I have been a listener and MedHead for years. I have listened long enough to recognize the differences in your show when it is an election year. You tend to allow more misinformation to spread, and you are willing to twist statistics and misrepresent facts in order to make your argument. You certainly do not press Republicans to back up their very outrageous claims, but fight Democrats tooth and nail over every little statistic. You are better than this.
Your hour with Michelle Bachmann really set a new low for pure misinformation and deception on your show. It's really depressing, because I used to respect you. But I cannot respect you anymore, for this hour, and for many hours over the last couple years. The ends do not justify the means. If you oppose Obamacare, you should be able to make your case without resorting to falsehoods.
I have to ask you, Michael. Why? Why sacrifice your integrity? Why sacrifice your honor? You are a talented, intelligent, passionate advocate for freedom. But you do the cause no honor by buying into the lies and distortions of the truth. You are hurting the cause, because if I can sit down and in a couple hours debunk every single assertion made by you and Michelle Bachmann, so can a swing voter. And if they do, do you think they are going to be sympathetic to the views of a party who are provably lying to them?
I have spent the last several hours sourcing the extraordinary claims made by you and Michelle Bachmann. Below are the results:
Michelle Bachmann: "The people who are probably the most impacted are senior citizens because many people still don't realize that Obamacare means a cut of $575 billion out of Medicare. Just when we have millions of new people entering Medicare, we have millions of new people, and yet we have $575 billion left to spend on them. So what that means quite clearly is denial of care for senior citizens."
It's hard to understand what Michelle Bachmann is getting at here, because she claims $575 billion is cut from Medicare, yet "we have $575 billion left to spend on [millions of new people.] Now this doesn't make sense, but we can address the $575 billion Medicare cut.
The health-care law tries to identify ways to save money, and so the $500 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as “the baseline”) and the changes the law makes to reduce spending. (The Kaiser Family Foundation, on slide 15 of this tutorial on the law’s impact of Medicare, has a chart of the year-by-year savings.)
Moreover, the savings actually are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries.
These spending reductions presumably would be a good thing, since virtually everyone agrees that Medicare spending is out of control. In the House Republican budget, lawmakers repealed the Obama health-care law but retained all but $10 billion of the nearly $500 billion in Medicare savings. This suggests the actual policies enacted to achieve these spending reductions were not that objectionable to GOP lawmakers.
In the health-care bill, the anticipated savings from Medicare were used to help offset some of the anticipated costs of expanding health care for all Americans. In reality, the money is all fungible, but Romney is on relatively solid ground when he says that Obama is partially funding the health-care law through reductions in Medicare spending. But it is misleading to suggest that Medicare has been weakened by this accounting manuver.
The health-care law, as mentioned, actually puts Medicare on a more solid financial footing. The health-care law, moreover, improved some benefits for seniors, such as making preventive care free and closing a gap in prescription drug coverage known as the “doughnut hole” — improvements that the House Republican bill for Medicare actually would repeal.
Michelle Bachmann: "Well people won't be apathetic when they find out they won't be able to keep their doctor. President Obama promised we'd be able to keep our doctor. It's not true. Millions of people are going to lose not only their doctor but their health insurance altogether because we are about to see millions of employers who are going to say to us, we just can't afford it anymore. We can't offer health insurance anymore."
In a March 2012 report, the CBO did say that as many as 20 million people could lose their employer-sponsored health insurance in 2019. But that was under one scenario (out of four alternatives) in which the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation assumed that employers reacted very negatively to the cost of obtaining health insurance for their workers.
In that scenario, the CBO said, it made assumptions about how employers of all sizes would react that were so extreme that they “have only rarely been reported in the research literature, and even then only for the behavior of small firms.”
But under the “baseline” estimates, which the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation see as more likely to occur, the number of people losing employer-based coverage is expected to be much lower.
CBO, March 15: In their original analysis of the impact of the legislation, CBO and JCT estimated that, on balance, the number of people obtaining coverage through their employer would be about 3 million lower in 2019 under the legislation than under prior law. As reflected in CBO’s latest baseline projections, the two agencies now anticipate that, because of the ACA, about 3 million to 5 million fewer people, on net, will obtain coverage through their employer each year from 2019 through 2022 than would have been the case under prior law.
Furthermore, some of the people who would no longer have employer-sponsored insurance would have done so voluntarily — turning down health coverage through their employer to “instead choose to obtain coverage from another source.”
And the CBO report noted that under another very optimistic scenario, the number of people obtaining insurance through their employer increases, on net, by 3 million. And that’s not so far-fetched, considering what happened in Massachusetts.
CBO: One piece of evidence that may be relevant is the experience in Massachusetts, where employment-based health insurance coverage appeared to increase after that state’s reforms, which are similar but not identical to those in the ACA, were implemented.
Michael Medved: "Recently, there was a survey that said 83% of physicians in the country say they would consider leaving medicine because of Obamacare."
Michael, this survey is very questionable, and really doesn't sound possible. Here's why:
The survey was conducted by fax and online from April 18 to May 22, 2012. DPMAF obtained the office fax numbers of 36,000 doctors in active clinical practice, and 16, 227 faxes were successfully delivered... The response rate was 4.3% for a total of 699 completed surveys.
If you read the original Nelson story, you notice that the big medical groups (like the AMA and AAFP) don't bother commenting until they process the numbers. But you don't often bother if the data looks like this.
Michelle Bachmann: "Under Obamacare, we're going to have electronic medical records. Nothing wrong with that. But, all the information about you, your age, your income, your status, that'll all be fed into a central computer. When your symptoms go in, the federal government will tell the doctor what you're going to get. And so we won't see overt denial of care, but doctors won't be able to call the shots anymore about what's really good for you and what you need. Now the true decision in health care is going to be made by the federal government through the computer and if the doctor decides not to go along with the federal government, what you should get or you shouldn't get - the doctor is going to be docked. Their reimbursement. They're going to get less money."
Michelle Bachmann: "The health care exchanges that are going to be set up in each of the states, there's nothing unique to that state. They're effectively portals for the federal government to collect both money and data. That's one thing people don't realize. There's a massive amount of personal data that will go to the federal government, and then once that data goes to the federal government, they have to make some decisions. If you have 50 million new people, that are getting taxpayer subsidized services, with no new money, and no new doctors, it doesn't take much to figure out something's got to give. And so then the federal government will take this personal information and then make a decision."
This is a straight up tinfoil hat story, similar to the story about how Obamacare requires everyone to be microchipped. There is zero evidence that either are true.
The law does aim to improve the quality and efficiency of care. At some level, that would change what doctors do. Physicians are wary of change, and the way the law will work is complex. But we found no hard evidence to support the claim that doctors would be forced to make bad decisions. In contrast, we found many provisions that support an open process geared toward providing better care.
Michelle Bachmann: "They certainly don't want to add $17 trillion to the debt, which is what Obamacare will do."
Here's the bottom line: according to the PolitiFact analysis, it's not going to add to the debt because the legislation also raises money to pay for the costs.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected back in 2010 that the health-care law would lower the deficit by about $124 billion over 10 years. In 2011, when Republicans offered a bill to repeal the health-care law, the CBO estimated that wiping out the law, which Romney is promising to do, would actually increase the deficit by about $210 billion over 10 years.
The budget office acknowledges circumstances can change, the CBO isn't infallible, and the issues that come up in making an analysis can be contentious, as PolitiFact found when it looked at a statement from U.S. Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wis., judged Mostly False, that the law was "accelerating our country toward bankruptcy."
How much would the new health-care law actually raise? As PolitiFact reported when it gave Rush Limbaugh a Pants On Fire for declaring that "Obamacare is . . . the largest tax increase in the history of the world," the CBO estimates the additional revenues coming into the government will be $525 billion between now and 2019. In addition, the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan committee of Congress with a professional staff of economists, attorneys and accountants, estimates the health law will bring in more than $437.8 billion by 2019.
Michael Medved: "And we also now know, courtesy of the Supreme Court of the United States, it's the biggest tax increase in American history."
Absolutely untrue, and I cringed when I heard you say it again, after just about every fact checking organization in the world has debunked it. And you know your history, so I'm just not sure why you buy this lie.
The list obviously does not include the health care law, which passed in 2010, and a spokeswoman for the Department of Treasury says it hasn't been updated. So we calculated our own percent of GDP figure. We used 2019 as our baseline because that's when all of the tax provisions of the law will be in effect. In 2019, the CBO estimates, the government will see increased revenues of $104 billion. We then divided that number into the projected GDP for 2019, which according to the CBO economic forecast is $21.164 trillion. That would mean the tax increase provisions of the health care law would amount to .49 percent of total GDP.
Depending on your rounding, that would mean the tax increases resulting from the health care law would be about the size of tax increases proposed and passed in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter, in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush and in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.
The health care-related tax increases are smaller than the tax increase signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and a temporary tax signed into law in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. And they are significantly smaller than two tax increases passed during World War II and a tax increase passed in 1961.
Michelle Bachmann: "If you have a certain income, and if you make a certain amount of money on the sale of your home, that's an additional 3.8% tax that the seller pays when he sells his home."
Untrue. Your home is not "investment income", and that is what the surtax applies to. Don't believe me? Believe the government.
Broaden Medicare Hospital Insurance Tax Base for High-Income Taxpayers - additional HI tax of 0.9% on earned income in excess of $200,000/$250,000 (unindexed) , and Unearned Income Medicare Contribution on 3.8% on investment income for taxpayers with AGI in excess of $200,000/$250,000 (unindexed) .
Michael Medved: "There's an extra tax that is levied on the parents of special needs kids. Isn't that unbelievable?"
It is unbelievable. Because it's not true.
Carter's statement that the health care law will smack a $13 billion tax increase entirely on families with children who have special needs defies common sense. At our inquiry, his office backed off the sweep of Carter's
Twitter message and conceded they didn't have numbers confirming that special-needs' families would bear the brunt of the tax change.
All in all, Carter makes a dramatic, unsupported charge. We rate his statement as Pants on Fire.
Michelle Bachmann: "We've heard this from President Obama's mouth. Remember he was asked the question by a woman who said my mother is 100 years old. She had a problem and needed a pacemaker. She got the pacemaker and she lived five more years, and had a wonderful quality of life. The response from President Obama? Well maybe what she really should get is a pain pill. She didn't need a pain pill. She needed the pacemaker. She had five years of life. Under Obamacare, with this system, the federal government will make the decision, and if the local doctor doesn't agree with that, he will personally pay a price by having his pay docked."
Complete misrepresentation of that exchange, along with a donning of the tinfoil hat. Full story at politifact:
Looking at the full transcript, it’s clear that Obama voluntarily brought up the example of having to choose between a surgery and a pill. But he did so as a hypothetical example of difficult decisions about medical treatment for older patients. He was not advocating, much less requiring, bureaucrats to make a potentially life-ending decision for a centenarian.
“I don’t want bureaucracies making those decisions,” Obama said.
Michelle Bachmann: "Thousands and millions of people are about to be thrown off their health insurance, and Elly, you don't want to go out into the private market and be forced to go pay $20,000 of after tax income on a private insurance policy."
This defies logic. If Elly is "thrown off her health insurance," which is extremely unlikely according to the CBO, then she will either have to pay for insurance on the private market, or pay the tax penalty for not buying insurance. Paying $20,000 of after-tax income is what people pay now in Washington State's high risk pool. Depending upon Elly's income, she would either go on Medicaid, or receive a subsidy to purchase health insurance in the normal market. Now, one could argue that health insurance will cost that much in the future, but it's not going to happen in 2014 when "Thousands and Millions... are thrown off their health insurance."
We deserve better than this, Michael. We NEED better than this. I have defended you to my friends and family for years for being a Republican interested in bringing the truth to other Republicans. You used to serve that role. Now you serve the whacko-machine, and we are all poorer for it.
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