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Friday, September 30, 2011
McCaughey Misleads on Health Care Reform (Again)
Topic: Newsmax

A Sept. 28 Newsmax article by Martin Gould is devoted to serial misleader Betsy McCaughey's latest ramblings about health care reform. This time, she's chosen to mislead about an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling stated about the constitutionality of the reform law:

She also noted that the 11th Circuit dismissed the administration’s contention that mandatory insurance is necessary to eliminate “free riders."

“The decision pointed out that free riders are largely illegal immigrants who, of course, are unaffected by the mandate, they are exempt from it; or lower income people who will be provided for by the expansion of Medicaid and also will not be compelled to buy private health plans.”

In fact, according to the majority's ruling, poor people outnumber illegal immigrants as "free riders" ("cost-shifters" in the court's parlance), and both together make up only about 53% of the total cost-shift [p. 139]:

illegal aliens and other nonresidents are cost-shifters ($8.1 billion, or 18.9% of the $43 billion), but they are exempted from the individual mandate entirely. 26 U.S.C. § 5000A(d)(3). Low-income persons are the largest segment of cost-shifters ($15 billion, or 34.8% of the $43 billion), but they are covered by the Act’s Medicaid expansion or excepted from the mandate penalty.

And the minority opinion points out that most “free riders” or “cost shifters” are not exempted [p. 242]:

Relying heavily on the economists’ brief, the majority goes even further and subjects Congress’ findings to an analysis that looks startlingly like strict scrutiny review. The majority engages in a breakdown of who among the uninsured are responsible for the $43 billion, presumably in order to show that the mandate will not be the most efficacious means of ameliorating the cost-shifting problem. See Maj. Op. at 139-41. For instance, the majority claims that low-income individuals and illegal aliens (or other nonresidents) together are responsible for around half of the total cost shifting, yet are exempted from either the mandate or its penalty. 139-40. But even on the majority’s own terms, a substantial number of cost-shifters are not exempted from the mandate or its penalty, and there was nothing irrational about Congress’ decision to subject to the mandate those individuals who could reasonably afford health insurance in the first place. 

Then, in another Sept. 28 article, Newsmax quotes McCaughey as saying:

"There are bigger premium hikes ahead in 2014,” she said, explaining that “1,472 employers and unions got waivers from the current coverage requirements because they couldn’t afford them. But in 2014, the waivers expire and mid- and large-size employers will be required to provide the ‘essential benefit package’ or pay a $2,000 fine — a mere pittance compared with the cost of that package.

“That's why McKinsey & Co. found that as many as 50 percent of large employers surveyed are considering dropping coverage in 2014. If that happens, middle and high earners will be forced into the exchanges, and lower income workers will be forced onto Medicaid."

In fact, McKinsey has admitted its findings were not meant as "a predictive economic analysis."

The article also carries the misleading headline, "McCaughey: Surge in Costs Start Of Obamacare Disaster." But there was no "surge in costs" directly attributable to health care reform; the article quotes the Kaiser Family Foundation's finding that health care reform accounted for just 1 to 2 percentage points of the 9 percent average rise in health care costs predicted for this year.

McCaughey has repeatedly misled at Newsmax before, so why should she stop now?

Posted by Terry K. at 8:35 AM EDT

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