“The Fact Checker” nails President on Obamacare

Yesterday, Tea Party Patriots hammered President Obama’s press conference for inaccuracies and misleading statements regarding sequestration, Obamacare, and immigration.

We weren’t the only ones doing so. From Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler at “The Fact Checker” this morning:

The president is correct that a vast majority of Americans already have health insurance, and many get it through their employers. The Census Bureau (Table 8) says that as of 2011, 64 percent of Americans have a private health plan, with 55 percent getting it through their employer. Another 32 percent get health care through a government plan such as Medicare and Medicaid, while about 10 percent buy their own plans. (The numbers add up to more than 100 percent because people can be covered by more than one type of insurance in a year.)

Obama appears to be including Medicare, the program for retirees, in his figures, though the health care law is aimed mainly at people under the age of 65.

Obama, in his comments, suggested that only small segment of the population — those with no insurance or poor insurance — will have to worry about the impact of implementation. But there are a variety of studies and reports that suggest that, beyond those groups, some 10 million people face the prospect of losing their current health care.

Kessler lists reports and assessments by a variety of sources, including the Congressional Budget Office, the Medicare actuary, and the University of Chicago. He also points out that unions are starting to be concerned, and push for changes. His conclusion:

The president’s general point is perhaps defensible — that a good percentage of people with employer-provided health insurance may not notice much difference. But he gets into trouble when he sweepingly suggests that only a “small group of people” — perhaps 30 million, including those with no health insurance — will feel an impact as the law is implemented.

The numbers mentioned above come from different sources, so they cannot be easily added. But by any reasonable measure the numbers are higher than the president suggested, especially when one considers the 20 million union members who face potential turmoil.

Obama acknowledged that “there will still be glitches and bumps” as the law is implemented, but that came after he airily suggested that 85 to 90 percent of Americans “don’t have to worry about anything else.” It would be better to forthrightly say the law is a massive undertaking and the consequences are still uncertain.

Kessler gave the President two “Pinocchios,” meaning:

Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people.

Exactly. The President’s sales pitch on Obamacare rests on how it won’t hurt the vast majority of Americans, and will help a minority a great deal. Yet we the people are beginning to see how neither of these claims is true. Kessler’s piece does a solid job of bringing the facts about these false claims to light.