WaPo Fact Checker Gives Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Three Pinocchios

Lately, President Obama's political action group, Organizing for Action (OFA), has claimed that six million Americans have successfully signed up for Obamacare. However, even The Washington Post Fact Checker finds this assertion to be suspect.

For over a week, OFA has been sending out numerous fundraising emails, posting tweets, and writing Facebook messages touting the mythical six million signups. On January 10, for instance, OFA tweeted, "Six million Americans have gotten covered. Have you?" But Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post says that this is a number that should be "ignored."

"The 6 million figure," Kessler explains, "comes from combining a figure of 2.1 million for people selecting a plan via state and federal exchanges, through December and 3.9 million for Medicaid, through November."

Kessler noted that the six million figure has been fostering a lot of confusion among the media. Statistician Sean Trende, for instance, wrote a long piece debunking Obama's Medicaid claims; his analysis forced the Fact Checker to go back to the drawing board on OFA's claims.

Kessler came to the conclusion that the claim that six million signed up "tells you almost nothing about how the Affordable Care Act is affecting Medicaid enrollment" and insisted, "Reporters need to stop using it."

The Post Fact Checker informed readers that the numbers that the administration is touting are impossible to believe because "no one really knows" (his emphasis) what the actual numbers are, as there hasn't been enough government reporting to prove it.

The Fact Checker gave a stark assessment: "Essentially, then, it is ridiculous to suggest, as the @BarackObama tweet does, that the people who have selected a health plan in the exchanges are in anyway [sic] equivalent to the 3.9 to 4.2 million who were deemed eligible for Medicaid."

Kessler awarded "Three Pinocchios" to Obama's claims--and even dings his own paper for using the numbers: "We’re awarding Three Pinocchios to everyone, including The Fact Checker, who improperly used this number or left the wrong impression about it."


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