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'Lie Of The Year': Government Health Takeover

Meanwhile, PolitiFact, the independent fact-checking website based at the St. Petersburg Times, has chosen a health care issue as its biggest whopper of the year: the claim by many Republicans that federal health reform means a "government takeover" of the health care system. See the full Politifact report here, and the NPR politics blog on the prize here.

PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen "government takeover of health care" as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats' shellacking in the November elections.

Readers of PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times' independent fact-checking website, also chose it as the year's most significant falsehood by an overwhelming margin. (Their second-place choice was Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that Obama was going to spend $200 million a day on a trip to India, a falsity that still sprouts.)

By selecting "government takeover' as Lie of the Year, PolitiFact is not making a judgment on whether the health care law is good policy.

The phrase is simply not true.

Said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: "The label 'government takeover" has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in health care as a 'takeover.' "

An interesting comment on the NPR blog: The biggest lie was actually Sarah Palin's claim of impending death panels. Readers, any entries of your own?

This program aired on December 17, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth blog.

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