HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Walk on the Scary Side

    I said last week that I would use these posts to think out-loud about how I would teach ACA this coming year.  I'm pretty sure the students will be very interested.  The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 6 out of 10 Americans[and I'll bet 10 out of 10 law students] are aware of the Supreme Court’s decision  upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and that “Overall, eight in ten Democrats approve of the court’s decision to uphold the primary provisions of the health care law, while eight in ten Republicans disapprove.”    That’s a big difference and I’m curious to learn more about what is driving this continued division.  

   I live in far West Texas where ACA is viewed with apprehension and concern. Like all of us on Health Law Professor Blog, I  spent a lot of time last week talking to the media, and one of the most fun experiences was when I found myself on our local Fox news channel both on TV and on drive-time Radio.  The Fox station here is excellent and thoughtful, so I thought I’d go to Fox News’ national home page and see what kind of information Republicans were getting. According to the Pew Research Center bi-annual media consumption poll, “Four-in-ten Republicans (40%) now say they regularly watch Fox News”

Here’s the headline from Fox: “Five major ObamaCare taxes that will hit your wallet in 2013”  by John Klatch.  So which of their reporters is John Kartch?  Well, he’s not exactly a reporter.  He’s executive director of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist’s organization.    You remember from the primaries—they are the ones that ask all candidates to sign “The Pledge” that they will vote against all new taxes.    I had, apparently, stumbled onto the “opinion” section.  Ok, what are these five taxes—how is ACA going to increase the amount I pay for health-care?   Apparently a lot!

You can follow the link to see all five, but here’s his take on the new $2,500 annual cap on Flexible Spending Accounts (which are a way of putting aside pre-tax money to pay for medical expenses).    Pointing out that $2500 is far less than major expenses like braces for a child’s teeth he writes:

 “This cruel tax provision will limit the options available to such families, all so that the federal government can squeeze an additional $13 billion out of taxpayer pockets over the next ten years. The targeting of FSAs by President Obama and congressional Democrats is no accident. The progressive left has never been fond of the consumer-driven accounts, which serve as a small roadblock in their long-term drive for a one-size-fits-all government health care bureaucracy.”

After explaining this and four others, including the increase in capital gains tax which I hadn’t realized would be a consequence of ACA,  he sums up “as you can understand, there is a reason why the authors of ObamaCare wrote the law in such a way that the most brutal tax increases take effect conveniently after the 2012 election.  It’s the same reason President Obama, congressional Democrats, and the mainstream media conveniently neglect to mention these taxes and prefer that you simply “move on” after the Supreme Court ruling.” Scary. 

Conclusions?  Let’s not forget in our professional excitement about ACA’s passage that many Americans are hearing a lot of scary information and are braced for worst yet to come.  It behooves us as professors teaching students from many different backgrounds who come to us with world views perhaps different from our own to be aware of what kind of information very widely read and respected media sources are presenting to their audience.


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