"Nearly 6 million Americans -- significantly more than first estimated -- will face a tax penalty under President Obama's health-care overhaul for not getting insurance" according to analysts for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, reported the Associated Press's Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar yesterday. That's 50 percent higher than the 2010 prediction -- when ObamaCare was passed -- of 4 million facing the ObamaCare penalty, which the Supreme Court has declared is really, well, a tax. "The average penalty... will be about $1,200 in 2016," Alonso-Zaldivar noted. That's roughly $100/month in new taxes.
Both the Washington Post and the New York Times ran the AP story in their print editions, but the former placed the 786-word story at the bottom of page A4 with the headline "6 million uninsured expected to face health-care penalty," while the latter ran a condensed 270-word version on page A18 entitled "More Expected To Face Penalty In Health Law." A search of Nexis and NewsBusters/MRC DVR recordings shows that none of the three major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- mentioned the story on either their September 19 evening newscasts nor September 20 morning programs.
On July 12, the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children & Families, the group which administers the entitlement program known to most as "welfare" or "traditional welfare, issued an "Information Memorandum" entitled "Guidance concerning waiver and expenditure authority under Section 1115" (i.e., not "proposed guidance"). After navigating the thicket of bureaucratic babble contained therein, Robert Rector and Kiki Bradley at the Heritage Foundation asserted, with agreement from several other quarters and no meaningful dissent I have detected, that the memo's effect "is the end of welfare reform."
At Bloomberg Business Week, the distortion of what the Social Security system's trustees told the public on Monday began with its headline and opening sentence.
The headline: "Social Security Fund to Run Out in '35: Trustees." Any reader would assume that the reference is to the situation with the retirement and disability programs combined, as both are collectively referred to as "Social Security." Reporter Brian Faler doubled down on the headline error in his opening sentence:
At the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar is floating the notion (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) that members of the Supreme Court who seem inclined to strike down ObamaCare might do so without fully understanding it. Translation: Those dummies.
The AP reporter makes a claim which reads like a desperate talking point from Team Obama (and maybe it is). The essence of the "argument" is that if you have a required minimum plan design which includes many items individuals and families would never use and would never buy if left to their own devices, and you force them to purchase a health insurance policy with that design (or possibly better), it really isn't a bad thing any more if you allow some choice in copays and deductibles.
Apparently most reporters at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Propagandists, lost the memo that Reuters got ("Obama Campaign: Obamacare Not a Bad Word After All"). Either that, or they haven't been paying attention their Obama For America emails.
OFA and President Obama himself both say it's now okay to call the fraudulently named Affordable Care Act which became law in March 2010 "ObamaCare"; the only matter in dispute is whether one should capitalize the "c." Jeff Mason at Reuters, which was already a bit late with its own report, tried to explain it all Monday evening, but "somehow" forgot what may be the most obvious motivation, namely that the "affordable" part of the original bill's title has been proven to be anything but:
There are quite a few problems with Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar's December 28 coverage ("New fee coming for medical effectiveness research") concerning a new fee (i.e., tax) which will imposed on health insurance companies for each person they cover starting tomorrow.
Several times (twice in the body and once as seen above in the headline), the story refers to the assessment as a "medical effectiveness research" fee (without quotes). Just once, in the eleventh paragraph, does Alonso-Zaldivar call it by its far more widely-known name (written as indicated): "comparative effectiveness" research. But the item which stuck out like a sore thumb with me, and should also do so for anyone else who closely followed how the stimulus bill got enacted into law as well as the Obamacare discussions later that year,, was the following paragraph (bolds are mine):
In the run-up to the passage of Obamacare in March 2010, Nancy Pelosi infamously told a friendly audience: "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."
Fifteen months later, we still haven't learned everything about a bill which no honest congressperson or senator can claim to have read and fully understood.
Today's "discovery" is that some couples in their early 60s earning up to $64,000 a year can qualify for Medicaid. As has become establishment press custom since Obamacare's passage, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar at the Associated Press reports on the "anomaly," without getting to its root cause, namely that nobody who voted for the 2000-page legislation knew it was there:
In late January (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how the Associated Press and the New York Times had been studiously avoiding covering the Obamacare waivers granted by Kathleen Sebelius's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Though I can't verify that the AP has ignored the issue since, it doesn't seem to have been a prominently covered item until today, when wire service reporter Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar ("Health care law waivers stir suspicion of favors") unsurprisingly weighed in for the defense.
In doing so, the AP reporter failed to note that the waiver process's arbitrary nature, which leaves plans at the tender mercies of HHS, is troubling even if the evidence of favoritism is not yet convincing (arbitrariness can also involve poor judgment even if politics aren't involved). He also failed to address those who contend that if Obamacare is such a good thing, why are companies and other entities having to scramble to avoid it? Finally, he failed to tell readers if any waiver requests have been turned down, and if so why.
Here are excerpts from Alonso-Zaldivar's report. Get a load of his third paragraph, where he dreams up excuses, and the final excerpted paragraph, where he all but admits that waivers in general are being granted for a very important political reason -- to prevent embarrassing Obama and the Democratic Party (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
This morning, Associated Press reporters Ricardo Alonso Zaldivar and Stephen Ohlemacher went back to an AP-GfK poll yours truly thoroughly discredited on May 11 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). That's when the AP's Liz Sidoti and Jennifer Agiesta laughably claimed that President Obama's approval had jumped to 60%.
The opening paragraph of Saturday morning's Associated Press report by Stephen Ohlemacher and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar on the state of Social Security and Medicare and an additional sentence from the third paragraph give away the fact that theirs will not be a missive that should be taken seriously (bold is mine):
The bad economy is worsening the already-shaky finances of Medicare and Social Security, draining the trust funds supporting them faster than expected and intensifying the need for Congress to shore up the massive benefit programs, the government said Friday.
... The Social Security trust funds are projected to be drained in 2036, one year earlier than the last estimate.
This post will concentrate on Social Security. By referring to the idea that its trust fund is being "drained," the pair are perpetuating the myth that the Social Security system has a stash of cash and investments just sitting there ready to be redeemed and distributed as benefits when needed. This of course is false. What follows are four fundamental truths about Social Security.
Ten days ago, on the eve of the House vote to repeal ObamaCare, Kathleen Sebelius's Department or Health and Human Services issued a fearmongering press release saying that "129 million Americans with a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage without new health reform law."
Ten days later, on a Friday afternoon (naturally), the Associated Press's Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar finally got around to skeptically evaluating HHS's claim. Way to be there at crunch time, Ricardo (/sarc).
Here are selected paragraphs from Ricardo's rendition:
Adopting language and tactics more typical of tyrants, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday sent a public letter to the head of a health insurance industry group demanding that carriers stop "falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act," and that "that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases."
She reinforced her short-term threat with a longer-term one:
We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014. Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections.
When Sebelius threatens exclusion from the "Exchanges," she is really saying: "Shut up and eat your costs, or you'll be out of business in a few years."
Earlier this year, in his "Can we lose health coverage? Yes we can" column, syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock made a point asserted in dozens if not hundreds of columns and reports during the hide-and-seek legistlative process that ultimately led to the passage of what is commonly known as ObamaCare: The President's core promise relating to the statist health care legislation that ultimately became law in March -- namely that "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what" -- could not and would not be kept.
In that column, Murdock quoted Cato Institute analyst Michael Cannon as follows:
"Obama's definition of 'meaningful' coverage could eliminate the health plans that now cover as many as half of the 159 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance, plus more than half of the roughly 18 million Americans in the individual market. ... This could compel close to 90 million Americans to switch to more comprehensive health plans with higher premiums, whether they value the added coverage or not."
In a late Friday afternoon blog post followed by a fuller early evening report, David Hogberg and Sean Higgins at Investors Business Daily confirmed that Obama's never-credible core promise is on the brink of being shattered, and that the employer-related calculations by Cato's Cannon were essentially correct (graphically illustrated by IBD at the top right):