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Fri Jul 6, 2012, 07:53 PM

Stupid media, whether it's called a "penalty" or a "tax" is a distraction

I doubt most people really care whether you call the individual mandate part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) a "tax" or a "penalty." They probably care a lot more whether they'll have to pay it or not so here are the facts that the bickering pundits never mention.

When the individual mandate part of the ACA goes into affect in 2014 the only people who will be required to pay the penalty-tax are those who can afford health insurance but refuse to buy it. Why some people wouldn't purchase something that everyone should want so they won't have to pay the outrageous full-price cost of health care is beyond me. Regardless, they are clearly being irresponsible and if they happen to get sick or injured in an accident, and they can't pay their medical bills, then those costs are passed on to consumers and everybody pays a little more. That's why some people are calling them "free-riders."

The vast majority of the American people will be exempt from the mandate penalty-tax and many without insurance will either get greatly reduced health care costs through Medicaid or they will receive tax credits to help them buy a plan. If the cost of the lowest available plan is greater than 8% of income there is no penalty for not having coverage. There are additional hardship and religious exclusions and you won't pay the penalty-tax if you are without insurance for less than three months in a year. People who make up to 133% of the poverty line - for a household of two adults and one child, this would be $23,344 - will be eligible for Medicaid at no cost. Families that make up to 400% of the poverty line - for a household of two adults and one child, this would be $70,208 - will be eligible for some form of discounted insurance rate, scaled to their income. According to a report from Families USA, 28.6 million Americans, most of them middle-class, will receive tax cuts due to entering health care exchanges and receiving affordability credits. Most of those eligible for these tax credits will probably take advantage and buy coverage. Every reasonable person wants health insurance for themselves and their family don't they? Of course, if you already have insurance then you will not pay the penalty-tax.

The number of people who will pay the penalty-tax is relatively small.  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates between 4-6 million Americans will end up paying the penalty-tax. That will be less than 2% of the U.S. population. In Massachusetts, under a nearly identical mandate plan passed by Mitt Romney, less than 1% of  state residents paid the penalty-tax. This is not nearly the "massive tax increase" as Republicans are claiming because so few will ever pay it.

Our pathetic media will continue to play this "penalty or tax" game because that's a lot easier (and more entertaining?) than getting into the details of what this health care reform law actually does. I believe they are engaged in a dangerous narrative because the focus is off the benefits of the law and they are making people think that everyone will be paying either a "penalty" or a "tax." Even MSNBC is distracted by this unnecessary debate over semantics. If only some of the facts mentioned above were reported more by the media then maybe the popularity of the PPACA would increase. Then again, I recently saw that almost half of Americans surveyed didn't even know the Supreme Court had upheld Obamacare as constitutional. I don't know if that's the media's fault or pure apathy, probably both.

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Reply Stupid media, whether it's called a "penalty" or a "tax" is a distraction (Original post)
RedStateLiberal Jul 2012 OP
unblock Jul 2012 #1
ladym55 Jul 2012 #2

Response to RedStateLiberal (Original post)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 08:04 PM

1. it's a classic example of how right-wingers successfully choose the topic and frame the debate.

they hit the jackpot with this one.

hey, let's focus on the single least popular aspect of the law and argue about whether it's "bad" for obama or "sucky" for obama!

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Response to RedStateLiberal (Original post)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 08:25 PM

2. And if we keep up the empty debate

it helps all the whispery commercials from Americans for Progress claiming that Obama just passed the BIGGEST TAX HIKE IN HISTORY.

Lie much?

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