Fox's Varney Deceptively Hypes Republican Bill That Delays Individual Mandate
Blog ››› ››› ELLIE SANDMEYER
Fox's Stuart Varney deceptively promoted a Republican bill that aims to delay the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) individual health insurance mandate by hyping the proposal's projected deficit savings without mentioning that it would leave 11 million Americans uninsured in 2014 and result in higher insurance premiums.
On July 2, the White House announced a one year-delay in the ACA rule that required businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to full time workers. Later that month, House Republicans passed a bill to also delay by one year the ACA's individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a fine.
Varney appeared on Fox & Friends on September 10 to promote the GOP bill by hyping a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that estimates the bill would reduce the deficit by $35 billion over 10 years, calling the bill a "lifeline" and "a way out" for President Obama and Democrats. Though Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked about the law's intent to "to give everybody health care," Varney evaded, saying that the situation with the law is "chaos" and remained solely focused on its narrow budgetary impact.
Varney's evasion obscured the negative impacts of the proposal. In fact, a year-long delay in the health care law's individual mandate would decrease Americans' health insurance coverage. As the CBO report noted, the GOP's proposed changes would deprive 11 million people of coverage in 2014, leaving a total of 55 million Americans uninsured that year compared to current law.
The delay would also lead to higher health insurance premiums for individuals. According to the CBO report, because insurers would still be prohibited from rejecting coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions, a disproportionate number of patients with high expected health costs would be likely to enroll, increasing costs for all enrollees -- though government subsidies would still incentivize more people to purchase individual health insurance, which would prevent "an unsustainable spiral of rising premiums."