Fact check failure
Thanks to letter writer Paul Kauffmann for pointing out a Charlotte Observer story that I missed after the first Elaine Marshall and Richard Burr Senate debate. The article tries to fact check the candidates and, as Kauffmann points out, seriously messes up the health care section.
At issue is Burr’s claim that health reform “steals” $500 billion from Medicare. The fact check claims that one government report warned of sharply reduced benefits for seniors and forcing some hospitals to stop taking Medicare patients.
This is, as the letter writer notes, a small reduction in spending growth that will not cut Medicare benefits. The government report cited by the Charlotte Observer did not say that seniors will see benefits slashed and hospitals closing their doors. Instead it warned that if hospitals don’t restrain spending enough then the full savings in Medicare will not be realized. If hospitals don’t constrain spending enough, and political forces decide that all of the cuts should remain in place, then there could be access problems.
I don’t put much stock in fact checking debates because the checking is usually as misleading as the original claim. But this was a ridiculous assertion by Burr and one that merited a little more attention and accuracy from the media.