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Supporters & opponents of Obamacare lie for political leverage

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun:

On Friday, Sept. 20, the House of Representatives (for the 42nd time!) passed a bill to negate ObamaCare. In his victory strut, Speaker John Boehner said, "(the American people) don't want ObamaCare."

C'mon. What do the American people know about ObamaCare? The "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" runs 2,400 pages with 450,000 words, the equivalent of about five novels. People with jobs and families have neither the time to read it nor the background to understand it without help.

Those with the wherewithal to explain it objectively show little interest in doing so. Supporters and opponents consistently lie to pursue political agenda and personal advantage.

Some deliberately mislead and manipulate. Sadly, too many are lazy ignoramuses quoting each another.

Mainstream media are little help. They tell us who said what, but leave us to divine the truth. They call he-said-she-said reporting objectivity. Contemporary journalism acts as if Thomas Jefferson's famous defense of a free press — "a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite to democracy" — is not a call to truth, but a call to transcription.

Some lies are so incredible they make Saturday Night Live, Colbert and The Onion look scholarly. Yet, educated, apparently sophisticated people pick up and pass on the nonsense. Some make TV commercials out of absurdities. Others write about them and credentialed pols and pundits go on national talk shows to give the crap legitimacy. (You would think lightning would strike a live broadcast every now and then.)

The most absurd was probably the warning government is setting up death panels to decide when you are too expensive to live. That idiocy seems to have ebbed, but new contenders for "most absurd" continuously arise. Here are four of the more recent:
— If you seek a financial subsidy, claim any income you want. No one will ever try to verify it.
— Medical practitioners will be implanting microchips to monitor you.
— The government will inspect your home by force if you receive services at home.
— Members of Congress are ObamaCare exempt.

Most of the untruth, however, is more complex and subtle. It usually addresses one of three general areas: employment, cost or medical decision.

Here are two examples (one from the pro side, one from the con side) of how zealous partisans mislead us with sophomoric assessment, faulty logic and cherry-picked facts.

From the pro side:

"If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor."

While the law will not force consumers to pick new plans or care providers, no one can make this blanket promise. Just one simple reality — not all physicians are in all plans — belies both parts of the statement in multiple ways:
— Before ObamaCare, employers routinely changed plans when it suited them. They will continue to do so under ObamaCare.
— People who change jobs may find their care provider is not in the new employer's insurance plan.
— Employees without access to employer-provided insurance will seek coverage on the exchanges.
— Employers too can choose to buy insurance on the exchanges.—- Some employers have already announced they will no longer provide insurance to certain classifications of employees (part time, for instance) and will instead provide a stipend for employees to seek coverage on the exchanges.

From the con side:

"The law is a job killer."

Because most economists think the impact on labor will be nominal, there is not much objective analysis available. The little analysis that exists supports the economists.

This claim originates from a distortion (or failure to understand) a 2010 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report. It said the law would affect labor numbers because some workers will choose to work less for two reasons:
— Some would work less if offered stipends to buy insurance on the exchanges.
— Older workers might retire earlier with assurance they could buy insurance on their own.

The CBO report said this would decrease labor in the economy by one-half of 1 percent. Although the budget office was saying people would be unwilling to work as much, the anti-ObamaCare forces presented it as business unwilling to employ as much.

In fairness, however, CBO also said requirements employers provide insurance or pay a fine "will probably cause some employers to respond by hiring fewer low-wage workers." The budget office also said it expects employers to offset some of this loss by hiring more part-time and seasonal workers. To date, CBO has not provided the numbers (anticipated new hires) to allow objective observers to postulate the overall effect of the provide-or-pay provision.

Robert Moran