Morning Joe Allows Democrats to Perpetuate "24 Million Will Lose Insurance" Lie Without Challenge

I watch two cable television shows because most of cable news is a crapfest of yelling, screaming, and stupidity. Two exceptions (for me anyway) are ‘Morning Joe’ on MSNBC and ‘The Five’ on Fox News (Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld are two Fox News personalities that don’t parrot Trumpism).

Today I was watching Morning Joe and getting livid when Democrats made comments about the Republican legislation that repeals some of Obamacare and replaces it with other options. Democrats continue to repeat a false claim that came out of the CBO scoring of the first American Healthcare Act Congress drafted earlier this year.

Here is Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio saying it:

“Kicking 24 million people off their health care.”

Later on, Congressman Seth Moulton was a guest and repeated it:

“24 million people losing coverage….”

The statements are false, and somebody on the show, Willie Geist or Joe Scarborough should know better and challenge them on the declarations, not nod along and agree.

Where does the 24 million figure originate? The Congressional Budget Office (Note: The CBO hasn’t officially scored the new bill. Ryan and Moulton are basing their comments on the AHCA, not the current bill though they are very similar and when I quote from the CBO, I am referencing the scoring they did for the AHCA). The problem is, the CBO never says anything about 24 million people being “kicked off” or “losing” health insurance coverage. The CBO report says the total number of individuals under the GOP plan would eventually be 24 million fewer than under Obamacare.”

A good portion of that number comes from people who will choose not to purchase a plan without a mandate to do so. From the CBO report:

“CBO and [the Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.”

The part of the equation is Medicaid:

“The reductions in insurance coverage between 2018 and 2026 would stem in large part from changes in Medicaid enrollment—because some states would discontinue their expansion of eligibility, some states that would have expanded eligibility in the future would choose not to do so, and per-enrollee spending in the program would be capped. In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.”

Take the 52 million figure, subtract the 28 million and that is where they get to the 24 million figure.

Of course, it is easy to debate that figure and the GOP plan, but it is a flat out lie to say 24 million people will be “kicked off” or “lose” insurance plans they never had to start. The CBO’s numbers are based on projections that cannot take into consideration, human behavior. The CBO cannot guarantee who will and will not sign up for a health insurance plan. They don’t know for sure what states will do with Medicaid.

All of it is open to debate and Republicans should certainly be challenged on their plan and what they will do to bridge the gap for costs when healthier people choose to forgo coverage, thereby reducing the pool of money used to pay out when needed.

However, it’s impossible to have a debate when the starting point is based on a lie. It’s incumbent upon hosts such as Willie Geist and Joe Scarborough not to just accept what a guest is saying is true without challenging them.

What would Tim Ryan and Seth Moulton say when confronted with the fact their statement is untrue?

We don’t know because nobody asked them.