Romney Misleads on Obama Health Cost: Reality Check

Each side has made statements about the other’s positions in the presidential campaign. How do some assertions in Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention square with the facts?

Obamacare’s Cost

The claim: “We must rein in the skyrocketing cost of health care by repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

The background: Though President Barack Obama’s health-care plan was modeled after one enacted in Massachusetts by Romney, and its mandate that Americans buy insurance was initially proposed by Republican lawmakers, Republicans have opposed the law. Republican-led states unsuccessfully sued to overturn it.

The facts: Connecting current inflation in health care to the new law, which doesn’t take full effect until 2014, is a stretch. Health-care costs have been rising faster than prices in general for many years, though the pace has been slowing recently, in part because of the recession. Health costs rose 3.4 percent in 2010 from 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the U.S. inflation rate was 1.6 percent.

Obama’s health-care law cuts future Medicare costs by more than $700 billion over 10 years, in part by reducing payments to hospitals and insurance companies, including those that provide costlier Medicare Advantage plans. Romney says he would restore that money. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repeal of the law would increase the federal deficit by $100 billion over 10 years.

Republicans have yet to offer full details of how they would replace the health-care law. They have pushed measures to limit compensation for patients injured by medical malpractice. A 2009 Congressional Budget Office report found that a $250,000 cap on damages would reduce health costs by $54 billion over 10 years, or 0.5 percent of annual health-care spending.

Relations with Israel

The claim: “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus.”

The background: Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have had public disagreements on several issues, including over the expansion of settlements in occupied territories that Palestinians claim as their homeland, and whether or when to use force against Iran to prevent the Islamic Republic from building a nuclear bomb. Romney has attempted to sow doubts about Obama’s support for Israel in an apparent effort to peel off Jewish voters, who gave the Democrat 78 percent of their votes four years ago.

The facts: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told CNN in July, “I should tell you, honestly, that this administration, under President Obama, is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past.”

Obama’s ‘Apology Tour’

The claim: “I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour. President Obama began with an apology tour.”

The background: Obama, trying to reset relations with Europe following the administration of President George W. Bush, acknowledged in Paris that “there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” He went on to say, “But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual, but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what’s bad.”

The facts: Obama didn’t begin his presidency with an apology tour. Independent fact-checkers have debunked this story. The Washington Post said, “The apology tour never happened.” Politifact said, “There is criticism in some of his speeches, but it’s typically leavened by praise for the United States and its ideals, and often he mentions other countries and how they have erred as well. There’s not a full-throated, sincere apology in the bunch.”

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net; Matthew Barry in Washington at mbarry24@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net

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