Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defended the health care legislation that was passed by the House May 4.

PolitiFact: Price, Loudermilk comments on health bill mostly false

Last week PolitiFact checked out two statements about the latest health care bill and a comment by the attorney general about treatment in criminal cases for noncitizens here illegally. None measured up in our findings to full truthfulness. Abbreviated versions of our fact checks are below. Full versions can be found at www.politifact.com.

“We have got 20 million folks out there across this land who have told the federal government, ‘Phooey, nonsense, I’m not going to participate in your program, because it doesn’t do what I need done.’ “

— Tom Price on Sunday, May 7, in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union”

The Affordable Care Act includes an individual mandate, which began in 2014, to push people to obtain health care coverage. It penalizes people for each month they don’t have health insurance at a minimum level of coverage. In January, the Internal Revenue Service reported that in 2016 about 12.7 million claimed one or more exemptions from the requirement to buy insurance and 6.5 million were paying a fine instead of getting insurance,a total of 19.2 million, close to Price’s 20 million. That means just over 60 percent of the 20 million who aren’t insured are claiming exemptions.

Steven Ullmann, director of the University of Miami’s Department of Health Sector Management and Policy, said millions of people struggle to find coverage because they aren’t eligible for Medicaid due to states not expanding Medicaid and some don’t qualify for the federal subsidy to purchase insurance. “They are uninsured because there is no way that they can afford the insurance,” he said. “Then there are others, generally the ‘young invincibles,’ who find that the penalty of $695 is less than the cost of the insurance policies (generally over $2,000 a year),” he said. “They’d rather go bare and take their chances.”

Our ruling

The number of people either paying a fine because they don’t have insurance or claiming an exemption is about 20 million as Price said. But Price makes it sound like all of them are simply declining coverage. Many can’t qualify for affordable coverage, even if they would like to.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

In the House Republican health care bill, “we’re expanding women’s access to health services by redirecting Planned Parenthood dollars to community health centers, which vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics.”

— Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., May 4, in an email to constituents

A PolitiFact reader asked us to fact-check an email Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., sent to constituents just after the House passed the latest health care bill. We zeroed in on his statement about Planned Parenthood funds, in a “frequently asked questions” section.

Loudermilk has a point on the numbers. For 2015, a census of clinics that provide contraceptive services published in April 2017 by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health nonprofit showed 5,829 federally qualified health centers compared to 676 Planned Parenthood clinics. That’s a ratio of greater than 8-to-1, so the adjective “vastly” seems appropriate.

But even if community health centers were able to serve every patient Planned Parenthood currently serves, that wouldn’t be “expanding women’s access to health services,” but just maintaining it. The closure of as many as 676 Planned Parenthood facilities would require more resources elsewhere just to keep pace.

The average Planned Parenthood clinic served 2,950 patients for contraceptive services in 2015, compared to 320 for the average federally qualified health center, according to the Guttmacher census.

Our ruling

Purely on the numbers, Loudermilk has a point: There are more federally qualified health centers than Planned Parenthood clinics. But the notion that bypassing Planned Parenthood would mean “expanding” access is dubious.

We rate the statement Mostly False.

District attorneys “have advertised that they will charge a criminal alien with a lesser offense than presumably they would charge a United States citizen, so they won’t be deported.”

— Jeff Sessions on April 28 in remarks to law enforcement officers in New York

The Justice Department referred us to policies and practices of the prosecutors offices in Brooklyn, Santa Clara and Baltimore. While all three jurisdictions disputed Sessions’ characterization, we found that some offices are considering alternative offenses to which a defendant can plead to avoid “disproportionate collateral consequences,” such as deportation.

A spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA said their policy “does not pertain to charging decisions,” but to sentencing recommendations and offenses to which defendants can plead, which come after charges have been filed. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen cited a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that counsel must inform a client whether a plea carries a risk of deportation.

Our ruling

Sessions’ statement is partially accurate, but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.

We rate it Half True.

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