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PunditFact: Fact-checking the Jan. 5 Sunday shows

Mitt Romney said Sunday that he accepted the apology of an MSNBC host whose guests turned a Romney family photo into a joke about the lack of diversity in the Republican Party.

"People make mistakes," Romney said on Fox News Sunday. "And the folks at MSNBC made a big mistake. They've apologized for it. That's all can you ask for. I am going to move on from that. I am sure they want to move on from it."

During a Dec. 29 segment, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry showed a picture of Romney and his wife Ann with their grandchildren, which includes adopted grandson Kieran, who is black.

In reaction, panelist Pia Glenn sang, "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn't the same." Comedian Dean Obeidallah said the picture "really sums up the diversity of the Republican Party."

All parties involved have since apologized in some form or another.

Romney on Sunday also talked about the health care law, fighting contrasts between the plan he pioneered in Massachusetts and the one being pushed nationwide by President Barack Obama.

A key problem with the federal health care law, he said, is that it tells "the American people precisely what type of coverage they have to have."

That's not precisely right.

The health care law does require 10 essential benefits for new health care policies — including maternity and newborn care, access to prescription drugs and emergency care. But the provision largely only affects people buying new insurance or people who purchase their own insurance on the individual market.

Most people who currently receive their insurance through their employer are expected to only see minor coverage changes.

That's not quite as sweeping as Romney made it sound, so we rate that claim Half True.

On NBC's Meet the Press, Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling was thrust into the role of defending the health care law. In particular, moderator David Gregory wanted to know about the number of people signing up for health care.

"2.1 million have signed up. The goal is 7 million by March. How do you think you realistically get there?" Gregory said.

"Well, first of all, there's no magic number," Sperling said. "The key is to enroll as many people, have an exchange that's working, have a stable exchange ..."

No one knows how many people need to sign up to make the health care law work. And Sperling has a point that the mix of individuals signing up is likely more important than the raw number.

But the Obama administration has used a number — 7 million by March — in the past. There's no denying that.

We rate his claim Mostly False.

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

The statement

The federal health care law tells "the American people precisely what type of coverage they have to have."

Mitt Romney, on Fox News Sunday

The ruling

PunditFact ruling: Half True
The health care law does mandate some types of coverage, and for some people, requires 10 essential health benefits. But it's not nearly as sweeping as Romney makes it sound. We rate his statement Half True.

The statement

The Obama administration offered "no magic number" of people that needed to sign up for health care on the marketplaces.

Gene Sperling, on NBC's Meet the Press

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Mostly False
No one knows how many people need to sign up to make the health care law work. But the Obama administration has used a number — 7 million by March — to define success in the past. We rate this claim Mostly False.

PunditFact: Fact-checking the Jan. 5 Sunday shows 01/05/14 [Last modified: Sunday, January 5, 2014 9:35pm]
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