KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Fact Checks Examine Various Health Care Reform Claims

News outlets provide a variety of fact checks on health care reform.

The Christian Science Monitor reports on four key issues – a public option, raising taxes and cutting costs, individual mandates and abortion – that may become points of major differences when expected debate begins Nov. 30 on the Senate bill. The Monitor examines how each issue is covered in both the House and the Senate bills (Chaddock, 11/24).

CBS News reports: "Add the Senate and House bills together and they are 4,064 pages worth of reforms that Democrats say will revolutionize the health care system and Republicans say will bankrupt it. No wonder many Americans have doubts. Citizens told us they think Congress is 'Rushing it through. They should give it more thought,' and, 'I don't think I want a public option because I don't think the government handles things too well.' Concerns run so deep, that the most recent CBS News poll shows only 40 percent of Americans approve of the proposed health care plans in Congress while 45 percent disapprove. Polls show one of their main concerns is the price tag: around $1 trillion over 10 years."

CBS News also provides a "reality check" on a variety of claims including: the health care proposals will boost the deficit; taxes will go up for everyone; reform will hurt Medicare; and reform won't cut health care costs. "When it comes to health care reform, Americans may be uncertain about the details, but 8 in 10 tell CBS News there is a need for fundamental change. Congress, however, is finding that the path toward health care reform is not as clear as the nation's wish to get there" (Cordes, 11/24).

Meanwhile, The St. Petersburg Times' Politifact reports on a claim from Sen. Orrin Hatch that the Senate health care bill is longer than Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace. "In a Nov. 19, 2009, news release, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that the 2,074-page bill was 'longer than Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.' We decided to see if he was right. The Oxford World's Classics paperback edition of War and Peace weighs in at 1,392 pages, according to By that measure, the 2,074-page Senate bill would indeed be longer. But using pages as the benchmark is misleading ... So while Hatch is right if you simply count pages, when you use a more accurate comparison -- the number of words -- War and Peace is actually longer. In other words, he is right by one measurement, but not by the best measurement. So it turns out that Democrats aren't as wordy as a Russian novelist. Who knew? We find his claim Barely True" (11/20).

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