WaPo fact-checker accuses Republicans of misleading voters about fact-checks

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler this week accused seven Republican congressmen running for reelection of misleading voters regarding a previous fact check.

“A memo must have gone out to Republican lawmakers who voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare: If you are attacked for undermining protections for people with existing health problems, jab back by saying the claim got Four Pinocchios from The Washington Post,” wrote Kessler, who lead’s the Post’s Fact Checker section.

“That’s not true,” he continued. “Republicans are twisting an unrelated fact check and are misleading voters.”


Kessler wrote that the Post has found at least six politicians who referenced a May 10, 2017, fact-check on a tweet from Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.) after the GOP bill passed the House, an article that mostly dealt with a figure she put forth.

“As a secondary matter, we looked at the question of whether people with preexisting conditions would be denied coverage,” Kessler wrote.

He noted that the bill did include a sentence that said, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.”

However, Kessler said that the 2017 fact check did not state that the AHCA left the aspect of ObamaCare dealing with preexisting conditions “untouched” and noted that it came out before a report from the Congressional Budget Office that stated that people with preexisting conditions might be priced out of care.

Nonetheless, he noted that GOP Reps. Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamLobbying world House votes to temporarily repeal Trump SALT deduction cap Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs MORE (Ill.), Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisVoting reform advocates pounce on Georgia debacle to urge changes The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump visits a ventilator plant in a battleground state The Hill to interview Mnuchin today and many other speakers MORE (Ill.), Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyHouse lawmaker among officials, businesses in Pa. filing suit over state’s coronavirus shutdown Florida Republican becomes sixth member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus House chairwoman diagnosed with ‘presumed’ coronavirus infection MORE (Pa.), Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenPass USMCA Coalition drops stance on passing USMCA Two swing-district Democrats raise impeachment calls after whistleblower reports Hopes dim for passage of Trump trade deal MORE (Minn.), John FasoJohn James FasoThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads MORE (N.Y.) and Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamBottom line Bottom line Lobbying world MORE (Calif.) all referenced the Post’s fact-check in rebutting their opponents’ claims that they voted to undermine care for people with preexisting conditions.

A seventh politician, Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), referenced a fact-check that defended a GOP politician who voted against the AHCA from an ad from his Democratic opponent that asserted he voted to deny people with preexisting conditions coverage. 

Brat voted for the AHCA. 

The Post noted that it asked each congressman to withdraw their use of the fact-check and that none agreed to do so. 

“The congressman pointed out that the false claim that the GOP health care plan would’ve eliminated protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions had received a ‘4 Pinocchio’ rating,” a spokesperson for Kelly told The Hill, linking to the May 2017 fact check. “He stands by his assertion.”

“The fact remains that the American Health Care Act, which Rep. Kelly supported, explicitly protected patients with pre-existing conditions,” the spokesperson added. “Despite his opponent’s misleading claims, Rep. Kelly has always supported protecting coverage for those patients.”

Updated: 11:05 a.m.

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