Skip to content

Anatomy of Another ACA Lie

April 18, 2012

By John McDonough

(This post originally appeared on the blog Health Stew)

Lots of folks ask me why I think the Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare is so unpopular. I first assert that it’s not as unpopular as popularly characterized (see Kaiser Family Foundation monthly tracking polls) and then I refer to the deliberate and false claims about the law being widely circulated around the nation, particularly aimed at senior citizens. I wrote about one particular falsehood last month. Now, my newfound pals at the GE Retirees Association yesterday sent me another they have been receiving in their email inboxes:

Subject: Medicare Premiums —FYI
MEDICARE
Look clearly at the 2014 rate compared to the 2013 rate.

For those of you who are on Medicare, read the following. It’s short, but important and you probably haven’t heard about it in the Mainstream News:

“The per person Medicare Insurance Premium will increase from the present Monthly Fee of $96.40, rising to:

$104.20 in 2012

$120.20 in 2013

And

$247.00 in 2014.”

These are Provisions incorporated in the Obamacare Legislation, purposely delayed so as not to confuse the 2012 Re-Election Campaigns. Send this to all Seniors that you know, so they will know who’s throwing them under the bus.

Peggy Riehle
Internal Representative
Network Contracting
205-220-6778

Blue Cross Blue Shield.jpg

Could I verify or contradict the message, my GE Retiree friends wanted to know. Didn’t sound right to me, so I did some investigating. My contacts in the Obama Administration and the U.S. Senate said it’s a viral email lie that has been going around for more than one year now. Independently, FactCheck.org did their own investigation last year of these claims, and here is their conclusion:

This widely circulating message is similar to a falsehood-filled screed that went around last year, urging “retribution” against members of Congress in the 2010 midterm elections. This message makes somewhat different accusations — also false — and urges voters to “remember” in November 2012. …

It claims that “those of you who are on Medicare” can thank “Obamacare” for increases in the per-person monthly Medicare premium — “to a wonderful $247.00 in 2014.” This is also false. The basic premium for Medicare Part B (which covers physician services) was indeed $96.40 in 2009. But the other numbers are all wrong. It was $110.50 last year, for example, and not $104.20 as claimed. And it is $115.40 this year, not $120.20 as claimed.

Actually, only 27 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are paying the basic rate. The rest — 73 percent — are paying less under a “hold harmless” provision triggered by the lack of a cost-of-living increase in Social Security this year or last year. Most are still paying $96.40.

As for the future, nobody can say with precision what the basic Part B premium will be next year or the year after, let alone in 2014. The premium is set each year at a level calculated to pay for 25 percent of the cost of the coverage. Medicare officials do keep close watch on the trends, however.

And when we contacted Medicare’s Office of the Actuary, we were given these projections — the most recent available — which are current as of the president’s budget for fiscal year 2012 issued in mid-February:

Medicare Part B Standard Premium (projected, February 2011)
2012 $108.20
2013 $112.10
2014 $117.10
Source: Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services

I was particularly intrigued because the vital email in question included the insignia of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. I called the number in question and it has been disconnected. I contacted the public affairs office of BCBS-Alabama and a lovely woman informed me that the individual in question received the viral email on her home computer, and then inappropriately re-distributed it via her work email with the identifying information. The public affairs office emphasizes the BCBS-Alabama “does not endorse” the message at all, is instituting new rules of conduct for all employees based on this incident and will be holding training sessions for all their associates on the new code in June.  They have been overwhelmed with inquiries regarding the viral message and sincerely wish it would all go away.

The lie, meanwhile, has taken on a life of its own and will not die anytime soon.

And people continue to wonder, why is the ACA so unpopular?

John E. McDonough is a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the author of the book “Inside National Health Reform”, published in 2011, and was a senior adviser on national health reform to the US Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), where he worked on passage of the Affordable Care Act.

About these ads

From → ACA, Uncategorized

30 Comments
  1. Thanks to where we live (Cherokee County, GA) , my wife and I receive anti-Obama viral hit pieces with regularity in our personal email account. I used to get upset and still sometimes try to correct them, but it’s like swatting flies at a picnic. They just keep coming. I have concluded that there is a credulous subset of the population for whom curiosity and research has never been and will never be part of their make-up. It’s very sad. I wish I had a constructive alternative, but the challenge is harder than teaching another language.

    Incidentally, any time I come across any reference to BCBS my visceral reaction is perhaps unfair, but instantly negative. To me that is the grand-daddy of so-called non-profits. After following the health care debate for the last several years I have concluded that the so-called “not for profit” outfits (typically large local or regional icons, often church sponsored) may be the go-to place for health care wherever they are, but they are at the same time typically surrounded by a rash of profit-making operations — from individual practices to clinics to really big specialty centers (heart, ortho, cancer, etc) for which the iconic non-profit is mainly a market attraction and money laundering operation.

    Health care should not be a market commodity.

  2. Jim Matthews permalink

    I think we should all push for Peggy Riehle to get fired. People need to take responsibility for their actions. She willfully passed on information that was untrue and not checked out. In addition she added the logo of BCBS which contributes to some sort of authenticity to the viral lie. It makes me sick!

    • Frank M. Lowrey permalink

      As a BCBS policy holder, I am particularly upset by this dumb stunt by Peggy Riehle. Unfortunately, she is typical of a substantial segment of the population which is more than anxious to pass on allegations that suit their biases with no regard for accuracy. Ms Riehle certainly should be severely disciplined if not dismissed.

  3. Just received this email in our in box from our anti-Obama “acquaintances”! Sad, but this can be expected behavior for many here in Ted Nugent Country.

  4. Susan permalink

    I received that email from a friend, and promptly found the facts (not that hard to find, btw) and sent back the links to proper sources, including the actuarial tables from the 2012 report which show the projected premiums. I also found links to Fox News and Fox Business which substantiated the truth, and included those, since I figured he would give those more weight than my other (more direct) sources.

    Another cousin of mine sends these emails to about 20 family members. I was surprised that I hadn’t received this from her yet, so as a preemptive strike I sent the rebuttal email to our family email list. Other family members have already sent private “thank you” messages, so I think I shall start to rebut this garbage whenever I receive it. In the past, I’d just delete the message and not respond (partially because of lack of time, and not wanting to piss off my elders), but by not responding it appears that I am agreeing.

    Does anyone think that Ms. Peggy Riehle will send a retraction to her email contacts, and if she does, do you think they will send the retraction to their lists? HA!

  5. We should be armpit deep in UTOPIA by now following all the directives of the elitists. Ridiculous programs and laws are passed in the dark of night and through the media as “good for you and your safety” America has been gutted.
    Fact is our cities; schools and society are bankrupt lethal toilets. The intensive caring for illegal Aliens and Israel has no limits as American seniors, citizens and veterans are thrown overboard.

    A day of reckoning is sorely needed.

    The Tree of Liberty Calls. Bless anyone who will act against this tyrannical government.

    • Mr. Miller,
      Thanks for your thoughtful, specific, and well-argued response to the topic at hand, which is simply dishonest e-mails. I appreciate your wasting everyone’s time with your no-doubt divinely inspired truths. Perhaps next time you might try backing up your assertions with some data, such as on the illegal aliens supposedly covered under the ACA – that is, if it’s not too much trouble.

  6. Barry permalink

    Obama should be defending his own legislation and getting the true facts out. It would make his opponents look foolish. I always wonder what the people who blindly forward these emails think about the people who have forwarded the email to them. My goal for the last year is to call out these falsehoods and amazingly my emails have decreased.

  7. Deep South Dem permalink

    Now this claim is making the Facebook rounds in the form of a photo being distributed by a group called “The Republican Revolution”. The photo is then shared and shared and shared and shared. It is a photo of the email which includes Ms Riehle’s name, title and the BCBS Alabama logo.

    What makes me shake my head is that, somewhere there are sensible republicans who KNOW this is just another false claim but they do nothing to stop it because they are COUNTING ON the ignorance of their base to believe and share this nonsense, even if, no, ESPECIALLY if, it goes against their own best interest. I guarantee you someone could call Rush tomorrow and even though Rush would know this is BS he would allow the caller to go on the air and read this email and Rush would just say “interesting. I had not heard that….folks, I’m telling you blah blah blah commercial break”. The Republican party is the MASTER of spreading misinformation and the Dems are HORRIBLE at setting the record straight. The Republicans are so good they even came up with Fox News and declared every other news source “liberal media” who could not be believed. Like the commenter above, if you don’t have a link from Fox News then your source is immediately dismissed as “biased mainstream liberal media” who just make up lies to make the president look good. LOL THAT is what is wrong with this country, Mr. Miller.

    Barry is right, the onus is on Obama to get the facts out. Even though he knows everything he says will be massaged and spun by Rush and FOX News. I will always respect Senator McCain for his truthfulness during the 08 campaign when a supported called Obama an “arab”. McCain immediately corrected her saying “No, no ma’am, he’s a decent, family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is about.” And THAT is why the extreme right loonies dislike McCain to this day!

  8. Jim Bill permalink

    Something is wrong here. My wife and I were paying 96.40 untill 2009 when it was raised to 134.70 and back to 96.40 in 2010. Then in 2012 we are both paying 99.90 and have been told by our inrolled agent that we will pay 247.00 each in 2013. Go figure

  9. Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?

    A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog jump out.

    Please let me know where you got your design. Many thanks

  10. Hi there this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use
    WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge
    so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience.
    Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  11. It’s awesome to visit this website and reading the views of all colleagues concerning this
    piece of writing, while I am also eager of getting familiarity.

  12. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Hi-Spek Discount Code.
    Regards

  13. This is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very precise info… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  14. My brother suggested I might like this website.
    He was entirely right. This post actually made my day.
    You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  15. I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my problem.
    You are amazing! Thanks!

  16. Every weekend i used to visit this web page, because i want enjoyment, since
    this this web site conations really nice funny information too.

  17. If you desire to get much from this piece of writing then you have to
    apply such strategies to your won blog.

  18. After going over a number of the blog articles on your website, I seriously appreciate your way of blogging.
    I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my
    website as well and let me know how you feel.

  19. There are many websites which are giving you the option of
    downloading free wallpapers with high HD quality.
    Any material is usually consumed just by a living thing plus
    ingested by the organism’s structure in an effort to produce
    energy source, keep up lifetime, or possibly increase growth.
    There are physical keys for the menu, power, lock, volume, and camera.

  20. There are billions of the wallpapers are available on the internet that can be used to enhance
    the personalization. If you want to know where to
    find wallpapers like free Winter wallpapers, New Year’s wallpapers, and other free wallpapers, start
    here. They even have a resolution category that not only gives you a
    choosing of size you may need but they also give you
    a link for the wallpapers that are available in wide screen and even HD.

  21. Maybe you have produced a video or blog about steps to build an MLM chance and avoid the issues.
    Now, before you get upset and start sending me hate mail,
    allow me to explain exactly what is happening. He
    spoke extensively about his view of traditional American values.

  22. This means that members of various faiths, such as ‘Muslim, Sikh,
    Jewish and Wiccan soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen’ are now able
    to apply to receive these changes in their uniform and grooming policies.
    This type of freezing error will usually be signified by a “Spinning Beachball” icon replacing the mouse cursor.

    This article tells you where to get your coveted pictures of glorious warfare.

  23. Hello it’s me, I am also visiting this web page daily, this
    website is really good and the users are in fact sharing fastidious
    thoughts.

  24. You made some good points there. I looked on the web to learn more about
    the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.

  25. I constantly spent my half an hour to read this website’s content all the
    time along with a mug of coffee.

  26. I will immediately seize your rss feed as I can’t find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service.
    Do you’ve any? Please permit me understand in order that I could subscribe.
    Thanks.

  27. Nice weblog right here! Also your website a lot up very
    fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I get your
    affiliate hyperlink in your host? I desire my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  28. Right here is the right web site for anybody who would like to find out
    about this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually
    will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject which has been discussed for
    decades. Excellent stuff, just great!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 328 other followers

%d bloggers like this: