Ann Coulter told Fox & Friends an “ObamaScare” story Sunday about a friend’s sister whose death was supposedly caused by the Affordable Care Act. Host Tucker Carlson accepted the story without question, much less fact checking. Instead, he blurted out a soap-opera worthy, “That’s terrible!” Today, PolitiFact has rated Coulter's tale "Pants on Fire."
For those who missed her February 2nd appearance on Fox & Friends, Coulter introduced the anecdote by saying a “shocking and horrible thing happened to me” the day before. In reality, the terrible thing that Coulter was about to exploit happened to her friend’s sister. Coulter said:
I got up in the morning and got an email from a friend saying, um, ‘My sister almost died because of ObamaCare.’ She had been thrown off her insurance plan. You know, Blue Shield’s completely just pulled out of California. A lot of insurance companies have just had to pull out. Um, and there is no competition.
Coulter then backed off the “no competition” claim a bit:
I mean, there is state competition. There are a million insurance companies but they all have to provide, under federal law, the exact same product.
…And anyway, she’d been thrown off her insurance, she was trying to get insurance some other way and get on ObamaCare. She couldn’t get through the website. Um, she started to get a fever but she didn’t want to go to the emergency room - she didn’t know what it was – until she got her insurance. So she put it off. …On Thursday, she went into septic shock.
I was giving a speech yesterday… and I went down and mentioned this (anecdote) during the speech… got up to my hotel room after the speech and my friend sent me an email saying my sister died from ObamaCare.
What kind of news outfit takes a third-hand story like this, from someone with a suspicious voting record and a long history of dishonesty, as Coulter does, without checking the facts? Fox News.
Without even probing a single one of Coulter’s claims – much less trying to verify them - Carlson cried out with hammy horror, “That is completely shocking! …It’s not surprising, no.”
Coulter said, “It’s expected. We knew this would happen. …People need to know about these stories.”
Carlson still feigning shock (when he almost surely knew in advance what Coulter was going to say in the segment) continued, “That is REALLY upsetting. So where is the accountability?”
Yes, indeed where is it?
First off, Blue Shield did not just pull out of California. The Blue Shield of California website not only encourages people to sign up for coverage, it boasts of a new mobile app so subscribers can get “quick and easy access to provider/facility and urgent care location information, to shop for a plan, or get instant member access to plan information whenever and wherever you need it most.”
Second, one trip to California’s state-run exchange, “Covered California,” reveals that the plans are not the “exact same product”: They differ in copays, deductibles, some are PPOs vs HMOs and there are likely differences in the network of providers. And guess what? Blue Shield is one of the companies under the Covered California umbrella.
While we were preparing this post, PolitiFact just rated Coulter’s claim “Pants on Fire” for many of the same reasons. Politifact also found out that anyone who received a cancellation notice from Blue Shield was automatically enrolled in a new policy unless that person elected to opt out. They concluded:
Blue Shield did not pull out of California, and the company did not leave people without insurance. In fact, customers were allowed to keep their existing insurance plans through March. If the basic facts of Coulter’s story are accurate, the woman in question elected to drop insurance coverage.
Coulter did not respond to PolitiFact's requests for more information.
So, yes, indeed, Tucker, just where is the accountability?
Ann Coulter: A friend of mine died because of Obamacare...
Ann Coulter explains that a friend lost her insurance and was in the process of trying to get new health insurance when she got a fever. But she didn't want to go to the hospital until she had gotten her new insurance.