The Consequences Of Fox's Health Care Defunding Campaign

Fox News figures have relentlessly pushed the GOP to defund the Affordable Care Act while ignoring the effect that defunding would have on health care costs, uninsured Americans, and new health care services.

Fox News Personalities Promote GOP Plan To Defund The ACA

Fox Host Hannity Applauds Sen. Cruz' Defunding Effort: “I'm With You In This.” On the September 23 edition of his Fox News show, host Sean Hannity interviewed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on his efforts to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act. After allowing Cruz an eleven minute platform to criticize ACA and advocate defunding measures which could lead to a government shutdown, Hannity agreed, saying “I applaud your efforts. I'm with you in this. To me, this is a tipping point for the country.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/24/13]

Fox's Rove: “We Need To Have A President Who Will Sign A Measure Defunding, Repealing, Getting Rid Of, And Replacing Obamacare.” On the September 23 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Karl Rove explained that he favors a “delay strategy” on the health care law until we “have a president who will sign a measure defunding, repealing, getting rid of, and replacing Obamacare, and until we have a president who is going to do that we are going to be fighting.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor9/23/13, via Media Matters]

Contributor Sarah Palin: “We Need To Repeal The Whole Darn Thing, And That Starts With Defunding It.” In a post on her Facebook account, Fox contributor Sarah Palin attacked President Obama's health care law, calling it an “enormous train wreck” and urging Republicans to defund it. She added: “Demand a full repeal, an immediate defunding, and some resignations.” [, 9/12/13]

Fox News Radio Host Todd Starnes On Defunding: “Anything Less Is A Betrayal To The People.” Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes called on Republicans to defund Obamacare, even if it leads to a government shutdown:

Push will come to shove and Republicans need to be willing to shove back. If that means a government shutdown in October -- so be it.

“If there's ever been a time for politicians to take a risk on their next election, it's stopping the government takeover of healthcare,” said Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation. “This is not about political party or political calculation.”

We need men and women who share DeMint's fortitude in the House and Senate. We need lawmakers who are willing to stand their ground and stand up for the American people.


It's time for Republicans to stand up and do the job they were elected to do. Anything less is a betrayal to the people who sent them to Washington, D.C. [, 9/20/13]

Contributor Erick Erickson: Shutting Down The Government Over Obamacare Is “The Right Thing To Do.” On the September 13 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox contributor Erick Erickson called defunding “the right thing to do”:

ERICKSON: You've got dozens and dozens of Republicans who ran into office and got elected saying they were going to do every single thing they could to stop Obamacare. They have a choice now right now to defund it. And now they're saying, “Oh well we can't do that because we might get blamed for a shutdown.” So what? It's the right thing to do. American companies are shutting down because they won't shut down Obamacare. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 9/13/13, via Media Matters]

Fox Host Hannity: Defunding Obamacare “Is The Hill To Die On.” On the August 12 edition of his radio show, Fox's Sean Hannity claimed  that there is no better strategy than defunding Obamacare, “I almost view it as a last stand.” Hannity added that he knows that this strategy might hurt the GOP in the end, but it seems like “this is the hill to die on.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show8/12/13, via Media Matters]

Repealing ACA Would Increase Health Care Costs

Urban Institute: ACA Projected To Reduce Uncompensated Care. In March 2010, the Urban Institute noted that without reform, “the number of uninsured will increase significantly, as will uncompensated care burdens”:

Both the Senate and House health reform proposals will dramatically reduce the number of uninsured as well as the amount spent on uncompensated care. If health reform is not enacted, the number of uninsured will increase significantly, as will uncompensated care burdens. We estimate that the cost of uncompensated care will fall from $62.1 billion in 2009 to $46.6 billion in 2019 under the Senate bill, and to $36.5 billion in 2019 with the House bill. The impact on uncompensated care of the large reductions in the uninsured is somewhat offset by increases in health care costs. Without reform, the cost of uncompensated care will increase to between $107 and $141 billion in 2019, depending on growth in the economy and health care costs. We estimate that from 2014 to 2019, uncompensated care costs would be $330 billion with the Senate bill and about $240 billion under the House bill. In contrast, the cost of uncompensated care over the same period without reform would be between $560 and $700 billion. The budget implications for state and local governments are substantial. [Urban Institute, March 2010]

RWJF: ACA Would Reduce Uncompensated Care Costs By 61 Percent. A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report found that the ACA would reduce the costs of uncompensated care to the uninsured by 61 percent:

Uncompensated care provided to those without insurance is a significant cost ($69.7 billion without reform) currently paid by the federal government, state and local governments, health care providers, and others. The ACA would cut uncompensated care costs by 61 percent, to $27.3 billion. These reductions would allow the government to cut outlays for programs that now support the uninsured. They could also result in lower private premiums and higher provider revenue. [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, December 2010]

In 2012, The ACA Saved Nearly 78 Million Americans $3.4 Billion On Health Insurance Premiums. In June, McClatchyDC's Planet Washington blog reported:

Nearly 78 million Americans saved $3.4 billion on their collective health insurance premiums in 2012, thanks to an Affordable Care Act provision that penalizes insurers for wasteful spending, the Obama administration announced Thursday.

The ACA's '80/20 rule,' which took effect in 2011, requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium payments on medical care or quality improvements and no more than 20 percent on administrative costs and overhead. Companies that violate the rule must pay rebates to their customers.


The $3.4 billion in savings on 2012 premium costs reflects lower rates as more companies met the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule and other ACA provisions have saved consumers $5 billion on their premiums since 2011, HHS reports. [McClatchyDC, Planet Washington, 6/20/13]

Repealing ACA Would Remove Benefits For Many Consumers, Including The Poor, Children, And Elderly

KFF: ACA Increases Access To Preventive Services. The Kaiser Family Foundation issued a fact sheet which explained that the ACA “requires private insurers ... to cover certain preventive services without any patient cost-sharing.” The sheet went on to point out that with “proper preventive care, health problems can often be identified earlier, managed more effectively, and treated before they develop into more complicated, debilitating illness. Research has shown that evidence-based preventive services can in many cases save lives, and that some services are also cost-effective.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 9/11/13] 

Commonwealth Fund: Because Of ACA, 7.8 Million Young Adults “Gained New Or Better Coverage” In 2012. According to a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, the ACA's provision allowing young adults to remain on their parents' insurance until age 26 allowed 7.8 million consumers under the age of 26 to receive “new or better coverage”:

An estimated 7.8 million of the 15 million young adults who were enrolled in a parent's health plan last year likely would not have been eligible for this coverage without the health reform law's dependent coverage provision, according to a new Commonwealth Fund survey. However, the survey also found that only 27 percent of young adults were aware of the state health insurance marketplaces that are launching October 1. Moreover, millions of low-income young adults are at risk of remaining uninsured if the states they live in choose not to expand Medicaid. [Commonwealth Fund, 8/20/13]

AARP: “Affordable Care Act Will Greatly Expand The Health Care Benefits Being Offered To The 55 Million Americans With No Health Coverage.” AARP reported that prior to the Affordable Care Act “we saw a race to the bottom, with insurers cutting benefits to lower premiums.” The study also pointed to many other benefits that affect older Americans:

In addition to mandating that insurers in those marketplaces offer the 10 essential health benefits, the health care law also sets certain standards that all insurers must meet, whether they're providing health insurance through an employer or directly to individuals and small groups. The law:

  • Eliminates lifetime limits on essential medical expenses;
  • Prohibits insurers from dropping your coverage or raising your premiums if you get sick -- or from denying coverage if you have a preexisting condition;
  • Ensures that your child can stay on your health plan until age 26;
  • Caps annual out-of-pocket medical and drug expenses up to an estimated $6,400 for individuals and $12,800 for families. [AARP, August /September 2013

Urban Institute: Medicaid Eligibility Changes Could Insure As Many As 15.1 Million Americans. According to analysis by the Urban Institute, expanded Medicaid eligibility in the ACA could allow as many as 15.1 million Americans to gain access to health insurance:

With the implementation of the coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicaid eligibility could increase dramatically for these groups. This analysis suggests that the approximately 15.1 million uninsured adults who could gain coverage under the ACA Medicaid expansion are a diverse group in terms of their age and race/ethnicity. Though over half of this group is under age 35, 35 percent are between the ages of 35 and 54 and over 10 percent are near elderly adults between the ages of 55 and 64. [Urban Institute, August 2012]

New York: Health Reform Will Make Insurance More Affordable To Low And Moderate Income Americans. A fact sheet released by the state of New York explained how the health care law would lower costs for low income Americans.

Federal health reform legislation makes coverage more affordable for many low to moderate income Americans by (1) capping the percentage of income that they must contribute towards health insurance, (2) providing subsidies to assist with the purchase of insurance, and (3) providing cost-sharing support to limit out-of-pocket costs (such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance). [, last updated September 2011]

Kaiser Health News: Many Who Would Be Covered By Medicaid Expansion May Not Be Able To Afford Private Insurance. According to Kaiser Health News, those people who make just enough to be ineligible for Medicaid often do not make enough to cover the cost of private health insurance:

Those who miss the cut for Medicaid face sharply higher costs in a private insurance plan. “You have a very steep cliff,” says Judith Solomon, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington. Many might have to choose between insurance and necessities like rent and food, say experts such as Richard Curtis, president of the Institute for Health Policy Solutions in Washington. [Kaiser Health News, 1/5/10]

Many More Americans Would Be Left Without Coverage

The Washington Post: Proposed Alternatives To ACA Would Have Left More People Without Coverage. In a September 19 article for the Washington Post titled “The conservative Obamacare replacement doesn't insure nearly as many people as Obamacare,” health care reporter Sarah Kliff said:

Dubbed the American Health Care Reform Act, H.R. 3121 starts by repealing President Obama's health law and standing up a whole other set of reforms in its place. The component parts are likely to cover fewer people than Obamacare. [The Washington Post9/19/13]

CBO: Health Care Law “Reduces The Number Of People Without Health Insurance By 25 Million.” In a May 2013 report, the CBO estimated that “for 2023, the ACA reduces the number of people without health insurance by 25 million.” [Congressional Budget Office, 5/14/13]

Health Care Law Prohibits Insurers From Denying Coverage To Those With Pre-Existing Conditions. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers will be prohibited from charging higher premiums, limiting benefits, or denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, starting in 2014. The ACA also created the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) to provide immediate coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. As of January 2013,107,000 Americans had enrolled in the plan. [Center for American Progress, 3/25/2013]

Affordable Care Act Lowers The Federal Deficit

Congressional Budget Office: “The ACA Includes Many Other Provisions That, On Net, Will Reduce Federal Budget Deficits.” In a letter to Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) about how the delay in a mandate that requires employers to provide insurance to their employees affects estimates of the law's effects, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote: “The ACA includes many other provisions that, on net, will reduce federal budget deficits. Taking the coverage provisions and other provisions together, CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimated that the ACA will reduce deficits over the next decade.” [Congressional Budget Office, 7/30/13]

CBO: Repealing Health Care Law “Would Increase Federal Budget Deficits By $109 Billion Over The 2013-2022 Period.” In July 2012, the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation released a report finding that repealing the ACA would increase the deficit by $109 billion from 2013 to 2022:

On net, CBO and JCT estimate, repealing the ACA would increase federal budget deficits by $109 billion over the 2013-2022 period. Repealing the coverage provisions discussed in this report would save $1,171 billion over that period, but repealing the rest of the act would increase direct spending and reduce revenues by a total of $1,280 billion. [Congressional Budget Office, 7/24/12]

GAO Found A “Notable Improvement” In Budget Outlook If Health Care Law Is Enacted Fully. According to a January 2013 Government Accountability Office report, "[T]here was notable improvement in the longer-term outlook after the enactment of [the health care law] under GAO's Fall 2010 Baseline Extended simulation, which assumes both the expansion of health care coverage and the full implementation and effectiveness of the cost-containment provisions over the entire 75-year simulation period." [Government Accountability Office, January 2013]

The Hill: Deficit “Will Decline” If The Health Care Law Remains Fully Implemented. The Hill reported that the health care law “could increase or decrease the deficit over the next 75 years depending on whether its cost-saving provisions survive” and that it would increase the deficit by $6.2 trillion over 75 years assuming a scenario “in which the law's cost-containment measures end.” From The Hill:

In a new report, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that President Obama's signature law could increase or decrease the deficit over the next 75 years depending on whether its cost-saving provisions survive.


Assuming the law is enforced as-is, the U.S. deficit will decline 1.5 percent as a share of the economy over the next 75 years, according to the GAO. Auditors attributed 1.2 percent of this improvement to the Affordable Care Act.

Under a different set of assumptions, the law has the opposite effect over time, the GAO said -- the deficit will increase by 0.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) if the law's cost-containment measures are phased out.

The report attributed this potential increase in part to the law's most expensive features -- the Medicaid expansion and the provision of insurance subsidies.

The report was requested by Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. On Tuesday, he and his office jumped on the figures to say that the healthcare law will increase the deficit by $6.2 trillion over 75 years.

To arrive at this figure, Sessions's office assumed the second scenario, in which the law's cost-containment measures end, and added up 75 year's [sic] worth of deficits using GDP projections from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. [The Hill2/26/13]