Durbin's Defense of ObamaCare Receives Worst Rating From WashPost 'Fact Checker'

February 13th, 2014 8:15 AM

Senator Dick Durbin apparently didn't check his facts before making a number of wild claims during his appearance on Sunday morning's edition of CBS's Face the Nation.

The Illinois Democrat's assertions that 10 million Americans have found insurance coverage thanks to ObamaCare -- which he also claimed would lower the budget deficit -- earned him four Pinocchios from the Washington Post's "fact checker," the lowest rating possible.

When discussing ObamaCare, host Bob Schieffer stated that the new health-care system is still confusing to nearly everyone. He then asked the senator if there is “any hope of getting it straightened out.”

Durbin responded:

Bob, let’s look at the bottom line. Ten million Americans have health insurance today who would not have had it without the Affordable Care Act -- 10 million. And we can also say this. It is going to reduce the deficit more than we thought it would.

We're 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," the Illinois Democrat asserted.

"We had a bad rollout. Let’s concede that point,” he said. “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, 30 million Americans who will ultimately have it, and we’ll be a better nation for it.”

However, according to an online article by the Post's appointed "fact checker" Glenn Kessler: “Sometimes, talking points persist even in the face of new evidence negating the previous claims.”

Kessler stated that “Durbin appears to be combining two figures released by the administration: more than three million signing up for insurance through the federal HealthCare.gov and state exchanges, and 6.3 million deemed eligible for Medicaid.”

But there are big problems with both numbers, the reporter noted.

First, “the troubled federal exchange counts people as enrolled if an individual has selected a plan, but it does not know if a person enrolled and paid a premium because that part of the system has yet to be built.”

Second, the Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility, but “no one really knows how many of the 6.3 million are in this expansion pool -- or whether they are simply renewing or would have qualified for Medicaid before the new law.”

“These figures must be treated with caution,” he noted, but “Durbin went a step further and claimed that all of these people would not have had health insurance if not for the Affordable Care Act.”

“That’s simply ridiculous,” Kessler said, since it is impossible to verify the White House claims. About all one can say with certainty is that the number of people who signed up and got new health insurance is no more than four million, and even that estimate is "extraordinarily generous."

Also, Kessler sharply criticized Durbin, stating that given the “fuzzy nature” of the numbers and the wide publicity devoted to recent surveys, 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.”

Soon after the article appeared, Durbin spokesman Max Gleischman released this statement:

Fact check after fact check has confirmed that more than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Many of the more than nine 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.

The Fact Checker responded that he 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."

Regarding ObamaCare's impact on the federal budget deficit, a recent Congressional Budget Office report did not suggest that ObamaCare would bring down the deficit. Instead, it is expected to rise uncontrollably after 2015.

It comes as no surprise that such a devoted ObamaCare supporter doesn't let reality get in the way of his opinion. Perhaps in the future, Durbin will check his facts before making more wild claims.