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High Court Hands Down Ruling on Health Care Law

By Erin O'Neill
Published on Thursday, June 28th, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court today handed down its much-anticipated ruling on President Barack Obama's national health care reform, finding a provision of the law requiring individuals to purchase insurance coverage constitutional.

As policymakers, politicians and pundits debate the decision and its implications, PolitiFact New Jersey decided to reflect on previous fact-checks about the law.

Though there have been a mix of rulings on statements related to the health care law, more than once claims about the controversial reform have set the Truth-O-Meter ablaze.

New Jersey a Harbinger for 'ObamaCare'?

During arguments before the Supreme Court over the Affordable Care Act -- often called "ObamaCare" -- Solicitor General Donald Verrilli cited New Jersey as an example of what may happen to the national law if the high court struck down a mandate for individuals to buy health insurance

Justice Antonin Scalia, in an exchange with Verrilli, said when people "have a substantial risk of incurring high medical bills, they'll buy insurance, like the rest of us."

Verrilli said: "That's the problem, Justice Scalia. That's -- and that's exactly the experience that the states had that made the imposition of guaranteed issue and community rating not only be ineffectual but be highly counterproductive. Rates, for example, in New Jersey doubled or tripled, went from 180,000 people covered in this market down to 80,000 people covered in this market."

PolitiFact New Jersey found Verrilli’s figures were roughly correct in the years before a modified plan was introduced that has since boosted total enrollment in the market.  Experts also agreed it’s fair for Verrilli to point to guaranteed issue and community rating as sources of the enrollment decline and rate increase, but acknowledged there may be other factors involved.

Overall, the solicitor general earned a Mostly True.

'Government Takeover of Health Care'

Gov. Chris Christie got singed for a claim our PolitiFact colleagues labeled the 2010 Lie of the Year.

In a radio interview last October, Christie said: "Secondly, what I’d say to the President is, in Massachusetts, we didn’t propose to raise taxes, as you proposed to raise taxes a trillion dollars to pay for a government takeover of health care."

The law gives the federal government a larger role in the health insurance industry, but it doesn’t eliminate the private market. In fact, the reform is projected to increase the number of citizens with private health insurance.

For repeating this ridiculous claim, Christie earned a Pants on Fire!

Doctor-Patient Relationship 'Eliminated'

Christie ally Joe Kyrillos, a Republican state Senator and U.S. Senate hopeful, also found himself burning up on the Truth-O-Meter for claiming in a March 15 e-mail that under the health care law  "the patient-doctor relationship will be eliminated."

PolitiFact New Jersey found there was little proof to substantiate that hefty charge. Provisions in the health care law allow changes to payments to health care providers and influence what’s covered by certain insurance plans, but nothing in the bill prevents physicians and patients from making health care decisions together.

That statement got a Pants on Fire!

Giving Credit Before Its Due

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg offered a defense of the president's health care law during a speech at Rutgers-Camden on May 3.

The Democratic senator said: "Just remember this: the president's health care bill put 30 million people on health care rolls that weren't there before."

PolitiFact New Jersey found Lautenberg was jumping the gun on this statement.

Based on the latest projections at the time of the fact-check, the health care reform may lead to insurance coverage for about 30 million additional Americans, but not until in 2016.

That claim landed at Half True.
 

Other 'ObamaCare' Fact-Checks

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo received a False for claiming "new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office conclude the final price-tag" for the health care law "will exceed $2 trillion — more than double what was initially reported."

Christie earned a Mostly False for saying "any attempt to try to compare" the Massachusetts health care law with the federal health care law is "completely, intellectually dishonest. Governor Romney did not raise one tax in doing what he did."

Republican Assemblywoman Amy Handlin said under the Affordable Care Act, New Jersey’s "new (Medicaid) enrollees won’t qualify for the matching federal funds simply because we added them onto the rolls before 2014." That statement rated Mostly False on the Truth-O-Meter.

U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, who lost a primary battle against U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell in June, said Pascrell "voted to remove the public option from the Affordable Health Care Act." Rothman earned a False for that claim.

To comment on this story, go to NJ.com.

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Sources:

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Researchers: Erin O'Neill

Names in this article: Chris Christie, Amy Handlin, Joseph Kyrillos, Frank Lautenberg, Frank LoBiondo, Donald Verrilli

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