. The upper level for Medicaid is much lower in the states that have refused the ACA.

Medicaid_graphic-1511-638x654

A new study shows that 71 percent of people under age 65 in the individual market are qualified for one of these forms of assistance.

Consumer Reports, an independent organization that has been reviewing products since 1936, is now recommending the federal health care exchange. Expert Nancy Metcalf said about the website, “It’s terrific. I’ve tried it.”

GOP candidates no longer recommend repealing the ACA: instead they want to “fix” it. And the same candidates are no longer using the term “train wreck” to describe Obamacare.

rawlings-blakeConservative David Gregory, leader of Meet the Press, got his comeuppance after a series of programs in which he obsessed about the failed health care website. Facing Baltimore’s mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake were four standard moderate to conservative pundits: Andrea Mitchell, David Brooks, and Chuck Todd. In response to their negative chortling about the website’s failure, even after it was improving, and Gregory’s accusation that “this has been a lost year for Obama on the domestic front,” Rawlings-Blake said:

“I think that’s a bit of an overstatement, ‘The lost year?’ Focusing on trying to get more people affordable quality health care? In Baltimore, over 80,000 people are without health care. In the state of Maryland, over 800,000. At the end of the day, everyone knows, we can all agree, the rollout could have been, should have been, better. But underneath all of that is Democrats and the president trying to make sure the people have health care. You know, that is the side that we should be on, not, you, this sort of, ‘Is it right? Is it wrong? Should he be mad about it? Should he not be mad about it?’ This is about making sure people can live.”

When Mitchell tried to explain why Rawlings-Blake didn’t understand the issues, the mayor responded—despite Mitchell’s interruptions:

“Republicans are insistent, relentless pursuit of failure, standing on the sidelines, cheering for failure. You know, at the Conference of Mayors, I was just saying earlier, we have Democrats, we had Republicans, nobody’s rooting against each other. We’re trying to make sure that we all, we know that when cities succeed, the country succeeds. And in Congress, we have people that are standing on the sidelines, rooting for failure. We know that the rollout was botched. But Democrats are focused on trying to build and trying to fix it.”

This woman has a future in politics!

Rawlings-Blake knows about people in the United States not being able to afford health insurance. In a recent Gallup poll, they named cost as the most urgent health problem, more than access, obesity, and cancer. A much higher percentage of people say they put off medical treatment because of cost than a decade ago.

put off health care

health care 1

The media continually reports polls to prove that the ACA is unpopular. For example, a CNN/ORC poll last month showed that 58 percent oppose the law. The real question, however, is why. Only 41 percent think it’s too liberal; 14 percent object because it doesn’t go far enough. Thus 40 percent support the law plus the 14 percent who want the law to be more ambitious. Another way to describe the poll is that 54 percent of the people in the United States either support ACA or want more out of it.

To sabotage health care, the California Assembly’s GOP caucus has created a website with an address similar to that of the official health care exchange. The message of the Republican site, purportedly as a “resource” for those who want additional information, is comprised of such lies as the ACA increases the federal budget deficit and discourages private-sector hiring as well as hinting at the death-panel myth and claiming that the IRS will use the law to target conservatives.

On the Congressional level, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), currently chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has been leading a two-pronged fraudulent attack against health care. One of these is to leak fake news. Tragically, some mainstream media, specifically CBS and ABC, have spread his information as accurate. CBS went so far as to broadcast an interview with Issa, much in the realm as the false interview about the attacks on Benghazi.

Issa used a partial transcript when he announced supposed security flaws in healthcare.gov.  by giving up a partial transcript. There have been no security breaches and the parts of the system affected by any high-risk findings were quarantined and shut down. Issa further suggested that the White House pressured the company creating the website to release it with the security problems and then cover it to avoid embarrassment to the president. The transcript had no information to support Issa’s claim. Yet he went farther in his accusation that the website exposed the entire government to hacking.  With no evidence, he creates suspicion through innuendo.

Issa started leaking doctored information six weeks ago.  At that time, Rep. Ellijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member on the Committee, wrote Issa about his misinformation. Issa’s leaks have been so flagrant that the agency in charge of the health care website now refuses to release any security information to him.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is now calling for a high level security briefing on his operations. She is demanding that he go public about the information he has released and the source of these the sensitive documents about healthcare.gov so that the Department of Justice could make a determination about charging him.

Issa’s other attempt to damn health care is a series of “field hearings,” similar to those at Capitol Hill, across the country.  In Apache Junction (AZ), only GOP congressional members took part, and the only four witnesses allowed to testify were residents who claimed that the new federal health-care program had negatively impacted them. Audience members could not speak. After those with positive experiences protested, Issa told them that they could email him. The same thing happened in North Carolina and Georgia.

The question for Republicans: if the Affordable Care Act is so horrible, why do they need to make up lies about it or twist the facts? Why can’t they just tell the truth?

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1 Comment »

  1. People like Issa make me sick enough to need heath insurance even more.

    Like

    Comment by Lee Lynch — December 21, 2013 @ 10:29 PM | Reply


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