President Obama Being Krugmanesque

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 20, 2012

I am sure that the death of the president’s mother affected him greatly–how could it not?–but that is no excuse whatsoever to make up stories about her death for the purpose of passing health care reform.

And it is no excuse whatsoever for a propaganda film to repeat the lie as part of the effort to try to get the president re-elected either. From Glenn Kessler’s article:

During the 2008 campaign, Obama frequently suggested his mother had to fight with her health-insurance company for treatment of her cancer because it considered her disease to be a pre-existing condition. In one of the presidential debates with GOP rival John McCain, Obama said:

“For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.”

But then earlier this year, journalist Janny Scott cast serious doubt on this version of events in her excellent biography, “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s mother.” Scott reviewed letters from Dunham to the CIGNA insurance company, and revealed the dispute was over disability coverage, not health insurance coverage (see pages 335-339).

Disability coverage will help replace wages lost to an illness. (Dunham received a base pay of $82,500, plus a housing allowance and a car, to work in Indonesia for Development Alternatives Inc. of Bethesda, according to Scott.) But that is different than health insurance coverage denied because of a pre-existing condition, which was a major part of the president’s health care law.

Scott writes that Dunham, who died in 1995 of uterine and ovarian cancer, had health insurance that “covered most of the costs of her medical treatment…The hospital billed her insurance company directly, leaving Ann to pay only the deductible and any uncovered expenses, which, she said, came to several hundred dollars a month.”

Three Pinocchios were given for this particular untruth. A fourth could have easily been given as well, but apparently, Kessler was in a generous mood. In any event, will Team Obama stop repeating this lie, or perhaps even apologize for having stated it in the first place?

Not this year. There is an election to be won after all.

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