Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Clinton health claims a stretch

SUMMARY: A new campaign ad from Hillary Clinton is on solid ground describing her Senate record on 9/11 workers and reserve troops. But it exaggerates her role on health care while first lady.

A new campaign ad for Hillary Clinton seeks to portray her as ahead of the other candidates on health care and a tough fighter for the needs of 9/11 workers and reservists.

"Hillary stood up for universal health care when almost no one else would, and kept standing until 6-million kids had coverage," the announcer says in the ad. "She stood by ground zero workers who sacrificed their health after so many sacrificed their lives, and kept standing until this administration took action. She stood by our National Guard and Reserve and kept standing until they received health care they deserved."

To accomplish this, the ad puts her actions as first lady on equal footing with what she's done in the Senate. This tactic should come as little surprise given that Clinton often suggests that her time as first lady should be counted as executive experience for the presidency.

"I'm running because I think I'm the most qualified and experienced to hit the ground running in January 2009," she has said at campaign events.

The ad suggests that Clinton was a lonely, early supporter of universal health care and was responsible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage for children from low-income families. We found both those claims to be inflated.

Even though the plan she promoted as first lady ultimately failed, many Democrats supported the plan, and all the Democratic candidates who ran against Bill Clinton in 1992 supported the goal of universal coverage. So to say "almost no one else" supported it doesn't reflect the facts.

As for the "6-million kids," that refers to the beneficiaries of the program. While Clinton was a player in getting the program approved, others — particularly Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts — also played important roles. So we find the health claim to be Half True.

The other claims in the ad tout her record as senator fighting for 9/11 workers and military reservists. For the most part, the ad accurately summarizes her positions on these issues.

As a senator from New York, she worked to fund programs tracking the health of workers who cleaned up the World Trade Center site. She criticized the Environmental Protection Agency for saying early that the air around the site was safe to breathe, and she's argued that the Bush administration needs to do more to help 9/11 workers.

We give this claim a True.

For the reservists, Clinton co-sponsored legislation to allow them to enroll in Tricare, the Defense Department's managed health care program. The legislation didn't pass, but much of its substance was adopted in the 2007 defense authorization budget. Clinton should get some credit for that, but the ad would be more accurate if it indicated that she was one of several senators who worked on the issue.

We give her claim here a Mostly True.