Ben Swann Interviews Kent Masterson Brown about Politifact’s “Pants On Fire” Claim

By: Joshua Cook
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Last month we published an article called Obamacare Provision: “Forced” Home Inspections. Our exclusive went viral and received different reactions. Many Americans are concerned that this provision is another way the government can intrude on their rights and privacy. Others were skeptical that this measure is “forced” or “mandated” by the federal government.


Politifact.com picked up the story and ruled that the claim that a provision of the new health care law will allow “forced” home inspections by government agents as false. “We rate the claim Pants on Fire” stated the article.

Joshua Cook asked Kent Brown, constitutional attorney and expert on Obamacare, to respond to Politifact.com’s claim. Brown provides even more disturbing facts regarding this controversial Obamacare provision and responds to PolitiFact.com below:

It was amusing to read Politifact.com’s article about the hue and cry raised over Federally-mandated and financed home visits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). Politifact.com does not just provide its opinion, of course, it provides a “ruling.” It is the self-proclaimed neutral and final authority on statutory interpretation. In this case, its ruling was that the Obamacare provision regarding home visits does nothing more than “provide grants for voluntary help to at-risk families for trained staff like nurses and social workers.”(1)

To arrive at that ruling, Politifact.com interviewed two ardent advocates of Obamacare, Sara Rosenbaum and Kay Johnson, as well as Samantha Miller, “a spokeswoman for the U.S. agency administering the program.” Rosenbaum touts herself as the author of some of the Clinton Health Security Act. (2) Those three persons discussed their past experiences with the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, all of which are totally irrelevant to the discussion of any new program prompted by the Obama administration. Politifact.com then pointed to Section 511(e)(7)(A) of Obamacare which states that, in applying for a grant to serve as the agency that conducts such home visitations, “the entity [applying] will establish procedures to assure [the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“Secretary”)] that…the participation of each eligible family in the program is voluntary….” Voluntariness is left solely to the discretion of the Secretary. On the basis of that – and that alone – Politifact.com “ruled” that citizens’ concerns about Federally-financed home visitations are not well taken. (3)

 

It is not necessary to delve into Politifact.com’s bias; that is well known. It has been known to cover for groups like ACORN while attacking Michelle Bachman, and has been found rating statements by Republicans false at three times the rate it does Democrats. One study discovered Politifact.com finding Republicans lie nine times more than the left. (4) But beyond Politifact.com’s notorious bias, its “ruling” in this matter is astonishingly naive and flatly wrong.

Rosenbaum presents an interesting case.  In 1993 and 1994, I was the lead counsel in a case in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. which sought to open the meetings and records of the Clinton Health Task Force. AAPS et al. v. Hillary R. Clinton, et al., Civil Action No. 93-399. Brought under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App., I had to illustrate that the task force was not composed of “entirely full-time officers and employees of the Federal government” in order to prevail. I found that the working groups of the task force contained hundreds of individuals who were not Federal officials or employees. One of those individuals found in Working Group 22, Subpart D, “Population-Based Public Health and Prevention,” was Sara Rosenbaum of George Washington University Center for Health Policy Research. She still works there. In an effort to make it appear as though she was a Federal official or employee, she repeatedly signed in as “White House.” Her phone number on the logs, however, gave her away as I found that it was a number at George Washington University Center for Health Policy. The ruse didn’t work.

 

To begin, Obamacare unleashes a dizzying array of “social transformation” programs which have received almost no attention when compared to the absolutely catastrophic health insurance aspects of the monstrous bill. Among the social transformation aspects of Obamacare are: the creation and funding of school-based clinics (which are nothing more than contraception and abortion counseling centers) designed to “reduce pregnancy and birth rates for youth populations” so as to meet “State-established goals;”(5) the requiring of “digital electronic quality data” from every physician, (6) the grouping of physicians into Federally-authorized “accountable care organizations;”( 7) the mandating that private not-for-profit hospitals provide what likely will be a prohibitive amount of free and discounted health care as a condition of they maintaining their 501(c)(3) tax exempt status; (8) and the providing of grants to States and community-based organizations to “create the infrastructure to support active living and access to nutritious foods in a safe environment,” and to create “statewide needs assessments” to assess and implement “worksite wellness programming and incentives, highlight healthy options in restaurants and other food venues and implement strategies to reduce racial and ethnic disparities, including social, economic, and geographic determinants of health.”(9)

 

Then comes the “Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting  Program.” (10) Under that program, payments to the States under Medicaid will be conditioned upon the States conducting yet another “statewide needs assessment” that “identifies communities” with concentrations of various birth issues, poverty, crime, domestic violence, high rates of high school dropouts, substance abuse, unemployment or child maltreatment, the quality and capacity of existing home visitation, etc. (11) Grants are then made to entities, public or private, that illustrate to the Secretary they will, “with respect to eligible families,” demonstrate that the program will result in “improvements in prenatal, maternal and newborn health,” including improved pregnancy outcomes,” “improvements in cognitive, language, social-emotional, and physical developmental indicators,” “improvements in parenting skills,” “improvements in school readiness and child academic achievement” and “improvements in family economic self- sufficiency.” (12) Once the needs assessments are made, the statute calls for interventions – home visits – which will continue until “improvements” are made!

 

The entity making the home visits must take into consideration the statewide needs assessment created under the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, but it must also take into consideration “other appropriate needs assessments conducted by the State, as determined by the Secretary.”    That would include the needs assessment for “community transformation.”(13)

 

An “eligible family” includes any woman who is pregnant and the father” if available, or “any parent or primary caregiver of a child.” There is no reference to the eligible families being those receiving Medicaid, or any other public assistance. (14) The definition of an eligible family literally includes everyone who has a child or children. Targeted for home visits are those “eligible families” that have “users of tobacco products,” “children with low student achievement,” “children with developmental delays and disabilities, and those families “serving in the armed forces.” (15)

 

The fact of the matter is, home visits under this program have been employed by the Federal government before and are being employed now. They have been, and are being, made without any prior announcement or notice to the eligible family. The entity receiving the grant to perform the home visits was, and is, required to identify the eligible families to be visited and intervene so as to meet the improvement benchmarks. It is a Federally-mandated and financed home visitation program. These are not visits “requested” by eligible families; they are visits to eligible families that have been identified by the contracting entity, and the entity must show the Federal government its intervention has shown improvement. These are visits mandated from the top, not requested from below.

 

Contrary to Politifact.com, there are no standards established by the statute for those who make the home visits. All it requires for the grantee to illustrate is that it “employs well-trained and competent staff…such as nurses, social workers, educators, child development specialists or other well-trained and competent staff.” The standards are entirely left up to the Secretary to determine.” (16)

 

If the entity conducting the home visits fails to demonstrate “improvement” with respect to the eligible families being visited, the statute calls for it to submit a “corrective action plan” to “improve the outcomes.” That plan must be approved by the Secretary, and the Secretary will monitor its implementation. Thus, there is a perverse economic incentive for the home visitor to illustrate he/she has brought about improvements with respect to each eligible family. (17)

If all of the foregoing is not enough, Congress appropriated a whopping $400,000,000.00 for fiscal year 2013 to carry out the program. Another $400,000,000.00 is appropriated for 2014. Between 2010 and 2012, Congress spent $700,000,000.00 on the program. (18)

Are these visits only to eligible families on some public assistance program? No. Are these visits required by the statute to be announced ahead of time? No. Does the statute provide for a home visit only if it is requested?  No.  Does the statute provide to the eligible families any rights for their protection of their privacy? No. Does the statute even define what is and what is not a “voluntary home visit?” No. A voluntary home visit is what the Secretary and her bureaucrats say it is. There are absolutely no objective standards in the statute for the protection of the eligible families being visited.

 

A homeschooling family may be subject to “intervention” in “school readiness” and “social-emotional developmental indicators.” And what if the home visitor, without prior notice, knocks on the door of a homeschooling family, informs the person answering the door that he/she is investigating the premises pursuant to a Federal program, and, out of fright or intimidation, the person answering the door lets him/her inside? Is that voluntary? And what if the home visitor, once inside the home, sees a shotgun in the corner of a room, or an open liquor cabinet? What if the home visitor sees a child eating fatty foods, or, in the case of a farm family, a child riding on a tractor with his father? What then? Does that call for intervention? Yes. Those “deficiencies” call for intervention under the statute.

 

Inspections of this nature may be friendly; they may even be supportive. But, as one person who home-schooled her children and who was subject to similar inspections in another country remarked: “They made us feel controlled, dissatisfied, and unsafe.” (19) That person and her family fled their country just before the situation turned ugly.

 

The fact remains, the purpose of Obamacare is to “transform communities;” its provisions are directed to what we eat, how and where we work, how we live, how we raise our children, how and from whom we get our health care, what our children are taught in school and a host of other things. The wording of the new section is loose; it is so loose that it is mischievous. No matter what its proponents say it is, the home visitation program will be used by the Federal government for whatever ends it determines.

 

I have been a litigator, challenging the validity of Federal statutes, regulations and conduct, for forty years. I can say with complete confidence that the Secretary will define the powers granted to the Department of Health and Human Services by this provision in any way that expands its authority or achieves its ends. The Federal courts give deference to those interpretations in the vast number of cases. That is the sad state of our Republic these days. All the Secretary needs is the open door; the agency will make of it whatever it desires. With this provision, I see nothing but danger ahead, particularly in the lawless era of the Obama administration that does what it pleases with the enforcement of the laws.

 

References:
1 http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/aug/21/blog-posting/bloggers-say-obamacare-provision- will-allow-forced/.

2 Id.; http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kay-johnson/47/145/2b9; http://www.healthreformgps.org/about-2/authors/sara- rosenbaum-j-d/.

3 http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/aug/21/blog-posting/bloggers-say-obamacare-provision- will-allow-forced/.

4 http://www.salon.com/2011/12/05/politifact_and_the_scam_of_neutral_expertise/;http://newsbusters.org/blogs/matt

hew-vadum/2009/06/03/biased-politifact-com-covers-acorn-attacks-michele- bachmann;http://oregoncatalyst.com/7461-study-finds-significant-pro-democrat-politifact-bias.html;

http://www.humanevents.com/2012/08/30/politifact-bias-does-the-gop-tell-nine-times-more-lies-than-left-really/; and see http://blog.lib.umn.edu/cspg/smartpolitics/2011/02/selection_bias_politifact_rate.php.

5  Affordable Care Act, §§ 4101, 2953.   This the federal codification of the very liberal Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant Program, “Making The Grade,” which began in the 1990s.

6 Id, §3002.

7 Id, §3022.

8 Id, §9007.  Charitable hospitals, the bedrock of America’s health care delivery system, are in real danger of being eliminated.

9 Id, §4201.

10 Id, §2951, amending the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §701 et seq., by adding a new Section 511.

11 Id, §511(b)(1).

12 Id, §511(c) and (d).

13 Id, §511(b)(2).

14 Id, §511(k)(2).

15 Id, §511(d)(4).

16 Id, §511(d)(3)(B).

17 Id, §511(d)(1)(B)(ii).

18 Id, §511(j).

19 Jenny Lantz, “Leave My Country to Home School? Yes.  We Did it.” Home Education Magazine, vol. 30, No. 5 (September-October 2013).

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Joshua Cook

Joshua Cook is a writer and a political activist. His work has appeared on DrudgeReport, InfoWars, Reason.com, WND.com, Breitbart.com, DailyCaller and FreedomOutPost.com. If you have any tips please email him at [email protected]
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  • GlenBradley

    Looks like Politfacts tried to poison the wrong well this time.

  • R.E.

    This article lost me when claims that politifact is biased against the right were used. Perhaps the reason that Republicans are more likely to be proven wrong is that they are more likely to have their facts wrong, not the putported scapegoats of bias? Also unsettling was how difficult it was to discern between the interviewer and interviewee.

    • Doug Ragan

      That would be relevant if it were true.

  • Kevin Merck

    If these freaks think they’re coming in my house they have a lot to learn.

  • Neil

    @b0cb259558e2637968fc74b43a09eaf0:disqus The article simply doubts the statistics of politifacts findings and the veracity of their claims of neutrality. Even in your limited comprehension can’t possibly take for truth that one group lied 900% more than the other, right. The interview is in the video above the article you barely understood. Watch it in small segments and reflect on both the questions and the answers separately and then go back and listen to them in real time. This might make understanding a little more easy by breaking down all the moving pieces first. Try to minimize distractions too. I would hate for any more relevant information to slip past you. Try not to be too pissed at my snark either. It’s friday and I felt like being a dick. Nothing personal, man.

  • Matt

    I read the original article, read the documentation from the HHS they attached regarding the grants for states for these programs which could prompt inspections, and even after reading this article and watching the interview, I still don’t see any concrete evidence of a) the programs themselves being mandatory for citizens to participate in, and/or b) evidence of what this author says “home visits under this program have been employed by the Federal government before and are being employed now. They have been, and are being, made without any prior announcement or notice to the eligible family.” I’m not really interested in debating the terms in the bill, because I think its a Rorschach test for ideology. But, can someone provide evidence forced visits already being made to individuals who were never signed up with any federal/state program? I.e., for no reason whatsoever, and unbeknownst to the family/individuals subject to the visit?

  • Genevieve

    Three cheers for Kent!! I remember Sara Rosenbaum’s deceptions well from the Clinton Health Security Act case!! Ha!

  • Genevieve

    I guess Matt missed the part where the statute says Obamacare is MANDATORY for all? And the statute makes no distinction concerning whether you are participating in any federal program at all — the community transformation provisions relate to “eligible families” who are basically anyone, especially since we all have to participate in Obamacare!

    • Matt

      I guess you missed the part where I didn’t want to debate Obamacare as a whole or the specific section dealing with federal grants for these state programs, but wanted someone to provide evidence of people who are not participating in any of the aforementioned state programs being subject to ‘forced’ visits, as Mr. Masterson states. He says it is already happening. I just want some examples.

  • libertyczar

    All I see when the bill text is quoted is…”control, control, control”. What a nightmare. I especially like ” entirely left up to the Secretary to determine”. Nightmare. This federal government is a predator. They DON’T care about you, they DON’T like you. We can no longer afford to appease them. We have to wake up people, everyday!

  • patriotflllc

    There are a couple of things that We The People must start doing if we intend to change the direction we are going.

    1. This is most important- We must start educating our neighbors and our local and State elected officials that national government grants are NOT good things for our communities or our Society. If we don’t take the money, we aren’t obligated to comply to the rules, regulations and mandates and permissions they have attached to them. Notice how most of the provisions in this law, related to this specific program, are directly tied to a national grant or grants.

    2. If one of these federal bureaucrats shows up at your door, DO NOT let them in your house. Call your local sheriff and report that a federal entity is attempting to violate the authority of the local sheriff and has he/she, the local sheriff, either provided specific invitation or authorization for this entity to operate in their County and to harrass the specific Citizen. And if so, would the sheriff please provide this Citizen with a copy of the specific Warrant issued for this federal entity and the “probable cause” for the issuance of this Warrant. If they cannot provide a Warrant, refuse to comply. This is a direct violation of the 4th Amendment “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    My friends, we must start using the system to stop the system. We must start holding our County Sheriff and all other local and State authorities responsible to the Oath they take. The Founders provided US with the solution to these national government over-reaches, but it is the responsibility of ALL of US in our neighborhoods and in our communities and in our States to reject national government intervention where they have no Constitutional authority. And WE MUST publicize every event where the national government violates their Constitutional authority.

    And it’s time to reintroduce yourself to your neighbors and have this conversation. And don’t let the conversation be political, because it is not, it is Societal and based on Freedom and Liberty. Each one, must teach one and hope they will do the same. This can be a very simple conversation, not a confrontation.

  • SlimJim

    Politifacts and Snopes both have agendas and don’t really care if anyone knows.

  • Lady Tamatha

    Dear Mr. Swan.
    I don’t remember where I heard about this. Is there a provision in the health care reform that allows government entities to confiscate money from the bank accounts of individuals? Particularly the elderly?

  • LetsTryLibertyAgain

    To the big government advocates who say that there is no force in these voluntary home visits where the government is coming into your house to assure themselves that you are raising your children according to their standards… try not answering the door. They’ll keep coming back for your “voluntary” home visit until they become convinced that you are not complying with the voluntary home visits. They’ll eventually come back with the police and you will be charged with child endangerment or worse, and they’ll snoop around until they find what they need to justify their raid. They’ll take away your children and charge you with child neglect because you didn’t have bananas for the kids to eat. Apples and oranges are no defense when charged with not having bananas.

    Every action of government is ultimately backed by their monopoly on the use of force, and these Obamacare home visits are no exception.

  • Darren Johnson

    You mean like the home health aid people provided by Medicare? I read that provision: you are trying to make a fuss out of nothing by intentionally twisting what was written.