Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

On third day of Supreme Court hearings, PolitiFact New Jersey revisits health care reform fact-checks

President Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress about health care reform.
President Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress about health care reform.

While the U.S. Supreme Court continues today to unravel the constitutionality of the national health care reform law, PolitiFact New Jersey wanted to revisit our own verdicts related to the 2010 law.

During the past nearly six months, statements about the health care reform -- formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- has been put to the Truth-O-Meter four times. Those claims have landed at Mostly False, False and, in two cases, Pants on Fire!

And two of the statements came from New Jersey’s chief executive, Gov. Chris Christie.

Rothman claim

In our latest fact-check, the health care reform entered the bitter primary battle between U.S. Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell, who are competing on June 5 for the Democratic nomination in the 9th Congressional District.

Rothman claimed in a TV interview that Pascrell "voted to remove the public option from the Affordable Health Care Act."

But Rothman’s claim is wrong, because Pascrell voted in November 2009 for a House bill that included setting up a government-run health insurance plan. Pascrell also had been an advocate for the public option both before and after that vote.

We gave Rothman a False.

Christie claims

With his national profile rising over the last year, Christie, a Republican, has become a frequent critic of the national health care reform law. But his claims fell short of the truth on at least two occasions.

The first claim came when Christie traveled in October to New Hampshire to endorse GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who put through health care reform in 2006 as governor of Massachusetts.

At an Oct. 11 news conference, Christie said any attempt to compare the national law to Massachusetts’ health care reform is "completely, intellectually dishonest."

Christie went on to say, "Governor Romney did not raise one tax in doing what he did in trying to improve the health care system in Massachusetts."

It’s accurate that Romney’s plan did not raise taxes -- while the federal law imposes various taxes -- but there are too many similarities between the two reforms to dismiss any comparisons as "completely, intellectually dishonest."

For instance, both plans require residents to have health insurance, with exemptions for certain individuals. That’s called the individual mandate.

For that claim, Christie received a Mostly False.

In late October, Christie returned to the Truth-O-Meter for another claim about the national health care reform, but he walked away with a Pants on Fire!

The governor referred to the reform as "a government takeover of health care." That claim had been debunked numerous times before, ultimately receiving the designation of PolitiFact’s 2010 Lie of the Year.

While the federal law gives the government a larger role in the health insurance industry, it doesn’t eliminate the private market.

Kyrillos claim

Earlier this week, Christie’s close friend and U.S. Senate hopeful, Joe Kyrillos, faced the Truth-O-Meter with his own claim about the national health care reform.

Kyrillos, a Republican state senator looking to challenge U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, claimed that under the reform, "the patient-doctor relationship will be eliminated."

That statement proved to be ridiculous as well. The federal law allows changes to payments to health care providers and influences what’s covered by certain insurance plans, but patients will still be able to consult their doctors on health care decisions.

We had three words for Kyrillos: Pants on Fire!

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