Let The Tea Party Begin: 4.7 Million At Risk Of Losing Their Health Insurance

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
For there IS joy in Teaville…

…A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-to-1 along party lines that subsidies for health insurance premiums made available under the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) are only available to those who purchased their coverage in state-based exchanges, invalidating the 4.7 million citizens who used the federal exchange and therefore…

…they have been shut out.

ObamaCare Ruling

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In this case, the “favored land” where the sun is shining and hearts are light, is the land of Tea Party Republicans who are falling all over themselves celebrating this decision that puts the health – and lives – of millions in jeopardy. And, as usual, it is those who are favored who reap the benefits. Nothing gives right-wingers more undiluted ecstasy than making life even more difficult for people on the lower end of the income scale. These are the same people who cheer executions and holler and spit at children. You know, conservative “Christians.” Even the GOP judges recognized the potential hardship they were creating:

“Our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”

The good news is that this ruling means very little at the present time. First of all, it was stayed by the court pending an expected appeal. Secondly, the administration will likely request an “en banc” hearing by all eleven members of the court. Presently the court has seven judges appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans. This, by the way, was made possible when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid removed the super-majority requirement for judicial appointments. Prior to that Republicans were filibustering nearly all of President Obama’s nominees, and even proposed eliminating the three vacancies on the D.C. court. Subsequent to Reid’s maneuver, three of Obama’s nominees received a majority vote and were seated on the court that will re-hear this ruling.

Finally, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia ruled today on the very same issue and found that the federal subsidies were proper and intended by the Congress when the law was passed. As it stands now there are two courts of appeal that have arrived at opposing decisions, but the en banc review by the D.C. court is likely to agree with the 4th Circuit. If so, both courts will have upheld the subsidies. That is significant should additional appeals be brought to the Supreme Court. There is no telling where the Supreme Court might come down, but there is a possibility that they won’t even take the case if two appeals courts agree that there is no constitutional issue.

Whatever the outcome of the legal wrangling, this is another opportunity to observe the right-wing at their worst. They are palpably giddy over the prospect of millions of Americans becoming either uninsured or bankrupt. This is an issue that can have some play in the midterm elections as the threat hanging over the heads of these citizens weighs on their political decisions. In Florida and Texas alone there are 1.5 million people who could lose their insurance. Those are highly motivated votes for Democrats in November making both states more likely to turn blue. Now we just have to get the rest of the Democrats to get motivated and VOTE!

A Dose Of Reality: Children In Texas Are Less Likely To Be Immunized Than Immigrant Kids

The saga of minors from south of the border migrating to the United States in large numbers to escape poverty and violence in their home countries is one of the most heartbreaking stories to emerge in years. These children are often alone and frightened and disoriented in their new surroundings.

Inflaming the tragedy further is the response from soulless right-wing hate squads that have protested these kids as they arrive at detention facilities for processing. Among the dehumanizing taunts that are cast at these innocents by protesters, as well as Fox News anchors and guests, is that the kids are dangerous agents of drug traffickers, terrorists, and gangs. They are described in terms that deprive them of their humanity, like invaders and tsunamis. This allows the haters to ignore that they are just children and transform them into forces of nature that bring nothing but chaos and destruction.

Immigrant Kids

One of the most scurrilous accusations being hurled around is that the immigrant children are menacing disease carriers who will infect our precious homegrown little ones and poison the purity of our Euro-American gene pool. They are threatening an epidemic of infectious maladies long thought to have been eradicated in civilized society. However, an article in the Texas Observer addresses this subject with the sort of facts and informed research from which conservatives recoil as if from the plague (irony intended).

The principle discovery in the Observer reveals that the occurrence of illness in the immigrant children is “wildly overstated.” In fact, if one were inclined to be nervous about the infectious status of a child, they would be better off shunning Perry’s Kids – aka the unvaccinated children suffering under the current GOP regime in Texas.

“Before demonizing undocumented children, we should look at the facts: The vast majority of Central Americans are vaccinated against all these [mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria] diseases. Governments concerned about health, and good parents investing in their kids, have made Central American kids better-vaccinated than Texan kids. We fear them not because they are actually sick, but because of powerful anti-immigration narratives that link foreigners to disease.”

The article goes on to note that many Central American governments cover the cost of vaccinations at 100%. Compare that to the U.S. where there are many states, including Texas, where routine health care is unavailable due to the political piggishness of Tea Party Republicans. The article states that “one in six kids in Texas is uninsured, and even insured families often must pay for vaccination.” By refusing to expand Medicaid programs, GOP governors like Rick Perry are tangibly lowering the quality and availability of health care and putting lives at risk. There’s your real death panel.

In addition, the tin-foil hatted movement to persuade people that immunizations are actually government sponsored plots to enrich pharmaceutical companies by mandating vaccinations that will cause autism or other debilitating illnesses, has found fertile ground in places like Texas. Consequently, many deluded parents deliberately refuse to have their kids vaccinated. This is making more of a health crisis in the state than anything that might be attributed to immigrants.

The Observer article goes into much greater detail and is well worth reading in full. It includes examples of media disinformation about both disease and immigrants (particularly exposing the lies broadcast on Fox News). It explores the historical attacks on immigrants as disease-carriers going back 200 years, when the targets of the allegations were often the Irish or Jews.

This story raises questions about the effectiveness and integrity of the media. While the Texas Observer deserves credit for doing their job, the rest of the mainstream press has been shamefully delinquent. They haven’t bothered to do the research necessary to serve their audience by keeping them informed. But they have pumped up the tabloid exploitation of phony protesters and pundits with obvious political biases. It will be interesting to see if the Observer’s article gets any national attention.

In the end, it is clear that what is motivating the falsehoods about immigrant children is nothing more than pure racism, fear, ignorance, partisanship, and even greed. This is a humanitarian crisis, not an immigration debate. If Teabagging bigots want to push their fixation with border fences and nativist outrage, let them do it after these kids are taken care of and the imminent risks to their well-being are settled.

The ObamaCare Success Story: Even Republican Enrollees Are Overwhelmingly Satisfied (InfoGraphic)

It has been four months since the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) closed, and the most reliable numbers to date are being released. A new survey by The Commonwealth Fund (pdf) reveals that the program has surpassed all estimates of success and is broadly viewed favorably by the American people. Here are some of the highlights of the survey (InfoGraphic below):

  • With 9.5 million fewer uninsured adults, the uninsured rate for those 19-64 decline from 20% to 15%.
  • The uninsured rate for young adults 19 to 34 declined from 28% to 18%, more than any other age group.
  • In the 25 states (and D.C.) that expanded their Medicaid programs, the uninsured rate for low-income adults declined from 28% to 17% (Texas and Florida – neither of which expanded Medicaid – have the highest uninsured rates).
  • More than half of adults with new coverage said their plan included all or some of the doctors they wanted.
  • More than three of five adults who selected a private plan or enrolled in medicaid were uninsured prior to gaining coverage.
  • Two-thirds of those who found a primary care doctor got an appointment within two weeks.
  • More than three-quarters of adults with new coverage said they were very or somewhat satisfied with it (Including 74% of Republicans, 82% of Independents, and 84% of Democrats.

The fact that so many Americans have benefited from this health insurance initiative is in itself good news. But what should make this front page news is that Republicans enrolled in ObamaCare are just as happy with it as independents and Democrats. This illustrates how far afield the Tea Party Republican political miscreants in Washington have strayed from their own alleged constituents. They are impostors holding the reins of power thanks to a minority of extremists in the party who bother to vote. And if rank and file Republicans ever get motivated to show up at the polls, people like Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann will be lucky to get speaking engagements at trailer-park bible study meetings.

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After enduring the GOP spending four years throwing every mud-soaked brick they could find at ObamaCare, the people have risen above the scare tactics and lies. They rejected the talk of death panels and socialism and economic catastrophe. They saw through the dozens of attempts to repeal the law or challenge it in the courts. And now that they have had a chance to assess it personally, they find that it satisfactorily meets their needs, particularly those who couldn’t get coverage before due to preexisting conditions or financial hardship.

Don’t expect any of this to be reported on Fox News or by any other right-wing media garbage spewer. These are credible results from a respected foundation. They deal with facts and a devotion to representing reality (which, as we know, has a well-known liberal bias). Those are principles that conservative media tries desperately to avoid. If information cannot be used by the right to tarnish the President or progressive causes, it is either ignored or disparaged.

But despite the herculean effort put forth by Fox News, the Koch brothers, and the GOP establishment, the people have made up their own minds. Now if we can just get them to show up at the polls in November and vote for their own best interests, we may be able to roll back the tide of Dark Agist theocons who have infiltrated the halls of our democracy.

ObamaCare Success

BACKFIRE: Wingnuts Compare ObamaCare To The VA – Which Most Veterans Love

With the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, the Republican malice machine has continued to spin at full strength. Whether or not Shinseki was a scapegoat, his departure will not satisfy the bloodlust of the GOP, nor cause them to defer attacks on President Obama long enough to actually help find solutions. However, their inbred negativity and hatred for Obama is causing them to misfire in ways that only further embarrass themselves.

In yet another right-wing assault on the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), the conservative opponents of health care have once again managed to mangle their message. Their intent has been to associate ObamaCare, which they viscerally despise despite its growing popularity, with the burgeoning scandal at the Veterans Administration.

ObamaCare vs. VA

From across the Tea Party frontier we can hear the outraged call of the Yellow Tailed Wingnut complaining that ObamaCare will doom us all to fates of suffering, death, and worse – Socialism! Their high-pitched squeal is recognizable and notable for its uniformity.

  • Rush Limbaugh: If you want to know where we’re headed as a country with health care, take a look at the VA.
  • Ann Coulter: We’re all going to be getting the same health care the vets are getting under ObamaCare.
  • Gary Graham (Actor): If you like the way the VA is working … you’re gonna love ObamaCare.
  • Jason Riley (Wall Street Journal): If you want to see where our nationalized health care system is headed, look at the VA system.
  • Wayne Allyn Root (Fox News Contributor): With Obamacare as the law of the land, we are all veterans now.
  • Phyllis Schlafly: [The VA is] A good window into the future of Obamacare
  • Kimberly Guilfoyle (Fox News Host): This is really what the rest of you all are going to get: One big fat VA system in the form of Obamacare. [Note: This one was rated a “Pants On Fire” lie by PolitiFact]

To be sure, the VA is undergoing a difficult period, exacerbated by Republicans in Congress obstructing necessary funding and the added burden of hundreds of thousands of new veterans created by Bush’s wars. And there is no excuse for falsifying records in order to mask the problems. But even with the serious issues surfacing in the past few weeks, the VA is a highly regarded institution that serves the vast majority of its patients with compassion and competence.

A recent survey completed in 2013 for the independent American Customer Satisfaction Index (during the precise time period when the latest abuses allegedly occurred) reported that customer satisfaction among veteran patients was “among the best in the nation and equal to or better than ratings for private sector hospitals.” Ratings for satisfaction and loyalty were overwhelmingly positive, exceeding 80% and 90% respectively. And specific responses regarding quality of care were off-the-charts positive.

“Veterans also responded positively to questions related to customer service for both VA inpatient care (92 percent favorable) and outpatient care (91 percent). Medical providers and appointment personnel were considered highly courteous with scores of 92 and 91, respectively. Additionally, VA medical providers ranked high in professionalism (90 percent positive).”

The positive assessment of the VA’s overall performance, however, does not mean that problems should be ignored. There is obviously room for improvement. Unfortunately, Republicans are not interested in improvement. In fact, they are ideologically shackled to failure. Their whole political philosophy revolves around the belief that government is inept and incapable of doing anything worthwhile (except wage war). Consequently, their mission is to deliberately sabotage every government initiative they encounter.

They aspire to failure because it proves their thesis that the only thing government excels at is failing. And it may even explain why the VA scandal is almost exclusively confined to red states like Arizona, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Is it just a coincidence that all of those GOP-led states, where local managers are responsible for the VA’s operations, are battling inefficiency and fraud? Or is it consistent with the Republican agenda that is also obstructing the Medicaid expansion provided by ObamaCare in many of those same states?

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Still, with broad-based, national survey results delivering such positive assessments, the rest of the country would be overjoyed to receive the sort of care that has pleased the vast majority of veterans. And if, as the wingnut brigade above asserts, the VA represents the future of health care under ObamaCare, then America is in for a real improvement in both medical outcomes and experiences. We can only hope that the Limbaughs and Coulters of the world are right this time, for a change.

The REAL Death Panel: Man Nearly Dies From Watching Fox News

For four years Fox News has been furiously trying to frighten people away from the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). They have shamelessly manufactured horror stories, disseminated lies, and advanced the most ludicrous conspiracy theories about the health insurance law that has made access to medical care available to millions, some for the first time in their lives.

Fox News Nearly Killed Me

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One of the most notorious myths promoted by Fox News was the assertion that ObamaCare contained provisions for a “Death Panel” that would have the power to decide who lives and who dies. It was invented by radical anti-healthcare activist Betsy McCaughey and popularized by radical dimwit Sarah Palin. There was never any truth to the charge, but that didn’t stop Fox News from devoting thousands of hours of airtime to planting false information into the minds of their gullible audience.

Sadly, there are consequences for this sort of brazen deception that a Pennsylvania man discovered just before it was too late, thankfully. Dean Angstadt was aware that he had a serious health problem when it became too difficult for him to continue his work as a logger. However, he was uninsured and refused to sign up for ObamaCare because, as he told the Washington Post, he…

“…listened to what the GOP had to say about Obamacare, and not so much to what the Democrats had to say. As for his media diet, Anstadt says he goes online for some of his news, but when it comes to television, ‘Fox News, of course, and that’s basically what I watch on TV.'”

As his condition worsened, his friend eventually persuaded him to check out his options on the ACA exchange. He found an insurance plan with a monthly premium of $26.11, and signed up. Within a month he had life-saving surgery to replace a failing heart valve. And what does he think about ObamaCare now?

“A lot of people I talk to are so misinformed about the ACA,” Angstadt said. “I was, before Bob went through all this for me. I would recommend it to anybody.”

“I probably would have ended up falling over dead” without the surgery, Angstadt said. “Not only did it save my life, it’s going to give me a better quality of life.”

“For me, this isn’t about politics,” he added. “I’m trying to help other people who are like me, stubborn and bullheaded, who refused to even look. From my own experience, the ACA is everything it’s supposed to be and, in fact, better than it’s made out to be.”

This is the new opinion of a man who previously was so adamantly opposed to ObamaCare that he wouldn’t even look at the website. And his opinion was shaped by exclusive viewing of Fox News and the dishonest smear job they conducted on ObamaCare. Were it not for his friend insisting that he give it a try, Angstadt would not be here today to tell his story.

You can’t help wondering how many other people are in the same position as Angstadt. How many others were deceived by Fox, and the Republican liars, into delaying critical medical care? And how many have actually died because they never found out that Fox was lying to them?

The truth is out there, as Florida’s Republican governor Rick Scott learned when he visited a senior center to “warn of the dangers of Obamacare and hear horror stories about the law.” Instead, he was pummeled with positive impressions by folks who were grateful for the benefits the ACA provided.

So if you are still looking for death panels, you have found them. They are the Republican committees in Congress that have repeatedly tried to denigrate and repeal ObamaCare. And they are in the editorial suites and studios of Fox News, where the wealthy executives and pundits never have to worry about how to pay for their medical care.

The ‘Fundamental Flaw’ In The Republican Brand According To Fox News

Always on the lookout for ways to help the Republican Party, Fox News published an editorial by Maggie Gallagher, a founder of the anti-marriage equality group, National Organization for Marriage, entitled “Hey, GOP, want to win in 2016? Fix fundamental flaw in Republican brand.”

GOP Rebranding

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Indeed, the Republican brand has suffered of late with even the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, conceding that the problem is so serious it required an “autopsy” following the 2012 election to address the party’s tendency to drive away critical constituencies. The RNC’s “Growth and Opportunity” report identified several areas of concern that included poor outreach to minority voters, alienating the youth demo, and too many candidate debates (an admission that the more people see their candidates, the less they like them).

Now Fox News is weighing in with an opinion as to what the “fundamental” flaw holding back the GOP is. The article begins with a premise with which it is difficult to disagree:

“America’s economic problem isn’t just unemployment, it’s the deadly combination of steady mild inflation and stagnant wages that is leading to pervasive declines in middle class working families’ standard of living.”

Setting aside the curious assertion that “mild inflation” contributes to a “deadly” situation, Gallagher’s recognition that stagnant wages lead to a decline in the living standard of middle class working families is spot on – and something that Democrats have been focused on intensely. Republicans, in the meantime, have been staunch opponents of raising the minimum wage; they have drafted legislation to eliminate overtime pay; they support corporate policies that encourage sending American jobs to other countries; and they favor mergers that result in massive layoffs.

The Democratic agenda is squarely aimed at improving the economic status of America’s middle class, while the Republicans drive headlong into crushing it in favor of the wealthy business elites whom the right mistakenly regard as job creators. [This graphic illustrates who the Real Job Creators are] While Gallagher acknowledges that GOP rhetoric is overly focused on the needs of voters’ bosses, she also dismisses the notion of raising the minimum wage as “feeble.” So what is Gallagher talking about when she refers to the fundamental flaw in the Republican brand?

“One obvious place Republicans could show they “get it” is relentlessly focusing on the pay cut ObamaCare means for many middle class working families.”

Of course! It’s ObamaCare. The cause of the entire world’s descent into a dystopic cataclysm that threatens to devour liberty and thrust the planet into eternal depression and tyranny. Never mind that ObamaCare is actually reducing the financial burdens that have plagued middle class families who have suffered either exorbitant and ever-increasing insurance premiums, or worse, devastating medical bills that drive them into bankruptcy. With ObamaCare the middle class no longer needs to worry about being denied coverage or having their policy canceled should they have the audacity to file a claim. Nor do they need to remain shackled to a low-paying and unfulfilling job just to stay insured.

Gallagher’s retreat to ObamaCare as the universal thorn in whatever right-wingers are complaining about at the moment is absurd in the extreme. But her contention that this is the fundamental flaw that the Republican Party needs to fix makes even less sense. Where has she been the last four years? Undoing ObamaCare has been the single most prominent obsession of the GOP since it was introduced. If she thinks that the Republican brand is suffering because they haven’t done enough to oppose ObamaCare, she may need to take advantage of the mental health care benefits the new law has made possible.

Finally, Fox News frequently does stories about how the GOP can improve their electoral prospects. However, they never do stories with similar advice for Democrats. That may not be particularly fair and balanced, but judging by the advice that Fox is giving to the GOP, perhaps the best thing they can do for Democrats is to keep giving advice to Republicans.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The ObamaCare Honor System Deadline

Conservative politicians and pundits have been unrelentingly negative about the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) from the outset. There have been some 50 attempts by Republicans in congress to repeal, defund, or rollback the law. And Fox News has devoted thousands of hours of airtime trying to scare people away from signing up.

Given that determination to throw obstacles in the way of the law’s implementation, it is curious that these same people are so infuriated when elements of the law are delayed by the administration. That is, after all, a goal that ObamaCare’s critics have been trying to achieve themselves. Apparently they only want delays that are are imposed by their own hand. If Obama does it, it’s an outrage.

Case in point: The administration just announced that people who have had problems signing up for insurance through the new exchanges will have until mid-April to complete the enrollment process. This is a delay of only two weeks, but it gives those who have started the process a little extra time to finish it in the event that they have had technical or other impediments to completion. That modest modification has caused an uproar in conservative circles generally. But in the case of Fox Nation, the lie-riddled website run by Fox News, they have gone a step further and brazenly misreported the news to say that the “WH Eliminates ObamaCare Sign Up Deadline. Will Use ‘Honor System’ Instead”

Fox Nation

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There is absolutely no reasonable way to interpret the facts that would result in an assertion that the deadline has been eliminated. This extension is only available to people who have begun the process prior to the deadline. No one else will get an extension. Just like shoppers who are generally permitted to finish their shopping and checkout past closing time, even though no new shoppers are allowed into the store. What’s more, those who receive the extension would then have only two weeks to finish up or they, too, will be regarded as having exceeded the deadline and be subjected to penalties.

Adding to the absurdity of Fox’s distortions is their blatant hypocrisy. Despite being downright apoplectic over the falsely reported ObamaCare deadline extension, Fox was never even slightly irked when George W. Bush delayed the deadline for signing up for the Medicare prescription drug benefits that his administration passed. And in that case the delay was from May until December 31, of 2006. So Bush delaying a program’s deadline for seven months is perfectly fine, but Obama giving a two week extension to a narrowly defined group of people is tyranny – even if the conservative critics favor an extension.

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Why does Fox even bother to pretend to report the news? If they would invent a headline that says a two week extension is an elimination, then why don’t they just let loose and say that Obama has ordered everyone without insurance to be rounded up and incarcerated in those FEMA camps we’ve heard so much about? It would make just as much sense and have the same disconnect from reality. Plus they could throw in that the camps would be staffed by gay, Muslim, abortion doctors who would be the only Americans permitted to own guns. I mean, if you’re gonna lie, you might as well have some fun with it.

Koch Brothers Tea Party Front Group Caught In An ObamaCare Lie (Again)

In the past few weeks Americans For Prosperity (AFP), the Koch brothers financed Tea Party propaganda outfit, has produced a couple of anti-ObamaCare ads that featured alleged “victims” of the health insurance reform. The campaign ended in embarrassment for AFP when the phony “horror stories” were revealed to be utterly false. Independent analysis of the insurance coverage available to the subjects of the ads proved that they were better off under ObamaCare than they were without it.

Koch Bros. Fatcat

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So AFP abandoned that strategy and released an ad that consisted of a lone spokeswoman making vague criticisms of ObamaCare in a tone of voice dripping with despondency and a tag line bemoaning that “It just doesn’t work.” However, even with this tactic of avoiding any verifiable content that might get them tied up in another counterfactual morass, they still managed to produce a thoroughly dishonest commercial that received a “False” rating from PolitiFact.

The principle claim in the new ad was that “millions are paying more and getting less.” However, as PolitiFact’s research shows, there is no truth to the claim:

PolitiFact: Americans are getting more benefits under the law in a number of ways — including, in some cases, being able to buy affordable insurance for the first time.

In addition, insurance purchased in the individual and small group marketplace must meet 10 essential health benefits. This includes coverage for emergency services and hospitalization, prescription drugs, free preventative coverage for things ranging from basic immunizations to HIV screening, and maternity care.

The law also caps out-of-pocket costs, providing greater protection from exorbitant hospital bills. The most a person could pay for health care in a year is $6,300; the most a family can pay is $12,600.

Before the law passed, some insurers capped annual or lifetime benefits, forcing people who thought they were covered to pay large hospital bills once they passed the threshold.

People with pre-existing conditions are also seeing a lot more benefits, since they previously couldn’t buy a policy at all.

PolitiFact concludes by saying that “At worst, they’re paying more to get more, though in many cases they’re actually paying less.” They also include a chart that shows that, while insurance premiums have risen since ObamaCare became law, the rise is slower than in any of the previous fourteen years. What critics of ObamaCare always seem to forget is that before it came along insurance companies routinely raised premiums, canceled plans, narrowed doctor networks, and declined coverage. They also refused patients with preexisting conditions, terminated patients when they filed claims, and capped benefits at amounts far below realistic costs for care.

Prior to ObamaCare it was always the insurance company that came between the patient and the doctor. And their motivation was strictly related to increasing profits. ObamaCare’s mandates are aimed at improving health care and medical outcomes, not enriching corporations and their executives.

As for Americans For Prosperity, the Koch brothers, and their PR division, Fox News, you have to wonder, if ObamaCare is so terrible, then why do they have to repeatedly lie about it to make it look bad? Why can’t they find any real horror stories? Why can’t they tell the truth about the economics of the program? Why do they so feverishly try to frighten people away?

President Obama Makes Breitbart Editor’s Brain Hurt

The staff at Breitbart News has never distinguished itself as particularly astute or intellectually gifted. A recent case in point was their giddy victory dance when Coca-Cola supposedly validated the right-wing campaign for English-only ads by adding the Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum” to a TV commercial.

Breitbart Ben Shapiro

Today Breitbart’s senior editor-at-large, Ben Shapiro, penned a column outlining what he called “Obama’s Top 5 Distractions.” The article regurgitates a well-worn attack strategy that alleges that anything the President says or does that is not about ObamaCare is a deliberate attempt to distract from that issue, rather than the responsible performance of the duties of his office. BreitBrat Ben begins by admitting his own mental shortcomings:

“Psychologists posit that the brain can only handle so many narratives at one point; if we are distracted by problems at home, for example, we tend to perform less well at work. The same holds true in politics: if our brains are occupied with worries about the war on women, for example, we’re less likely to be thinking about the horrors of Obamacare.”

Poor Ben. By inconsiderately managing the broad array of issues that any president must address, Obama is taxing the shallow capabilities of one of Breitbart’s senior staffers. How dare Obama deal with trivialities like raising workers out of poverty; or mitigating the environmental, economic, and national security threats of Climate Change; or taking action to relieve the suffering of poor families and hungry children; or advocating on behalf women who are exploited, abused, and discriminated against; or endeavoring to advance solutions to the long-term hostilities in the Middle East.

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In Shapiro’s world, placing those five items on the presidential agenda are merely attempts to distract people from the only issue that really exists: ObamaCare. And for the White House to engage in any other domestic or foreign policy can only result in a cognitive breakdown, emotional distress, and a severe brain owie. In the view of these mental deficients, political leaders must always concentrate on a single issue to the exclusion of every other event in the world. Shapiro closes by claiming that…

“…the bottom line is that the Obama administration will do everything in its power over the course of the next few months to distract from the issues Americans care about most.”

For the record, according to the Pew Research Center, the top five issues that Americans care about most are:

  • Strengthening the nation’s economy.
  • Improving the job situation.
  • Defending the country from terrorism.
  • Improving the educational system.
  • Making Social Security system sound.

These are all issues that the Obama administration has identified as priorities. The American people expect him to work toward advancing their interests on these and many other areas, including health care, taxes, crime, the environment, and immigration. And he must do them all simultaneously. In fact, if Obama were to abandon other issues and focus solely on health care, Shapiro would be among the first in a long line of hypocritical right-wingers to criticize him for being too narrowly focused and negligent.

If BreitBrat Ben has his way the nation will be stuck in a single-issue ditch that doesn’t put a burden on the limited brainpower of dimwitted conservatives and Tea Party twerps like himself. So at least we can be grateful that he will not get his way no matter how noisy his juvenile tantrums.

OBAMASCARE: Healthcare.gov Passes Security Tests – Fox News Freaks Out

During a hearing today before the House Oversight Committee, Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the committee that the Healthcare.gov website had passed all security tests and that she would recommend its continued authority to operate.

Note that this is the same person who testified before the committee last year and expressed serious reservations which committee chairman, and recidivist criminal, Darrell Issa, trumpeted in his attempt to derail ObamaCare. Today, however, he dismissed her validation of the website’s safety and continued to assert, without evidence, that security risks are present. At no time since the website launched has there been any security breach, user information theft or fraud, or any other unauthorized access.

So what does Fox News do upon hearing this testimony? They make a full-court press to double down on imaginary security problems. It is a deliberate effort to spread fear among the American people in order to frighten them away from using the website and learning about the availability of affordable and effective health insurance. The form of Fox’s anti-ObamaCare offensive came in the broadcast of a segment on America’s NewsHQ that alleged that Healthcare.gov is still unsecured.

Fox News ObamaScare

Fox Anchor Bill Hemmer led the segment with a report that offered no support for the assertion that there were any security problems. The entire report consisted of unfounded allegations and speculation. That was followed by co-anchor Alisyn Camerota’s interview of Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz who offered more of the same. When directly queried as to whether there was any verifiable evidence of risk, Chaffetz spun off into pure conjecture and factless rhetoric. No Democrat or ObamaCare supporter was given any airtime.

Fox News - Mitnick

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Reinforcing this faulty foundation, the Fox News website sought out the opinion of criminal hacker Kevin Mitnick. Fox identified Mitnick as “one of the world’s foremost cybersecurity experts,” despite the fact that his hacking occurred twenty years ago in a technology environment worlds removed from today’s. Furthermore, there is no indication in Fox’s report that Mitnick conducted any security assessments of Healthcare.gov. His entire opinion is based on documents from others who also don’t show any results from having tested the site’s security.

Nevertheless, Fox reported that “Mitnick submitted a scathing criticism to a House panel Thursday of ObamaCare’s Healthcare.gov website, calling the protections built into the site ‘shameful’ and ‘minimal.’ That assessment, however, was not backed up by one of Issa’s own witnesses before the congressional committee. Waylon Krush, CEO of Lunarline, told the panel that “There have been no confirmed security breaches or hacks of the site yet, […] The flaws that have been found are mere speculation.”

Fox News is demonstrating their determination to overshadow the real news of the day: that actual testing by responsible authorities has proven the site to be secure. So Fox throws up segments on the air and on the net that have no substance, but that attempt to refute the verifiable facts. And they do so with disreputable characters who have no first-hand knowledge of the subject on which they are commenting.

This isn’t the first time that Fox has recruited sketchy figures to advance their dishonest agenda. Late last year, Fox’s Gretchen Carlson interviewed John McAfee, the notorious developer of the eponymous anti-virus software, who is presently a fugitive from a murder investigation. During the interview, Carlson raised the specter of outlaw hackers laying in wait on the ObamaCare web site. However, neither she nor McAfee actually provide any evidence of such a threat.

So GOP partisans and ex-cons are Fox’s “experts” on website security. And they are summoned forth to give their dubious opinions on the same day that the chief CMS security officer certifies that Healthcare.gov has passed all security testing, which Fox doesn’t report at all. Is it any wonder how Fox viewers have become so painfully ignorant? And that’s just the way Roger Ailes, and the Republican Party, like them.