Fact Check: AFP's "Just Exempt Me" ad attacking Hagan
Americans for Prosperity's ad attacking Sen. Kay Hagan for her support of the Affordable Care Act repeats a previously debunked assertion.Posted — Updated
AFP's 30-second spots spends about eight seconds on a introduction praising women's role in the economy and not making much by way of a factual assertion. It then pivots with "But Kay Hagan just doesn't get it."
"Instead of listening to North Carolina, Hagan continues to push for Obamacare."
As mentioned above, Hagan hasn't shied away from saying that the Affordable Care Act will be a good thing in the long run. AFP touts the fact that Hagan voted against proposals to "de-fund" the health care law, which is consistent with her vote for the bill. The question this raises is whether she's not listening to North Carolina – and who exactly constitutes "North Carolina."
The closest proxy we might have for the collective consciousness of North Carolina's body politic is public opinion polling.
"Hagan supports waivers for friends of Obama and special treatment for Congress and their staffs."
It's unclear who AFP might consider "friends of Obama," and backup material provided by the organization does not address this part of the claim.
However, there have been assertions that the administration has granted somewhere between 1,100 and 1,200 exemptions to friends of the president. These claims have largely been rated as bogus by other fact-checking organizations.
As to claim Congress is somehow getting special treatment, this has also been debunked. To understand why, it's helpful to know that the members of Congress and their staff have long participated in the federal employee health plan. As many private-sector employers do, the federal government subsidized that coverage.
"The subsidy referred to is the government continuing to share the cost of insurance premiums, as is standard practice in every establishment that offers insurance to its workers. There is nothing special about that," wrote PolitiFact in a recent evaluation of the claim.
Private-sector employers are taking similar actions, writes Patrick Brennan, an associate editor at the conservative National Review.
"While Trader Joe’s, for instance, is discontinuing its health insurance plan for part-time employees, the company will be giving each of them $500 a year, which sounds like a pittance. But when it is combined with the subsidies that low-wage employees like these will receive, coverage on the exchanges will actually cost most employees less out-of-pocket than what they got from their employer," he writes.
"The issue is not the subsidy (which, as you point out, is effectively provided by many corporate health insurance plans) but the OPM’s special rule which is created out of thin air to allow Congress access to the DC SHOP, an opportunity not available to other large organizations (which face the same issues as Congress, and which would likely benefit from access to a small business exchange)," Nicholson wrote in an email.
Now, it's worth noting that stories AFP linked to in their original backup explicitly made the subsidy argument and did not mention DC SHOP, and argument that doesn't appear to have been made elsewhere.
By way of background, D.C. Shop is an ACA exchange designed to handle traffic from businesses within the District of Columbia. Bigger firms, those with over 50 people, won't be able to access that exchange until 2017. Presumably, most of those big firms will be keeping their employer sponsored health plans in place.
AFP is now arguing that because Congress is allowing its employees to buy insurance on that exchange they are getting a special benefit not available to others.
Of course, Congressmen and their staff are in something of a unique position to begin with. No other employer in the nation was forced to do away with its employer-sponsored health plan as Congress was.
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