Anti-Bera ad misleads on Obamacare

08/22/2014 6:17 PM

08/23/2014 12:40 AM

Crossroads GPS, the outside group affiliated with GOP strategist Karl Rove, is out with a television ad in Sacramento County, yoking freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera to the federal Affordable Care Act. Criticism of the controversial health care overhaul has been a major campaign theme of Bera’s GOP opponent, former Rep. Doug Ose, who favors repealing and replacing the law.

Following is a series of claims the organization makes, with an analysis by Christopher Cadelago of The Sacramento Bee Capitol Bureau.

Narrator: “Obamacare isn’t healthy for California. But Congressman Ami Bera voted to keep it.

It’s expected to cost taxpayers $2 trillion, increase taxes by $800 billion and cut $700 billion from our Medicare.

Millions were told their plans were canceled. And Obamacare could cause women to lose their doctors and pay higher deductibles and co-pays.

Tell Congressman Bera, ‘Do what’s healthy for California. Repeal Obamacare.’”

Analysis: It’s true that Bera has voted against Republican efforts to repeal the federal health care law, but the ad tosses out large numbers in a misleading way.

While the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects the law would have more than $2 trillion in costs through 2024, that figure does not take into account offsetting income through tax increases or spending changes. The budget office says the overhaul in its entirety would actually reduce federal deficits.

The $800 billion in increased taxes comes from a February 2011 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Office and Joint Committee on Taxation. It looked at potential lost revenues between 2012 and 2021 should the law be repealed. The ad, however, doesn’t cite financial benefits to some taxpayers as a result of the law, including refundable tax credits and subsidies for health insurance.

The claim the law cuts Medicare is also misleading. Though the law reduces spending on Medicare by more than $700 billion through 2022, it doesn’t actually cut funding from the program but instead slows down its growth.

Many of the millions whose coverage was canceled because of the law were automatically enrolled in new, compliant policies. The figure cited in the ad also does not consider the millions who gained coverage. A recent report by The Commonwealth Fund, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that 20 million people obtained coverage or enrolled in new plans since the law took effect.

It’s not clear why the ad warns only that women could lose their doctor. Indeed, the issue could affect anyone.

As for consumer costs, there’s no doubt that there are winners and losers under the act. In California, for example, officials estimated that about 570,000 will qualify for subsidies, 700,000 will see their premiums remain flat and about 590,000 will see their premiums increase. Co-pays and deductibles are typically higher for lower cost plans.

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