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PolitiFact: Tom Price did not tell cancer patients to die more quickly

Published Mar. 24, 2017

The statement

Says U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said, "It's better for our budget if cancer patients die more quickly."

Bloggers, March 16 in a headline

The ruling

A fake news story pegged to a real forum with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price falsely quotes him as saying it's better for cancer patients to die than to waste taxpayer money.

"Tom Price: 'It's better for our budget if cancer patients die more quickly,' " reads the headline on a March 16 post on USPOLN.com. The post was flagged by Facebook users as potentially being fake news, but it still has been shared on the site more than 75,000 times.

USPOLN.com is a site that we've written about in other fact-checks, and identifies itself as "a US Political News and hybrid News/Satire platform on the web."

Other than that, there's no indication the story is almost entirely fabricated. The domain is registered to an address in Kosovo. The site didn't respond to our attempts to contact it via email.

The story — which again, is fake — is actually from a March 16 post on Politicops.com, a different fake news site. That site is related to the site Newslo.com, which refers to itself in a disclaimer as "the first hybrid News/Satire platform on the web." The Politicops.com site is registered to an administrator named Eli Sompo at an address in Israel.

What makes Newslo.com-related stories especially confusing is that they use a small piece of real news or quotes by real people and build fake stories around them. They feature a pair of buttons that allow readers to highlight the true parts of their stories, so readers can conceivably know the difference. But on other sites without the buttons, there's no way to know.

In this case, the disorienting details are compounded because the "facts" of the Politicops.com story are plagiarized directly from a news article on RawStory.com. That piece recounted an exchange about Medicaid between Price, who is a former GOP representative from Georgia, and a man at a CNN town hall event.

Brian Kline, who said he voted for President Donald Trump, noted he was using Medicaid, the federal health program for the very poor, to be treated for cancer. Kline asked Price why he wanted to stop the expansion of Medicaid as outlined in the Affordable Care Act. Price said he considered the entire program to be riddled with problems. The back-and-forth illustrated that Price does want to draw back access to Medicaid.

The fake comments in the madeup story, however, echo a real accusation made in 2009 by former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, during debate on the Affordable Care Act. Grayson admonished GOP opposition to the bill by saying on the House floor that, "If you get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly."

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But Price did not use the words Politicops.com attributed to him by saying the budget would benefit more from cancer patients who gave up and died.

We rate the statement Pants On Fire!

Read more rulings at PunditFact.com.

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