Why We Believe “Myths”

This story was highlighted on Yahoo News today: “Majority of Americans Believe Health Care Reform ‘Myths.’”

More than 50 percent of Americans believe a public insurance option will increase health care costs, according to a new survey on assertions the White House has called myths.
The national survey, conducted from Aug. 14 – 18, involved a random sample of 600 Americans aged 18 and older living in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. Respondents indicated whether or not they believed 19 claims about health care reform, each of which is considered a myth by the White House.

The survey was originally reported here. In general, the “myths” are believed by many because they are true, like “Millions of Americans will lose their current health insurance.” But let’s focus on one example:

46 percent believe reforms will result in health care coverage for all illegal immigrants (66 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of Independents).

Put aside the “all” for a moment: is it a myth that illegal immigrants’ health care will be paid for if the current bill passes? The Democrats insist that it is. But, as is so often the case, the Democrats’ assurances fall apart if you actually look at the details of the House bill. Congressman Lamar Smith points to a Congressional Research Service analysis of this issue:

Open access to Insurance Exchange: HR 3200 contains no provisions preventing illegal immigrants from participating in the Health Insurance Exchange that is to be created, including the government-run “public plan” that will be available through the federally-run and federally-subsidized Exchange.
According to CRS: “Under H.R. 3200, a ‘Health Insurance Exchange’ would begin operation in 2013 and would offer private plans alongside a public option…H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitzens–whether legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently–participating in the Exchange.”
No verification mechanism: Democrats point to language in the House bill that says illegal immigrants cannot get benefits. While that may be technically accurate, it is far from the truth.
The fact is that the statement is meaningless because the bill contains no verification mechanism to ensure that illegal immigrants do not receive benefits. Democrats defeated amendments in two congressional committees to close this loophole, including amendments that would use the very same verification mechanism that already exist in statute for other federal programs. Why not include the same verification mechanisms in this bill as already exist for other federal benefits programs? Without the requirement that there be a verification mechanism or a specific verification mechanism provided in statute, the Commissioner could determine that the eligibility requirements could be met either without verification or with as little as a signed attestation.
According to CRS: “Some have expressed concerns that since H.R. 3200 does not contain a mechanism to verify immigration status, the prohibitions on certain noncitizens (e.g, nonimmigrants and unauthorized aliens) receiving the credits may not be enforced. However, others note that under §142(a)(3) of the bill, it is the responsibility of the Health Choices Commissioner (Commissioner) to administer the “individual affordability credits under subtitle C of title II, including determination of eligibility for such credits.”
Family eligibility for affordability credits: Section 242(a)(2) of the bill provides that “[e]xcept as the Commissioner may otherwise provide, members of the same family who are affordable credit eligible individuals shall be treated as a single affordable credit individual eligible for the applicable credit for such a family under this subtitle.” This suggests that if one member of a family is legally eligible, every family member will be considered eligible. This is significant in terms of numbers — the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that there are almost two million families in the United States where illegal immigrant parents have U.S.-born children. That does not include other “mixed status families” – one legal parent, one illegal parent and illegal child, etc.
According to CRS: “There could be instances where some family members would meet the definition of an eligible individual for purposes of the credit, while other family members would not. For example, in a family consisting of a U.S. citizen married to an unauthorized alien and a U.S. citizen child, the U.S. citizen spouse and child could meet the criteria for being a credit-eligible individual, while the unauthorized alien spouse would not meet the criteria. H.R. 3200 does not expressly address how such a situation would be treated. Therefore, it appears that the Health Choices Commissioner would be responsible for determining how the credits would be administered in the case of mixed-status families.”

Most Americans, like most Congressmen, haven’t read the House bill. But Americans’ skepticism about what the effects of the Democrats’ legislation will be is amply justified.
Via The Corner.

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