During her convention speech last week, Michelle Obama talked about the pain of Obama watching his mother die. However, President Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2004 that he wasn’t present when his mother died.
“When my mother got cancer she wasn’t a wealthy woman and it pretty much drained all her resources,” Barack Obama said during his speech on Thursday. Joe Biden also talked about Obama’s mother not having health coverage. None of this is true.
In 2008, President Obama claimed that his mother fought with the insurer to get health care.
A book by Janny Scott was released in 2011 that disputed Obama’s version of the facts on this one point.
In Janny Scott’s biography of Obama’s mother, “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s mother,” she reviewed letters from Dunham to the CIGNA insurance company, and revealed the dispute was over disability coverage, not health insurance coverage (see pages 335-339).” [WaPo]
During one presidential debate in 2008 Obama said:
“For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.”
Almost all her medical treatment was covered according to Ms. Scott’s book. Barack Obama’s mother had to pay co-pays and other expenses adding up to several hundred dollars a month.
When Scott’s book was published, Obama did not dispute a word of it and merely responded by saying that his recollections were 15 years old.
The following smarmy propaganda film leaves one with the impression that Obama’s mother did not have health insurance. That is patently dishonest. One thing the film is honest about is that it shows the character of the man as they claim. There are numerous other lies in the film but I’m only dealing with his mother right now. That specific lie begins at 8:35:
1. Hanks says the president knew the cost of waiting on reform. (Though disability coverage was not an issue in the health care debate.)
2. The president says cancer “drained all her resources.” (Health insurance paid for most of her bills, so this is not the case of someone being bankrupted by tens of thousands of dollars in bills. Her salary of $82,500 in 1995 was the equivalent of $123,000 today, but Scott says she had little savings.)
3. Michelle Obama says Dunham “never really had good, consistent insurance.” (It is unclear what she means by this, except maybe that Dunham had different jobs, some of which did not provide insurance. But Dunham had good health coverage when the cancer was discovered.)
4. The first lady also suggests the death “could have been prevented.” (Again, it was not an insurance issue. Before going overseas, Dunham was too busy with work and had skipped an important test recommended by her U.S. doctor, dilation and curettage, that might have spotted the cancer earlier. Then an Indonesian doctor diagnosed her problem as appendicitis and removed her appendix. By the time the cancer was finally discovered, it was third-stage.)
5. Hanks says that Obama’s family felt “the pressure of rising costs and the fear of being denied or dropped from coverage.” (Maybe for disability, but not health insurance.)
In the end, the impression left by the film, especially if you watch it (go to the 8:45 mark), is very similar to Obama’s 2008 campaign rhetoric: His mother was denied health-insurance coverage, draining her resources, and with better coverage she might have lived longer. The film suggests this experience helped inspire the president to keep fighting for the health care law, even in the face of advice from aides that he accept a less-than-satisfactory compromise.