Local Newspapers Parrot Misinformation by Liberal Families USA

Families USA is at it again and as usual the liberal media are dutifully parroting their rhetoric.

The liberal, pro-universal healthcare advocacy group recently released a report attacking President Bush’s budget proposal for Medicaid. In the report, Families USA Director Ron Pollack asserted that Bush’s proposed budget decreases funding for Medicaid. Like last time, Families USA has released state-specific studies showing that Bush’s supposed Medicaid cuts would cause the individual state to lose so many jobs and so much money. Local newspapers took the bait.

There’s just one problem: President Bush’s 2009 budget proposal does not cut funding for Medicaid. In fact it calls for an increase in Medicaid spending by $12 to $13 million as compared to the expected spending for 2008. The decrease in the president’s budget proposal is not really a decrease at all. What the president is proposing amounts to a slightly smaller annual average growth rate for Medicaid spending (7.1 percent) than the projected annual average growth rate of 7.4 percent over the next five years. (More information here).

But instead of doing some simple number crunching to check Families USA rhetoric against the facts, local newspapers have already started relaying this misinformation while practically peddling Families USA as nonideological.

In the Democratic Convention host state of Colorado, an April 22 story in the Denver Business Journal claimed that “Colorado's health care system could lose $787 million in Medicaid funds for five years if proposed regulations from President George W. Bush go into effect.” This story also promoted freshman Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), whom it quotes as saying the “cuts” would "devastate, or frankly jeopardize, Denver General Hospital.” The Journal described Families USA merely as a “Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.”

In New York, the headline of an April 24 story by the Buffalo News claimed “New York health agencies may lose $1.5 billion in federal aid.” The story referred to Families USA as a “nonpartisan advocacy group” yet points fingers at “conservative Republicans” in the Senate for causing problems in regards to passing a one-year moratorium on Bush’s proposal which the House passed Wednesday with veto-proof margins.

In Sen. Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois, the title of a story in the Champaign News-Gazette reads “Report: Bush Plan Threatens Jobs.” Writer Debra Pressey claimed, “Illinois stands to lose thousands of jobs and more than $1 billion in business if the Bush administration succeeds in cutting a big chunk of federal Medicaid funding from each state, according to a new report released Wednesday.”

NewsBusters has recently reported on the tendency of newspapers to ignore the liberal leanings of Families USA while promoting the organization’s reports. Recently, even more local newspapers are reporting on the last state-specific reports released by Families USA which claims that a lack of health insurance is costing a particular state a certain number of lives each day. The title of an April 24 story by the Citizen-Times of Asheville, NC, claimed, “Lack of health coverage a matter of life and death for North Carolinians.” The article referred to Families USA as “the national organization for health care consumers.”

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