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August 3rd, 2009
06:35 AM ET

PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter: Political scorecard

Editor's Note: is a project of the St. Petersburg Times that aims to help you find the truth in politics. Every day, reporters and researchers from the Times examine statements by members of Congress, the president, etc. They research their statements and then rate the accuracy on their Truth-O-Meter.

E-mail 'analysis' of health bill needs a checkup

By Angie Drobnic Holan –

It may be the longest chain e-mail we've ever received. A page-by-page analysis of the House health care bill argues that reform will end the health care system as we know it: "Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed! ... Page 42: The 'Health Choices Commissioner' will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. ... Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free health care services."

Most of what the e-mail says is wrong. In fact, it's a clearinghouse of bad information circulating around the Web about proposed health care changes, so we thought it would be helpful to address a bunch of its claims.

Keep reading this story »

No free health care for illegal immigrants in the health bill

"All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free health care services." – Chain e-mail on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 in a chain e-mail.

Truth-O-Meter says: PANTS ON FIRE

One of its most bizarre claims is the one about free health care for non-citizens, "illegal or not."

We read the bill and its legislative summary, and could find nothing about free health care for anyone, much less non-citizens.

To confirm our examination, we turned to Jennifer Tolbert, an independent health care analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan foundation that studies health care reform. Tolbert has read and analyzed all the major health proposals, including those of the Republicans, and the foundation provides point-by-point analyses of the plans on its Web site.

"No one's provided with free health care. That's ridiculous," she said.

Read more: No free health care for everyone »

Health care exchange is government's way of regulating insurers

"All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange." – Chain e-mail on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 in a chain e-mail.

Truth-O-Meter says: TRUE

To explain this one, we will start with an explanation of the overall bill, which was unveiled July 14, 2009. The bill envisions that everyone will be required to have health insurance. People who get health insurance through work satisfy this requirement right off the bat.

People who don't get insurance through work or other groups will go to the health care exchange; it's designed to help people who have to go off on their own to buy health insurance, and for small businesses with few employees. The reason for the exchange is that the government wants to regulate insurers to make sure that health plans clearly explain what they offer, can't refuse people for pre-existing conditions, and must offer basic levels of service.

Read more: Yes, health insurance companies will have to conform »

Obama claims 14,000 lose health insurance every day

"14,000 Americans . . . lose their health insurance every single day." – Barack Obama on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 in a news conference.

Truth-O-Meter says: MOSTLY TRUE

In his nationally televised news conference on July 22, 2009, President Barack Obama cited a dramatic statistic to emphasize the need for health care reform. He said, “If we don't act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day.”

The White House told us the number came from a report published by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and authored by researchers James Kvaal and Ben Furnas. A chart in the report was headlined, “14,000 People Became Uninsured Every Day in December and January.”

Read more: He's in the ballpark »

Filed under: Truth-O-Meter
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