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The MN GOP’s top 10 Unaffordable Care ‘facts’

Time for some more mythbusting.

The MN GOP is circulating an e-mail to the “faithful” about Obamacare and the MN offshoot, MNsure.

It’s called the “10 Unaffordable Care Facts”.

But as usual the Republican idea of “facts” has to be examined more closely. So….let’s do that. Here we go, one by one…

1. Politicians are shielding themselves from the effects of Obamacare.
Like so many other government regulations that the masses just can’t live without, in a quiet move President Obama granted special exceptions to Congress.

Reality: As indicated in this article, this “exemption” was another of those parliamentary tricks from the Senate GOP. This is the real explanation: 

… a Republican senator (Iowa’s Chuck Grassley) baited Democrats with a politically motivated amendment. During the health care debate back in 2009, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley offered an amendment that congressional representatives and their staffs would have to get their insurance through the health insurance exchanges.

This made little sense because the intent of the exchanges is to provide a means for individuals and small companies to access affordable health insurance. Larger employers who provide health insurance and their workers will not participate.

The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program covers lawmakers and their staffs. There is no reason for them to be part of the exchange.

In effect, Grassley was forcing Congressional employees to be exempted from a guaranteed provision in Obamacare which let you keep the insurance your employer offered. (See myth #3)

2. Obamacare requires the IRS to own your personal health care and financial data.

Last week, the private personal data (including social security numbers) of 1600 Minnesota citizens was illegally sent out. Governor Dayton casually brushed it off saying: “There are going to be mistakes, there are going to be glitches…” If the governor’s cavalier attitude doesn’t give you pause, maybe the fact that all of this personal data will eventually end up with the Internal Revenue Service does. Not to worry, Al Franken will help direct the IRS’s use of it. 

Yes, the MNsure breach was a serious mistake…but healthcare companies in general make these types of mistakes all too frequently. Too much data in a very bureaucratic system needs to be improved upon. As for the IRS — yes, they have a lot of our personal data…they always have had it in the past. As for healthcare, the only thing new, that the IRS is required to do, is make sure that healthcare subsidies match up with reported income. Again, the GOP takes an admitted mistake and exaggerates a response.

3. Millions are being forced off the insurance they like and onto Obamacare.

Remember the promise “and if you like your insurance you can keep it”? False advertising. Large national companies like Home Depot and Trader Joe’s are pushing their employees to Obamacare. UPS is dropping coverage for spouses. The first million enrollees to Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange will be forced there from the state’s existing Medical Assistance plan, the high risk insurance plan and MinnesotaCare, our plan for the working poor. Some believe this was the intent of Obamacare’s incentives from the beginning. Single payer here we come?

The Affordable Care Act can’t force employers to continue with the same employee coverage – but if it is offered in the same way as before, employees are guaranteed to be able to keep that coverage. Employers make health care coverage changes all the time and with Obamacare they now have an additional option to consider. Yes, new Medicaid recipients will be moved to the exchanges — probably with a premium of zero dollars because of the subsidies. And yes, the high risk insurance plans will be moved as well, to better coverage, more affordable insurance plans because banning pre-existing condition exemptions will no longer force them into high risk pools. In addition, this all saves the Minnesota taxpayers money — and Republicans think this is bad? “Single payer here we come?” We can only hope!

4. Costs are going up under Obamacare and MNSure, and unequally on outstate Minnesotans.

When the Dayton administration rolled out the costs for coverage under MNSure (Minnesota’s Obamacare) they highlighted the exchange’s low premium rates – when compared to other states building Obamacare exchanges. An ironic comparison since Minnesotans aren’t allowed to purchase health insurance from other states. When compared to the private marketplace within our borders, so far the new rates are not holding up very well. And the costs disparities from one county to another are also raising concerns

I’m not sure how the MN GOP figured this one. MNsure rates are just about the lowest in the country, and as I pointed out in aprevious post the urban/rural disparities were just as large in the private sector — we just were not privy to that information.

5. The medical device tax is killing Minnesota jobs.

Medical devices really have nothing to do with health insurance reform except that President Obama needed to tax them in order to pay for the ongoing costs of Obamacare. Lucky for him, Sen. Al Franken arrived in Washington just in time to cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, including creating a new medical device tax in Minnesota, the hotbed of the medical device industry. Rep. Erik Paulsen has been shining a spotlight on the damage done to Minnesota businesses because of the new medical device tax and is working for its repeal.

They keep saying it and I keep asking it: where is the evidence that this tax has any direct effect on jobs? The majority of medical device companies are doing fine and those that are in trouble were in that same trouble long before the “device tax” took effect in January of this year. The medical device tax is essentially a user tax. The money raised by this tax is an intricate part of the budget to keep the ACA from increasing the deficit. Until Republicans can replace that money with another adequate revenue stream, the device tax should stay. And, trust me, with the margins that device manufacturers get for their products, they can afford the 2.3% tax.

6. The Obamacare implementation appears to be a disaster waiting to happen.

Obamacare is a great example of a government program forced through Congress on a timetable dictated by politics that never had a chance to succeed. Each time the law faced an insurmountable challenge, President Obama unilaterally waived a requirement or extended a deadline in order to keep it moving forward. Here in Minnesota, many red flags have been raised about whether the Obamacare exchange known as MNSure will be able to successfully meet the October 1 deadline for going live.

Yes, this is a massive undertaking that is bound to have growing pains. But MNsure is going to open the sign-up website on time. Small businesses may not have the convenience of full on-line registration right away, but there is no indication that there will be any delays other than that. The MN GOP keeps looking for problems and magnify the ones they can find. This has been a huge undertaking….built from nothing. Personally, I am amazed there haven’t been more problems. Maybe the MN GOP should have changed this “fact” to “We Hope the Obamacare Implementation Is A Disaster”.

7. Employers are forcing people to part-time status to avoid Obamacare.

The 40 hour work week for many people is now being reduced to 30 hours. Investor’s Business Daily is keeping track of companies across the country making changes to their definition of part time employees in order to avoid the health insurance mandate of Obamacare. The list topped 300 companies last week and is still growing. Several Minnesota organizations are included on the list including the city of Mankato which reduced part time employee hours to below 30 to avoid the Obamacare mandate.

I’m not sure what the GOP wants here. Should we tell business they can’t manipulate the law to their benefit? Can you imagine the outcry if the companies fooling around with part-time status were told they cannot do that? That would be taking away their “liberty”! You know we would be hearing that all over the place. MOST companies are not doing this. Sure, the IBD is tracking this — but really, 300 companies in the entire country. That averages 6 businesses per state. Really? That’s your big deal?

8. Even the unions want out of Obamacare.

Unions fought hard for their benefits, and they’re not going to give them up just because a president they supported passed a healthcare reform bill. Unions across the country have dealt with Obamacare in two ways: some have asked for and received exemptions from the law and others are speaking out publically against it. Most are concerned they will lose their “Cadillac” insurance plans when the law prohibits them in 2018. Some unions are even passing resolutions against Obamacare.

Well, the GOP finally got one right. It is interesting that all of a sudden the MN GOP is taking THE UNION SIDE of the issue. That’s a first! However this is a real problem. Unions have often given up wages for health care and have fought hard to get better than average benefits for the workers. Both sides are still working on trying to fix this….at the moment, the additional costs to the ACA are just too prohibitive. Just think of how the the GOP would howl if a special exemption for all of these plans was allowed. They have until 2018 to fix this. There is still time.

9. Obamacare’s economic distress is already being felt as employers are adjusting in advance.

Businesses as well as state and local governments are preparing for the full implementation of Obamacare in ways that are not good for a healthy, growing economy. Obamacare raises taxes, forces people into part-time work and raises the overall cost of healthcare.

Well, I would certainly hope that the public/private sector are all making the proper preparations. After all, a lot of employees are finally going to have a chance at getting full health coverage. Why the GOP assumes that this is hurting the economy escapes me. Minnesota’s unemployment has dropped to 5.1% and has recovered every job they lost during the recession. Taxes aren’t being raised across the board. More people are going to get affordable health care. And the CBO says that Obamacare will not add to the deficit. Who are these guys talking to?

10. We are adopting a Democratic-Socialist model right before our eyes.

Even before full implementation, we are seeing increases in food stamp recipients, high unemployment among young people, lower workforce participation rates and more people living in poverty. A recent report showed over $30,000 of possible annual government benefits are available in many states including Minnesota. Coupled with the move to part time work, it’s no wonder median incomes have dropped. The European model of reducing work and relying more on government benefits is on its way.

All of those employment “facts” have been happening before Obamacare is implemented. Obamacare isn’t causing that problem. And the general economy is still improving. Granted the poverty numbers are troubling and the food stamp recipient increase needs attention. But then, the House GOP voted to cut food stamps as their remedy. That’s gonna help, don’t you think? And as for that declaration the we are “adopting a Democratic-Socialist model right before our eyes” — I have just four words for a response: WE CAN ONLY HOPE!

Thanks MN GOP. Thank you for another trip to fantasyland.

This post was written Dave Mindeman and originally published on mnpACT! Progressive Political Blog. Follow Dave on Twitter: @newtbuster.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/26/2013 - 11:55 am.

    Hope!

    Yes, we can only hope that we get to a universal single payer plan. Anything less than that just won’t do the trick.

    It’s silly that the Republicans are fighting so hard against ACA even though it’s a private business enterprise. The GOP might get a little more traction with their message if they stuck to facts instead of running around crying that the sky is falling. All this Chicken Little BS is getting a little tiresome.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/26/2013 - 08:10 pm.

      But people who get their opinions

      (I won’t call them facts) from the Fox box will believe the lies that the lying liars are telling them (to quote someone).
      That’s all that counts.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/26/2013 - 04:50 pm.

      Don’t Forget

      They wereactually for this plan before they voted against it.

      They loved it when the Heritage Foundation proposed it. When the Socialist Obama adopted it because he’s really just a corporate Democrat, they decided they didn’t like it.

      Who’s the flip-flopper now?

  2. Submitted by John Finnegan on 09/26/2013 - 03:54 pm.

    Hope!

    What’s even sillier is that ACA was essentially their plan once upon a time in contravention to a single payer program. What happened? And let’s be clear, the ACA legislation DOES need tweaking in some important areas. Well, I like the GOP approach. Reminds me of Mark Twain who said: “…I shall always confine myself strictly to the truth, except when it is attended with inconvenience.”

  3. Submitted by kevin terrell on 09/27/2013 - 02:00 am.

    An alternative perspective

    Dave:

    I’m not a GOP-er, but I do pay a bit of attention to the healthcare law and facts. So here we go:

    1. The requirement that Congress use the exchange is written into law. Do we just ignore the law? Oh, wait. Don’t answer that.

    2. Making light of the IRS being in the middle of things – have you read the news lately? But perhaps you are also not concerned about the NSA’s scooping up of domestic communications traffic? If so, you’d be consistent. But I doubt that’s the case.

    3. Lower prices (i.e. more affordable) are mythical – a function of federal subsidies. And I assume you know Minnesotans pay federal taxes, and that federal subsidies are either paid for 1) with your taxes, or 2) with printed money, right? And you know that printed money is not a “savings” to Minnesotans?

    4. Let’s see real data, apples to apples, when it is available. MN Post just mused on this today, in fact. Cheaper prices do not seem to be the norm elsewhere. And Illinois hasn’t even released prices – can’t imagine why not…

    5. Having you ever worked in a real business? The med device tax is on revenue – not profit. The effect on jobs is certainly felt by startup med device firms. A not-yet-profitable $10M firm is now paying $230k in extra taxes. Do you think that’s coming out of the pocket of the owners? More likely is that it comes out of the pockets of the 4 people who were not hired because the business can’t afford it. See the luxury tax on yachts back in Bush I era for some instruction on the destructive nature of seemingly benign taxes on the regular Joes.

    6. We’ll see on the delays in just a few days. Care to wager on it?

    7. Part time work not a problem? Well, that’s not what Joseph Hansen, president of the Union of Food and Commercial Workers says. But he only represents 1.2 million workers, so what would he know?

    8. Let’s see… the biggest supporters of the law now hate it. Yeah, that seems to be a problem. See point #7.

    9. Minnesota is one of the few states that has recovered all the jobs that were lost since the start of the (distant) recession. Generally speaking, a massively increased regulatory burden does not generate more jobs. Have you ever talked to real business owners? You know, the type of people who hire 200 people to build stuff? You might try it sometime – you’ll hear first hand how the law has changed hiring behavior.

    10. Democratic Socialism model a good thing…well then you should be elated by the fact that everyone in Sweden gets a voucher to spend on any school they want. No longer beholden to the state-provided piece of junk that can’t graduate half of its black students. The GOP would have better noted that we are moving to a 20th century version of Democratic Socialism. But since Barry doesn’t even speak another language, I doubt it has occurred to him to update his view of such things since he digested his internationalist tomes back at Columbia.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/27/2013 - 09:50 am.

      Just to pick on one point

      obviously there are others:

      #9.
      Minnesota may have recovered all the jobs that were lost since 2007, although this would still leave us well behind the number of jobs that would be expected now given a normal rate of growth in the population and economy.
      However, the bigger point is -wages-.
      Replacing a job at IBM with one at McDonalds does not count as recovery.
      Most of the new jobs have been in the (low paying) service sector.
      If you look at wages rather than jobs we are still behind; just not as far behind as most states.
      Fast food wages do not generate the same level of demand as manufacturing wages, so there is still a drag on the economy.

  4. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 09/27/2013 - 12:36 am.

    This plan is so far from being Democratic Socialist

    that it’s sad.

    Real Democratic Socialist countries have single payer or national health systems. Even Germany, which has the system closest to the ACA, keeps the insurance companies on a choke chain, so that they can’t pay exorbitant executive compensation or refuse to pay claims for bogus reasons.

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