Feature US Election

Fact and fiction in the US election healthcare debate

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7007 (Published 16 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7007
  1. Michael McCarthy, editor
  1. 1LocalHealthGuide.com, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. mxmc{at}mac.com

Various claims about the effects of Democrat and Republican health policies have been made in the run-up to next month’s elections. Michael McCarthy examines their validity

Throughout this year’s US presidential campaign, incumbent President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, have traded charges and countercharges about their health policies that often stretch the truth and in some cases appear to be flat-out untrue.

In the first presidential debate, for instance, Romney charged that Obama has cut $716bn from Medicare to pay for his healthcare reform law and instituted a plan to create a “board that can tell people ultimately what treatments they’re going to receive.”[1]

For his part, Obama warned that if Romney were allowed to implement his policies, more than 50 million Americans would lose their health insurance and that his plans for Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for elderly people, “would cost the average senior about $6000 [£3700; €4600] a year.”

These and similar charges have been repeated in the candidates’ stump speeches, by their campaign surrogates, and in the thousands of attack advertisements that are saturating the airwaves in the heavily contested swing …

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