Friday, September 19th, 2014

Rationing? Democrat says it's happening already

People wait in line outside the Rationing Board during World War II. (Library of Congress)
People wait in line outside the Rationing Board during World War II. (Library of Congress)

The debate over reforming the U.S. health care system has inspired a torrent of often conflicting statistics. Today, we look at three assertions made by Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey.

On July 28, 2009, Pascrell took to the House floor to counter assertions by Republicans and others that a Democratic bill under consideration in the chamber would lead to the rationing of health care. Pascrell's larger point was that rationing already exists today, just a different type — thanks to the financial barriers to coverage faced by millions of Americans.

Specifically, Pascrell said: "Forty-five percent of Americans went without needed care because of costs in this country in 2007. That's rationing. Fifty-three percent of Americans cut back on their health care in the last year because of costs. That's rationing. … As many as 22,000 Americans die each year because they don't have health insurance. My brothers and sisters, that's rationing."

We are not going to weigh in on the question of whether it’s fair to equate Pascrell's examples of "rationing" with what the bill's critics charge the bill would do if enacted. Rather, we wanted to gauge whether Pascrell’s numbers were sound.

• "Forty-five percent of Americans went without needed care because of costs in 2007." Data backs this up, with a few caveats. We rated it Mostly True .

• "53 percent of Americans cut back on their health care in the last year because of costs." The study on this figure includes information to suggest it's not quite that dramatic. We rated this statement Half True .

• "As many as 22,000 Americans die each year because they don’t have health insurance." This is an estimate from a credible source, that Pascrell cites correctly. We rated this statement True .