Monday, January 22, 2018
Politics

PunditFact: Flip-flops on 'nuclear option'; Palin on health care

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin returned to the Sunday news show circuit to pitch a new book and talk about the health care law with Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace.

In a taped interview, Wallace asked Palin about the issues of the moment: the problems surrounding the rollout of the health care law and the decision by Senate Democrats to stop the ability of Republicans to filibuster judicial and presidential appointments.

On health care, Palin said she didn't believe Congressional Budget Office projections, which show approximately 30 million uninsured Americans will receive health care as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

"I am one to question those numbers that 30 million more people will receive health care coverage under Obamacare. … I don't believe a doggone thing coming out of Washington, D.C., anymore," she said.

Moments later, Palin said: "There will be fewer people being covered under a sensible doctor-patient-relationship-centered health care program under Obamacare than what we see today. I guarantee you that."

PunditFact zeroed in on the idea that the health care alters the "sensible doctor-patient-relationship-centered health care program … we see today."

That claim rates False.

There are reports that insurance companies are shrinking their networks, including excluding certain hospitals from coverage. This is particularly the case for insurance plans sold on the new state and federal marketplaces created by Obamacare. That means some people could be forced to switch doctors.

Some of this maneuvering was going on for years, however, and a trend already taking place in the industry may have just been accelerated by the law. In the spring of 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported on insurance companies in California offering a narrower list of providers to thousands of customers.

That's a far cry from Palin's actual words, however, which suggest a government intervention in the doctor-patient relationship. The health care law leaves the current doctor-patient relationship in place.

Other pundits focused on the decision of Democrats to invoke the so-called "nuclear option." On ABC's This Week, former George W. Bush adviser Matthew Dowd suggested it's difficult for anyone to claim the political high ground.

"There's a virus going around Washington, D.C., and it's a virus of hypocrisy," Dowd said. "Harry Reid was against this before he was for it. Mitch McConnell was for it before he was against it. President Obama was against it before he was for it."

Dowd has history correct.

Back in 2005, a Republican was in the White House, Republicans controlled the Senate, and Democrats were being criticized for blocking judicial nominations.

McConnell, then the majority whip, said he supported using the nuclear option. Back then, Reid and Obama said they opposed the rule change.

"The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse," Obama said in 2005.

Dowd's claim rates True.

Times staff writers Steve Contorno and Julie Kliegman contributed to this report. Aaron Sharockman is the editor of PunditFact.com.

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