Despite campaign claims, new biography says Obama’s mother had health insurance

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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It seems President Barack Obama — who spoke often during the debate over health care reform of his mother and her fight to become insured — may have misspoken.

A new biography of the president’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, reports that she had full coverage for her uterine and ovarian cancer.

According to The Washington Post, biographer Janny Scott writes in her book “A Singular Woman” that what Obama’s mother actually had to pay for were out-of-pocket expenses not covered by her insurer. She wasn’t fighting to get health insurance, but actually to get disability insurance payments. (10 questions with ‘A Singular Woman’ author Janny Scott)

Scott, who covered the 2008 presidential campaign as a reporter for The New York Times, based the section of her biography on correspondence between Dunham and her disability insurance carrier.

Obama used his mother to make an emotional argument to the American people about the need for health care reform. In a 2009 speech at an American Medical Association convention, Obama recalled watching as his mother “fought cancer in her final days, spending time worrying whether her insurer would claim her illness was a preexisting condition.”

The White House doesn’t dispute Scott’s account. A spokesman, Nicholas Papas, said the book makes clear that Dunham racked up several hundred dollars every month in health-care costs not reimbursed by her insurance company. (Fact checking the Obama press conference)

Despite the biography’s claim that Dunham’s expenses in her final months of life had nothing to do with her preexisting condition, the spokesman stayed true to the White House’s talking points. “The personal history of the president speaks powerfully to the impact of preexisting condition limits on insurance protection from health-care costs,” Papas said.