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Sean Hannity had guests lie about the ACA

Inside the Fox News lie machine: I fact-checked Sean Hannity on Obamacare

I happened to turn on the Hannity show on Fox News last Friday evening. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity announced, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.”  Three married couples were neatly arranged in his studio, the wives seated and the men standing behind them, like game show contestants.

As Hannity called on each of them, the guests recounted their “Obamacare” horror stories: canceled policies, premium hikes, restrictions on the freedom to see a doctor of their choice, financial burdens upon their small businesses and so on.

“These are the stories that the media refuses to cover,” Hannity interjected.

But none of it smelled right to me. Nothing these folks were saying jibed with the basic facts of the Affordable Care Act as I understand them. I understand them fairly well; I have worked as a senior adviser to a governor and helped him deal with the new federal rules.

I decided to hit the pavement. I tracked down Hannity’s guests, one by one, and did my own telephone interviews with them.

First I spoke with Paul Cox of Leicester, N.C.  He and his wife Michelle had lamented to Hannity that because of Obamacare, they can’t grow their construction business and they have kept their employees below a certain number of hours, so that they are part-timers.

Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been forced to do so, it’s just that I’ve chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs.” What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he’d call me back. He never did.

There is only one Obamacare requirement that applies to a company of this size: workers must be notified of the existence of the “healthcare.gov” website, the insurance exchange. That’s all.



Next I called Allison Denijs.  She’d told Hannity that she pays over $13,000 a year in premiums. Like the other guests, she said she had recently gotten a letter from Blue Cross saying that her policy was being terminated and a new, ACA-compliant policy would take its place. She says this shows that Obama lied when he promised Americans that we could keep our existing policies.

Allison’s husband left his job a few years ago, one with benefits at a big company, to start his own business. Since then they’ve been buying insurance on the open market, and are now paying around $1,100 a month for a policy with a $2,500 deductible per family member, with hefty annual premium hikes.  One of their two children is not covered under the policy. She has a preexisting condition that would require purchasing additional coverage for $600 a month, which would bring the family’s grand total to around $20,000 a year.

I asked Allison if she’d shopped on the exchange, to see what a plan might cost under the new law. She said she hadn’t done so because she’d heard the website was not working. Would she try it out when it’s up and running? Perhaps, she said. She told me she has long opposed Obamacare, and that the president should have focused on tort reform as a solution to bringing down the price of healthcare.

I tried an experiment and shopped on the exchange for Allison and Kurt. Assuming they don’t smoke and have a household income too high to be eligible for subsidies, I found that they would be able to get a plan for around $7,600, which would include coverage for their uninsured daughter. This would be about a 60 percent reduction from what they would have to pay on the pre-Obamacare market.

Allison also told me that the letter she received from Blue Cross said that in addition to the policy change for ACA compliance, in the new policy her physician network size might be reduced.  That’s something insurance companies do to save money, with or without Obamacare on the horizon, just as they raise premiums with or without Obamacare coming.

If Allison’s choice of doctor was denied her through Obamacare then, yes, she could have a claim that Obamacare has hurt her. But she’d also have thousands of dollars in her pocket that she didn’t have before.

Finally, I called Robbie and Tina Robison from Franklin, Tenn.  Robbie is self-employed as a Christian youth motivational speaker. (You can see his work here.) On Hannity, the couple said that they, too, were recently notified that their Blue Cross policy would be expiring for lack of ACA compliance. They told Hannity that the replacement plans Blue Cross was offering would come with a rate increase of 50 percent or even 75 percent, and that the new offerings would contain all sorts of benefits they don’t need, like maternity care, pediatric care, prenatal care and so forth.  Their kids are grown and moved out, so why should they be forced to pay extra for a health plan with superfluous features?

When I spoke to Robbie, he said he and Tina have been paying a little over $800 a month for their plan, about $10,000 a year. And the ACA-compliant policy that will cost 50-75 percent more? They said this information was related to them by their insurance agent.

Had they shopped on the exchange yet, I asked? No, Tina said, nor would they. They oppose Obamacare and want nothing to do with it. Fair enough, but they should know that I found a plan for them for, at most, $3,700 a year, 63 percent less than their current bill.  It might cover things that they don’t need, but so does every insurance policy.

It’s true that we don’t know for sure whether certain ills conservatives have warned about will occur once Obamacare is fully enacted. For example, will we truly have the same freedom to choose a physician that we have now? Will a surplus of insured patients require a scaling back (or “rationing,” as some call it) of provided healthcare services?  Will doctors be able to spend as much time with patients? These are all valid, unanswered questions. The problem is that people like Sean Hannity have decided to answer them now, without evidence. Or worse, with fake evidence.

I don’t doubt that these six individuals believe that Obamacare is a disaster; but none of them had even visited the insurance exchange. And some of them appear to have taken actions (Paul Cox, for example) based on a general pessimistic belief about Obamacare. He’s certainly entitled to do so, but Hannity is not entitled to point to Paul’s behavior as an “Obamacare train wreck story” and maintain any credibility that he might have as a journalist.

Strangely, the recent shutdown was based almost entirely on a small percentage of Congress’s belief that Obamacare, as Ted Cruz puts it, “is destroying America.”  Cruz has rarely given us an example of what he’s talking about.  That’s because the best he can do is what Hannity did—exploit people’s ignorance and falsely point to imaginary boogeymen.

Update: To check the plans I used this useful calculator from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Eric Stern lives in Helena, Montana. He was senior counsel to Brian Schweitzer, former Governor. Follow him on Twitter at @_ericstern.

by on Oct. 19, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Replies (41-50):
jessilin0113
by Platinum Member on Oct. 19, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Has anybody really not been able to keep their old plan?  Like, the law legitimately said "You can't have this insurance", not, "my employer chose not to offer the same plan" or something along those lines.

Quoting tanyainmizzou:

Quoting futureshock:

Not surprised.  This should be a criminal offense, lying on the airwaves like this.




Oh. Does saying if you like your health care plan you will be able to keep it count for criminal offense as well? He knew that was going to be a lie.


Carpy
by Ruby Member on Oct. 19, 2013 at 9:10 PM
1 mom liked this


One of the major selling points of the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) was the fact that citizens with pre-existing conditions would be covered. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), however, has run out of money.

Since the mainstream media is slow to report anything negative about President Obama, particularly his much-touted signature healthcare law, the announcement received little attention in February when enrollment in the program was suspended.

The PCIP website prominently states in part:

“Beginning February 16, 2013, the federally-run Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) is suspending acceptance of new enrollment applications until further notice.”

Not surprisingly, the PCIP website blames Congress for failing to fund the program:

“The program has a limited amount of funding from Congress.”

The statement is inaccurate. In fact, a Republican bill to add funds to the PCIP program was threatened to be vetoed by President Obama.

In order to assure that money would be available, Republicans initiated a proposal (H.R.1549: Helping Sick Americans Now Act ) to shift funds from other areas of ObamaCare. President Obama threatened to veto the law, and it failed to win support in the House.

The Congressional Budget Office warned that the 5 billion dollars set aside for the program would fall short of the expenses required unless H.R. 1549 was passed.

Not only did President Obama threaten to veto H.R. 1549, he did not set aside money for PCIP in his recent budget proposal.

California Healthline sums it up:

“Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health introduced HR 1549, citing Obama’s failure to respond to a House GOP leadership request to transfer funding from other ACA programs without congressional action.

The bill would shift about $4 billion from the ACA’s Public Health and Prevention Fund to allow the extended period of enrollment in PCIP. The bill also would eliminate the ACA requirement that individuals be uninsured for at least six months before they can be eligible for coverage in PCIP (California Healthline, 4/18).

However, administration officials previously noted that money from the Public Health and Prevention Fund will be allocated for other ACA-related purposes like promoting the law’s health insurance exchanges (AP/U-T San Diego, 4/23).”

Got that? It seems that “administration officials” would rather promote health exchanges than help people with pre-existing conditions.

In fairness, the bill was not very popular on the right, either; as many insist that the goal should be repealing thetrain wreck that is ObamaCare altogether.

Politico reported:

“The critics argue that the bill would prop up a program that should be killed. The measure would move $4 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was created under the health care law, to the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program, which ran out of money earlier this year.”

The Hill cynically reported:

“ObamaCare was really never about helping people about with pre-existing conditions; it was an entire reordering of our health system to put government more in charge. Compare the $5 billion spent on the PCIP to the law’s total 10-year costs, an estimated $1.76 trillion. The PCIP is established in Section 1101 of the law, a whopping 8 pages out of the law’s total 2407. But many Americans didn’t realize that, and supported the law because of their concern for others like those with pre-existing conditions.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:

“Just 4.4 percent of enrollees account for half the claims paid, according to The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that advocates for access to health care.

Coverage will continue for people already enrolled, but they now face higher costs. Because of the funding crunch, their maximum out-of-pocket spending limit increased from 4,000 to $6,250 and they now are required to order prescription refills by mail.”

A train wreck, indeed. It will be interesting to see what happens in January, 2014.

Quoting cjsbmom:

Actually, both of them. 

Even the "Allison" person quoted in the story contains false information. Her child could not be excluded based on a pre-existing condition. The ACA put into effect last year the portion of the law that says children cannot be denied based on a pre-existing condition. That same provision will kick in for all adults as of Jan. 1. So either she is confused, or her insurance company is feeding her a line of shit and she doesn't know the law and is falling for it. 


Quoting DSamuels:

Who is? The author of the article or Hannity? 

Quoting cjsbmom:

I don't know how the state exchanges work, because mine is one of the states that refused to fully participate, so we have to use the federal exchange. But with the federal exchange, you have to create an account and input all of your required information before you can even view plans. And they are verifying whether you're a real person via your social and other identifying info. So I really doubt he was able to get on using the federal exchange without creating a legitimate account. So in other words, he's making shit up. What a shocker!

Quoting PrimmednPunked:

He probably just found the worst plan he could and said that was the one theyr received.

Quoting cathygymboree:

He "found" a plan for them?

Did he have all their personal info to apply with?

How?






Minnow Slayer

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Oct. 19, 2013 at 9:12 PM

I've had my own insurance for over a decade because I'm a contractor. I am able to keep my plan. And the insurance company actually is lowering my rate to be in line with what they will be offering on the exchange. 

My son's plan, however, was eliminated. But I simply added him to mine, and the problem was solved. 

Quoting jessilin0113:

Has anybody really not been able to keep their old plan?  Like, the law legitimately said "You can't have this insurance", not, "my employer chose not to offer the same plan" or something along those lines.

Quoting tanyainmizzou:

Quoting futureshock:

Not surprised.  This should be a criminal offense, lying on the airwaves like this.




Oh. Does saying if you like your health care plan you will be able to keep it count for criminal offense as well? He knew that was going to be a lie.



cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Oct. 19, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Isn't this just for the Medicaid-expansion part of the ACA? 

Quoting Carpy:


One of the major selling points of the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) was the fact that citizens with pre-existing conditions would be covered. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), however, has run out of money.

Since the mainstream media is slow to report anything negative about President Obama, particularly his much-touted signature healthcare law, the announcement received little attention in February when enrollment in the program was suspended.

The PCIP website prominently states in part:

“Beginning February 16, 2013, the federally-run Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) is suspending acceptance of new enrollment applications until further notice.”

Not surprisingly, the PCIP website blames Congress for failing to fund the program:

“The program has a limited amount of funding from Congress.”

The statement is inaccurate. In fact, a Republican bill to add funds to the PCIP program was threatened to be vetoed by President Obama.

In order to assure that money would be available, Republicans initiated a proposal (H.R.1549: Helping Sick Americans Now Act ) to shift funds from other areas of ObamaCare. President Obama threatened to veto the law, and it failed to win support in the House.

The Congressional Budget Office warned that the 5 billion dollars set aside for the program would fall short of the expenses required unless H.R. 1549 was passed.

Not only did President Obama threaten to veto H.R. 1549, he did not set aside money for PCIP in his recent budget proposal.

California Healthline sums it up:

“Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health introduced HR 1549, citing Obama’s failure to respond to a House GOP leadership request to transfer funding from other ACA programs without congressional action.

The bill would shift about $4 billion from the ACA’s Public Health and Prevention Fund to allow the extended period of enrollment in PCIP. The bill also would eliminate the ACA requirement that individuals be uninsured for at least six months before they can be eligible for coverage in PCIP (California Healthline, 4/18).

However, administration officials previously noted that money from the Public Health and Prevention Fund will be allocated for other ACA-related purposes like promoting the law’s health insurance exchanges (AP/U-T San Diego, 4/23).”

Got that? It seems that “administration officials” would rather promote health exchanges than help people with pre-existing conditions.

In fairness, the bill was not very popular on the right, either; as many insist that the goal should be repealing thetrain wreck that is ObamaCare altogether.

Politico reported:

“The critics argue that the bill would prop up a program that should be killed. The measure would move $4 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was created under the health care law, to the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program, which ran out of money earlier this year.”

The Hill cynically reported:

“ObamaCare was really never about helping people about with pre-existing conditions; it was an entire reordering of our health system to put government more in charge. Compare the $5 billion spent on the PCIP to the law’s total 10-year costs, an estimated $1.76 trillion. The PCIP is established in Section 1101 of the law, a whopping 8 pages out of the law’s total 2407. But many Americans didn’t realize that, and supported the law because of their concern for others like those with pre-existing conditions.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:

“Just 4.4 percent of enrollees account for half the claims paid, according to The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that advocates for access to health care.

Coverage will continue for people already enrolled, but they now face higher costs. Because of the funding crunch, their maximum out-of-pocket spending limit increased from 4,000 to $6,250 and they now are required to order prescription refills by mail.”

A train wreck, indeed. It will be interesting to see what happens in January, 2014.

Quoting cjsbmom:

Actually, both of them. 

Even the "Allison" person quoted in the story contains false information. Her child could not be excluded based on a pre-existing condition. The ACA put into effect last year the portion of the law that says children cannot be denied based on a pre-existing condition. That same provision will kick in for all adults as of Jan. 1. So either she is confused, or her insurance company is feeding her a line of shit and she doesn't know the law and is falling for it. 


Quoting DSamuels:

Who is? The author of the article or Hannity? 

Quoting cjsbmom:

I don't know how the state exchanges work, because mine is one of the states that refused to fully participate, so we have to use the federal exchange. But with the federal exchange, you have to create an account and input all of your required information before you can even view plans. And they are verifying whether you're a real person via your social and other identifying info. So I really doubt he was able to get on using the federal exchange without creating a legitimate account. So in other words, he's making shit up. What a shocker!

Quoting PrimmednPunked:

He probably just found the worst plan he could and said that was the one theyr received.

Quoting cathygymboree:

He "found" a plan for them?

Did he have all their personal info to apply with?

How?







tanyainmizzou
by Platinum Member on Oct. 19, 2013 at 9:13 PM
Yes. Employers can't offer the plans they did. Or I guess our plan and the plan of so many we know aren't allowed. It isn't they aren't offering it, but they can no longer offer it.


Quoting jessilin0113:

Has anybody really not been able to keep their old plan?  Like, the law legitimately said "You can't have this insurance", not, "my employer chose not to offer the same plan" or something along those lines.

Quoting tanyainmizzou:
Quoting futureshock:

Not surprised.  This should be a criminal offense, lying on the airwaves like this.




Oh. Does saying if you like your health care plan you will be able to keep it count for criminal offense as well? He knew that was going to be a lie.


tanyainmizzou
by Platinum Member on Oct. 19, 2013 at 9:17 PM
1 mom liked this

Get back to me when it changes your insurance.

Oh yeah. It won't. The taxpayers pay for what you never will because you use everyone else for insurance.
Quoting lga1965:

But people ARE keeping their health care plans. Obamacare, more accurately called the ACA, is helping the uninsured and people with pre-existing conditions.

Quoting tanyainmizzou:
Quoting futureshock:

Not surprised.  This should be a criminal offense, lying on the airwaves like this.




Oh. Does saying if you like your health care plan you will be able to keep it count for criminal offense as well? He knew that was going to be a lie.


NWP
by guerrilla girl on Oct. 19, 2013 at 9:19 PM

We have been able to keep our plans. DH's has gone up a bit and mine (I actually work in a different state than he does) has gone down significantly. We will probably switch the family over to mine during our next open enrollment.

Quoting jessilin0113:

Has anybody really not been able to keep their old plan?  Like, the law legitimately said "You can't have this insurance", not, "my employer chose not to offer the same plan" or something along those lines.

Quoting tanyainmizzou:

Quoting futureshock:

Not surprised.  This should be a criminal offense, lying on the airwaves like this.




Oh. Does saying if you like your health care plan you will be able to keep it count for criminal offense as well? He knew that was going to be a lie.



National Woman's Party


cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Oct. 19, 2013 at 9:20 PM

Some plans have been flat out eliminated because they weren't in compliance with the ACA. That is probably what is happening. Blue Cross Blue Shield seems to be the worst offender and have eliminated a lot of their plans. 

Quoting tanyainmizzou:

Yes. Employers can't offer the plans they did. Or I guess our plan and the plan of so many we know aren't allowed. It isn't they aren't offering it, but they can no longer offer it.


Quoting jessilin0113:

Has anybody really not been able to keep their old plan?  Like, the law legitimately said "You can't have this insurance", not, "my employer chose not to offer the same plan" or something along those lines.

Quoting tanyainmizzou:
Quoting futureshock:

Not surprised.  This should be a criminal offense, lying on the airwaves like this.




Oh. Does saying if you like your health care plan you will be able to keep it count for criminal offense as well? He knew that was going to be a lie.



lga1965
by Ruby Member on Oct. 19, 2013 at 9:20 PM
1 mom liked this
I paid into Medicare with every paycheck since 1960.
What's your story ?


Quoting tanyainmizzou:



Get back to me when it changes your insurance.



Oh yeah. It won't. The taxpayers pay for what you never will because you use everyone else for insurance.

Quoting lga1965:

But people ARE keeping their health care plans. Obamacare, more accurately called the ACA, is helping the uninsured and people with pre-existing conditions.



Quoting tanyainmizzou:
Quoting futureshock:

Not surprised.  This should be a criminal offense, lying on the airwaves like this.






Oh. Does saying if you like your health care plan you will be able to keep it count for criminal offense as well? He knew that was going to be a lie.


Posted on CafeMom Mobile
PestPatti
by on Oct. 19, 2013 at 9:21 PM

What .. What kind of insurance do you think she has. 

Quoting tanyainmizzou:


Get back to me when it changes your insurance.

Oh yeah. It won't. The taxpayers pay for what you never will because you use everyone else for insurance.
Quoting lga1965:

But people ARE keeping their health care plans. Obamacare, more accurately called the ACA, is helping the uninsured and people with pre-existing conditions.

Quoting tanyainmizzou:
Quoting futureshock:

Not surprised.  This should be a criminal offense, lying on the airwaves like this.




Oh. Does saying if you like your health care plan you will be able to keep it count for criminal offense as well? He knew that was going to be a lie.



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