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The New York Times reported Wednesday that a large majority of people who signed up for Obamacare have paid their premiums on time. While these numbers vary based on the state and the type of plan, The Times says around 80 percent of those who signed up are paying, which is required for insurance coverage to start.

And, just like that, another Republican talking point about the Affordable Care Act has been debunked.

This idea that Obamacare beneficiaries would not pay their premiums, effectively dooming the young law, is in good company. A number of Republican talking points about Obamacare have bitten the dust recently. From the completely outlandish — death panels, government-funded abortions, etc. — to the notion that the Obama administration would never hit its enrollment target, they’ve ranged in viability, but have all nonetheless evaporated.

Here’s a look back at five anti-Obamacare talking points that have inevitably been disproved.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

No One Will Sign Up 

Ted Cruz Tea Party

The line was repeated ad nauseam by Republican detractors of the president. But — not surprisingly — saying it over and over didn’t make it come true.

There was the time House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said: “Above all, this report is a symbol of the failure of the president’s health care law… It is a rolling calamity that must be scrapped,” after the initial low enrollment numbers were released. Or when Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted: “106,185 people enrolled in Obamacare. 108,713 attended the 2010 NBA All-Star Game in Cowboys Stadium. .”

At the end of March, the White House released enrollment numbers that exceeded its initial goal of seven million. By the end of the first open enrollment period, signups were skyrocketing, eventually closing at above eight million.

Still, this hasn’t stopped some conservative pundits from questioning the success of the law. Charles Krauthammer, for example, now subscribes to the conspiracy theory that the numbers were fabricated by the administration.

“These guys go six months without any idea what the numbers are, and all of a sudden it’s to a decimal point,” Krauthammer actually said on television.

AFP Photo/Andrew Burton

A Lack Of Young People Will Cause A ‘Death Spiral’ 

This one had all the ingredients of a good GOP talking point: plausibility, an appeal to business thinkers, and a snappy catchphrase like “death spiral.” But these elements didn’t make it a reality.

Obamacare’s death spiral would occur, conservatives posited, because the number of old and sick people who signed up for coverage would not be offset by young, healthy people also signing up through the exchanges, causing premiums to rise and the entire program to spiral down the drain. But, thanks to the way the law was written, the so-called death spiral was never likely. And now it’s clear that health premiums are on pace to increase at the same rate as they were prior to the law being passed.

Furthermore, the final enrollment numbers show that 28 percent of those who enrolled via the federal exchange were between the ages of 18 and 34. While this number of “young invincibles” fell short of the administration’s initial target, it should be more than sufficient to prevent the law from collapsing.

Millions Will Lose Their Health Insurance

Henry Waxman

This talking point, which perhaps reached its pinnacle when Newsmax reported that 100 million people could lose insurance under Obamacare, was largely disproved by a paper prepared for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The paper concluded that a grand total of 10,000 individuals, in just one state, would lose coverage and not have a viable option to replace their health care plan.

“The assertion that the law will cause five million individuals who currently have coverage in the individual market to go without coverage in 2014 is baseless,” the report read. “Of the reported 4.7 million people who receive cancellation notices, 2.35 million should have the option to renew their 2013 coverage. An additional 1.4 million should be eligible for tax credits through the marketplaces or Medicaid, which will provide them more comprehensive coverage at lower rates. Of the remaining individuals, only 10,000 individuals in 18 counties in a single state would be unable to access a catastrophic plan, and many of these individuals may sign up for coverage through their state exchange.”

Furthermore, under the new law, the uninsured rate in the United States has dropped, according to a recent Gallup poll. According to the poll, the April 2014 uninsured rate is down 1.6 percent from March and currently sits at 13.4 percent. That is also the lowest number Gallup has ever found since they began tracking the rate in 2008.

 Photo: Charlie Kaijo via Flickr


Death Panels 

This one, advanced by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, was certainly a whopper. So much so, in fact, that it was granted the title of “Lie of the Year” by PolitFact in 2009.

The death panel idea originated from a provision in the initial Affordable Care Act that would allow Medicare to pay for doctors and patients to discuss living wills and end-of-life treatment. To Palin, this was tantamount to the government holding a death panel to decide whether or not senior citizens are allowed to live.

Palin’s campaign, while ridiculous, did have important political ramifications: In 2011, the Obama administration deleted all references to “end-of-life” care from the provision in the bill.

Premium Prices Will Soar 

Health Care Premium

The final talking point is somewhat connected to the previously discussed “death spiral,” but deserves its own recognition. This one, offered again and again by Republican pundits like Sean Hannity, holds that insurance premiums for businesses and individuals will rise at an exponential rate because of the health care overhaul. Double-digit increases in health care premiums were expected by the right. It was going to be a disaster, they assured.

Well, disaster averted.

According to the USA Today, insurance rates are slated to rise by about 7 percent next year — similar to the rise expected without the Affordable Care Act.

“The double-rate increases we’ve been hearing are probably exaggerated,” Dave Axene, a fellow with the Society of Actuaries, told USA Today. “That’s not what we’re seeing from the actuarial organizations — I guess we’re being a little bit more optimistic.”  

Image via The Kaiser Family Foundation

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Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.