TV news fact-checked: health care & more + this press briefing will not be televised

by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman

This week the Senate released its version of health care, so to mark the occasion we offer a trio of recent health care fact checks from The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker. Other fact-checking highlights include: a claim that Saudia Arabia has been spending money on Trump hotels (true, says PolitiFact) and Ivanka Trump asserts American workers have a skill gap (also true, reports Politifact).

But before we present these fact-checks, we pause for a moment to present this commentary from CNN’s Jim Acosta on the White House’s refusal to allow cameras in a growing number of press briefings: “That wouldn’t be tolerated in city council meetings, or at a governor’s press conference,” he noted. “And here we have the representative of the president of the United States saying no you can’t cover it that way….it’s like we’re not even covering a White House anymore…it’s like we’re just covering bad reality television, is what it feels like now.”

Claim: 1.8 million jobs will be lost as a result of the AHCA (two Pinocchios)

Earlier this month, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., said, “Americans will lose their health coverage because of his proposal. And it is a job loser. Estimated to be 1.8 million jobs lost. Donald Trump is a job loser.”

Glenn Kessler reported for the Washington Post’s Fact Checker: “We often warn readers to be wary of job claims made by politicians based on think-tank studies. This is a case in point. Pelosi was careful to say ‘estimated,’ but two groups of researchers, using apparently the same economic model, came up with different estimates of jobs losses under the AHCA by 2022 – 1.8 million and 413,000.”

Claim: the reconciliation process will be used for the AHCA (upside down Pinocchio or flip-flop)

At a recent press briefing, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., described the upcoming legislative process for the American Health Care Act, “Unfortunately, it will have to be a Republicans-only exercise. But we’re working hard to get there.”

Kessler responded that “McConnell’s position has changed, even though he will not acknowledge it. He was against the reconciliation process for health care in 2010; he has embraced it now. He was against secrecy and closed-door dealmaking before; he now oversees the most secretive health-care bill process ever. And he was against voting on a bill that was broadly unpopular — and now he is pushing for a bill even more unpopular than the ACA in 2010.”

Claim: insurers are leaving the health care exchanges because of Obamacare (three Pinocchios)

President Donald Trump talked with Republican senators about health care, saying among other claims, “Insurers are fleeing the market. Last week it was announced that one of the largest insurers is pulling out of Ohio — the great state of Ohio.”

 Kessler wrote that Trump “ignores that many say they are exiting the business because of uncertainty created by the Trump administration, in particular whether it will continue to pay ‘cost-sharing reductions’ to insurance companies. These payments help reduce co-pays and deductibles for low-income patients on the exchanges. Without those subsidies, insurance companies have to foot more of the bill.” 

Claim: Saudi Arabia is spending big on Trump Hotels (mostly true)

The attorney general for the District of Columbia, Karl Racine, said at a recent press conference that “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose government has important business and policy before the president of the United States, has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Trump International Hotel.”

Smitha Rajan reported for PolitiFact, “The Foreign Agent Registration Act report mentions at least one filing which clearly shows that the Saudi government spent $270,000 at the Trump International Hotel for lodging and boarding expenses between October 2016 and March 2017. It’s not clear whether the entire expenses were paid before or after Trump became president. Our research showed it was some of  both.”

Claim: there are 6 million job openings but workers don’t have the skills needed (true)

During a recent interview on Fox & Friends, Ivanka Trump, assistant to the president and daughter of the president, said “There are 6 million available American jobs, so we’re constantly hearing from CEO’s that they have job openings, but they don’t have workers with the skill set they need to fill those jobs.”

For PolitiFact, Louis Jacobson rated her claim “true,” reporting “The number she cites is correct, and she’s right to say that the skills gap plays a role. Economists warn against overestimating the role played by the skills gap in all 6 million job openings, both because other factors play a role (such as the image gap) and because the skills barriers posed are often more modest than having to earn an academic degree or to obtain specialized training.”

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