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Republican Barbara Comstock is offering herself as antidote to Obamacare in her campaign for the 10th District congressional seat in Northern Virginia.
Comstock says Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, should be repealed. On her website, she claimed that the law "already has caused millions of hardworking Virginians to lose their health insurance and have their well-being and financial health threatened."
We hadn’t heard that statistic before and wondered if it could be correct that -- in a state with about 8 million people -- "millions" had already lost their insurance because of the law.
We asked Comstock’s campaign for proof and were told it made an error.
"Our website said ‘Virginians’ when it should have read ‘Americans’," Johanna Persing, the communications director for Comstock’s campaign, emailed. Comstock changed the wording on her site.
There’s no doubt that millions of Americans in the individual market -- those who purchase health insurance themselves or are covered by small employers -- were notified last fall that their policies were being discontinued because they don’t fulfill minimum coverage requirements under Obamacare.
No one could say exactly how many policies were cancelled, but media reports estimated the number was at least 4 million. The embarrassed White House offered a fix that allowed many of the disqualified plans to exist for another year. Some people were moved to a different plan by their insurance companies or got coverage on state exchanges created by the health care law.
But Comstock’s original claim raises an interesting question: How many Virginians received notices last year that their policies were ending?
Virginia doesn’t keep those figures, said Ken Schrad, a spokesman for the State Corporation Commission.
Doug Gray, the executive director with the Virginia Association of Health Plans, estimates 850,000 Virginians who bought their plans individually or got coverage through a small employer were notified their plans were discontinued.
Gray stressed, however, that those people were given a choice to switch to a new plan or to renew their original policy for another year. A majority of them chose to keep their original policy through this year, he said.
Comstock’s website said that millions of Virginians lost their health insurance because of Obamacare.
Her campaign acknowledged it erred and, after our inquiry, changed its site to say millions of "Americans" lost their health insurance. While we applaud the campaign’s admission of a mistake, that does not unplug the Truth-O-Meter.
There’s no exact count on how many Virginians were notified last year that their plans would be ended because of Obamacare. A state health insurance lobbyist estimates the number at 850,000. But these people still had options; they or their employer could renew their old plans for another year or switch to new coverage.
So Comstock’s claim about millions of Virginians losing coverage was unfounded and we rate it False.
Barbara Comstock for Congress website, accessed July 7, 2014 and July 9, 2014.
E-mail from Johanna Persing, communications director for Barbara Comstock’s congressional campaign, July 9, 2010.
RAND Corporation, "Survey estimates net gain of 9.3 million Americans with health insurance," April 8, 2014.
Interview with Christine Eibner, senior economist at the RAND Corporation, July 15, 2014.
Interviews with Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Assocation of Health Plans, July 16-18, 2014.
E-mail from Doug Gray, July 17, 2014.
Interview with Ken Schrad, spokesman for the Virginia State Corporation Commission, July 17, 2014.
Christopher Conover, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, "No, David Axelrod, ‘the vast majority of people in this country’ are not keeping their plan," Oct. 30, 2013.
The Washington Post, "Stunning new report undermines central GOP Obamacare claim," Dec. 31, 2013.
PolitiFact, "Lie of the year: If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,’" Dec. 12, 2013.
PolitiFact Virginia, "Upon reconsideration, Cantor’s 2012 Obamacare claim still doesn’t hold up," March 9, 2014.
PunditFact, "Glenn Beck says Barack Obama knew that 50% of Americans would lose health insurance," Nov. 4, 2013.
The Associated Press, "Policy notifications and current status, by state," Dec. 26, 2013.
The Washington Post Fact Checker, "Boehner’s claim that Obamacare has resulted in a ‘net loss’ of people with health insurance," March 17, 2014.
PolitiFact, "John Boeher says more people are uninsured since Obamacare took effect," March 18, 2014.
The Washington Post, "The GOP says Obamacare will cancel 80-100 million insurance plans. Nope." Dec. 5, 2013.
Politico, "The verdict is in: Obamacare lowers uninsured," July 10, 2014.
PolitiFact, "David Axelrod says the ‘vast majority’ of Americans will keep their health insurance, plan," Oct. 29, 2013.
Kaiser Family Foundation, "Health Insurance Coverage of the total population," accessed, July 16, 2014.
Kaiser Family Foundation, "The Virginia health care landscape," May 20, 2014.
Kaiser Family Foundation, "Data note: How many people have nongroup health insurance?" Jan. 3, 2014.
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