NC's Civitas Institute Obscures GOP Position To Attack Obamacare

››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI & DANIEL ANGSTER

The North Carolina-based Civitas Institute published a piece on its blog attacking the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by criticizing the number of people who will remain uninsured after the law goes into full effect and urging Congress to cut off funding for the law. However, Civitas, which belongs to a right-wing network with ties to the Koch brothers, ignored necessary context in order to further its misleading narrative.

Civitas Criticizes Post-Affordable Care Act Uninsured Numbers

Civitas Institute: 30 Million People Will Remain Uninsured Under Obamacare. According to Civitas Review Online's September 11 post, 30 million people will be left without insurance after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is fully implemented: 

Meanwhile, the bad news keeps coming. Advocates of the health-care law say it was needed because millions of people couldn't get health insurance. Well, when ObamaCare goes fully into effect ... 30 million people will still lack health insurance. [Civitas Review Online, 9/11/13]

The Week: The Uninsured Will Include Many Undocumented Workers Who Are Ineligible To Seek Benefits. A full reading of The Week's article linked to in Civitas's post reveals that a large number of the post-ACA uninsured will be undocumented workers who are barred from using the exchanges to buy insurance:

President Obama's signature health-care law is expected to extend coverage to 25 million uninsured people in the U.S. as all of its provisions are implemented over the next decade. But ObamaCare is far from universal -- the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 31 million people will still lack insurance by 2023.

Undocumented workers will make up a growing share of the uninsured, say Sarah Kliff and Lena H. Sun in a Monday article in The Washington Post, because they will be ineligible to buy insurance on new exchanges that are scheduled to go online next month and will extend coverage to 24 million people over the next decade, according to CBO estimates. [The Week9/9/13]

Washington Post: The Post-ACA Uninsured Will Be Undocumented Workers And Low-Income Individuals In States That Refuse To Expand Medicaid. The Washington Post explained the post-ACA uninsured will consist of undocumented workers or low-income citizens who live in states where Republican-led legislatures opted out of Medicaid expansion offered under the ACA:

The Affordable Care Act, the most sweeping health care program created in a half century, is expected to extend coverage to 25 million Americans over the next decade, according to the most recent government estimates. But that will still leave a projected 31 million people without insurance by 2023. Those left out include undocumented workers and poor people living in the 21 states, such as Virginia, that have so far declined to expand Medicaid under the statute, commonly called Obamacare. [The Washington Post, 9/8/13

The Week: 11 Of 15 States With Highest Uninsured Populations Are Planning To Opt Out Of Medicaid Expansion. The Week article cited by Civitas went on to explain that GOP obstruction of Medicaid expansion would leave 11 of 15 states with the highest uninsured populations out of the Medicaid expansion:

Republicans in red states, many of whom have bashed ObamaCare as a federal takeover of the health care system, have chipped away at the law by refusing to launch their own exchanges (in those cases, the federal government will simply do it for them). GOP-led state legislatures in 21 states have also declined to expand Medicaid under the law, potentially leaving out millions who were supposed to be brought under the ObamaCare umbrella. Those states include 11 of the 15 states with the highest uninsured populations (in order, starting at the top: Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Arizona, Virginia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, and Indiana). [The Week9/9/13]

The Washington Post: Republicans Have Fought Extending Benefits To Undocumented Workers And Legalized Immigrants. According to a Washington Post June 17 article, GOP members pushed to obstruct legalized residents from accessing health care, and supported plans that would require undocumented workers to purchase expensive private insurance:

So amidst an effort to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill meant to help the Republican Party appeal to Hispanic voters, Republicans are making a point of demanding that legalized immigrants can't get Obamacare, and in some cases can't even get emergency care. They're also considering a crushingly punitive version of the individual mandate, in which undocumented immigrants need to purchase private health care on their own, without subsidies, or they can't even become legal residents. And they're refusing to agree to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in some of the states where it would do Hispanics the most good. [The Washington Post6/17/13

Civitas Institute Wrongly Insists That Congress Can Easily Defund The ACA

Civitas Institute: "It's Very Simple: Our Elected Representatives Just Have To Slice Spending For Obamacare Out Of The Budget." A September 11 blog post by the Civitas Institute blog explained that it would be  "simple" for members of Congress to cut the funding for the Affordable Care Act:

It's very simple: Our elected representatives just have to slice spending for Obamacare out of the budget. Under the Constitution, they have authority to cut off spending for the program. If they have the guts to do so. [Civitas Institute, 9/11/13]

President Obama Unlikely To Sign Bill Defunding The Affordable Care Act. According to a July 30 Washington Post article, even if Congress passed a bill cutting funding for the Affordable Care Act, President Obama is unlikely to sign it. [The Washington Post7/30/13]

Even If Congressional Republicans Cause Government Shutdown Over Obamacare, Funding Will Still Continue. Citing a report from the Congressional Research Service, The Washington Post explained that even if Congressional Republicans passed budget legislation to defund the Affordable Care Act and shut down the government, the ACA will remain funded:

So, let's make the relatively bulletproof assumption that the White House isn't on board with defunding Obamacare. The shutdown happens. And Obamacare implementation ... well, it continues.

That's according to a new Congressional Research Service report, requested by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and flagged by Post Politics' Rachel Weiner.

[...]

The CRS report is another way to attack defunding: by pointing out that, even if the federal government shuts down, Obamacare can still continue pretty much apace.

"It appears that substantial ACA implementation might continue during a lapse in annual appropriations that resulted in a temporary government shutdown," CRS analysts concluded. [The Washington Post, 7/30/13]

Poll: Majority Of Americans Disapprove Of Defunding The Affordable Care Act. According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 57 percent of Americans "disapprove of the idea of cutting off funding as a way to stop the law from being implemented" with 69 percent of respondents saying, "using the budget process to stop a law is not the way our government should work." [Kaiser Family Foundation, 8/28/13]

Civitas Institute Is Part Of The Conservative Koch-Funded Franklin Center

The Civitas Institute Is Part Of The "Dark Money" Funded Franklin Center. According to the Center for Media and Democracy's Source Watch, the Civitas Institute is listed as a Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity "Watchdog Bureau." As Media Matters has noted 95 percent of the Franklin Center's funding came from Donors Trust -- once dubbed the "dark money ATM" of the conservative movement -- which counts the Koch brothers and other major conservative donors as its benefactors. The Franklin Center pushes conservative stories to state news outlets to "fill the void created by state newsroom layoffs," and promote right-wing ideology, but their affiliates have published inaccurate information while "fail[ing] to set the record straight." [Center for Media and Democracy, accessed 9/12/13; Center for Media and Democracy, accessed 9/12/13Media Matters for America7/11/12Media Matters for America2/22/13]

The Civitas Institute Drew Harsh Criticism For Creating An Online Database To Track The Demonstrators Involved In Moral Monday Protests.  According to North Carolina Public Radio, the Civitas Institute was heavily criticized for creating a database of protestors who participated in the Moral Monday protests:

The Civitas Institute posted an online database of Moral Monday/Witness Wednesday arrestees yesterday on its website, prompting a flood of responses and online commentary. The database includes demographic breakdowns of 382 people by political affiliation, age, race, and employment, and even includes a "Pick The Protester Game" in which the user must match a piece of demographic information with one of three mugshots.

Immediately after it was posted, the Institute for Southern Studies issued a critical statement on their website, in which they compared the database to the actions of White Citizens' Councils, which published the names of NAACP supporters in local newspapers in the mid twentieth century in order to encourage retaliation against them.

There have been a slew of other responses, some in the form of open letters: Jedediah Purdy, a Duke Law School professor who was arrested at a Moral Monday protest, wrote a letter to the Civitas Institute on the Huffington Post; another Moral Mondays arrestee whose name was included in the database--Ann Humphreys--wrote an open letter on Facebook explaining why she is proud to be a protester and condemned the Civitas database as an effort to target individuals like her; and a lively discussion on the Raleigh reddit page about the Civitas database drew over 75 responses within hours. [WUNC North Carolina Public Radio, 6/21/13]

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