WaPo Fact Checker Gives Dick Durbin's Obamacare Claims Four Pinocchios

During Sunday's Face the Nation, Illinois Democrat Senator Dick Durbin made the wild claim that ten million new Americans have found insurance coverage thanks to Obamacare. He also claimed that Obamacare would lower the deficit. But even The Washington Post fact checker had to give Durbin's spin its worst rating of four Pinocchios.

As the Sunday, February 5th discussion shifted to health care, host Bob Schieffer pointed out that Obamacare is still confusing nearly everyone, and he asked Senator Durbin if there is "any hope of getting it straightened out."

Durbin kicked into high spin with his answer.

"Bob, let’s look at the bottom line," Durbin said. "The bottom line is this. Ten million Americans have health insurance today who would not have had it without the Affordable Care Act--10 million."

That wasn't all the spin Durbin had to offer: "And we can also say this. It is going to reduce the deficit more than we thought it would. We were seeing a decline in the growth of the cost of health care, exactly our goal in passing this original legislation. I’m finding people, as I go across Illinois, who, for the first time in their lives, have an opportunity for affordable health insurance for their families.

"Now, there are many Republicans who are wishing that this fails, hoping they can find any shred of evidence against it," he claimed. "But we had a bad rollout. Let’s concede that point. Since then, we are gaining steam. And I think, ultimately, we’re going to find you can’t go back. You have to extend the health insurance protection to the 25 million, 30 million Americans who will ultimately have it, and we’ll be a better nation for it.

All of this is simply untrue.

To start with, the recent CBO report did not in any way say that Obamacare would bring down the deficit. On the contrary, the report said that the deficit will rise uncontrollably after 2015.

As to the millions Durbin claimed have gotten new healthcare coverage, the Post fact checker noted, "Durbin appears to be combining two figures released by the administration," and neither number is true.

The paper pointed out that the number pushed by the White House, that 6.3 million have gotten new insurance under Obamacare, is impossible to substantiate because there is no way to know if those who tried to sign up actually got an insurance policy and began paying premiums. The White House is making claims that it simply cannot prove, and Durbin parroted these empty claims.

The paper went on to state that about all one can say is that the number of people who signed up and got new health insurance is no more than 4 million, and even that estimate is "extraordinarily generous."

Finally, the Post criticized Durbin, stating he "has little excuse for going on national television and claiming that every one of these people had been previously uninsured. This has now become a Four Pinocchio violation."

Senator Durbin, however, is undaunted in his outlandish claims. After The Washington Post published its fact check, his office replied to the criticism:

Fact check after fact check has confirmed that more than 9 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage through Affordable Care Act. Many of the more than 9 million Americans are being covered for the first time. No matter the number of new enrollees, there is no question that the law is working and millions of people are realizing the benefits of affordable health coverage and the protections it guarantees.

In reply, the paper noted that it is "unaware of any fact checks that have confirmed these figures as all ACA enrollments or evidence that 'many' of the enrollees are being covered for the first time."


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