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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Thanks, Sarah! Americans believe the ACA has death panels

The Kaiser Family Foundation  has a 10-question online quiz about the ACA. Here are the questions that a majority of respondents answered wrongly:
  • Will the health reform law allow a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare?  - 45% correct
  • Will the health reform law cut benefits that were previously provided to all people on Medicare? - 40% correct
  • Will the health reform law require all businesses, even the smallest ones, to provide health insurance for their employees?- 25% correct
  • Will the health reform law create a new government run insurance plan to be offered along with private plans? - 27% correct [added in update -- see note at bottom]
  • Will the health reform law allow undocumented immigrants to receive financial help from the government to buy health insurance? - 42% correct [also added in update]
The second item is by current American standards a garden-variety political smear: the ACA did cut $500 million out of Medicare, but did so by cutting payments to insurers offering Medicare Advantage plans and to hospitals and other healthcare providers -- a nuance you can't expect the GOP to supply.  The third item, concerning requirements for small businesses, is by current standards a foot-fault.  But the first is appalling: 55% of respondents believe in death panels -- and those who choose to respond to a Kaiser online quiz are probably better informed than the populace as a whole. [The fourth, about the public option, is also a shocker: see note at bottom.]  

The virus that passed from pseudo-scholar Betsy McCaughey to Michele Bachmann to Sarah Palin to the GOP/Fox mainstream infected the body politic big-time.  Onward, Christianist soldiers!  The quiz, btw, would be a great fight-the-smears tool for the Obama campaign. You can't take it and read the answer sheet without learning the basic contours of the law, quickly and clearly.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum has further comment on this quiz, and in reading his post I realized that I left out one of the most egregious misconceptions: only 27% answered correctly to the question, Will the health reform law create a new government run insurance plan to be offered along with private plans? I had seen that, and meant to try to fathom it, but got pulled away and somehow left it out when finishing the post.  It recalls Romney's most egregious and long-repeated (as well as vaguest and most all-encompassing) lie about the ACA: that it's "government-controlled healthcare." I have suggested before that with this smear Romney is hacking at Obamacare's shadow limb: Romney expected the law to include a public option, as the helpful advice he offered Obama before the legislation took shape shows, and readied his attack lines accordingly.     

More broadly, Kevin outlines the forest that I missed for the trees: the questions that a majority of Americans got wrong were all focal points of the GOP misinformation campaign.

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