Fact-checking Gov. Corbett and PA GOP on Obamacare claims

Posted: March 28, 2014

 GOV. CORBETT, like Republicans across the nation this year, is hoping that criticizing the Affordable Care Act will help him win re-election.

Corbett and his Pennsylvania Republican Party allies have repeatedly bashed the four Democrats seeking to replace him by saying the law, better known as Obamacare, cost 250,000 Pennsylvanians their health insurance and denies them access to doctors.

One problem: It's not at all clear what happened to those 250,000 Pennsylvanians.

Corbett, in a well-publicized Nov. 14 letter to President Obama, said: "We have determined that over 250,000 Pennsylvanians are losing their health coverage due to the ACA."

That claim came from the state Department of Insurance, which says insurance companies voluntarily reported the number of policy cancellation notices prompted by the Obamacare rollout.

Department spokeswoman Melissa Fox now says those companies had three options: They could end the policy, bring it into compliance with Obamacare regulations or help the customer find a new policy being set up in a "health-care exchange."

The department, Fox said, never followed up with the companies to find out what happened to those 250,000 policy holders.

Some may have been among the 159,821 Pennsylvanians who have signed up for health-care exchange policies as of March 1.

Obamacare has been dogged with problems, including a malfunctioning website and confusion about coverage.

The Obama administration responded with a series of delayed deadlines, giving states more flexibility to allow renewal of insurance policies that would have originally been canceled.

The 250,000 policies, according to the latest extension on March 5, could in theory be renewed until Oct. 1, 2016.

That hasn't stopped the state Republican Party from proclaiming that "250,000 Pennsylvanians lost their health insurance" or something similar this month.

The party put out two news releases from chairman Rob Gleason on Sunday and an email from executive director Bob Bozzuto making that claim. There were similar claims in a March 20 email from communications director Megan Sweeney to members of the media and a March 4 news release from Gleason.

Corbett's campaign made the claim in a March 4 news release.

We presented all this to Corbett's campaign and the Republican Party and they responded . . . by once again bashing Democrats and Obamacare.

Sweeney, in an email, said the state "will only see the full impact when the loss of hours and wages, job cuts and the rest of Obamacare's collateral damage may drive that number higher."

Corbett campaign spokesman Billy Pitman offered this:

"While the president continues to move the goalposts on Obamacare's disastrous rollout for the convenience of his political allies in 2014, these delays do nothing to ease the concerns and costs of families and small businesses who have been affected."

Hard-Boyled mystery

State Rep. Brendan Boyle yesterday survived a primary ballot challenge that raised more questions than it answered.

Larry Otter, an attorney active in campaign legal actions, challenged Boyle's nomination petitions for his re-election in Northeast Philly's 170th District.

Boyle, who has no opponent in the May 29 Democratic primary election or the Nov. 4 general election, is also a candidate in the highly competitive primary for the 13th Congressional District.

Otter filed the challenge in the name of Michelle Szydlowski, a voter in the 170th District, who did not attend the hearing.

Otter, who said he hasn't met or spoken with Szydlowski, declined to identify who hired him.

He had a good laugh when we asked if another candidate for the 13th District was paying for the challenges. "I'm shocked that you would even ask that question," Otter said.

Otter challenged Boyle's petitions because one of his staffers notarized the bulk of them.

Commonwealth Court Senior Judge James Gardner Colins, after hearing the staffer testify that the notarization happened after work hours, dismissed the case.

Boyle staffers in court suspect state Sen. Daylin Leach, another 13th District candidate, was behind the challenge.

Leach's campaign manager, Aren Platt, was also in court. He said Leach's campaign had no involvement in the challenge.

Quotable

" I don't have the financial resources of other candidates but I would hope sooner, rather than later." - Former state Auditor General Jack Wagner, a late entrant to the Democratic primary election for governor, when asked at a forum on Sunday when he planned to air campaign commercials. Wagner dropped out of the race on Wednesday.


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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