Right-wing media outlets have turned to serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey as their go-to expert on the Ebola outbreak. But McCaughey has a history of hyping false health care myths and was the chief architect behind the myth that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) included so-called "death panels," a discredited claim that McCaughey pushed even after being dubbed PolitiFact's Lie of the Year in 2009.
Fox News attempted to discredit a Congressional Budget Office report that estimated lower costs for the Affordable Care Act, while it also embraced a dubious survey claiming that health care premiums are skyrocketing.
On the April 14 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto brought on Fox contributor and serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey in order to baselessly attack the CBO's latest projections, which show that the ACA will cost $104 billion less over 10 years than previously projected and that premiums for the most popular plans under ACA are expected to rise only "slightly" for 2015. McCaughey unleashed a series of already debunked lies about the health care law. After Cavuto called the CBO's savings estimates "deceiving," Mccaughey agreed and denied there would be any savings,asserting that it is actually "a cost-shifting":
CAVUTO: So what is the CBO looking at? It's limiting it to what they expect it to be, that millions more will sign up under these exchanges, and I guess because of subsidies and special breaks see their premium increases actually stabilize. Do you buy that?
McCAUGHEY: Well, no, I don't buy that. I think the insurance company executives know exactly what they're talking about, and they're worried about the public pushback from these huge premium hikes ahead. That's only part of the bad news. You're also going to see a million people or more default. In other words, they've paid their first premium, but when they discover what it really means to pay a three or five thousand dollar deductible on their plan, they go to their doctor again and again and have to pay full freight even though they're paying their premium, they're going to stop paying their premium.
Another big problem ahead is the 25 to 30 million people who currently get on the job coverage who are going to lose it in the coming months when their employers realize that they're not going to be able to renew those old plans and they're stuck between the very costly Obamacare plans or sending their workers and their families onto the exchanges. And finally, you're going to hear a lot of desperation from cancer patients when they discover these Obamacare exchange plans won't let them go to any specialty cancer hospitals, even though the data show that, for example, women with ovarian cancer live longer when they're treated at a high-volume cancer hospital.
CAVUTO: But the argument that the CBO is raising that all those problems notwithstanding -- they're big ones, it's like saying "Outside that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show?" -- they're still going to see premiums for those in these exchanges go down. But what I did look at in the CBO study, it's all dependent on these special write-offs and allowances and subsidies that those in a certain income group get to give you what seems like a deceiving savings.
McCAUGHEY: That's right, and I'ts really not a savings, Neil. It's just a cost-shifting.
In contrast to Fox's attack on the CBO report, earlier in the day it uncritically promoted a discredited Morgan Stanley survey claiming "rate acceleration" in ACA premiums. Correspondent Jim Angle appeared on both Fox's Happening Now and The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson to hype fears that fit into the channel's narrative that Obamacare will causes insurance premiums to soar. However, the report Angle cited has been discredited for its absence of methodology and small survey sample. Even Fox News' sister organization, Fox Business, pointed out problematic elements of the study, noting that "some states had only one broker respond to the Morgan Stanley survey so the results may not be reliable."
Fox News' willingness to dismiss a report from the respected and nonpartisan CBO while embracing a flawed study is just the latest effort in Fox News' struggling crusade to discredit the ACA by stoking fears of negative impact.
In the five years since President Obama's health care reform plan -- which became the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- was first introduced, the right-wing media has waged a continuous campaign to attack the law through misinformation, deception, and outright lies.
From the March 31 edition of Fox News' Your World:
Loading the player reg...
Conservative media's recent smear that surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy is controversial because he supports doctors discussing safe gun ownership with their patients is curious given frequent complaints from right-wing media -- albeit false -- that health care reform posed a threat to the inviolable doctor-patient relationship.
From the January 16 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
Loading the player reg...
Serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey falsely claimed that 25 million consumers in the small-group health insurance market would lose coverage due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), citing a controversial and widely criticized 2011 survey that admitted it "was not intended as a predictive analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act."
In a January 14 New York Post op-ed, McCaughey claimed the ACA "will hurt twice as many people as it helps" by making "employer-provided policies illegal" for millions of Americans. As evidence, McCaughey pointed to a February 2011 survey to claim that "a conservative estimate is that 25 million people, out of the 60 million in small group plans, get dropped in 2014":
Even the chance that ObamaCare's "employer mandate" will go into effect in 2015 isn't apt to deter employers from dropping coverage. The penalty for not complying with the mandate would add only 98 cents an hour for a 40-hour worker -- a bargain compared with the $1.79 cost of providing coverage plus the enormous amount of red tape, reporting requirements and fees that ObamaCare piles on employers who provide coverage. In truth, the law discourages employers from insuring their workers, making it far easier and cheaper to send them to the exchanges.
That's why the management consultants at McKinsey & Co. warned in 2011 that nearly a third of employers surveyed already were considering dropping coverage, with the figure rising among those familiar with the law's requirements.
So a conservative estimate is that 25 million people, out of the 60 million in small group plans, get dropped in 2014. Add that to the 5 million or so whose individual-market already canceled on Jan. 1, and you have a lot of losers.
McCaughey's "conservative estimate" was extrapolated from a two-year-old survey conducted by management consultant company McKinsey & Company that "offers a snapshot of attitudes that suggests the shift away from employer-provided health insurance could be greater than expected." But in the introduction to McKinsey's post on its own survey, the firm admits that the survey "was not intended as a predictive analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act." The survey's methodology further warns:
Fox News regularly turns to serial misinformers and right-wing activists to analyze the Affordable Care Act. Here is a guide to Fox's health care "experts" and their history of misinformation.
ABC's The View hosted Betsy McCaughey to attack the Affordable Care Act (ACA), praising her as a "health care policy expert" and ignoring her history of misinformation, including inventing the persistent lie that the health care law contains "death panels."
On the October 29 edition of The View, co-host Barbara Walters introduced a segment with McCaughey by calling her a "health care policy expert" and asking if health care consumers "were not told the truth by the Obama administration," saying, "they are about to lose their current medical plans and they don't know what they are getting instead." The View provided no background about McCaughey aside from naming her as the author of a book opposing the ACA.
McCaughey, who is by no means a "health care policy expert," has no credibility to comment on the ACA. In 2009, during the legislative debate over the bills that would later become the ACA, McCaughey distorted language in the House version of the bill to claim that it would "absolutely require -- that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner, how to decline nutrition, how to decline being hydrated, how to go in to hospice care." McCaughey's misinformation was echoed throughout the right-wing media, leading to the lie that the ACA contains "death panels" that will judge whether patients are deserving of life-preserving care.
McCaughey's history of health care misinformation doesn't end at death panels. In fact, during her appearance on The View, she solicited a question about senior care in order to push another of her debunked health care claims: that the ACA cuts benefits for Medicare patients. McCaughey has long pushed this false claim, consistently ignoring the fact that the ACA explicitly stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits will not be affected.
Fox News guest and serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey falsely claimed that the Affordable Care Act will harm the elderly "by eviscerating Medicare." In reality, the ACA does not cut Medicare benefits, and the law actually strengthens aspects of the program.
On the October 25 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, McCaughey claimed that the ACA "is designed to vastly expand Medicaid and pay for it by eviscerating Medicare," which she likened to "robbing Grandma to spread the wealth":
MCCAUGHEY: This law, as written, is designed to vastly expand Medicaid and pay for it by eviscerating Medicare, taking $700 billion out of Medicare and moving it over to fund this expansion of this entitlement. It's like robbing Grandma to spread the wealth.
KELLY: Why would they want to vastly expand Medicaid?
MCCAUGHEY: Because they believe in a single payer system, and Medicaid is a single payer system. This is a way of vastly shifting resources in this country from one group of people, the elderly, to another group of people.
Fox News greeted the opening of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges on October 1 with lies about the law. Contrary to Fox guest and serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey's claims, Congress does not get a "special subsidy" for health insurance, the law does not cut Medicare benefits, and plans offered on the exchanges will provide a variety of benefits.
During her first week as a Fox News host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck ran daily "Eyes On Obamacare" segments that pushed falsehoods and myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
On September 16, Hasselbeck hosted FoxBusiness.com reporter Kate Rogers to spread fear about some insurers dropping out of some states' individual health care markets, alleging that the law would increase the cost of health insurance.
But a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation early in September found that the cost of obtaining health insurance will be lower than expected:
This report -based on 17 states and the District of Columbia that have made data publicly available -provides a preview of how premiums will vary across the country, and how much consumers in different circumstances will actually pay after taking into account the tax credits available under the ACA.
While premiums will vary significantly across the country, they are generally lower than expected. For example, we estimate that the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office imply that the premium for a 40-year-old in the second lowest cost silver plan would average $320 per month nationally. Fifteen of the eighteen rating areas we examined have premiums below this level, suggesting that the cost of coverage for consumers and the federal budgetary cost for tax credits will be lower than anticipated.
The Department of Health and Human Services also released a report on September 16 that shows 56 percent of uninsured Americans could obtain health insurance for less than $100 per month. From the report's press release:
A new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that 56 percent, or nearly six in ten of the people who don't have health insurance today may be able to get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for less than $100 per month.
Of the 41.3 million individuals who are uninsured and eligible for coverage, 23.2 million (56 percent) may qualify for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, or tax credits to purchase coverage for $100 or less per month. The amount an individual will save on premiums depends on their family income and size. Today's report uses data about family income and size from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to estimate the number of uninsured individuals who will qualify for lower costs on monthly premiums.
Today's report also shows that if all 50 states took advantage of new options to expand Medicaid coverage, nearly 8 out of every 10 people (78 percent) who currently do not have insurance could be paying less than $100 a month for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. While some states are expanding their Medicaid programs in 2014, other states are not doing so.
Fox News and serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey are baselessly stoking fears that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will force doctors to ask "intrusive" sexual history questions that are already standard medical practice.
In a New York Post op-ed, McCaughey claimed that the health care law will "turn doctors into government agents" by requiring them to ask supposedly "intrusive" questions about their patients' sexual history. McCaughey's op-ed, which cited no evidence to support her claims, was parroted by Fox & Friends First co-host Ainsley Earhardt who said, "Thanks to Obamacare, doctors will be forced to ask patients about their sex life, even if it has nothing to do with the medical treatment that they are seeking at the time":
As Wonkette pointed out, McCaughey offered no evidence for her claims that the ACA changes existing practices. In fact, despite her fearmongering, sexual history questions are routine medical practice. The Centers For Disease Control calls such questions "an important part of a regular medical exam or physical history" and recommends that "[a] sexual history needs to be taken during a patient's initial visit, during routine preventive exams, and when you see signs of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)." In fact, the very questions that McCaughey claims doctors will now be pressured to ask are the exact questions the CDC recommends doctors ask their patients.
Right-wing media have attempted to manufacture the claim that President Obama is abusing executive power by delaying implementation of the health care law's employer mandate and directing federal prosecutors to avoid maximum drug sentences in some cases, despite the legality of both practices.