Nov 16, 2009

The newest GOP lie on health care reform: five years in prison

Just when you think you have heard all the Republican lies about health care, they roll out another one to debunk.

The newest lie is that there is a provision in the historic Affordable Health Care for America Act passed earlier this month that - get this - where you will get five years in prison for not buying government approved insurance. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the rightwing echo chamber has picked up on it, and even local blogs like the Republican Michigander are pushing that lie.

They have used the lie of death panels, illegal aliens will be provided free health care at taxpayer’s expense or a government official will make medical decisions. Even Mike Rogers is making the false claim and scaring senior citizens who love Medicare by telling them the lie that they will lose Medicare if the bill passes. That contradicts the earlier lie by Michigan Republican Chair Ron Weiser that passage of the bill will cancel all private health insurance and put everyone on Medicare.

Which lie is it? How can Americans be on Medicare if Rogers said we will lose it? But the jail lie is the newest false talking point, but I somehow doubt it will be the last one.

The simple fact is that the penalty under the House health care reform bill for failure to purchase insurance is a tax, not jail time.

Section 501 of the House health care reform bill provides that an individual must be "covered by acceptable coverage at all times." If a person does not have acceptable health care coverage, Section 501 imposes a tax on that person "not to exceed the applicable national average premium."

Now, I understand that the larger the pool the cheaper the cost is, and that people who are not covered costs all of us, but I’m not sure I like the idea of mandating health insurance. It bothers me for auto insurance. This is something that needs to be debated with facts, not lies like jail time for not doing it.

Rightwing bloggers are claiming that the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation reported that the bill describes the penalties as follows:

• Section 7203 — misdemeanor willful failure to pay is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

• Section 7201 — felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.

There is a slight problem with that false claim: there is no Section 7203 or 7201 in the health care bill. It is in the IRS code. Non-profit and nonpartisan backs that up, and it points out it’s the maximum penalty for not paying the tax.

Fact check says, “the majority of delinquent taxes and penalties are collected through the civil process," without resort to criminal penalties. Prison terms are relatively rare. Imprisonment would require the government to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the tax evasion was "willful" and the accused had the ability to pay.”

Is there any lie the Republicans will not float to protect the huge profits of the insurance industry and keep more than 50 million of Americans without insurance coverage, millions more undercover and millions more an illness away from bankruptcy?


Republican Michigander said...

Who the hell died and made Annenberg Factcheck the arbiter of what is "true?"

The bottom line is this. Americans are fined if they don't play ball with the feds mandatory insurance policy which makes government and the insurance industry rich. If they don't pay or can't afford to pay the fine which for bill purposes, is a tax, they are subject to provisions in the tax code where they could go to prison.

If this bill does not become law, they are not subject to prison. If it is, they are subject to prison time for not playing ball with the feds.

No matter what you or Mr. Obama's Annenberg buddies say otherwise.

Communications guru said...

And it matters because? The bottom line is everything they say is true, and you cannot dispute or debunk it. The insurance industry is already rich. Giving them some competition and making them live up to their obligations will lower the cost and ensure people are properly covered.

But that has nothing to do with the fact that again you got caught lying. I can’t see any reason for not being able to pay. If they are below a certain income threshold - $9,350 for singles, $18,700 for couples - it will not apply. Even the IRS code says they will not do prison time unless the government proves beyond a reasonable doubt, that the tax evasion was "willful" and the accused had the ability to pay. Note the words “ability to pay.”

President Obama has nothing to do with Annenberg.

Since you ignored me when I debunked your lie on your blog, I’ll ask again:

When can I expect a retraction, or at the very least a correction?

Johnny C said...

Now Guru we should admit that facts and truth have a well known liberal bias.

Communications guru said...

You’re right. The only unbiased source is Faux “news.”