The Washington Post “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler evaluates the following statement by Barack Obama:
We’ve got close to 7 million Americans who have access to health care for the first time because of Medicaid expansion.
And gives it the maximum Four Pinocchios. Kessler’s conclusion:
What does this mean in terms of evaluating the president’s statement? He seems to be falling into the same trap as other Democrats, and some reporters, by assuming that everyone in the Medicaid list is getting health insurance for the first time because of the Affordable Care Act. But that number is nowhere close to 7 million. It could be as low as 1.1 million (Avalere) or as high as 2.6 million (Gaba.) If one wanted to be generous, one could include people coming out of the woodwork, even though they would have been covered under the old law, but no one is really sure what that figure is.
(“Coming out of the woodwork” refers to the large number of people who were eligible for Medicaid before but did not realize it.)
In any case, no matter how you slice it, it does not add up to 7 million. It is dismaying that given all of the attention to this issue, the president apparently does not realize that the administration’s data are woefully inadequate for boastful assertions of this type.
My, isn’t it dismaying that the President has gotten fooled like that! It would be even more “dismaying” if — as I believe — he fully knows that his figures are wrong and is simply telling the American people something he knows not to be true. (I know, it’s seems almost impossible to believe from Mr. If You Like You Plan You Can Keep It.)
Also dismaying is that the “Fact Checker,” one of the few Big Media types actually busting Obama over his health care misstatements, completely misses the distinction between “access to health care” and “health insurance.”
While nobody is going to argue that the uninsured all have access to the best health care available, it is not the case that they are utterly without access — and it’s certainly untrue that Medicaid is the cure-all. There is a network of “health care safety net” providers including “emergency departments, community health centers, public hospitals, charitable clinics, and in some communities, teaching and community hospitals” that provide health care to the uninsured. It’s not an ideal situation, because these people have health conditions that are aggravated or even caused by a lack of preventative care.
But Medicaid does little to fix that problem. The New York Times explained in November that many doctors are not accepting patients under Medicaid and that this would only get worse with the expansion of the Medicaid rolls. The thrust of the story is that providers of health care to low income people are “already overwhelmed and are unable to take on more low-income patients.”
Obama is not telling the truth, and even Glenn Kessler masks the extent of it. Everybody in this room is stupider for having listened to Barack Obama’s statements on this. I award him Five Pinocchios, no points, and may God have mercy on his soul.
Thanks to Dana for the Kessler link, and to JD for that video clip.