Amodei’s Five Parrot Performance on Health Care

Leave it to Nevada’s entry in the Karl-Rove-Look-And-Sound-Alike Contest, Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2), to keep chucking out the talking points long after the parade has turned the corner.

“ObamaCare fails to accomplish real reform and instead harms health care, job creation, and the federal deficit at a time when our country can ill-afford such government-inflicted damage.   [Amodei]

Debunk:To date, 360,000 businesses that employ 2 million workers have already benefited from the small business tax cuts in the law.  And once the Affordable Care Act takes full effect, about 18 million individuals and families will get tax credits for health insurance coverage averaging about $4,000 apiece.”  [Fact Sheet] (emphasis added)

So, what businesses might be affected? There are a few, some 2.6% of the business operations in this country, which will pay the Free Rider Penalty because they do not offer health care plans and thereby force their employees into the subsidized coverage under the insurance exchange plans.  [TNR] It’s interesting that Congressman Amodei opposes provisions in the Affordable Care Act that promote individual responsibility, and seek to minimize the number of people receiving subsidized insurance?

Attaching the unsubstantiated epithet “Job Killing” to any and all legislation to which one objects doesn’t mean it will stick.

Debunk:  About that deficit – the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation cranked out new estimates after the Supreme Court’s ruling:

“CBO and JCT now estimate that the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of $1,168 billion over the 2012–2022 period—compared with $1,252 billion projected in March 2012 for that 11-year period—for a net reduction of $84 billion. (Those figures do not include the budgetary impact of other provisions of the ACA, which in the aggregate reduce budget deficits.)”  [CBO]

The usual right wing think tanks and astro-turf organizations continue to beat the old drum head, manipulating assumptions and recalibrating the inputs to get the desired results — but, the CBO/JCT numbers are as accurate and genuinely conservative as we’re likely to get.  The current score is Affordable Care Act 1 – Amodei 0.

The next section of Amodei’s tiny tantrum is replete with talking points unsubstantiated by anything in the real world.

“ObamaCare will cause premiums to skyrocket, forcing millions of Americans off of their current coverage and putting unelected Washington bureaucrats between patients and their doctors. With respect to the uninsured, ObamaCare drives up the cost of health care and takes us further away from real solutions to improve health care access.”  [Amodei]

Debunk:  About those skyrocketing premiums?  The information from the survey on which these claims are made came from BEFORE the act was passed.  The premium reductions may not meet the President’s optimistic predictions, but ” that’s no excuse for the RNC to cherry pick a single year of data out of the Kaiser report and suggest the law, which largely has not gone into effect, is already responsible for a rise in premiums.” [Kessler]

Debunk: Forced off your coverage? No.  The HHS rules are clear on this point:

“The rule announced today preserves the ability of the American people to keep their current plan if they like it, while providing new benefits, by minimizing market disruption and putting us on a glide path toward the competitive, patient-centered market of the future.  While it requires all health plans to provide important new benefits to consumers, it allows plans that existed on March 23, 2010 to innovate and contain costs by allowing insurers and employers to make routine changes without losing grandfather status.” [DHHS] (emphasis added)

What part of “keep your current plan if you like it” is incomprehensible to Congressman Amodei?

But wait, the Congressman isn’t finished:

“According to a survey by the non-partisan Doctor Patient Medical Association, 83 percent of American physicians have considered leaving their practices over ObamaCare, which would worsen the existing doctor shortage and threaten access for those who need it most, particularly in rural areas.”

Debunk:  Really non-partisan?  That DPMA cited by Amodei is associated with the National Tea Party Federation and American Grassroots Coalition. The DPMA is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  [SourceWatch]  OK, the DPMA is about as “non-partisan” as 4th of July stump speaker, but what about the survey?

The trick to getting the results one wants is to ask a really vague question and then interpret the data to taste.  The DPMA survey was classic: “How do current changes in the medical system affect your desire to practice medicine?”  Well now — that leaves a couple of barn doors wide open for a variety of interpretations!  Whether the “current changes” are federal, state, local, regional, economic, social… is left unspecified; the results then must be equally intangible, and for purposes of credible reporting — worthless.

How many people actually responded to the survey?  The methodology is a classic study in how NOT to conduct statistically credible opinion research.  The DPMA got 36,000 clinical FAX numbers, and sent out 16,227 faxes.  Out of the 16,227 faxes only 699 were completed, for a survey response rate of a less than dazzling 4.3%.  Not only is the “result” culled from a poor response rate, but most of the actual respondents were from the South.  [MMA]

Most researchers would advocate for a much better return rate in order to maintain a statistically representative sample size. [MIP pdf]  This doesn’t mean we always toss small responses out — there are at least six major factors which may relate to response levels — however, what a really small response level does mean is  that “Nonrespondents are often different from respondents, so their absence in the final sample can make it difficult to generalize the results to the overall target population.” [Relevant Insights/Small Business] *

The methodological problems alone would get this report tossed into the medical waste receptacle at once had not Fox News and other right wing sources picked up “the story,” and thus the National Tea Party Federation fable is incorporated into Congressman Amodei’s repertoire of parroted talking points.

Debunk: The Congressman also has a bit of misleading information to impart of his own. “CBO analysis also estimates that ObamaCare could cause 20 million people to lose their employee-sponsored insurance by 2019.”  Representative Amodei has left out just one little thing — like the other 75% of the analysis by the CBO.  The CBO analysis to which he refers was one of FOUR possible scenarios explored by the CBO analysts as a “worst case” instance.  A more rational estimate might be about 3 million, some of whom may voluntarily opt out of employer sponsored insurance plans.  [Fact Check]  Congressman Amodei, who is increasingly sounding like a person who has never had an original thought, is parroting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in this instance.

Congressman Amodei is winding down when he gets to this part:

“As if these consequences were not bad enough, you hear every day in Nevada and across the country of small business owners who cannot hire and expand because of the increased regulatory costs and red tape of ObamaCare.” (emphasis added)

Debunk: We do? This would be amazing since much of the Affordable Care Act isn’t in place yet.  The insurance exchanges are just now in the works.  Some small business owners may have very reasonably waited for the outcome of the Supreme Court decision, while others may in fact need assistance getting information about getting those tax credits for providing employer sponsored plans.

Small business owners who need assistance or information will find the Internal Revenue Service’s pages of interest — in very readable and clear prose.  The Department of Health and Human Services also makes simplified fact sheets and explanatory information available.

Debunk: Finally, Representative Amodei rationalizes his vote to repeal the Patients Bill of Rights and Affordable Care Act: “It is making things worse, which is why I voted to repeal ObamaCare and will continue to work for patient-centered solutions to lower costs and to improve quality health care access for all Nevadans.

What’s a “patient centered solution?”   The phrase is the spawn of the Republican Study Committee, and is essentially a tax deduction for privately purchased health care insurance, capped at $5000 per family.  Hint: a $450 monthly premium for 12 months would be $5,400.  All those with previously existing medical conditions would be served by high risk pools — not individual or employer sponsored plans.   Not to put too fine a point to it, the Republican Study Committee proposal is a lovely gift wrapped present to the health insurance corporations of America.

And thus we have Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV) parroting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the ALEC member DMPA, Fox News and the Drudge Report, and the Republican Study Committee.  That’s a Five Parrot Performance!
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* There are some very useful resources on surveys and sampling available online.  See also:  Gardner-Bonneau, University of Michigan – Kalamazoo Medical Center, Office of Research.  Ellison Research, Sample Size Questions.  The Government of Queensland, Australia has a simplified guide to survey research that touches most of the basics.

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