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August 24th, 2009
06:29 AM ET

PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter: Health care fact vs. fiction

Editor's Note: PolitiFact.com 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.

Who are the uninsured? Hatch's take.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Capitol Hill July 14, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Capitol Hill July 14, 2009 in Washington, DC.

If you don't count illegal aliens, people who qualify for other insurance, and people who make more than $75,000 a year, "it leaves about 15 million people" who are uninsured.

-Orrin Hatch on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 in an interview on Fox News

The Truth-O-Meter says: HALF TRUE

Half True

Read more: A back-of-the-envelope estimate

Sanders says U.S. doubles every other country in per capita health spending

Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill March 3, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill March 3, 2009 in Washington, DC.

"We spend twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation on Earth."

-Bernie Sanders on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 on the Rachel Maddow Show

Truth-O-Meter says: FALSE

False

Read more: As long as Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Austria and others aren't "nations on Earth"

At 59, GOP Congressman says he couldn't get a hip replacement in Canada or England

U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) speaks at a press conference on October 3, 2008 in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) speaks at a press conference on October 3, 2008 in Washington, D.C.

"I'm 59. In either Canada or Great Britain, if I broke my hip, I couldn’t get it replaced."

-Roy Blunt on Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 in an editorial board meeting with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Truth-O-Meter says: PANTS ON FIRE

Pants on Fire

Read more: You're nowhere near too old for a hip replacement, Congressman


Filed under: Truth-O-Meter
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. KJ

    Another case of the Republicians trying to use wedge issues to defeat whats in the best interest of the overall public. We still pay way too much for lousy healthcare insurance. We have the best care if you have the money, but if your middleclass the best healthcare will break you financially. In reading the Truth on meter Sen Saunders got a False statment rating because we don't pay twice as much but we do pay the most ?? While Sen Hatch uses questionable numbers to make his case ? And Rep Blount flat out lies. This is very little about illegals, very little about abortion, and very little about Government running healthcare. A Public option will allow you to select the public coverage that will let you get treated by regular doctors. I am a public employee and I already visit whomever I like for my healthcare.

    September 1, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  2. gcgirl

    A national healthcare program is what we desperately need in this country. I would hate for this opportunity to pass us by and all we get is watered down reform. People need to stop fear mongering, blaming, and diverting the conversation. Just do it! It doesn't have to be perfect, nothing is. Some will complain, they always do. As for paying for it, as with anything you prioritize. This is important it should go to the top of the list. Why cant we have medicare like proram for all, and then let the insurance companies subsidize. I would love to have open dialogue with someone from Canada, UK, ect to pick their brain and see how they are getting it done. Maybe our legislatures neede to take a field trip!

    August 31, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  3. ralph

    Let's get right down to it and fix health care by getting rid of the federal reserve. check out and see if I get a pants on fire about interest indexing at the fed that took a dollar valued at 8 cents in 2008 and cut it in half to 4 cents left of purchase power. This doubles everyone's debt and cuts assets like wages in half and at the end of this fiscal year health care reform costs will double if our 4 cent dollar goes to 2 cents. The fed has robbed us of 96% of the value of a dollar and is a money monopoly. What has been accomplished so far in health care reform is after Congress recess any reform costs will double depending on how much the fed takes of the dollars value with interest indexing.

    August 31, 2009 at 7:07 am |
  4. Ernie

    Why did you let that lady that stoped her AARP memership tell LIES-YES LIES- on your show and you ever said a thing that she was way off base. There is no bill set in stone yet. It is not like Canada heath care, like she said. You news reporters need to correct people when you put them on and they LIE! It is getting way out of line ,the lies that the news shows let people say on the cable shows.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  5. ann

    Let's support AARP's efforts for seniors. Join AARP today. I am.

    August 25, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  6. Vicki Beck

    My cobra premium for family of 4 is 2910.00$. Needless to say, I won't be taking that. Insurance companies are out of their minds! We need to look at Canada, France, UK ect. And model a healthcare system after one of theirs. An imperfect system isbetter than none!

    August 25, 2009 at 7:36 am |
  7. Frannie

    I just wish I knew where Ken lived–most mortgages are much higher.

    BTW, hate to tell you this but most premiums are already around $300/month now IF you have insurance through your employer. People who are trying to buy single pay coverage are paying well over $1000/month IF they can get it. With all the conditions on coverage, there is a good chance that they wouldn't qualify anyway.

    August 24, 2009 at 10:04 pm |
  8. Lee

    I am a Canadian and am often amazed at the lies that are told about the Canadian health care system. I choose my own doctor. I have never had an unreasonable wait for service. I have never feared losing my medical coverage because of job loss, genetic make up or financial issues. I know of no one that has had to remorgage their house to cover medical bills.

    I have seen world class medical specialist. Canadian doctors and medical facilities have pioneered various medical procedures. I have never had to fill out endless forms for private insurance companies just to see a doctor.

    Is the Canadian system perfect? Nope, but please can anyone in the USA say with a straight face that the US system is perfect? Do you not wonder why you are the only major industrial power without some form of universal health coverage?

    August 24, 2009 at 9:35 pm |
  9. Greg

    My father in Australia (one of those allegedly "socialized medicine" countries) had his hip replacement done at the age of 86. He is also being very well looked after in a nursing home, and it is all paid for by the system. Nobody has convened a "death panel", and he may very well live to be 100. Let's argue about how best to do this in the US, but let's leave the baloney out of it.

    August 24, 2009 at 8:14 pm |
  10. Stan

    This is where we go wrong. We start hating and blaming it on others when we are faced with issues.. We know the illegal immigrants are not covered. in any case, we still pay for their insurance now...somebody does. Is it better to leave it broken or try to fix it? ..at least collect some premiums from everybody, thus lowering ours? Then after this deal with the major issue immigration. Since when did Healthcare reform become immigration issue? Concentrate on the issue.

    August 24, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  11. Sunil

    Why is this so hard?

    1. Keep medical providers private.

    2. Get rid of the insurance companies completely. That eliminates the huge premiums we have to pay them. All they do is is squeeze us us on the one side and squeeze the doctors on the other in order to make the obscene profits they do. If insurance companies were the government we would be screaming murder – no taxation without representation. But since they are private companies, they get to do whatever they want in the name of free market.

    3. Instead of the premiums collected by insurance companies, let the government collect a health care tax (based on income in your tax return) and pay the medical providers directly. They do that for social security, WIC, and host of other programs.

    4. Oh yes the government may be inefficient at managing the program but I am sure their inefficiency will cost us much less than the greed of insurance companies. The difference can be used to pay for those who would not be taxed and to lower our healthcare taxe.

    5. We count on our government to ran the armed forces, build roads, run the central bank, administer social security. Somehow we feel that they would be incapable of collecting a healthcare tax and paying medical providers? That makes no sense.

    6. Folks, we saw what happened when we outsourced our armed services to Blackwater. INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE THE BLACKWATER OF HEALTHCARE.

    August 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  12. Chris - Seattle

    When we implemented Social Security and Medicare it wasn't perfect, but definitely needed and we tweeked it as we went along! The problems with healthcare & medical insurance has been an issue for decades and now that a Democratic President is the first to open that can of worms, it's like a civil war in the media and town halls. People please put down all the rhetoric and lets get the public option on the books to give the big huge bully on the block (insurance companies) a big black eye, and once the playing field has been leveled and the dust settles we can come somewhat closer to what most industrialized nations have managed to do for decades and that making American citizens health less of a commodity for insurance companies to make millions off of! Just say "NO" to free-markets healthcare & insurance solutions...Please!!!

    August 24, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  13. victim of republican greed

    The GOP solution to health care: Buy a bus, paint it purple, hire a doctor and nurse to visit one of the uninsured each day for 35,000 years.

    August 24, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  14. ms.c

    There was a time when African-Americans were the scourge of this country. But time and progress has increased the lot of many and no doubt Hispanics will improve some of their lot in life. No race is perfect but this health care debate is returning this country to a very dark past that I hope some of Americans are aware of. We are paying for the indigent care by increased premiums, state compensation and hospitals not paying raises claiming budget deficits. If we don't ike earmarks then use the BALLOT BOX to vote the miscreants out and make them illegal. How about voting parties instead of tea parties. Lets hold our elected officials to high standards and return them to caring abouts constituents instead of lobbyist who only have the rich fat cats and THEIR bottom line on thier minds. Americand pay the salaries of congress not the companies that employ the lobbyists. there will always be and has been alcoholics, smokers, and drug addicts, and illegal immigrants as whipping posts but real debate will only happen when politicians remember who voted them in and out of office.

    August 24, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  15. Gcgirl68

    To not cover someone who is over weight or smokes ect. is counter productive! If we would start putting our money where are mouths are, we would make great headway in reducing the number of at risk people. Health education and access will go along way to reducing obesity, addiction issues, and other high risk health behaviors. Keep your eye on long term goals! National healthcare is the right thing!

    August 24, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  16. McFly

    Hey Steve ... what happens if you loose your job? Does that make you a "lazy piece of trash"?

    August 24, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  17. D. Porter

    Just Tax the Stupid People – You know who you are .

    August 24, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    Remember: Illegal aliens wouldn't be here if people weren't willing to break the law and hire them at low wages.

    Think how much money our country would collect if every employer who hires illegals were fined. The number has to be close to $1 billion.

    August 24, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    This section should be much longer than it is, given the amount of misleading information politicians (especially the Republicans) and their lackeys (Fox, Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, et al) continue to distribute.

    This section should also be a front-page link, in large type, so more people will look at it when landing on the CNN site.

    Debunking all the false information floating around is not only a cornerstone of journalism, it is essential to responsible government.

    August 24, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  20. Ken

    When are you going to talk about the cost of the programs and the premiums? One of the emails flying around the web is alleging that according to a table buried in the bill the average American (depending on their income) will be (taxed?) a monthly premium ranging from $500 – $800. This is more than our mortgage payments. Supposedly this will enable the govt to provide health care to those who don't wish to work or pay into the system. On my dime? Not just no, but Hell no. If it passes I will take an early retirement and let the big pay CNN Health Care advocates pay for my premium.

    August 24, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  21. ms.c

    Please let's have an meaningful adult conversation regarding health care! As much as I would love to see some form of comprehensive health care but I am a skeptic. Whether all Americans realize it or not WE are PAYING for health care for the uninsured! When you are admitted to the hospital ask for a bill copy and disect it . Then you will see just how much is going for other costs. Whether health care reform passes or not the status quo will mean higher health care costs and people losing health insurance altogether. BTW when will all the nay sayers really research the brains behind anti-health care reform? Use your computers for simple research instead of acting like impetulent children. Also, why has a killer like Hitler received a second life. That is an insult to all the WWII veterens living and deceased who defended Europe and liberating those held in the concentration camps.

    August 24, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  22. Marysmith

    Horace, I understand your point but it will never happen here. And, other countries don't require such things. OTOH, we should definitely give a financial break to people who do take better care of themselves. Insurance companies do this already, in many cases. We should also emphasize prevention from a very young age, discouraging all behaviors that are detrimental to health. And cover preventive care...

    I, too, agree, that illegal aliens should not be included in this plan. But, let's face the facts: these people will continue to go to our hospitals whatever plan we have. And I can just about guarantee you the Catholic hospitals will take care of them. The Vatican wants us to cover illegals. How about the Vatican pay for them? They have enough money. And I am someone who was raised as a Catholic and still follows most of its moral tenets.

    August 24, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  23. Paul from NY

    So Horace Brannon's solution is to offer health care to everybody who doesn't need it? Well, yeah, that should lower the cost. Seriously, if you're going to deny health care to anyone who's ever smoked a cigarette, taken a drink, or put on a few extra pounds, what's the point? The productivity of this nation would collapse, because more than half the nation would soon be unable to afford treatment for even minor health problems, and they would either die or be disabled. Think for just a minute about how many people who provide needed services in this country used to smoke at some point in their lives, have an occasional drink, or are somewhat overweight. Now picture them all gone. How to provide health care to the folks who would be left would be the least of our worries...excuse me, I mean your worries. I would be dead in a few months, since I am overweight and a diabetic, and couldn't possibly afford my medications if I was denied affordable health care because of my weight, past smoking, and social drinking.

    August 24, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  24. steve

    How about evicting illegal aliens from this country first and see how much we save. I don't mind paying for healthcare as long as it goes to the elderly, children, and the real disabled people. Not the ones who get doctors to call them disabled when they can still work. Everyone knows what i'm talking about too. i refuse to pay for a lazy piece of trash who refuses to work and sits around and does drugs all day. If you are working you should get some sort of mandatory health care. Whether you are a small business owner or not, your workers make you money so you should ensure your workers are taken care of.

    August 24, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  25. Bill Upstate New York

    Here is an idea to cut the debt, this has been talked about a lot but it is still the fact. Tax on choice items like Alcohol, soda, candy, cakes, would decrease the debt and reduce the health care with less people needing it for the obvious reasons associated with the above items. People will cry about it but they always cry about everything. They need to get out there and do something. They seem to debate everything to death.
    "lets make a list" Duhhhh
    Send the lobbyists packing they do not have the interest of the people in mind just how they can pick the pocket of the people. They should be outlawed.

    Bill

    August 24, 2009 at 8:24 am |
  26. Horace Brannon

    Americans are reluctant to support a total health care pkg. for
    good reason. Because of the problems(costs) of obesity, smoking,
    drugs, and alcohol it would be prohibitive and not attractive to people
    who do not do those things.

    Solution: Make it impossible for citizens to participate in the health
    care package if they are associated with these items.

    That would cut the costs from one trillion to only 1/3 trillion dollars.

    Horace Brannon 8/24/09

    August 24, 2009 at 7:19 am |