WaPo’s Fact Checker admits he’s got the wrong Obamacare facts

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The Washington Post Fact Checker blogger finally fact-checked himself.

In a rare admission, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler gave himself “Three Pinocchios” for peddling the line that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion has covered an additional 3.9 million Americans so far.

“Bottom line: This number tells you almost nothing about how the Affordable Care Act is affecting Medicaid enrollment,” he wrote. “Reporters need to stop using it.”

Kessler acknowledged his own guilt:

“The Fact Checker noted some fuzziness about the figure, but used terminology such as this: ‘The law included a significant expansion of Medicaid, which in just two months has added as many as 3.9 million people to its rolls.’ We didn’t quite say there was a connection to the Affordable Care Act, but readers certainly might have gotten that impression.”

That figure was a big part of Kessler awarding “Four Pinocchios” to a story published on Obamacare’s New Year’s Day launch.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that the number of canceled health insurance plans exceeded new enrollments in the Obamacare exchanges.

This report was cited by Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner.

“On its face, this claim by the Daily Caller is wrong because the law included a significant expansion of Medicaid, which in just two months has added as many as 3.9 million people to its rolls,” Kessler wrote.

While appearing to blame his readers more than himself, Kessler now admits that the 3.9 million figure is false. He’s updated his original post accordingly.

Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende recently took down the 3.9 million estimate with a widely read analysis of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official Obamacare enrollment statistics which found that the number was wildly inflated.

Only about 1.9 million of the 3.9 million new signups actually lived in states that accepted the Medicaid expansion, for instance. Others weren’t eligible for the Medicaid expansion, but existing state Medicaid programs.

To his credit, Kessler concluded that “no one really knows” how many have been covered by the Medicaid expansion. He also doled out “Three Pinocchios” to the Obama administration for falsely reporting the inflated Medicaid numbers.

But Kessler also claimed that President Obama’s executive order allowing insurers to reinstate canceled plans for a year mitigated the cancellations for “as many as” 2.3 million Americans.

This figure is also inflated, because at least nine states as well as private insurance companies turned down the reinstatement option point blank. (RELATED: Fact-checking the Obamacare fact-checkers.)

So the finally tally amounts to this: one news outlet receives Four Pinocchios despite citing the correct numbers, but The Post’s Fact Check blog gets Three Pinocchios despite being wrong twice.

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