The Truth-O-Meter Says:

Barack Obama's plan calls for "mandates and fines for small businesses."

John McCain on Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 in a debate in Nashville, Tenn.

Small businesses exempt from Obama's plan

At the second presidential debate in Nashville, John McCain attacked Barack Obama's health care plan.

Obama's plan calls for "mandates and fines for small businesses," McCain said.

"If you're a small business person and you don't insure your employees, Senator Obama will fine you — will fine you. That's remarkable," McCain said.

But we find that when you dig into the nitty gritty of Obama's plan, that's not the case.

Obama's plan expands health care coverage for those who don't have it by a number of strategies, such as creating national pools for individuals to buy their own insurance. It increases eligibility for the poor and children to enroll in initiatives like Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. And it aims at reining in costs for everyone by streamlining medical record-keeping and emphasizing preventive care.

Obama's plan does not mandate coverage, except for children. Obama said often during the Democratic primary campaign that he did not include a mandate for adults so as not to penalize people with modest incomes. If there's a mandate on anyone to purchase health care, the mandate would be on parents, not small businesses.

Obama's plan says that employers who don't offer their employees insurance will be required to contribute to the national pool. Obama's plan exempts small businesses from contributing to the pool. The plan does not define what's a small business and what's not.

McCain calls this a "fine," but being required to contribute to a pool is not the same as paying a penalty for some wrongdoing.

So even by a generous definition, Obama does not fine "small businesses." Indeed, they are not even subject to the mandate. We rate McCain's claim False.

About this statement:

Published: Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Subjects: Health Care


Barack Obama campaign Web site, Health Care Proposal , accessed Oct. 8, 2008

Presidential Debate Transcript , Oct. 7, 2008


Written by: Angie Drobnic Holan
Researched by: Angie Drobnic Holan
Edited by: Amy Hollyfield

How to contact us:

We want to hear your suggestions and comments.

For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.

For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.

Browse The Truth-O-MeterTM: