There are three scripts currently in rehearsal over at Fox News, as they prepare to "report" the "news" for 2013. Actually there are probably more than three, if not in rehearsal then at least in development, but for now let's just focus on the scripts relating to health care and the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare.
One is the script for President Obama's re-election and second term. If President Obama wins re-election, Fox will report that Obamacare is costing [X] trillion dollars, adding [Y] hundred billion to the deficit and [Z] trillion to the debt, helping no one, causing doctors to quit the profession en masse, increasing health care costs and insurance premiums by [A]%, causing employers to fire workers en masse because they can no longer afford to pay for their health insurance, thus killing [B] million jobs. In other words, Fox will "report" that Obamacare has turned out to be even worse than the unmitigated disaster they always knew it would be.
The other two scripts are for a Mitt Romney presidency. In each scenario, Congress passes and President Romney signs the Restoring American Freedom And Liberty Care Act (RAFALCA) of 2013, which Fox will report is a "full repeal and replacement of Obamacare." By 2015, Fox will begin reporting that RAFALCA is costing less, doing more, and helping more people than Obamacare would have, and is even helping job growth and reducing the federal deficit. President Romney will then run for re-election in 2016, as he and Fox tell the nation that RAFALCA "saved America from Obamacare."
The difference between the two scripts, if any, lies in the two different versions of RAFALCA, each described below the fold.
The first version of RAFALCA is the one more likely to be passed and implemented, and seems even more likely given Mr. Romney's recent comments about health care reform. In this scenario, RAFALCA makes a few cosmetic, insubstantial changes to the existing Affordable Care Act that don't meaningfully change any of its provisions. Although Fox will report that RAFALCA eliminates the individual mandate, it will actually just rename it and bury it deeper within the tax code so that the relatively few people who are subject to it won't realize that they're paying it. RAFALCA may quietly tweak a few provisions here and there that will help boost insurance company profits, but basically RAFALCA is just Obamacare under a different name.
In this scenario, President Romney gets to claim, and Fox gets to report, that Obamacare is gone, dead, history; that RAFALCA has fully repealed and replaced the dreaded law. Fox's reporting will include all of the "good" things that RAFALCA (i.e., the ACA) does, and report on them as if they are new and unique to RAFALCA. And, of course, when the key provisions of RAFALCA/ACA go into effect in 2014, and tens of millions of people now have access to affordable coverage through the exchanges, Romney will claim, backed up by Fox, that he deserves full credit for them.
The second version of RAFALCA is one that accomplishes what Republican politicians and enablers keep saying they want: a completely free-market-driven health care system with no government intervention, no social insurance, and [ostensibly] no cost to the taxpayers. Although Fox will report essentially the same positive effects of RAFALCA for this version as the other, the script may have to vary somewhat based on what this version of RAFALCA does. Inter alia, this version of RAFALCA will:
- Repeal the Affordable Care Act and EMTALA.
- Eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability, and S-CHIP.
- Privatize the V.A.
- Reimburse insurers for any ACA-related expenditures they've incurred to date, including medical-loss ratio refunds and medical expenditures in excess of pre-ACA lifetime caps.
- Direct the states to eliminate all insurance regulations and medical-malpractice laws; reimburse insurers for any state regulatory expenses, including violation fines, and medical-malpractice judgments, incurred since the ACA was passed.
- Eliminate all federal funding assistance for 911, EMT and Medevac services.
- Makes it a federal crime for any hospital or medical provider to provide any treatment of any kind to any uninsured person or any non-U.S. citizen, or anyone the provider has reason to believe is uninsured or is not a U.S. citizen, and eliminate civil liability of providers for any negative medical outcomes caused by delays or errors in ascertaining insurance and citizenship.
Given that these provisions are in line with what the GOP and Fox (and their sundry fans) have been saying we need and must have in terms of health care reform, Fox's reporting on this version of RAFALCA may actually include some of these provisions. Hence the need for a third script. Either way, Fox will report that RAFALCA constitutes a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and that the nation owes President Romney and the Republican party a deep debt of gratitude that will carry over to election 2016. And all three scripts are already in rehearsal.