ObamaStillCares: Top Ten Lies About the Affordable Care Act

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Ask anyone what the biggest political controversy is of President Obama’s presidency: you’ll hear a few people talk about Benghazi and the NSA will inevitably come up. But it’s pretty safe to say that the majority of respondents will reference the Affordable Care Act. Otherwise known as ObamaCare, the ACA has been a huge talking point for partisan politics. And like with any hugely-partisan issue, lies abound. Here are the top 10 lies being told about the ACA:

10. 8.2 million Americans can’t find full-time work because of ObamaCare
Who Told it: The RNC and multiple Republican politicians, including John Boehner and Eric Cantor.

Why it’s a lie: The RNC looked at the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s figures this summer. They report the amount of people who are working a part-time job and would like to be working full time. What they do not report is why these workers are working a part time job….in fact there’s literally nothing about the Affordable Care Act in these statistics. Awesome unfair extrapolation RNC, you go.

9. “Obamacare contains an ‘abortion surcharge and a secrecy clause’ that forces ‘pro-life Americans…to pay for other people’s abortions.” 
Who told it: Rep Chris Smith (R-NJ)

Why it’s a lie: If you don’t want abortion coverage, you don’t choose one of the plans that includes abortion coverage. States are required to offer plans with and without the provision. If a woman chooses to have abortion coverage, she pays a separate fee into a separate account so that no federal dollars support abortion services. Every American has the option to choose a plan that does not give to abortion coverage.

8. Obamacare will add $6 trillion to the deficit.
Who told it: Rep George Holding (R-NC)

This was the time the same Rep fell asleep in Congress.

Why it’s a lie: Because the Affordable Care Act won’t raise the deficit at all, as projected by the CBO. In fact, it will reduce the deficit. Go back to sleep, Rep Holding.

These next couple examples will come from a category I like to call “things that happened on Fox News that aren’t true.”

7. A woman named Allison Denijs went on the Sean Hannity show and claimed that Obamacare would cost her more, and wouldn’t contain insurance for her daughter with a preexisting condition. 

Who said it: It was part of a segment on Sean Hannity’s show meant to show that “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck.”

Why it’s a lie: Stories like this are popping up on conservative outlets all across the country. But the case is that these stories aren’t actually true. Let’s look specifically at Ms. Denijs’s story. Her family currently pays $13,000 to purchase their own insurance, and then another $600 a month to cover their daughter with a preexisting condition. But under Obamacare, preexisting conditions are no longer an issue. A reporter who interviewed her found that she had never even looked at the exchange, and that she could find almost the exact same plan for just $7600 a year through the exchange.

6. On the same program, a man named Paul Cox claimed that he had to cut back on employee’s hours at his small construction business. 
Who said it: It was part of a segment on Sean Hannity’s show meant to show that “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck.”

 Why it’s a lie: The same Slate journalist who followed up on the Denijs’ story found that Mr. Cox only has 4 employees. Remember, Obamacare only applies to small businesses with 49 employees or more. This was the result of Slate’s interview with Cox: ” Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been forced to do so, it’s just that I’ve chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs.” What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he’d call me back. He never did.”

5. Congress and the President are exempt from Obamacare. 
Who told it: Lots and lots of people. I’ll choose to harp on Rep Steve Scalise (R-LA) though.

Why it’s a lie: The ACA provides insurance for people who don’t already have it through employers. Congress provides insurance to its staffers and members. So in a sense, they are exempt, it’s just the same way that most Americans are. They do not need to use the exchanges to find insurance because they already have it.

On the note of people being exempt….

4. Muslims, Amish, and some other religious groups are exempt from the law. 

Who said it: A few different sources, but it mainly came from a chain email/Facebook/meme that claims that the word “Dhimmitude” is contained in the ACA text. It claims that Dhimmitude is the “Muslim system of controlling non-Muslin populations conquered through jihad (Holy War). Specifically, it is the TAXING of non-Muslims in exchange for tolerating their presenceAND as a coercive means of converting conquered remnants to Islam!”. It also claims that “Muslims are specifically exempted from the government mandate to purchase insurance and also from the penalty tax for being uninsured! Islam considers insurance to be “gambling,” “risk-taking,” and “usury” and is thus banned. Muslims are specifically granted exemption based on this.”

Why it’s a lie: There is a “religious conscience” exemption in the ACA. But it’s not based on a religion as a whole, rather a specific sect. For example, Amish might be exempt because they have established a history of making their own provisions. Self-employed Amish, don’t, in fact, pay Social Security taxes because they don’t collect Social Security benefits. They are self-sufficient. Muslims in the US are required to have the insurances as everyone else, for example, car insurance. They do not have the same kind of history as Amish groups, so they most likely wouldn’t meet this exemption.

3. It’s possible to go to jail if you don’t pay for insurance under Obamacare. 
Who said it: On Fox and Friends on October 28th, Brian Kilmeade stated that young people will either get insurance or pay the penalty “in order to avoid prison time or whatever ramifications.”

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Why it’s a lie: There is a penalty in place if you don’t have insurance through an employer and don’t get it through the exchanges or some other means–$90 or 1% of income. However, there is specifically no criminal penalty–meaning it’s impossible to go to prison. (Unless of course, you don’t pay any of your taxes, but that’s a whole different story.) Here’s what the ACA says:

In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.

2. President Obama lied when he said “If you like your coverage you can keep it.”
Who said it: Everyone. I’m not kidding. Everyone.

Why it’s a lie: So this one is tricky. Obama did, multiple times, say if you like your coverage, you can keep it. Multiple times. And the thing is, that’s not completely true. If you like your coverage, but your coverage covers absolutely nothing, then you cannot keep it. The purpose of the ACA is to make sure that every single person in the United States has affordable, adequate healthcare that won’t lead to bankruptcy if a medical emergency occurs. If you’re a healthy youngish adult, it’s completely possible to get an insurance plan that stays great if you’re healthy, but bankrupts you if something happens. So, some people won’t be able to keep their plans, because their plans are bare-bones pieces of crap from the insurance companies that barely cover a paper cut. Was it correct of Obama to say that everyone can keep their plans? No. And he deserves all the political backlash he’s receiving for that. But, does forcing people to get adequate coverage hurt anyone? Absolutely, not. It’s good for those people, it’s good for the economy, and chances are it might even be cheaper. Remember to look for the silver lining, people.

1. Obamacare is the worst thing to happen to the US since slavery.
Who said it: Dr. Ben Carson during the Value Voters Summit.

Why it’s a lie: To channel the always amazing Amy Poehler: REALLY? Really, Dr. Ben Carson, since slavery? To begin, how could you ever consider comparing a bill intended to provide healthcare to everyone to enslaving other humans. That’s not apples vs. oranges, that’s kittens vs. demons. Also, I know that a lot of us slept through US History, but this country has done a lot of horrible, horrible things since slavery. We’ve had half a dozen wars, Japanese-American internment, dropping nuclear bombs on other nations, and now I’m too angry to think of any more. But seriously, Dr. Ben Carson, how did that ever seem like a good comparison?

And I know I’m supposed to be done now, but for anyone else who wants to get really angry today, let’s remember that a very large percentage of Americans don’t even know what the ACA is. Need I remind you of this Jimmy Kimmel video?

That’s it, I’m done.

Anneliese Mahoney (@AMahoney8672) is Lead Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at

Featured image courtesy of [LaDawna Howard via Flickr]

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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