After President Donald Trump announced that his administration would end cost-sharing reduction payments -- key subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans -- Fox & Friends repeated two key falsehoods about the payments to defend Trump’s decision.
Co-hosts Ainsley Earhardt and Steve Doocy both falsely referred to these cost-sharing reduction payments as “bailouts for the insurance companies,” a rhetorical strategy Trump has also employed. Cost-sharing reduction payments are not “bailouts.” As The Washington Post Fact Checker explained, “A bailout means a company is being propped up with government money after making bad decisions. That’s not the case here.” Additionally, according to the Commonwealth Fund, the payments are reimbursements the federal government gives to insurers for providing “lower copayments and deductibles for people in households earning between 100 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level.”
Doocy also suggested that ending these payments would not have a detrimental impact, because those who received the payments would be able to go on Medicaid. Vox’s Dylan Scott has pointed out, however, that these subsidies are available only for “people who earn too much for Medicaid but are still low-income.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that ending cost-sharing reduction payments would cause insurance premiums for some plans in marketplace exchanges to rise “by about 20 percent in 2018” compared to current projections. The Kaiser Family Foundation also explained that these increases “would be higher in states that have not expanded Medicaid.” The foundation also estimated that ending cost-sharing reduction payments “would result in a net increase in federal costs of $2.3 billion” for fiscal year 2018 and $31 billion over 10 years.
From the October 13 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): By the way, if anyone was fearful on Friday the 13th of Obamacare imploding, that was doing it on its own, but the president is actually taking action and is pretty much fed up with what’s been going on. So last night around 9 o'clock, he had his second shot at taking it out.
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): The first shot, he signed [an] executive order encouraging competition, more choices, lower cost. And then he stopped the bailouts to the insurance companies.
KILMEADE: Which is about $7 billion.
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): What [Trump’s] talking about is the administration has been propping up the insurance companies that take part for, as Brian just mentioned, $7 billion a year. Essentially what it's going to do, it’s going to end the payments. And here's the reason why this makes sense, because they were never approved. When they carved up the law of Obamacare, they never said, “OK, and then there’s going to be this bailout for the insurance companies.” In 2014, the Republican Party sued the federal government. In 2016, a federal judge said, “You know what? The Republicans are right, those payments are improper.”
EARHARDT: So because the government, our tax dollars, have been bailing out these companies, they’re able to stay in Obamacare. And the president is saying that's not fair, this is not what the original intent was. We’re spending $7 billion to keep, to prop up these insurance companies and “I'm tired of it,” he says.
DOOCY: But ultimately, the people who are really at the end, they’re strapped, they can’t afford it, they would benefit, as we have learned, for state Medicaid.