To support GOP Senate health care bill, Fox shames Medicaid recipients

Fox has a history of shaming low-income Americans

In defense of the Senate Republican health care bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Fox News is shaming the bill’s beneficiaries, claiming it helps “people who didn’t need it,” people who Fox claims get “handouts” and “goodies.” Fox News has a history of shaming recipients of public assistance, such as subsidized health insurance and nutritional assistance programs.

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Vote on Senate GOP health care bill delayed as bill will leave millions uninsured

Senate GOP leadership delays vote on its health care bill. The Senate Republican leadership delayed a vote on its health care bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), “until after the July 4 recess,” according to CNN. From the June 27 article:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will delay the vote on the Republican leadership's health care bill until after the July 4 recess.

McConnell told GOP senators that he wants to make changes to the bill, get a new Congressional Budget Office score and have a vote after the holiday, two sources told CNN.


McConnell's decision does not mean Republicans' plans for repealing and replacing Obamacare are dead, but it highlights the challenge facing the GOP leadership as they try to bridge the divide between conservatives and moderates in the party. While the additional time could allow for more negotiations to bring more lawmakers on board, it also means members of Congress could face pressure from constituents when they go home for recess with the future of health care hanging in limbo. [, 7/27/17]

CBO: BCRA would deny Medicaid for 15 million people, and increase the uninsured rate of low-income Americans. On June 26, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected Medicaid would enroll 15 million fewer Americans under the Senate Republican’s health care bill than under current law over the next decade. CBO projected the bill would dramatically increase the uninsured rate for Americans ages 19 - 64 with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line by 2026:

[Congressional Budget Office, 6/26/17]

To defend bill, Fox figures shame those who relied on the Affordable Care Act

Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt: Republicans need to cut Medicaid because "it was going to people who didn't need it.” Fox host Ainsley Earhardt claimed that Republicans are “taking Medicaid away” because former President Barack Obama “gave and gave and gave” and it was “going to people who didn't need it.” From the June 28 edition of Fox News Fox & Friends:

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): It's the senators that represent states where Medicaid is very, very popular in their states, and they don't want to vote for something that's going to cost or going to take Medicaid away from people who really rely on it.

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Sure. Absolutely, and --

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): But it's not taking it away, as you know. They're increasing the spending 20 percent, but it's not the free money that we were throwing to all those states. We are $21 trillion in debt. The president, the last president, had no business throwing that money out there.

EARHARDT: From what I understand, though, it is taking Medicaid away, because what [White House counselor] Kellyanne Conway was saying is that you've given -- that President Obama gave and gave and gave, and gave so many entitlements, and now Republicans, they're going to have to pull some of it back. Because it was going to people who didn't need it. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/28/17]

Fox’s Martha MacCallum: “Should able-bodied people have to work in order to get Medicaid?” Fox host Martha MacCallum, in an interview with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), implied Medicaid recipients don’t work when she asked if “able-bodied people” should “have to work in order to get Medicaid.” She also asked why there are more people on Medicaid if the economy is “generally improving.” From the June 27 edition of Fox News’ The Story:

MARTHA MACCALLUM (HOST): You say you’re there fighting for Medicaid reimbursement for your state. That's what a lot of governors are doing. Nobody wants to give anything back once their state has been given it. Now, I think it's a legitimate question to ask why we have such an increase in people on Medicaid, and the subset question there is should able-bodied people have to work in order to get Medicaid? But you’ve got an economy that’s generally improving over the last several years. And yet, we have more and more people on Medicaid. Why is that? [Fox News, The Story, 6/27/17]

Fox’s Charles Krauthammer: Obama “inflated” Medicaid“ to include able-bodied workers” and to “hand out goodies” to more people. Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed Medicaid was “supposed to be for women and poor children and the disabled” but under Obama was “inflated” to “include able-bodied workers,” and he concluded that “when you hand out goodies, … it is extremely hard to bring them back.” From the June 27 edition of Fox News’ Special Report:

BILL HEMMER (HOST): Do you think Republicans should be as bearish as Laura is tonight?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Well, their problem is not -- forgive me -- this is not a failure of communication, as in Cool Hand Luke. This is a failure of expectations. The country does not want to see the entitlements that were handed out by Obamacare retracted. That’s the issue. It’s not communication, it’s not the lack of coordination between the House and the Senate. It’s the fact that Medicare was inflated to -- it was supposed to be for women and poor children and the disabled. It was inflated by Obama to include able-bodied workers up to 400 percent of the poverty line. So is this completely out of its original intent. The fight now, and the reason that a lot of the moderates Republicans are scared, is because, under this bill, it goes from 400 percent down to 350 percent. This is a marginal retrenchment of the -- what makes you eligible for Medicare. And people are used to what was. They don’t want to give it back. That’s the reason that Obamacare repeal is in trouble. The country is not where it was seven years ago. It's the reason that the left usually wins because when you hand out goodies, since the New Deal, it is extremely hard to bring them back. That’s the core issue here. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 6/27/17]

Fox’s Brit Hume: Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion brought in “a lot of people who are not, by previous standards, considered poor.” Fox’s Brit Hume claimed the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion took it “beyond simply poor people's health care into a lot of people who are not, by previous standards, considered poor,” and that it is “ballooning the budget deficit and the national debt.” From the June 27 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

SHANNON BREAM (CO-HOST): What sense do you have there on the Hill and in Washington and from the secretary that this actually will get to a Senate vote first this week and whether it would pass?

BRIT HUME: I’m not sure it will get to a vote this week. It seems to me there’s a fair amount of work to do because you have different members with different objections, and when you boil it down, Shannon, one of the things that’s at the center of this is the same old problem that has been plaguing this city and this country for decades, and that is entitlement spending. Obamacare entailed a very major expansion of Medicaid to bring in -- to take it beyond simply poor people's health care into a lot of people who are not, by previous standards, considered poor, and it has added to the really strong growth in the cost of Medicaid. And, of course, it is these entitlement programs and the spending on them that is ballooning the budget deficit and the national debt. This bill would do something over time to diminish that, at least as far as Medicaid is concerned. Even though the spending will continue to go up, it would curb the rate of growth. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/27/17]

Fox’s Jesse Watters: Republicans who are on the fence “love the Medicaid goodies.” Fox host Jesse Watters said that some Senate Republicans were worried about supporting the health care bill because they “love” the “Medicaid goodies.” He added that Republicans are “treating Americans like adults. They’re not going to try to force someone to buy a product that they don't like or want or need.” From the June 27 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

JESSE WATTERS (CO-HOST): I know there’s a few Republican senators that just want to repeal this but they kind want to do it under the auspices of “Obamacare Lite” because you’re operating under the existing Obamacare framework. And then there’s the conservative holdouts that want a full repeal and replace, and they’re worried about the deficit and liberty. And then there’s some people that are on the fence that love that -- the Medicaid goodies. So, I don't know how they're going to thread the needle. Some people say that [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell has designed this thing to allow these holdouts to swoop in at the last minute -- I believe her name is Dana Perino -- swoop in at the last minute, with a few tweaks, and then claim victory. And if that happens, that's fantastic. But I just think, ultimately, the Republicans really want to reduce premiums and reduce the deficit, and they’re treating Americans like adults. They're not going to try to force someone to buy a product that they don't like or want or need. [Fox News, The Five, 6/27/17]

Fox’s Eric Bolling: Obamacare is “almost unanimously unpopular, with the exception of the 11 million people who are getting stuff for free.” Fox host Eric Bolling called Obamacare “flatly” and “almost unanimously unpopular” among most Americans, with the exception of those on Medicaid who he claimed are “getting stuff for free.” From the June 27 edition of Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters:

ERIC BOLLING (HOST): Right now Obamacare is flatly unpopular across the board, almost unanimously unpopular, with the exception of the 11 million people who are getting stuff for free. The rest of them are saying it’s failing, and it will continue to fail. So, if they’re losing going into an election, why would you take that away from them? Let the Democrats lose on Obamacare in 2018, then spend a year or two or however long it takes, to fix the real problem with health care. [Fox News, America’s News Headquarters, 6/28/17]

Fox contributor Marc Siegel: The Medicaid expansion gave care to “a population who maybe could have gotten a job.” NYU Langone Medical Center professor of Medicine and Fox News contributor Marc Siegel claimed the Medicaid expansion gave benefits to people who “maybe could have gotten a job,” called Medicaid a “job killer,” and even speculated that, because “15 percent of Medicaid patients have a substance abuse problem,” the program is “in a way … enabling the opioid epidemic. From the June 28 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:

JON SCOTT (HOST): The claim by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel there that this bill would gut Medicaid, is that accurate?

MARC SIEGEL: No, it's not accurate, although I will admit that there needs to be some compromise on Medicaid. You have to understand, Jon, that switching to block grants to the states may actually be a way to introduce tightening the belt on Medicaid. And let's talk about that. Look at the overuse with Medicaid. As a physician, I want to tell you that 30 percent of doctors won't see new Medicaid patients, that Medicaid patients come in without a co-pay, without a deductible. That a  lot of times, they'll ask for things they already have. Like, a wheelchair is a great thing, but they'll ask for another thing in two years. Or, they’ll be really sick and ask for eyeglasses, or they’ll ask for dental care. All of that is great, but it is such an overused system, Medicaid, that when we expanded it, it expanded to a population who maybe could have gotten a job. And a lot of people will say to me, look, I can't give up my Medicaid and take a job. So, it’s a job killer, that's number one with that. And then, their study over the last year in The Annals of Emergency Medicine showed that they’re more than 9 percent likely to use an emergency room under the states that have Medicaid expansion. They use an emergency room, more likely. And the opioid epidemic can also be linked to the overuse of Medicaid. Fifteen percent of Medicaid patients have a substance abuse problem. So, in a way, it's enabling the opioid epidemic. [Fox News, Happening Now, 6/28/17]

Fox's Siegel: “I'd scale [Medicaid] back to basic services ... really poor people really need Medicaid. But do they need a wheelchair every two years? I don't think so.” On Fox & Friends, Siegel claimed that Americans on Medicaid are “flocking into the ERs to get services they don't often need” and called Medicaid an “enabler” of the opioid epidemic. He added, “There's people that -- really poor people really need Medicaid. But do they need a wheelchair every two years? I don't think so.” From the June 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DR. MARC SIEGEL: No disincentive for overuse. No co-pays. No deductibles. In states that have the Medicaid expansion, emergency room visits are up by 9 percent. Now, hospitals like that because patients that used to be uninsured now have their Medicaid card, but they're flocking into the ERs to get services they don't often need. Did you know, Brian, that 15 percent of Medicaid patients are prescribed an opioid every year? Now, that's the doctor's fault for overprescribing, but Medicaid allows doctors to overprescribe. And that's one of the secret stories that we're breaking right now, is that the opioid epidemic is tied to Medicaid as an enabler. Doctors are the problem. Medicaid is enabling it. 

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): So, Dr. Siegel, if I've put you in charge of fixing it, where do we start? 

SIEGEL: Well, I'd scale it back to basic services. What does a person really need? Look, there's a lot of disabled patients, a lot of children that are on Medicaid. There's people that -- really poor people really need Medicaid. But do they need a wheelchair every two years? I don't think so. I want to scale back the excess. And then, as Medicaid director Seema Verma has said quite smartly, let's have premium buy-ins in the Medicaid expansion states for services beyond what you need. How about a bridge-to-jobs program?

KILMEADE: What does that mean? I'm sorry, can you tell me, what does that mean? Premium buy-ins?

SIEGEL: It means if you want more than the basic services. 


SIEGEL: And have you some income -- OK? -- we're talking about the Medicaid expansion states. Then you can pay a premium to get more than you would just freely be given. And, also, we need bridge-to-jobs programs in the Medicaid expansion states because people that don't have jobs, Brian, get their Medicaid card, and they say, “I don't want to give it up. I don't want to give up that Medicaid because I can't afford to take that job. I won't get as good of healthcare.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/29/17]

Fox guest Michelle Malkin: If Republicans emphasized the “impact of this government intervention on ordinary working Americans who don't want handouts,” the GOP health care bill would pass. Fox guest Michelle Malkin urged Republicans to “hammer the point home about the losses and consequences of the impact of this government intervention on ordinary working Americans who don’t want handouts,” suggesting that it would help get the GOP health care bill passed. From the June 28 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): My daughter’s on Obamacare. And so many of the Democrats are talking about Obamacare fondly as if it's the gold standard. But the problem for the Republicans in the Congress right now is, because they -- if they fail to undo Obamacare, whatever it is, conservative voters are never going to trust them again, never, ever, ever. They were elected, many of them, for this one job. And right now, it doesn’t look like they’re going to -- unlike Larry the Cable Guy -- not going to “git r done.”

MICHELLE MALKIN: Yeah, it doesn’t look like it, Steve, and you know what? They will face those consequences, and they deserve those consequences. If these conservative Republicans continue to hammer the point home about the losses and consequences of the impact of this government intervention on ordinary working Americans who don't want handouts, if they were leading, then we’d get there. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/28/17]

Fox News has a history of shaming low-income Americans for using government assistance

Fox’s Eric Bolling: Taking health care away from 20 million Americans is “acceptable” because we “have emergency rooms.” Discussing the millions of people slated to lose insurance under the Republican health care plans, Eric Bolling claimed it’s “acceptable” because “you have emergency rooms.” From the November 30 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

JUAN WILLIAMS (CO-HOST): And then you say, “Oh, what about these 20 million people who got coverage [through the Affordable Care Act]?” What about the people who said, “I like keeping my kid on until” -- what about people with pre-existing conditions? “Oh no, well you can't take care of them because we have no mandate,” which I know is a big objection of yours. And we don't have a plan. So, even President-elect Trump once said, “You can't just put these people out on the street.”

ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): They're not on the street. You still have Medicare and Medicaid. So that's always going to be there. And you have emergency rooms which we had before. Until another plan is floated, that's acceptable. [Fox News, The Five, 11/30/16]

Fox’s Brian Kilmeade on health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions: “America is getting used to having that luxury.” Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade, commenting on the proposed funding for pre-existing conditions in the House Republican health care bill, said, “We can understand that America’s getting used to having that luxury.” From the May 4 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): House Republicans today will vote for the American Health Care Act at one o'clock. The whip count looks like they've got exactly 216 votes. How’d they get that? Well, yesterday, the president of the United States, I understand, spoke to [Rep.] Fred Upton [(R-MI)], who was against passing this last time, and said “Fred, what do you need to vote 'yes?’” And he said “Well, I don't like how you don't include people with pre-existing conditions under that waiver thing.” He said, “OK, we’ll figure it out.” Then he and [Rep.] Billy Long [(R-MO)], pictured right back there at the back of that pack, they came up with this idea to put some money into a big pool to help finance health care for people in high-risk categories.


BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): By the way, if it goes this well -- and, who knows, we’re not taking anything for granted with this Republican caucus -- but if [House Majority Leader] Kevin McCarthy’s right, and it's going to pass, it's a formality at one o'clock without any Democratic support. Then it's going to get to the Senate, it's going to look dramatically different. Then it's going to get to phase two, with chairman of the -- with the Secretary of Homeland -- Health and Human Services Tom Price. He’s a doctor. He’s going to take a look at it, and that's where President Trump said over the weekend -- that's where he’s going to get the ability to buy insurance across state lines,which he ran on. So, while we've have given you details of so many different plans. We’re going to stay away from the details right now. Just know this: $8 billion for pre-existing conditions. A lot of people focused on that. We can understand that America’s getting used to having that luxury. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/4/17]

Fox’s Charles Payne: There's not enough “stigma” directed at food stamp recipients. Fox Business host Charles Payne alleged that federal benefit programs trap people in poverty and complained that there wasn't enough “stigma” directed at poor Americans for using food assistance programs. From the March 28, 2013, edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

CHARLES PAYNE: Listen, I know there's a big thing trying to destigmatize food stamps, but the good part about the stigma is it actually does serve as an impetus to get people off of it. I'll be quite honest with you. When I was growing up there was a point when we had food stamps and people in our building did, but if I was in the store buying something and my friend, who lived upstairs one flight from me, came in, there's no way in the world I would let him use see me using food stamps. They're trying to take that stigma away. They're telling more people they should use it. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 3/28/13]

Fox’s Steve Doocy: Are low-income, disabled people just “moochers?” In 2012, Fox co-host Steve Doocy questioned why the number of low-income Americans receiving federal disability benefits had increased, asking, “Are more people getting sick and disabled, or are we just wasting more money?” Later he asked, “Has the number of people on disability gone up because they are moochers, or because more people need help?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/6/12]

Fox’s Charles Gasparino compared public pensions to "ponzi schemes," lamented that more stigma isn't attached to welfare. In August 2014, Fox contributor Charles Gasparino attacked government benefit programs, claiming that public pensions were in fact “Ponzi schemes” and lamenting that more “stigma” wasn’t attached to receiving federal aid or “living in a housing project.” [Fox News, Happening Now, 8/21/14]