From the Fact Check Desk: Clinton’s New Health Care Mailer

By Jaketapper

Feb 17, 2008 6:05pm

I noted earlier today that in Wisconsin Sen. Clinton has dropped a negative mailer against Sen. Obama’s health care plan.

"Barack Obama, Which of These People Don’t Deserve Health Care?" it asks, with a picture of seven voters.

You can read the mailer HERE.

"Barack Obama’s Health Care Plan Leaves 15 Million Americans Without Coverage," says the second page.

Then, ominously: "Will It Be You?"

That seems misleading — though significantly, not as misleading as Obama’s repeated claims that his plan will "cover everyone" when non-partisan experts repeatedly claim that it will not. (Factcheck.org had a good write up of the)

But, back to the Clinton mailer.

The language the Clinton campaign uses makes it sound like Obama’s plan will purposefully leave out specific Americans — the ominous question "Will it be you?" Asking Obama which Americans "Don’t Deserve Health Care"– when the reason experts say around 15 million Americans will be left out is because those Americans will not sign themselves up.

Clinton attempts to prevent that from happening by imposing mandates — requirements that everyone signs up. She will not say what he penalty would be, which surely does not live up to the "specifics" she heralds herself for offering.

(Obama’s plan does include mandates for children, but not for adults.)

The Clinton campaign’s counter-argument is that as evidenced by Medicaid and SCHIP, just offering a health care plan does not ensure those eligible for it will be covered. Maybe 8 million eligible for Medicaid and around that same figure eligible for the SCHIP children’s health insurance program are not enrolled.

Clinton takes some credit for starting SCHIP. Would she advertise against it for leaving 8 million children out? Would she send out a mailer asking herself which children don’t deserve health care? I think not.

Team Clinton says that Clinton would never argue that SCHIP is universal, as Obama says about his plan.

And the bottom line, the Clinton camp says, is Obama opted to address health insurance in a way that experts say will leave 15 million uninsured.

For that reason, the costs per consumer are higher — which is why Clinton in the mailer also says Obama’s plan with cost taxpayers $1,700 more per newly covered person than Clinton’s would, since the insured would still be paying for the uninsured — and their emergency care, most expensively.

But the mailer may strike many as misleading, absolving voters of their responsibility for their own health care, and unfairly painting Obama as heartless.

- jpt

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