Posted at 2:00 PM on November 2, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: PoliGraph
On Thursday, 6th Congressional District Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and her DFL opponent Jim Graves met in the MPR studios to debate. Their conversation ranged from abortion to the new health care law and the auto bailout.
PoliGraph was on the scene to examine several health care claims made by both candidates.
"The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 800,000 jobs will be lost because of the president's health care plan." - Bachmann
Bachmann makes this claim frequently to underscore her belief that the health care law will cost jobs. She says it comes from the Congressional Budget Office, which predicted the new law would shrink the workforce by about .5 percent - or about 800,000 people.
But does that mean that the health care will "kill" 800,000 jobs? Not exactly.
The CBO assumed that some employers may hire fewer people because of new penalties in the law. But the CBO also assumed that some people may choose to leave their jobs and get insurance through the health care exchanges or through Medicaid, which is expanded through the program.
This claim is misleading.
"Unfortunately, the president said we would all realize about $2,500 a year savings on our health insurance premiums if his plan passed. Unfortunately, that hasn't worked out to be true. We're seeing an increase of $2,100 to $2,200 a year." - Bachmann
Bachmann also argues that the new health care law was meant to reduce premiums, but that hasn't been the case.
It's true that President Obama promised premiums would go down and they've actually gone up. The average private family plan has increased by about $2,000 since 2010, the year the law was put on the books.
But overall, Bachmann's claim is misleading. Most of the new health care law won't kick in until 2014, so it's difficult to say whether it's had an effect on premiums one way or another. Further, health care experts say that premiums have long been on the rise, largely because health care is simply expensive.
"We've almost got $1 billion in refunds to people in the state of Minnesota this year because of the act." - Graves
Graves quickly disagreed with Bachmann, saying that the health care law has actually put money in people's pockets.
In fact, insurance companies are doling out about $1 billion in rebates to 12.8 million policyholders because a new rule in the law prevents them from spending more than 20 percent of premiums on salaries, marketing and boosting profit.
But Graves is wrong that $1 billion will be going to Minnesotans. Only $9 million will be sent back to more than 123,000 policyholders here. His campaign said he misspoke during the debate.
"Employers say the number reason they aren't hiring is because of the president's health care plan." - Bachmann
Bachmann is citing a UBS Investment Research report that says the new health care law is "arguably" the top reason employers aren't hiring; it doesn't rely on a survey of businesses, and lists 10 other reasons, ranging from the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts to environmental regulation, that are preventing hiring.
PoliGraph has previously ruled this claim is false because economists on both sides of the aisle say that, while new penalties for not offering health insurance and uncertainty surrounding the new law may be reasons some employers aren't hiring, most are concerned about lagging consumer demand and general economic uncertainty.
"We have consistently the lowest premiums for malpractice insurance in the country." - Graves
Graves believes that medical malpractice rules should be reformed, too. But if they are, he wants them to look more like Minnesota's rules because they have the effect of keeping insurance premiums low and frivolous cases out of court.
It's true that Minnesota has very low medical malpractice premiums rates compared to other states, said Chris Messerly who is an attorney with Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi and one of the leading medical malpractice authorities in the state.
That's largely because cases need to be evaluated and approved by two third-party experts before the case can come to court, which is unusual compared to many states, Messerly said.
"In other words, there can be no frivolous claims in the state of Minnesota, and that's been true since 1986," he said.
The Daily Circuit, 6th Congressional District debate, Nov. 1, 2012
YouTube, CBO confirms Health Care Law Destroys Jobs, accessed Nov. 1, 2012
Minnesota Public Radio, PoliGraph: Bachmann claim on health care law ignores key information, by Catharine Richert, June 15, 2011
Minnesota Public Radio, PoliGraph: Checking Bachmann's debate claims, by Catharine Richert, Sept. 23, 2011
UBS Investment Research, Great Suppression II, Sept. 2011
Kaiser Family Foundation, Employer Health Benefits 2012
Minnesota Public Radio News, PoliGraph: Bachmann's health care claim misleading, by Catharine Richert, July 13, 2012
The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Insurers sending out rebate checks, by Jackie Crosby, July 23, 2012
Healthcare.gov, information about insurance rebates, accessed Nov. 1, 2012
Interview, Chris Messerly, Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi, Nov. 1, 2012
Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to campaign in St. Cloud on Sunday night according to two people with knowledge of the event. The event comes just two days before Election Day and just hours after Paul Ryan holds a campaign rally in Minneapolis.
Ryan, the Republican candidate for Vice President, is holding his rally at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport. Clinton's event is aimed to help President Obama's reelection campaign in Minnesota but is also aimed at helping Democrat Jim Graves in his campaign against Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Clinton campaigned in Minneapolis and Duluth earlier this week.
The race for president in Minnesota has been getting extra attention from the campaigns in recent weeks. Both campaigns are spending money on TV ads in the state but disagree over how close the race is. Republicans say it's tightening but President Obama's campaign says it is well ahead in the polls.
Minnesota last voted for a Republican candidate for president in 1972.
Update: Public Policy Polling, a firm linked to Democrats, released a poll today that has President Obama ahead of Mitt Romney by nine percentage points in MN.
UPDATE: Clinton will hold a "grassroots event" at St. Cloud State University, doors open at 6:45p Sunday, the Obama campaign said Friday night.
A conservative political group founded by Karl Rove is spending $1.4 million on ads statewide just days before the election.
Crossroads GPS is just the latest outside political group to buy ad time here in waning days of the campaign. It joins Americans for Prosperity, American Future Fund and Restore Our Future in running spots critical of President Barack Obama's record on spending.
"Actually Debt" will air through Monday, Nov. 5.
Crossroads GPS is a issue advocacy group that, unlike super PACs, does not have to disclose where it's money is coming from.
This is the first time the group has advertised in Minnesota this election. The ad comes just as Mitt Romney's campaign announced a last-minute visit by VP candidate Paul Ryan. Though Minnesota has long voted for Democrats for presidents, it appears Republicans are making a last-minute push here.
With MPR's Tom Scheck...
Bob Koss, a Senate Republican staffer who lobbed expletives at Republican state Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, last night over Twitter, is out of a job.
"Bob Koss is no longer an employee or employed by the Minnesota Senate," said Senate spokesman Steve Sviggum.
Sviggum would not say whether Koss had been fired or whether he had left voluntarily.
The Star Tribune's Rachel Stassen-Berger documented the online altercation. It started when Koss wrote, "Just saw the @johnkriesel gay marriage ad. Really glad the RINO will be leaving the legislature. #mnleg & good riddance."
Kriesel decided months ago not to run for a second term. He was among a few Republicans who opposed a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Kriesel, who lost both his legs fighting in Iraq, was recently featured in an ad created by a group that opposes the amendment.
In the ad, Kriesel said that it was his experience there that shaped his views about the amendment, which would effectively ban same-sex marriage.
Update: GOP Sen. Joe Gimse told Forum Communications that Koss was fired.
Update: It looks like Koss has deleted his Twitter account.