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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Sweet: Another Stretch by Obama

The Chicago Sun-Times’ columnist and Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet reports on an Obama exaggeration that we missed.

Sweet said Obama "went too far" when he said, in his health care speech to Congress and the nation Sept. 9:

Obama, Sept. 9: One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones that he didn’t even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it.

Obama was referring to the widely reported case of a Otto Raddatz of Downers Grove, Illinois, who died in January.

Sweet agrees that "Raddatz suffered horrific treatment from his insurance company," Fortis Insurance Co., which she said "deserves all the scorn Obama sent its way." Fortis canceled his coverage while he was in chemotherapy for stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer. That did delay his treatment.

But coverage was reinstated  in April 2005, Sweet reports, and treatment resumed. "Raddatz did not, as Obama said, die because of delayed treatment in 2005." He died this year, nearly four years later. "The last sentence of Obama’s can’t be supported," she said, since there’s "no proof" that Raddatz would have survived his cancer had his insurance coverage not been interrupted.

Sweet says she was told White House speechwriters got their information from an article in Slate magazine which reported the affair "incorrectly."