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Obamacare Jobs

Even before President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act was launched in October 2013, Republican critics of the law had already begun spinning stories to discredit it.

Over the past several months, GOP lawmakers and outside groups have focused their tales on health insurance plan cancelation letters and lost coverage for millions, forced enrollment in unaffordable plans and layoffs resulting from insurance plans employers could not or refused to pay for.

While ads bemoaning the disastrous effects of the law blanketed the airwaves, closer examination of these anti-Obamacare claims revealed that in many cases, Republicans’ arguments and ads were merely fictional “horror stories.”

Read on to learn five anti-Obamacare myths that the GOP – and the Koch brothers — wish had never been debunked.

AFP Photo/David McNew

The Paid Actress

One November ad from the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity turned out to be just 80 minutes short of a fictional movie.

In the ad, a woman criticizes Alaska senator Mark Begich (D) for his support of health care reform. She claims that Alaska residents “are even losing their jobs” over the law, states that “Senator Begich didn’t listen,” and then asks: “How can I ever trust him again?” The problem with the ad: This passionate and distraught woman is not an Alaska resident at all, but a Maryland-based actress named Connie Bowman. The revelation that this “Alaska voter” is actually a Maryland actress with closer ties to voiceovers and print ad appearances than to Alaska erases any integrity this ad may have had.

Video: Americans for Prosperity via YouTube

Louisiana, According To Out-Of-State Actors

Gearing up for the 2014 midterm elections has sent AFP into full-force anti-Obamacare attack mode, prompting a fury of shaky ads against the ACA and its Democratic supporters. In February, an AFP ad aimed at Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) used paid actors — who do not live in Louisiana — to make the not-so-true point that Louisiana families were hurting because of Obamacare. Besides not being able to prove that Louisiana residents were actually not benefiting from health care reform, Think Progress points out that in Louisiana — the state with the fifth highest rate of uninsured Americans — “nearly 33,000 people had enrolled in new Obamacare plans by the end of January.”

Video: Americans for Prosperity via YouTube

Republicans Are Victims, Too

After facing criticism for its slew of ads featuring paid actors, AFP released what should have been a more credible ad, featuring legitimate Obamacare victims.

Instead, in two similar ads released in February, AFP featured two Republican activists, Donna Marzullo – the wife of the vice chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, J.P. Marzullo – and Helen DePrima, a conservative New Hampshire resident and Ted Cruz (R-TX) supporter who has called for the ACA’s repeal. Marzullo claims her previous plan was canceled because of Obamacare, but forgets to add that this canceled plan will still be in effect until November 2014. This may explain why Marzullo cannot, as she laments, go to the doctor or hospital of her choice under Obamacare: She still doesn’t have a plan under Obamacare, by her own choosing.

Meanwhile, DePrima is suspiciously vague when she declares, “Some of my medications may not be covered” – how odd that someone so affected by the ACA would not definitively know whether or not her medication is covered.

Videos: Americans for Prosperity via YouTube

The “Unaffordable” Plan

Also in February, AFP sponsored an ad that featured a Michigan cancer survivor, Julia Boonstra, who says that prior to the ACA’s implementation, she had a “wonderful doctor and a great health care plan.” Once her plan was canceled under the ACA, Boonstra enrolled in a new plan that she says is “unaffordable” — and its “out-of-pockets are high.”

However, a fact check conducted by The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler found that AFP intentionally failed to distinguish between Boonstra’s out-of-pocket costs and the actual price of her health care plan. In fact, her new plan cut her monthly premiums by $529, and also allowed her to keep her doctor.

Boonstra later admitted she does not actually know what she is paying for in her new plan. Documentation offered by AFP to validate the ad asserted only that her hypothetical future out-of-pocket costs are “unaffordable” — not that her plan is. AFP also neglected to calculate the actual value of a specific hypothetical out-of-pocket cost after deducting the money Boonstra saves monthly under her new plan, which then could have been compared to the value of same-purpose out-of-pocket costs that she faced under her previous insurance plan, before her monthly premiums dropped.

Finally, this ad also failed to include one of Obamacare’s main provisions: an out-of-pocket maximum of $6,350 for covered expenses under an individual plan – expenses that are fully covered after the individual reaches that amount; even if Boonstra pays out of pocket “20 percent” of the time, as she claims, she will eventually match $6,350 and will no longer be responsible for out-of-pocket costs on any expense even partially covered in her plan.

Video: Americans for Prosperity via YouTube

The Lost Jobs

Representative Thom Tillis (R-NC) aired an attack ad against his 2014 challenger, Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), in February, featuring the caption: “Congressional Budget Office estimates 2 million lost jobs due to Obamacare.” The claim that 2 million jobs will be lost because of the ACA is so bogus, however, that even fellow GOP colleague and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) clarified that the CBO’s claim of “2.5 million jobs” lost by 2024 could be attributed to several factors — not just because “employers are laying people off.” Talking Points Memo also notes that “most of that drop… would be the result of Americans choosing not to work.”

Video: Thom Thillis via YouTube

Donald Trump in El Paso

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

The city of El Paso, Texas, announced on Tuesday that it had hired a law firm to collect on $569,204 it is still owed by Donald Trump's presidential campaign for costs associated with a February 2019 rally.

"A lot of us have been concerned about this outstanding invoice, about the amount of money that is owed to us by the Trump campaign," said local Rep. Peter Svarzbein said during a city council meeting.

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