Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Debunked health care claims live on at Tampa town hall

Jim DeMint speaks at the "Defund Obamacare" town hall tour in Tampa on Aug. 21, 2013. ( Eve Edelheit, Times staff)
Jim DeMint speaks at the "Defund Obamacare" town hall tour in Tampa on Aug. 21, 2013. ( Eve Edelheit, Times staff)

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint brought his "Defund Obamacare" town hall tour to Tampa on Wednesday night, and PolitiFact Florida was there. We heard some claims we’ve already put to the Truth-O-Meter. The highlights:

• DeMint called the health care law socialized medicine and said it would make the United States system like those in Britain or Canada. PolitiFact has rated similar claims False, because the health care law leaves in place the private health care system and the free market.

The law does put more regulations on health insurance companies. It also fines most large employers who fail to provide insurance for their employees, and it requires all individuals to have health insurance. In Britain, doctors are employees of the government, while in Canada, the government pays most medical bills as part of a single-payer system. President Barack Obama’s health law has neither of those features.

• DeMint said the law will intervene in decisions between doctors and patients. Though the law puts more regulations on health insurance companies, nothing in the law changes typical interactions between doctors and patients. We rate that claim is False.

• On other issues, DeMint made claims that were partially accurate, but needed additional context. He said the health care law was paid for by cutting from Medicare. He's right that lawmakers did rein in future Medicare spending and then counted the savings as deficit reduction to offset new health care spending. Specifically, the law trimmed extra payments to the Medicare Advantage program. It also set up penalties for hospitals if they don't meet good health benchmarks for Medicare patients. We've rated similar claims Half True.

• DeMint said people on Medicaid, the health insurance for the poor, are less healthy than people who have no health insurance at all. We've found mixed evidence for such claims. In some cases, Medicaid patients do have poorer outcomes, but in other cases, they do better. Experts have warned that more studies are needed. We’ve rated similar claims Half True.