Friday, October 24th, 2014

Fact-checking claims about Obamacare

Audience members take notes on health insurance marketplace exchanges in Atlanta July 13th, 2013. The event explained what the Affordable Care Act and the roll out of the online health insurance exchanges mean for consumers. (AJC Photo/Phil Skinner)
Audience members take notes on health insurance marketplace exchanges in Atlanta July 13th, 2013. The event explained what the Affordable Care Act and the roll out of the online health insurance exchanges mean for consumers. (AJC Photo/Phil Skinner)

With the Oct. 1 deadline looming for creation of the Obamacare health care exchanges, we thought it would be a good time to share some of our top fact checks on the new system for purchasing health care insurance.

Abbreviated versions of those fact checks are below. Full versions can be found at:  www.politifact.com

To comment on our rulings or suggest one of your own, go to our Facebook page  (www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia).

U.S. Rep. James Langevin, D-R.I.: Under Obamacare, members of Congress are required to purchase their health insurance from the new exchanges. -- Aug. 12, 2013, in a radio interview

The government currently covers up to 75 percent of the premiums for members of Congress and their staffs.

New rules continue the federal government’s contribution toward its employees’ insurance coverage in the form of subsidies, even for high-paid staffers and members of Congress. But they would be required to buy coverage through one of the exchanges.

We rated Langevin’s claim True.

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U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla.: The tax penalty that the government imposes if you don’t buy health insurance "is lower than it would have cost to buy insurance." -- Jan. 21, 2013, in a Fox News interview

DeSantis is correct that health insurance premiums far exceed the penalties Obamacare imposes for not carrying insurance, even on high incomes.

We think it’s valid to note that several provisions in the health law bring the dollar amounts closer together to give people an incentive to buy coverage. That’s also the purpose of the tax penalty -- to urge people to get insurance.

But DeSantis is right in the straightforward cost comparison.

We rated DeSantis’ claim True.

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U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah: Says unions call Obamacare "bad for workers." -- Aug. 4, 2013, in a USA Today op-ed

About six unions, some of them quite large, have warned in the strongest terms that Obamacare will undercut health care coverage for their members. The evidence suggests that more than six unions share that view.

But some large unions continue to support the Affordable Care Act as much as ever.

And while Lee would like to do away with the new health care law, even unions with deep concerns seek to fix the law, not repeal it.

We rated Lee’s claim Mostly True.

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President Barack Obama: For people with insurance, the only impact of the health care law "is that their insurance is stronger, better and more secure than it was before. Full stop. That's it. They don't have to worry about anything else." -- April 30, 2013, in a White House news conference

The president glossed over other impacts of the law, including higher taxes and in some cases, higher premiums.

Meanwhile, some people who have insurance now will have to deal with changes from their employers, insurers and health care providers.

Most people who have large-group coverage through their employers now face little change, experts told us.

We rated Obama’s claim Half True.

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Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.: Says that under President Barack Obama’s health care law, "your insurance" premiums could go up by 200 percent and cost "as much as a new Explorer." -- March 27, 2013, in a tweet

Premiums for certain Americans could go up by 200 percent. But that’s only for a very specific type of person, namely young, healthy people who have already bought insurance on the nongroup market and will continue to do so.

Meanwhile, the people who could see that big an increase would end up paying $2,200 in premiums after the law, far less than the $30,000 an actual new Explorer costs.

We rated Thompson’s claim False.

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President Barack Obama: "Preventive care … saves money, for families, for businesses, for government, for everybody." --  Feb. 10, 2012, in a briefing at the White House

The idea that "preventive care … saves money, for families, for businesses, for government, for everybody" is no more true today than it was in 2009.

Yes, preventive measures often save lives and keep patients healthier. Certain preventive measures may save money.

But the findings of the Congressional Budget Office and physicians who have studied the medical literature indicate that Obama’s sweeping generalization is not accurate.

We rated Obama’s statement False.

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Bloggers: Obamacare provision will allow "forced home inspections" by government agents. -- Aug. 15, 2013, in blog posts

Bloggers claim that a provision of the new health care law will allow "forced" home inspections by government agents.

But the program they pointed to provides grants for voluntary help to at-risk families from trained staff like nurses and social workers.

What bloggers describe would be an egregious abuse of the law — not what’s allowed by it.

We rated the claim Pants On Fire.

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U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga.: Warren Buffett says stop Obamacare now and start over. -- Sept. 22, 2013, in an ABC News interview

Graves’ claim was similar to other blogger claims debunked by fact checkers, and based on an interview Buffett gave three years ago before Obamacare was signed into law. Buffett did say he would scrap the then Senate bill, but also noted that he would vote for it instead of continuing with the existing health care situation.

Graves’ claim may not have misrepresented Buffett’s comments as being recent like the bloggers did, but his comments were made after similar claims about Buffett were found to be misleading. And Graves still made the claim, without any additional context, five days after several fact checkers debunked the claim.

We rated Graves’ claim Pants On Fire.