Fox News Makes Evidence-Free Claim That GOP Obamacare Alternatives “Cover Everyone”

Jim Angle

Fox News' Special Report made the startling claim that Republicans' alternative health care plans “cover everyone,” even though almost none of them have been examined by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for their effects on Americans' insurance coverage.

On January 17, Fox's chief national correspondent Jim Angle promoted Republican healthcare plans serving as alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, saying “all Republican plans, one way or another, would cover everyone, including those with pre-existing conditions.” Angle also specifically hyped the plan of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA):

Contrary to Angle's rosy depiction, the reality of Republicans' alternative health care plans is that they're unlikely to cover more Americans than Obamacare. In November 2009, the CBO analyzed a failed health care reform plan that then-Minority Leader John Boehner offered in place of the House Democrats' plan. The CBO found that, after 10 years, the share of Americans with insurance coverage would be unchanged:

By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 3 million relative to current law, leaving about 52 million nonelderly residents uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, roughly in line with the current share. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the amendment's insurance coverage provisions would increase deficits by $8 billion over the 2010-2019 period.

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein called the CBO score “a major embarrassment for the Republicans,” because it showed they had no real, workable alternative.

Boehner's old plan is just one alternative among many proposed over the years. However, no other alternative Republican plan has been scored by the CBO, undermining Angle's baseless claim that they cover everybody.

Health insurance experts have weighed in on some other Republicans alternatives to Obamacare, and found them lacking. Washington and Lee University professor Timothy Jost wrote that Price's Empowering Patients First Act, a faulty plan previously hyped by Fox News, “offers flat dollar tax credits that ... would be essentially useless to an older, low-income family, which would be left thousands of dollars short of the cost of basic coverage.” Commenting on several Republican alternatives, Brookings Institute health policy expert Henry Aaron told PolitiFact that “the Republican plans would do next to nothing to improve quality, extend coverage, or control spending growth.” And Aaron Carroll and Austin Frakt at The Incidental Economist examined an alternative put out by the Republican Study Committee called The American Health Care Reform Act, and concluded that “it throws poor Americans under the bus” and does little to help sick Americans.

Jim Angle has no factual basis for his claim that “all Republican plans, one way or another, cover everyone.”