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Sorting out the truth in politics

PolitiFact: Nancy Pelosi defends health care law on Sunday news shows

Democrat Nancy Pelosi says insurance companies are the ones opting to cancel.

Associated Press

Democrat Nancy Pelosi says insurance companies are the ones opting to cancel.

President Barack Obama and Democratic supporters of the health care law took another beating on the Sunday news shows, with hosts across the dial criticizing the president's rhetoric and the law's troubled rollout.

ABC's This Week declared "Presidency in Crisis," while NBC's Meet the Press called it the "Obamacare 'fumble.' "

"It may be the lowest moment of his presidency," Meet the Press host David Gregory said to open his show.

Panelists debated whether Obama's fix — to allow insurance companies to reissue health care plans that were supposed to be canceled — will amount to a fix at all, and they singled out Democrats who appear to be jumping ship ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended Obama and his signature health care law in an interview on Meet the Press, saying that the law is working in states that opted to open their own insurance marketplaces and that insurance companies are the ones opting to cancel policies.

"The law does not demand that all of these cancellations go out," Pelosi said. "The laws says if you had your plan before the enactment of the law, you can keep it. And that's what the president said."

That claim, however, hinges on a technicality. PolitiFact rates it Mostly False.

It is technically correct that the insurer pulls the plug on a plan, but that's because of the law and its regulations. Sooner or later, old-fashioned plans will inevitably pass into oblivion — as the law intended.

The Affordable Care Act sets standards for the services pretty much every plan must cover, including emergency services, maternity care and mental health care.

If policyholders bought plans before Obama signed his reform into law on March 23, 2010, they're "grandfathered."

But it doesn't take much for a plan to lose its grandfathered status. A hike in a co-pay of $5 plus the rate of medical inflation could tip a plan over the edge.

Pelosi clearly was the biggest interview of the day, and she and Gregory sparred over politics and policy. Gregory declared that Democrats are in "revolt" and noted that 39 House Democrats voted last week for a GOP proposal that would allow insurance companies to not only renew canceled policies but sell them to new customers.

Pelosi argued that the vote shouldn't be a surprise and that a minority of Democrats have supported other GOP efforts to soften the health care law.

"I remind you that 39 voted for this resolution the other day, the number has been in the 30s when it was to agree with them on the mandate for businesses, the mandate for individuals … so this is approximately the same number."

Pelosi isolated votes on two measures: one to delay the health care law's employer mandate, and another to delay the individual mandate. Her point was that about the same number of Democrats that voted with Republicans last week voted with Republicans in the past.

That's partially accurate.

On July 17, the House took two votes. One, to delay the employer mandate for businesses, passed 264-161, with 35 Democratic yeas. The second, to delay the individual mandate for all Americans passed 251-174, with only 22 Democrats joining the Republican majority.

So while Pelosi is close on the employer mandate, she's off by a wide margin when considering the vote on delaying the individual mandate.

We rate this claim Half True.

Times staff writers Jon Greenberg and Katie Sanders contributed to this report. Read the full fact-checks at

The statement

"The (health care) law does not demand that all of these cancellations go out."

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in comments on NBC's "Meet the Press"

The ruling

Politifact ruling: Mostly False

Technically, it's the insurers that are pulling the plug. But the law intentionally makes it difficult for companies to avoid new minimum standards. We rate this claim Mostly False.

The statement

Says the number of Democrats who voted for the GOP measure allowing health plan renewals is close to the number who voted on GOP bills to delay mandates on employers and individuals.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in comments on NBC's "Meet the Press"

The ruling

Politifact ruling: Pants on fire

Pelosi is about right on a vote to delay the employer mandate, but off by a wide margin on the vote to delay the individual mandate. We rate her claim Half True.

PolitiFact: Nancy Pelosi defends health care law on Sunday news shows 11/17/13 [Last modified: Sunday, November 17, 2013 10:51pm]
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