PolitiFact Claim Based on Faulty Assumption

politifactby James A. Bacon

In a recent survey asking people if they supported or opposed Medicaid expansion in Virginia, Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Weyers Cave, made what PolitiFactVirginia reporter Sean Gorman regarded as a fallacious statement:

While expansion would enroll up to 400,000 currently uninsured Virginians in Medicaid, it could cost the Commonwealth of Virginia over $1 billion per year, forcing cuts to other key services like education, mental health and public safety.

Landes’ estimate rests on the “eye-popping” supposition that the federal government might one day renege on its commitment to pay 90% of the cost of expansion, as provided in the Affordable Care Act, wrote Gorman Monday. “But this is pure speculation on his part. There’s no effort in Congress now to cut the federal share at all, let alone by the proportion Landes suggests.”

The burden of proof rests on Landes to back up his statement with facts, Gorman says, “and he comes up short. We rate his claim False.”

Incredibly, Gorman failed to notice that Republicans in Congress succeeded in passing a bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act, which President Obama salvaged with a veto Friday. Here’s what House Speaker Paul Ryan had to say:

The idea that Obamacare is the law of the land for good is a myth. This law will collapse under its own weight, or it will be repealed. Because all those rules and procedures Senate Democrats have used to block us from doing this? That’s all history. We have now shown that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate. So, next year, if we’re sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law.

What would happen if Virginia enacted Medicaid expansion and a Republican administration and Congress then repealed it, thus eliminating federal funding for the program? Virginia would face the choice of either abandoning the program it had just enacted, throwing the health care market into turmoil, or continuing to fund the expansion itself.

Please note that Landes did not say that Medicaid expansion “will” increase state funding by $1 billion a year, he said that it “could.” Who will win the 2016 presidential election? While Las Vegas odds give Hillary Clinton the edge, they concede that a Republican has a solid shot at making it to the White House. The scenario that I just laid out — and very possibly the one that Landes was thinking about — very well could happen, and it would be reckless to ignore the possibility.

There are logical reasons for supporting Medicaid expansion — hundreds of thousands of Virginians still lack health coverage, we’re already paying for the expansion through other taxes under the Affordable Care Act, even if Virginia doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity, so why not? — but those are separate issues that must be considered on their own merits.

As for proclaiming Landes’s statement outright false, Gorman was seriously remiss in ignoring the political reality that the Republican Party remains ferociously opposed to Obamacare and likely will repeal it if it takes power in Washington next year. His analysis comes up short. I rate his claim False.

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23 responses to “PolitiFact Claim Based on Faulty Assumption”

  1. Les Schreiber Avatar
    Les Schreiber

    The Republicans always say repeal and replace. What will the replacement look like. Its tough to make any comment until we know what the replacement is.

    1. Interesting question, Les. But, as Crazy JD notes below, irrelevant to this particular post. In previous posts, I have highlighted some proposals that Republicans have proffered for reforming health care at the state level.

  2. Les,

    What you have posted is a subset of the informal fallacy of “irrelevancy”, namely “diversion”. Some might call it misdirection. Jim makes no comment about whether Obamacare should be repealed or replaced. Instead, he criticizes Politifact for not taking certain facts into account in analyzingLandes’ remarks. You respond by talking about how the Republicans (impliedly) haven’t come up with their own plan to replace Obamacare. That’s called diversion. Your comments are totally irrelevant to the thrust of Jim’s comments. You can do better. Why not comment on whether (implied in his comments) Politifact is a tool of the left, which of course it is?

    1. Crazy, it’s really nice to have someone on this blog who appreciates Aristotelian logic.

      1. Yeh, all fine and good. Let’s see if Les responds. Somehow I doubt that any response will address my post. But I could be wrong; maybe he’ll do some work to figure it out.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    the fallacy is the dishonesty and hypocrisy of those who suppose the Feds won’t fund the Medicaid Expansion but will continue to fund the current MedicAid or for that matter – highways, education and other Fed funded things.

    The GOP did not de-fund Obamacare. What they did was take away the premium tax credits – but kept the underlying taxes. That’s how they could use reconciliation – because by keeping most of the original taxes – they actually reduce the deficit.

    If they had cut all the Obamacare funding – it would have increased the deficit – and they could not use reconciliation.

    so the GOP never intended to do anything other than a “show” vote – as they have done the several dozen times before.

    and yes – it does matter – if they say something is bad and should be repealed and they have no replacement -AND they LIE about the premise behind turning down MedicAid Expansion.

    The GOP are total losers when it comes to what they actually plan to do for health care, immigration, entitlements, .. they have no plan… just rhetoric… and you got to vote them into office to find out what they will do.. cuz they’re not about to tell you ahead of time and actually run on that promise.

    In Va – they wash their hands of 400,000 people without access to basic health care – and do what? blame it on the Feds for them doing -nothing… what is the GOP plan for the 400,000 in Va without health care? so yes Crazy – it’s DIVERSION.. don’t be accoutable for what you want to do -nope – blame it on others.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    In Va , we have 400,000 working folks – who have jobs – relying on charity care and who are at risk for getting sick, losing their jobs and requiring even more entitlements.

    what is the Va GOP plan for dealing with this other than blame the Feds?

    1. Larry, I’ve told you the plan. You don’t like the plan. But please don’t pretend there isn’t one.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    no – you have told me your “ideas”.

    I want to know what the legislative plan is to deal with the 400,000.

    we don’t need “ideas” – we need real proposals that are going to go forward – get voted on – and implemented.

    I asked what the GOP plan was not your personal ideas.

    or lets be honest – the current GOP plan is to do nothing – blame the Feds for what they might not fund in the future.

    totally dishonest and totally hypocritical.

    so what’s new with the GOP these days?

    why would you support that approach?

  6. So, Larry, what’s your “plan” to avoid getting slammed with $1 billion a year if the GOP in Washington repeals Obamacare. Would you raise taxes or cut spending? I don’t want miserable, stinkin’ “ideas,” I want a detailed proposal of exactly how you would handle the situation!!!

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    It’s the SAME PLAN if Congress cuts money for other programs currently funded.

    the SAME PLAN -Jim.

    WHY in the world would you turn down money now on the premise that it might not be available in the future?

    what kind of sense does that make?

    and worse that that – how dishonest and disingenuous is it to use that argument for only ONE of dozens of funding streams ?

    TAKE THE MONEY – if it gets cut later by a bunch of feckless idiots who would cut it without an alternative plan to replace it – it is NO DIFFERENT than if it got cut arbitrarily – the result is the same.

    If Congress decides to cut other entitlements – say the money for Original MedicAid what would we do ? We’d cut our programs in response – which is what we have ALWAYS done when programs are cut.

    NEVER have we refused to take money on the PREMISE that funding MIGHT be cut in the future.

    How can YOU support such an ignorant argument? How do you justify signing on to this kind of hypocritical idiocy?

    Come on Jim – you can be a principled Conservative WITHOUT signing on to such partisan foolishness!

    Take the money – create a statewide system of managed care clinics.

    if Congress cuts the taxes that fund it – then reimpose them at the State level – for NO DIFFERENCE than now where we already are paying these taxes and not getting the money back.

    This is ignorant, Jim. When did Conservatives get so partisan that they’d turn down money for ONE program on such a false premise?

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    let me make clear here – I am calling the argument ignorant – not Jim but I am not mincing words – either.

    I have always – considered Jim to be – an independent and principled Conservative -not a partisan – until now – with this issue.

    apparently he’s become “radicalized” !!


    the argument against paying for those without health care is both a moral and a fiscal argument.

    forget the moral argument. look ONLY at the fiscal.

    does it cost Virginians money to pay for those who do work but don’t have health care?

    that’s the question.

    does it?

    If it does cost us – then what is the most cost effective way to minimize what we DO PAY? Do we REALLY save money by not providing access to basic primary care?

    That question – pertains how to be – not only a Conservative – but a Fiscal Conservative – one that recognizes that even if we don’t like paying – that we do..pay and the issue is not to not pay but how to pay cost effectively.. minimizing what we do pay.

    that’s ALWAYS been the underlying core part of being a genuine fiscal conservative.

    we can pretend that working people don’t use hospitals for charity care. we can pretend that when they don’t get primary care – that they don’t get diabetes and heart disease. we can pretend than when they do get disease, we don’t pay for treating the expensive outcome of not catching that disease early with preventative care.

    Further, we can pretend the children of such people – don’t also become wards of the state and require entitlements also… when disease not treated fells their parents and renders them unemployed.

    but in my mind – REAL Conservatives DO very much deal with REALITIES – and not wallow in stubborn , ignorant – ideology and obstruct fiscally conservative responses and insist on continuing destructive policies that actually cost taxpayers more money.

    when Conservatives get to the point where they are making an argument for not taking money for ONE program while continuing to take money for dozens of other programs – ESPECIALLY when Virginians are ALREADY paying the taxes that fund that program – what kind of fiscal common sense – does that make?

    how in the world do you make a LEGITIMATE fiscally conservative argument to not take the money – at least as long as it is available?

    it’s all – 100% partisan and ideological – .. idiocy…

    what rational – thinking, person, would adopt that as a logical position?

  9. Larry

    I have always – considered Jim to be – an independent and principled Conservative -not a partisan – until now – with this issue.

    By any other moniker,isn’t this just name calling? I was once soundly thrashed for name calling on this blog. Doesn’t “partisan” occupy the same niche in the realm of argument as “homophobe” or (pick your politically correct term) n_____ word? In this context, isn’t it just a term of derision and disrespect? Indeed, how can one be a conservative and then be castigated for advocating for a party that follows conservative principles?

    And my response to Les Schreiber also applies to you, Larry. What does anything you said in the prior two (3?) posts have to do with how Politifact analyzes the truth of various statements made by public figures? I really want to know Larry. Please respond. Though I don’t think you will. The left never truly engages; it simply harangues and spouts. Try sticking to the topic.

  10. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Most government programs or projects of any type from defense to social welfare tend to explode in cost. The Silver Line Phase 1 did. The cost of building naval ships always exceed estimates. So too does the cost of social programs, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

    There is ample evidence that Medicaid expansion, even under managed care plans, generally costs more than estimates. Witness both Oregon and Washington. Medicaid itself is growing at a much higher rate than many other government programs. North Carolina twice (once with a D governor and D legislature and a second time with an R governor and an R legislature) had to cut state aid to K-12 to address cost increases in Medicaid.

    My local legislators refuse to answer the question what statutory language in the Democrats’ bill to expand Medicaid will prevent similar results from occurring in Virginia? And if Medicaid expansion will save tax and insurance premium dollars, why is the medical industry lobbying for expansion? Are they really supporting a plan that will result in fewer dollars going into their pockets? And, if so, why?

    I know Senator Favola and Delegates Sullivan and Murphy will not answer these questions. How about Sean Gorman?

  11. LarrytheG Avatar

    the fact that programs expand does not change the fact that you don’t turn down money – selectively.

    you wait for Congress or the General Assembly to fund or not fund the various programs – and for the ones they choose to not fund – then you drop that program – at the time they de-fund it.

    you don’t pick and choose based on what you THINK – MIGHT be defunded.

    why are you not worried in the same way about transit funding?

    why not shutdown METRO right now because the Feds -MIGHT be forced to cut transit funding?

    or how about Title 1 funding for schools. Why not refuse the Title 1 money right now because it might get cut in the future?

    Expanding MedicAid will SAVE money – it will pay for itself and then some.

    conspiracy theories do not count as facts… sorry.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Medicaid will save money. Your statement means the collective health care industry will receive less money under Medicaid expansion than it does under today’s system. Correct? Therefore, the industry is arguing against its own best financial interests. Correct? If not, where is my logic incorrect?

      Re: transit funding. Concerns about transit funding led me and a number other people from McLean, Vienna, Falls Church, and Reston to oppose construction of the Silver Line Phase 1 in favor of Bus Rapid Transit. Given the facts that the bulk of the construction costs for Phase 1 were put on users of the Dulles Toll Road, who receive no benefits from the construction and operation of rail, we were correct.

    2. “What would happen if Virginia enacted Medicaid expansion and a Republican administration and Congress then repealed it, thus eliminating federal funding for the program? Virginia would face the choice of either abandoning the program it had just enacted, throwing the health care market into turmoil, or continuing to fund the expansion itself.” That is the risk. That is also the challenge LarryG is posing. I still believe that, as a matter of basic morality, we are not going to let people die in the gutter, and short of that, we have to find a better path towards universal health care than the Hospital Emergency Room. Yes, we need to see a Republican alternative before Obamacare is replaced, as it should be, and whatever that alternative is, it must provide a universal baseline of community and personal health care of some sort. But first, let’s implement Obamacare with the Medicare expansion it was intended to have. And then, let’s find a way to improve on it. There are plenty of things wrong enough with Medicare to horsetrade to a better place.

      1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Acbar – even Obamacare is not universal coverage. See http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/not-everybody-is-covered-under-aca/

        There is nothing in the Constitution that provides a right to health care paid by others. We have some statutes that extend taxpayer/ratepayer-paid health care benefits to some under certain conditions. But we leave many people uncovered in many situations. Reasonable people can debate whether Congress should enact legislation providing universal coverage. But it has not done so, and it’s wrong to suggest otherwise. And even Vermont has had to walk away from single payer because of the crushing costs. No Congress in the foreseeable future will create an unfettered right to health care.

        I respect that many people do things and take public policy positions based on their moral views. But at the very same time, many strenuously object to others bringing their moral views into the political arena. If some can argue morality requires a statute or constitutional amendment guaranteeing access to health care, someone else can argue morality requires a statute or a constitutional amendment defining human life to begin at conception. I’m not arguing herein for or against either position. But in a sense, arguing morality is a slippery slope in a diverse society such as the USA. It’s like many conservatives praising Pope Francis on gay marriage and opposing him on climate issues. Or liberals praising the Pope on economic issues while condemning him on freedom of choice on abortion.

        I fully agree with you in that the Democratic Congress and President Obama clearly intended to put states in a box where they would face political turmoil in the event the states expanded Medicaid and federal funding was not available. But that is just one more reason to avoid the trap in the first place.

        My questions in my 1:25 pm response to Larry remain open and unanswered.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          re: ” There is nothing in the Constitution that provides a right to health care paid by others. ”

          “reasonable” people don’t provide access to health care for some and not others.

          The very same Constitution – speaks of equal treatment for the things the govt DOES provide.

          the idea that it’s not in the Constitution is totally asinine… – and I’m sorry – ignorant.

          do you want a list of what is not in the Constitution – and then follow the logic that ANYTHING not in it is illegitimate?

          what kind of “logic” is that beyond just plain foolish?

          re: ” Medicaid will save money. Your statement means the collective health care industry will receive less money under Medicaid expansion than it does under today’s system. Correct? Therefore, the industry is arguing against its own best financial interests. Correct? If not, where is my logic incorrect?

          TMT – people who get disease detected earlier do not spend money on treating advanced disease..

          you say that “industry” won’t get the money.

          TMT – do you understand that it is taxpayers and people with insurance that are paying for this – not the “industry”?

          you keep talking about Vermont.

          How about you talk about Canada, Europe, Japan, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand on single payer?

          re: ” I fully agree with you in that the Democratic Congress and President Obama clearly intended to put states in a box where they would face political turmoil in the event the states expanded Medicaid and federal funding was not available. But that is just one more reason to avoid the trap in the first place.”

          do you think that other Federal programs like tax-free money for employer-provided, or Medicare or the original MedicAid or Tricare for the military are similar “traps”?

          this is NOT about the morality of the issue.

          It’s about taxpayers and those who do have insurance – paying for the costs of those who don’t have insurance – and paying for treating advanced diseases because we don’t want to pay for preventative healthcare that is less expensive.

          on the response – I no longer receive notification of your responses.. I don’t know if you receive them or not.

          I used to receive them.

          Without notifications – I don’t sit here 24/7 waiting for responses.. I come back a few hours later or the next day.

          re: the fallacy is the dishonesty

          the dishonesty is the double standard as to what we take funding on and what we won’t based on what “might” happen with future funding.

          Never before – as far as I know, have we turned down funding because it might be cut in the future.

          and don’t be talking about the “left” – that’s just as disingenuous.

          hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another.. it is not “left” or “right” unless one is so convoluted and partisan in their thinking that they label everything they don’t agree with.

          If you guys want me to respond in a timely manner.. you’ll have to email me or post something in the latest blog that says you have a response down thread…

          you can get my email from Mr. Bacon.

          1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

            There is nothing in the Constitution, federal statutes or case law that provides universal access to health care. If there is, please point to it. Government provides different treatment to people all of the time. Only males are required to register for the draft. Only people 65, with limited exceptions, are eligible for Medicare. Illegal immigrants cannot obtain a federal subsidy to purchase health insurance. Self-employed people can deduct certain things that employees cannot. Tax rates differ based on whether a person is married. Yet you insist that there is some legal obligation to treat everyone the same for health care insurance purposes. I say there is no such legal obligation.

            I fully understand that you don’t like this. I respect that. You think it is unfair that some people get health insurance and others don’t. But thinking something is unfair does not create legal rights.

            Do other countries have different laws? Sure. For example, Costa Rica does not allow juries in criminal cases and it does not have a prohibition against double jeopardy. Do we need to change our law? Some countries have different health care laws than the United States. So what! Both you and I can try to emigrate to Canada if we want to do so. If our laws are so bad, why are so many people moving here and many from places with universal health care?

            And you haven’t answered my question about costs. You argue that taxpayers and ratepayers fund the costs of uncompensated care and that expanding Medicaid would reduce those costs. But the rest of my questions remain unanswered. Assuming your premise to be right for the purpose of our discussion, which means a reduction in revenues paid to the health care industry and corresponding reduction in the amount of money paid by taxpayers and insurance premium payers, several questions come to the forefront. First, why are the health care providers arguing for a reduction in their revenues? Why won’t Democratic legislators supporting Medicaid expansion willing to require the cost savings to be passed back to taxpayers and insurance ratepayers? I submit that the real truth is: 1) the health care industry will receive more revenues than they do under the status quo, which, in turn, means the argument Medicaid expansion will reduce overall health care costs is flat wrong; 2) either the Democrats know Medicaid expansion will not save money (i.e., they are lying) or they’ve worked out a deal with the health care industry to give it the savings in return for their support for expanding Medicaid.

            Expansion of Medicaid as proposed by the Obama administration and its Democratic supporters in Virginia is a purposeful trap to lure state governments into committing their treasuries to a costly program that cannot likely be undone and which is intended to buy votes from those who get Medicaid.

  12. Too Many,
    And your 1:25 response to Larry will probably remain open and unanswered. I think Larry is a very bright guy with lots to say. He just doesn’t like to engage much when asked questions or challenged about his positions. This is very common with those on the left, and I’m sure Larry would like us to be solicitous in this regard.

    By the way, Larry, re: “the fallacy is the dishonesty and hypocrisy…” Could you tell me which of the fallacies is “dishonesty and hypocrisy”? I’ll even accept one of the informal fallacies if you can explain how it fits.

  13. LarrytheG Avatar

    Whatever Conservatives (AND liberals AND others) believe with respect to health care – it should apply equally to all citizens .. if they have honest principles and integrity. Every citizen should get the same treatment. Equal protection under the law.

    if we REALLY want REAL free-market health care – then DO IT – but do it to all of us the same way. Don’t build a system that arbitrarily benefits some folks and penalizes others and then make excuses like “we cannot afford it”.

    be consistent with budgets and funding in general

    don’t cherry pick what you’d kill because you’re not sure of future funding -while at the same time ignore than issue for something else

    be consistent – honor your proclaimed principles – uniformly -across the board.

    finally -when it comes to the Constitution again – be consistent

    if your principles say that we should not have agencies not specifically named in the Constitution -then be honest enough to use the same criteria for all agencies and not arbitrarily support ones not named because you approve of them and want others you don’t like – closed.

    In other words – if you say you have principles -if you want to tout your principles- then honor your avowed beliefs and don’t swing back and forth on them.

    When it comes to health care – it’s abjectly corrupt to support govt health care benefits for some while opposing them for others.

    that’s not just immoral – it’s fundamentally hypocritical and illegitimate.

    I don’t agree with those who oppose the govt being involved in health care – but I DO RESPECT those who hold a CONSISTENT view and apply that view – across the board to every citizen.

    If you one does not support the Medicaid Expansion and Obamacare – then ALSO oppose Govt-sanctioned employer-provided health insurance , Medicare, TRICARE, and any form of healthcare supported by the govt – including EMTALA.

    Be consistent in your principles. Stand for what you believe in.

    I have one view – I support whatever level the govt is going to involve itself – for everyone – across the board …

    if we truly want patient-centered healthcare – then -at the very least – the folks who want it should define what it is and is not BEFORE do it -the idea being that citizens actually do participate via elections as to what they would vote for – or not.

    The concept that we kill what we have right now – and not only do not have a ready replacement but don’t even have a defined proposal for replacement – is dishonest and corrupt.

    And I believe most Americans -most voters -would agree.

    If you plan on repealing Obamacare first with no ready replacement – we’re going to find out at the next election how voters feel about that.

    and I’d go one further – and ask -if we want to repeal Obamacare because it’s a govt program – why not other govt health programs including employer-provided which -without govt rules – would not be tax free and insurance companies could deny coverage to those who were sick or old or had high expenses

    How many voters would AGREE that the govt should no more be involved in employer-provided than they should be in Medicare or MedicAid or Tricare?

    how about we actually have real principles and apply those principles consistently-across the board – for ALL citizens?

  14. Larry,

    You’re really losing it, man, though I appreciate the fervor. Fundamental misunderstanding of the Equal Protection clause. It has nothing to do with the provision of government benefits and never has.

    Re: fallacy of dishonesty. I understand the DEFINITION of dishonesty, but you still don’t explain which FALLACY dishonesty belongs to. Fact is: there is no such fallacy. Let me suggest you get a firmer grip on your facts and definitions. You would improve the reception for your arguments on this blog.

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