Republican Liars: ObamaCare Myths Debunked

by Dr Mark Bear

Republicans are fond of discussing how Aetna Insurance Company’s withdraw from exchanges is evidence that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is “such a disaster,” or worse, how “Obamacare is in a death spiral.” This supposed “death spiral,” according to the current speaker, is the reason the republican party is in the process of quickly repealing the law, and now trying to jam through the House and Senate their “replacement.”

Let’s not forget how it was republicans who complained how the last bill was jammed through without giving the public a chance to review it, despite it taking over eighteen months to debate.  However, what Republicans – like Speaker Ryan – tend to neglect telling the American people is precisely “why” Aetna withdrew from the exchanges, and understanding the why is just as tantamount to understanding the motivations behind the republican party’s persistent failure to disclose the reason.

Interestingly, Aetna Insurance’s CEO is repeating the exact same story, that is, “ObamaCare is in a death spiral.” According to Bertolini who made his remarks back in February at the Wall Street Journal’s the Future of Health Care event, the insurance company’s Chief Executive believes the risk pool is deteriorating, the funding mechanism is awash, and the premium model are all reasons for the supposed failure. However, according to PolitiFact, the Affordable Care Act is not in any “death spiral,” and they have rated both Ryan’s claim – and one can extrapolate also Bertolini’s statement as false.

In fact,  PolitiFact Wisconsin goes out of their way to explain precisely why this is not the case; more people have gained coverage under the law, fewer people in this nation are uninsured with a mere – but significant amount – 8.9% of Americans still not having insurance, and then the fact-checking organization proceeds to explain exactly how this has been accomplished. Key to those factors are the ability of children to remain on their parent’s insurance plan until they reach the age of twenty-six, and insurance companies now mandated to no longer discriminate those who have pre-existing conditions. It is noteworthy to point out that PolitiFact also provides how the law has not been popular and the several promises which have not come to fruition, such as increased deductibles, a claim they rated previously as a “broken promise.”

Related: Analysis Shows GOP’s ObamaCare Replacement Would Provide Less Financial Help 

What the fact-checking organization did not provide however, is what reasons exist for those deductibles to be increasing versus decreasing as was the original plan, due to the individual mandate, which just so happens to be the least popular part of the law. Remember: Under the current law the insurance companies are allowed to charge three times (the maximum amount allowed) they would originally charge as a means of mitigating for the losses incurred by insuring sick people, coupled with healthy individuals not signing up for coverage. In other words, if you tell an insurance company that they are able to charge three times the amount of their original costs – and do so under the auspices of allowing them to do so after they get a better look at their risk pool – one can nearly be assured the insurance companies – out of greed – will take advantage of the established maximum allowed by law.  And before one blames the former president for this aspect of the law, one need remember that prior to the implementation of the law, insurance companies had no cap whatsoever, that is, they could charge whatever it was they wished, all under the auspices of capitalism and free trade.

In other words, the law is far from perfect but at least it has several benefits to it while remaining a starting point which legislators can actually build upon. The currently proposed plan by the Republican Party allows insurance companies to now charge five times the amount they would have charged all under the auspices of getting a glance at their risk pool, and increasing their rates, supposedly in accordance to the risk. However, how many of you believe the CEO’S of these insurance companies are not taking advantage of consistently charging the maximum amount allowed by law?

Second, the fact-checking organization does not take into account how people  who are simply against the mandate – originally a Republican idea promoted by conservative think-tank “The Heritage Foundation” – are refusing to purchase it, readily accepting the penalty for not doing so. Some are doing so out of a supposed “religious conviction,” like Hobby Lobby due to the law allowing women to purchase contraceptives, while others accept the penalty over getting insured due to their faulty notion that should they participate they would be violating their “moral conscience.” Never mind that these same folks have no issue whatsoever paying for taxes which support their public schools, or get automotive coverage in accordance with their State, because in their minds this is socialism par excellence. Make no mistake that these same folks have no issue whatsoever with Medicare, Social Security, and other programs which benefit THEM, but this is just a bridge too far.

However, any person following politics closely realizes this has been the republican strategy since the Tea Party took over in 2010, and honestly one can make an argument that it has been a staple for many years now. Afterall, who can ever forget Ronald Reagan’s blatant lie about the “Welfare Queen?” It just seems that republicans have become more fond of this strategy in recent years, due to their stepping up their efforts. Remember the allegation and accompanying sound byte played across conservative media how the former President told business owners that “they didn’t build their business?” Or, how about the oft repeated charge that when former Secretary of State Clinton testified to the investigatory committee on Benghazi that she said, “What difference does it make.” In every one of these examples, the entire story was not shared with the viewing or listening audience, providing a mere sound byte that satisfied the ideological preference of conservatives. But democracy cannot function properly when the very people who send people to Washington do not have accurate information, can they? Which leads us right back to Aetna’s and Paul Ryan’s claim that “Obamacare is in a death spiral,” because this is not the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say.

Related: A Startling One-Third Of Americans Don’t Know ObamaCare and Affordable Care Are the Same Thing

So what is the rest of this story? Aetna – as conveyed in the link to the Washington Post above – shares how Humana Insurance Company and Aetna had a proposed merger. To be fair: Aetna was not the only insurer doing this, because Humana did the exact same thing. The problem was the Justice Department back in 2016 was filing suit against Aetna because according to Reuters, the merger would have been a violation of our antitrust laws. Interestingly, Humana was not the only insurer that Aetna had its eyes on, as there was also an attempt by Aetna to merge with Cigna. According to the federal government – rightfully – these mergers would have restricted competition in the marketplace. So how did Aetna respond to the looming lawsuit?

Simply put, they threatened the federal government by telling them they would pull out of the exchanges they had planned to expand into, if the federal government did not drop the lawsuit. However, this is not what the corporation was telling Americans now, is it? No! They said, the reason they were pulling out was due to the reasons I cite above, hardly true, and when one looks at the matter objectively, one readily sees that Aetna tried to “extort” the federal government.” In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, a United States District Judge ruled, “Aetna tried to leverage its participation in the exchanges for favorable treatment from the Department of Justice regarding the proposed merger.”

THIS is why Paul Ryan, Aetna’s CEO, conservative lawmakers, and the conservative media entertainment complex do not need to be telling Americans that Aetna is an example of how “Obamacare is in a death spiral.” It simply is not true, and it misleads the American people, which while it fits their ideological narrative, does NOT fit the facts. In other words folks, THIS is the rest of the story!

Trump, while running, stated how he would be certain to provide insurance to everyone, and now the republican party has crafted legislation which already is predicted to leave the poorest from being insured, all the while providing CEO’S and the wealthiest a tax break. Older people will pay dearly should this bill become law, and again, the Affordable Care Act is far from being in a death spiral. But don’t tell that to the Republican Party!

You can follow Mark Bear on Facebook or Twitter @DrProgressive

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17 Responses to Republican Liars: ObamaCare Myths Debunked

  1. Dave Wren Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 9:51 am

    When I see Paul Ryan on TV advancing the Right Wing cause by lying with every exhaled breath I just want to be sick.

    • Dr. Mark Bear Reply

      March 9, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Yes, the lies and the smugness coupled with his arrogance. I cannot stand any of them, and yet they used to be a reasonable party – even if they promoted conservatism. At least awhile back – as recently as when George W. Bush was President, they believed in “compassionate conservatism.”

  2. Michael John Scott Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

    The fools are going to have a hard time passing this legislation. Too many of their own are prepared to shoot it down. Unfortunately, it won’t be because it’s a terrible, terrible bill that will hurt millions and millions of people.

  3. Dr. Mark Bear Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    I agree they will experience difficulty passing this, especially with those in the Freedom Caucus. What disturbs me the most is how the media allows Ryan to repeat with impunity how the law “is in a death spiral,” quoting none other than Aetna’s CEO! The two of them are using the same talking points, and yet the media does not tell the viewing audience the reason why Aetna pulled out of exchanges; the attempted extortion of the United States Department of Justice.

  4. Michael Calabrese Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Paul Ryan has is the main proponent for an agenda of destruction. I had the chance to watch some of today’s healthcare presentation. I’m left with the conclusion that a good bit of the republican plan deals with Americans with medical issues involves people dying. After all, that would cut costs…

    ACA has many problems. Ryan’s plan shares a big one. It will go to any length to assure that pharmaceutical companies can charge anything they like. Providing medical coverage without market controls on drug prices is disaster by any measure.

    • Dr. Mark Bear Reply

      March 10, 2017 at 1:38 am

      Yes Michael, thank you for bringing up another part of their plan which will wreck havoc on those of us who cannot muster $900 for a common prescription. We are already there now I should point out. My wife’s and my prescriptions cost us monthly approximately $760.00 per month, and that is being generous. One prescription without insurance used to cost me $941.00 and it is a necessary medicine for controlling the pain I have from my Lupus.

      But the larger point I am trying to make with the above piece is this: While there are arguably several flaws in the ACA, it was a start, something which could be built upon, and for those supporters of Trump who actually believed he would improve it, they are in for a shock. We already are witnessing public polling supporting the ACA improving because as it goes in Washington, when you give people health care, which is perceived within the beltway as an entitlement, it is awfully difficult to take it away.

      We see this evidenced out by the throngs of people showing up at conservative representatives Town Hall meetings. The larger point that I want to make however, is that despite these flaws, for republicans to argue that the ACA is in a “death spiral,” only to have the CEO of one of the major insurers – AETNA – parrot those same words, after learning he and his corporation threatened the federal government to pull out of exchanges – which “could” easily have had a negative impact on pricing, etc. is unconscionable. It is a bald faced lie. Worse? The mainstream media allows that talking point to slide.

      When two opposing views exist in democracy – with one party saying one thing and the other party saying another – people (voters) just chalk the discrepancy up to differing views. Imagine if the people KNEW why the statement by Ryan was a bald-faced lie. It may even make them angry, huh?

  5. Rachael Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    His supporters are going to pay in spades as will the innocents who just want to make their way quietly, and without interruption. This awful bill will interrupt that piece and their good health. Once again the republicans should be ashamed of themselves.

  6. Marjorie of Blighty Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    I wonder what they’ll do, the Trumpalytes, when they find out they’ve been duped? Let’s hope they all vote blue come 2018.

  7. Cathy Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    I’d add to the list of sound bytes – the out of context use of Nancy Pelosi’s statement that “we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it”. It’s been used ad nauseam to attack the ACA. You never hear a journalist share the rest of that one either.

  8. Marsha Woerner Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    And the long held myth of “death panels” for the elderly! The a AHCA doesn’t require “death panels” per se; the elderly just die. They’re not “denied” treatment exactly; they just couldn’t afford it to start with!
    This Is All Traits of TrumpDon’tCare!

  9. Caroline Taylor Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Everything is lies. A tissue of lies, and no one but us seems to give a shit. More than half of America wants the ACA left alone, and then there are the Republicans who don’t care what over 60% of the people want. We are truly screwed.

    • Dr. Mark Bear Reply

      March 10, 2017 at 8:29 am

      Caroline,

      I think we need to continue placing pressure through attending Town Halls when Republican Representatives allow them to proceed, and use the tactics of Indivisible. They have taken the literal page out of the Tea Party handbook, and I am telling you that we are getting excellent results as of now. Don’t give up all hope and if you need the material, please send me a request to Mark Bear on Facebook, through personal message and I will show you how you can be a part of holding these people’s feet to the fire. We will get through this!

      • Caroline Taylor Reply

        March 10, 2017 at 12:57 pm

        Thanks Mark. As a long time contributor here I do write but not about politics. Maybe I’ll ask Mike about that. Hey Mike!?

  10. Edward G22 Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    When will this all end Dr? Ever? Can you tell us?

    • Dr. Mark Bear Reply

      March 10, 2017 at 1:28 am

      I believe Edward – with all of my heart – that there is a linear progression of facts coming out on a daily basis demonstrating that a link between the current Administration – then campaign operatives for the President – and Russia exist. Whether the Republican Party has the fortitude to investigate this link in a non-partisan fashion, placing Country over Party, remains to be seen.

      However, if the republicans do lack the fortitude, as I am quickly beginning to suspect, I believe it imperative that the Democratic Party must get its act together and heal the wounds which divide it, placing control in 2018 back to them. If they can accomplish this, I believe 2018 will mark the beginning of the end of Trump’s presidency.

      I recall Watergate – as a child – as my grandmother forced me to watch those hearings as she told me that it was imperative for me to observe, due to the historical nature of what took place back then, and I can assure all that what we suspect to be taking place now, which began with the campaign, will make Watergate look like a Junior Varsity offense. Stay tuned.

  11. Peter Lake Reply

    March 10, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    The New York Times is really going after Trumpcare. They call it the worst bill ever, and it is.

    • Dr. Mark Bear Reply

      March 13, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Peter,

      I agree and we still have not had the CBO Report scoring on the danged thing yet. If you will notice all of the Trump people are attacking the CBO now. If you watch this Administration they have one single scarlet thread which weaves its way throughout all of their pre-packaged drama and diversion tactics; undermine any and all government agencies conveying to the public, that only Donald J Trump “really gets it.” He comes across in his messaging and also the entire Administration as awfully Messianic.

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