Obama’s Health Care Speech
We fact-check the president’s address to Congress and the nation.
September 10, 2009
President Obama’s prime-time address to Congress and the nation on health care prompted a Republican congressman to shout “you lie!” Did he? Here’s what we’ve found:
Obama was correct when he said his plan wouldn’t insure illegal immigrants; the House bill expressly forbids giving subsidies to those who are in the country illegally. Conservative critics complain that the bill lacks an enforcement mechanism, but that hardly makes the president a liar.
The president said “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.” But the House bill would permit a “public option” to cover all abortions, and would also permit federal subsidies to be used to purchase private insurance that covers all abortions, a point that raises objections from anti-abortion groups. That’s true despite a technical ban on use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion coverage.
The president repeated his promise that his plan won’t add “one dime” to the federal deficit. But legislation offered so far would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The president overstated the degree of concentration in the insurance industry. He said that in 34 states the “insurance market” is controlled by five or fewer companies, but that’s true only of insurance bought by small groups, not the entire “insurance market.”
Obama said his plan won’t “require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.” It’s true that there’s no requirement, but experts say the legislation could induce employers to switch coverage for millions of workers.