Watch out for specious claims about health-reform law in highly politicized debate; Sen. Paul among those found off base

The biggest story in the state and nation is about to be Tuesday’s opening of online health-insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, under the federal health reform law. “Obamacare” has been politicized from the start, and the current debate has featured several specious claims that journalists should be on the lookout for as they report, edit, present and choose commentary (including letters to the editor and person-on-the-street interviews) on the subject.

“There’s plenty of fodder for fact-checkers in Sen. Ted Cruz’s looong attack on Obamacare, and in President Obama’s defense of it,” says, the oldest of the nonpartisan political fact-checking services. It says the Texas Republican falsely claimed that spouses of United Parcel Service employees will be “left without health insurance” and forced into “an exchange with no employer subsidy.” UPS is dropping coverage only for who can get insurance with their own employer.

Conversely, “Obama greatly exaggerated when he credited the health care law for bending the cost curve on health care spending,” FactCheck says. “Experts say the down economy is the overwhelming reason that national health care spending has been growing at historically slow rates in recent years.”

FactCheck also took on Cruz ally Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for saying “everybody is going to pay more” for health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “The fact is, some will pay more and some will pay less,” the service says. “Some currently uninsured Americans will pay little or nothing because of the law’s expansion of Medicaid.”

As usual, FactCheck has a detailed accounting for its analyses, with plenty of references, here.

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