Email Outreach to PolitiFact’s Angie Holan and Jon Z. Greenberg

Email sent to PolitiFact’s Angie Drobnic Holan and Jon Z. Greenberg on May 10, 2018.

I’m currently writing up a fact check of statements PolitiFact has supported. First, that the BCRA’s Medicaid cut was aimed at reducing Medicaid enrollment (Holan). Second, that the BCRA eliminates the ACA option for states to expand Medicaid (Greenberg).

The other day during your Reddit AMA, you (Holan) asserted that Republican cuts to Medicaid were treated more harshly than ACA cuts to Medicare because the “Medicaid reduction was aimed at reducing the number of enrollees.”

I replied that PolitiFact’s reporting was in error, and that its reporting skimped on a big factor in lowering Medicaid enrollment: elimination of the individual mandate.

It turns out that one of PolitiFact’s earliest fact checks addressing the GOP slowdown of Medicaid growth came from a fact check on which Holan and Greenberg collaborated.

From that fact check (bold emphasis added):

The Senate bill
(…)
rolls back who is eligible. Before Obamacare, Medicaid covered low-income children, pregnant women, elderly and disabled individuals, and some parents, but excluded other low-income adults. Under the Affordable Care Act, 31 states and the District of Columbia exercised the option to make Medicaid available to anyone making up to 133 percent of federal poverty. For a family of three, that would be about $27,000 a year. The Senate bill eliminates that option as of January 2018.

As far as I can tell, none of the story’s citations supports the assertion in bold, And, in fact, a fact check by FactCheck.org asserts the opposite about the BCRA:

The Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, was introduced on June 22. It wouldn’t take away those states’ option to offer coverage to the expansion population, but it starts to reduce the federal funding in 2021, putting it at 85 percent. In 2022, federal funding would be 80 percent, dropping to 75 percent in 2023 and then to the standard state matching rate for 2024 and subsequent years.

If FactCheck.org’s reporting is wrong, I hope you will take the time to share the specific information that supports your reporting.

If FactCheck.org’s reporting is right, then the BCRA “cuts” Medicare eligibility in exactly the same way the ACA “cut” Medicare funding: by slowing future growth (states that might have expanded Medicaid would not, according to CBO). Yet the PolitiFact fact check asserts without any qualifiers that the bill cuts eligibility.

The biggest influence on Medicare enrollment (distinct from eligibility) stems from factors the fact check fails to mention: elimination of the individual and group mandates. See Fig. 4 and the pages immediately following. Yet that information is absent from the Medicaid fact check on which the two of you collaborated.

In keeping with Zebra Fact Check’s policies on transparency, readers of our fact check will have your entire reply (or replies) linked to the fact check article.

Please feel free to support and defend your claims as you see fit.
We will update this item if we detect any response from PolitiFact.

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