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health carnage

Obama Administration Using Scary Year-Old Stats to Sell Health-Care Reform

As the Obama administration makes a final effort to push health-care reform over the top, it's relying on some old data that happens to make the already dire need for health-care reform sound even more pressing. On Sunday's Meet the Press, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius was the latest in a long line of Democrats over the past year, including President Obama, to claim that 14,000 or 15,000 people a day are losing their health insurance. This stat is based on a study that looked at the number of people in December 2008 and January 2009 who lost their health insurance when they lost their jobs — 900,000 people, according to the Center for American Progress.

But according to our Joel Osteen Inspirational Quote of the Day calendar, it is no longer January 2009. The period the study measured was at the height of the recession, when job losses reached over half a million each month. This February, however, "only" (a relative term) 36,000 people were put out of work, so clearly, 15,000-a-day is no longer an accurate figure. The nonpartisan website Politifact already noted in December that Democrats should update their talking points, but apparently, Sebelius prefers a bigger, scarier number to an accurate one. Isn't there enough of an argument to make for health-care reform without being disingenuous?

CNN Fact Check: Are 15K people a day losing health insurance? [Political Ticker/CNN]

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Photo: Brendan Hoffman-Pool/Getty Images