Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Truth-O-Meter cares about your health. And gas prices.

Gas prices are going up up and up. But is President Barack Obama to blame?
Gas prices are going up up and up. But is President Barack Obama to blame?

By Willoughby Mariano

PolitiFact Georgia cares about your health.

Our proof is this week’s Truth-O-Meter rulings, which covered a promise by Gov. Nathan Deal on health insurance, federal funding for reproductive health services and a statement conservative pundit Ann Coulter made on whether radiation can be good for you.   

Thinking about sticking your head into the nearest X-ray machine?  Read our roundup first.

And for variety’s sake, read our items about rising gas prices and whether the HOPE scholarship helped improve Georgia’s public universities, too.

Want to comment on our findings? Just go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia) and hit the "like" button to join in the discussion. You can also follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/politifactga). You can find the entire fact-checks at our PolitiFact Georgia online site.


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Deal: Deal-O-Meter
Promise: Allow some Georgians to pool together to buy health insurance

Georgia House Bill 476 dovetailed quite nicely with a campaign promise made by Deal, who wanted to allow Georgians to pool together on health insurance.

The legislation would have created a commission to recommend an approach for setting up a health insurance exchange, but support buckled when tea partyers said they wanted Georgia leaders to focus on fighting the federal health care overhaul instead.

Now, Deal plans to create an advisory committee to study the state's options. The legislation has been withdrawn from a committee calendar. We rate the promise as Stalled.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson: Studies have shown that in the absence of federal reproductive health funds, we are going to see the level of abortion in Georgia increase by about 44 percent.

Johnson, a Democrat from DeKalb County, made this claim after the U.S. House of Representatives voted last month to take away $317 million in funds for the Title X program, which provides services such as contraception and HIV testing for people who cannot afford them.

But Johnson used the word "studies" when, in fact, he was referring to a single study by a well-regarded group. Scholars have found that increased contraceptive use led to decreases in abortion, and one expert said the group may have underestimated its Georgia figures. But we found no other study that confirms or refutes its conclusions about this state.

We rate his statement Half True.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson: "Since President Obama took office, gas prices have gone up 67 percent."
   
Republicans, including Isakson, have repeated this claim about rising gas prices.

Isakson did it on Twitter. He included a link to an article with a chart from the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation that found gas prices rose 7 percent during the first two years and two months of Republican George W. Bush’s presidency as compared with prices during a similar time span under Barack Obama, a Democrat who took office in January 2009.

We found that Isakson’s numbers, courtesy of the Heritage Foundation, are even more conservative than those provided by the federal government.
   
Isakson’s overall statement is accurate. But his implication that any president has much control over gasoline prices is off base. We rate it Half True.

Coulter: "There is a growing body of evidence that radiation in excess of what the government says are the minimum amounts you should be exposed to are actually good for you and reduce cases of cancer."
   
As news broke last week that Japan's nuclear disaster may send low levels of radiation wafting to the U.S., Coulter, a conservative, wrote a column making the above claim.
   
But don’t stick your head in the nearest X-ray machine just yet. While there are scientists who subscribe to the theory that low levels of radiation can have beneficial health effects -- it's called hormesis -- "No one in the mainstream believes it," an expert told PolitiFact. Others agreed.

Coulter failed to present this counterweight, so she earned a Barely True.

Deal: The HOPE scholarship "has helped turn our University System into one of the best in the Southeast, with two institutions ranked in the top 20 of public universities in the country."

Deal made the above claim in a March 21 op-ed in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after he signed a bill to make cuts to the popular program.

HOPE did help Georgia’s top public schools improve their rankings because it helped keep higher-caliber students in the state.

But as a result, tuition rose more slowly than in neighboring states, which means there’s less money to hire faculty. Now, fewer faculty are teaching more students.

We rate Deal’s statement Mostly True.