The Herald Bulletin

September 21, 2013

Viewpoint: Misinformation being spread on ACA

By Norma Abbey Anderson resident
The Herald Bulletin

---- — David Sumner’s Aug. 31 letter lists several polls showing more people opposing the Affordable Care Act than favoring it. But how valid is that opposition when other polls reveal that many Americans are greatly misinformed about Obamacare?

A Kaiser Family Foundation Poll in March found that 40 percent believe a government panel will make end-of-life decisions for people on Medicare, and 47 percent think that undocumented immigrants will receive subsidies to buy insurance. An August Fox News Poll discovered that 65 percent think Obamacare will increase the federal deficit. (The Congressional Budget Office projects it will reduce the deficit by $109 billion over the next decade.

A Reuters/ Ipsos poll last year found that while 56 percent opposed the law, 82 percent favor coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, 61 percent think children should be able to stay on their parents’ policy until age 26, and 72 percent support requiring corporations to cover employees — all provisions of the law. Columnist Bob Cesca compares this contradictory thinking to that of the Springfield townspeople on “The Simpsons.”

The administration has not done a good job of publicizing the law’s benefits. But Republican leaders have certainly been guilty of spreading misinformation. Speaker John Boehner stated that 74 percent of small businesses will fire workers or cut their hours because of Obamacare. This was a grossly erroneous interpretation of a Chamber of Commerce poll, which earned a Pants on Fire rating from Politifact.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor claimed, “The IRS will have access to the American people’s protected health care information,” but could offer no proof. Another Pants on Fire statement.

A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Revenue said that rates submitted for the insurance exchange would cost $570 a month, 72 percent more than current plans. But that was the average, including the most expensive plans.

Cheaper plans would cost about $300, and include more benefits than current plans, such as mental health and prescription drugs.

Dr. Sumner also includes some misinformation, writing that that IRS is hiring 25,000 agents to enforce compliance. One wonders where he got that figure; the only place I’ve seen it is in a right-wing blog which called President Obama a “monster” and a “fake president.”

For fiscal years 2012 and 2013, IRS has requested 375 new agents.

Both Sumner and Robert E. Dean (Sept. 3) repeat the claim that Obamacare will cause a loss of jobs and reduction of hours. We’ve all heard of some companies which say they’re cutting jobs because of Obamacare. But anecdotal evidence is not valid evidence. What do job statistics show?

u August payroll figures show that job creation at small companies has almost doubled in the last six months, according to payroll processor ADP.

u Economists at the Center for Economic and Policy

Research analyzed figures from the Current Population Survey, which provides monthly data on workers’ weekly hours, and found that the number of workers in the 26-29 hours per week range is lower than last year. So if any employers are reducing hours, the number is too small to show up in the data.

u Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, says that figures disprove the claim that Obamacare is responsible for a shift from full-time to part-time jobs. “I was expecting to see it. I was looking for it, and it’s not there,.” he said.

u Economists at the Center for Budget and Policy

Priorities found that the share of involuntary part-time workers is down about one percentage point from its peak.

u A poll of CFOs by Duke University/CFO magazine found that American companies expect to increase the number of full-time workers by 1.8 percent in the next year.

u A survey of the Massachusetts Health Reform of 2008, which was the model for ACA, found that employers there have not dropped coverage or cut hours.

Dean’s labeling of organizations quoted as “left-wing” does not negate their facts. He also claims that members of Congress are exempt from the ACA. This is not true, no matter how much Fox News announces it. Members are required to enter the exchanges, as the law provides.