Michele Bachmann prides herself for pressing Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but during an appearance at Webster City, Iowa Wednesday night, the Minnesota congresswoman proved that she’s also leading the charge in developing outrageous new attacks against the legislation. At the town hall, Bachmann complained that undocumented immigrants are exempt from paying for the law, claimed that a seven-foot doctor told her the IRS had to approve medical procedures, and reiterated her long-standing view that doctors and hospitals would provide free care to the uninsured if they were shielded from malpractice claims:
— “Under Obamacare illegal aliens don’t have to pay for Obamacare. Only American citizens pay for Obamacare. […] Illegal aliens have the possibility of getting the care, but they have no requirement to pay for the care. Only the citizens do.”
— “One man stood up, he was over 7-feet tall. He was a physician in the community. And he said, ‘I had a little lady in my office and because of Obamacare, I had to call the IRS and I had to get a number to put on a form before I could see her.'”
— “When I was a little girl…There were people who could not pay [for health care]. I mean they just did not have any money at all. And so the doctor would just write it off. […] It’s very different today. Now, doctors don’t feel like they can do that…they worry about liability.”
It’s hard to make sense of any of Bachmann’s claims. Republicans successfully fought to keep undocumented immigrants from receiving tax credits through the exchanges and the ACA does nothing to change the existing Reagan-era law that requires hospitals to provide health care to everyone in need of emergency services. Undocumented immigrants also paid $11.2 billion in taxes in 2010, including $8.4 billion in sales taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $1.2 billion in personal income taxes.
The seven-foot doctor’s claims are similarly dubious, since the IRS does not begin enforcing the individual requirement to purchase health insurance until 2014 — and even then, the penalty is processed through personal income tax returns and would not require a medical provider to call the agency. Finally, Bachmann’s oft-repeated solution to reducing the number of uninsured — shield doctors from lawsuits and they’ll provide free health care to anyone who needs it — is a poor idea, to put it charitably, and hasn’t actually increased access to providers in states with existing “liability shield” regulations.