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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Free Gas For Low-Income Americans?

Q: Is it true that Obamacare provides for opening “free gasoline” service stations for low-income people?

A: No. This rumor was started by a satirical news story.


Is there a provision in the Affordable Healthcare Act that sets up gas stations to provide free gas to minorities and the poor?


Let’s quickly dispense with this rumor, which has been making the rounds on the Internet. It originated in an article on a humor site, The Daily Currant:

According to a report in The Detroit News this morning, the [Obama] administration is using its authority under the Affordable Care Act to “improve transportation routes to hospitals” to dispense gasoline free of cost in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The $2 billion-a-year program aims to distribute 40 million gallons of free gasoline each year through 70 new gas stations constructed in major metropolitan areas. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) will be responsible for operating the network, whose first station opened yesterday in Detroit.

“Supposedly access to the station is determined by income,” says Ebony Jackson, manager of the first Obamastation. “But it’s pretty unrealistic to do an income check on each and every driver. So what we do is basically let all the black people pump for free, and charge all the white people the market rate.”

However, this is satire, not real news. The site’s About page reads:

The Daily Currant is an English language online satirical newspaper that covers global politics, business, technology, entertainment, science, health and media. It is accessible from over 190 countries worldwide – now including South Sudan.

Our mission is to ridicule the timid ignorance which obstructs our progress, and promote intelligence – which presses forward.

Q. Are your news stories real?

A. No. Our stories are purely fictional. However they are meant to address real-world issues through satire and often refer and link to real events happening in the world.

Other stories on the site include “NASA Finds Message From God on Mars” and “Al Gore Claims He Invented Twitter.”

To be clear, there is nothing in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that authorizes the government to dispense free gasoline to minorities or the poor. The law does, however, expand Medicaid to provide health services to more poor people, and it provides a sliding scale of subsidies for health insurance to people with annual incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. But, alas, no free gas.

Here at FactCheck.org, we have written about satirical news stories many times in the past, and we get emails about new ones every week. As always, we advise readers to apply a healthy dose of skepticism to reports on the web, particularly from news sources that are unfamiliar. Here’s another tip: When you come across online news stories with outrageous claims, it is a good idea to check the site’s “About” page. Often, if the site is in the business of writing satire, it will say so there.

As a handy guide, here is a list of some of the satirical sites we’ve come across:

The Borowitz Report — Written by Andy Borowitz, a daily satire column for The New Yorker. Upon his move to The New Yorker, Borowitz wrote, “The Borowitz Report will be as inaccurate as always, and if I ever write something that turns out to be true you have my deepest apology and my promise that it won’t happen again.”

The Daily Rash — If the blog’s motto, “All the news that’s unfit to print,” doesn’t clue you in, some of the headlines should: “Obama Furious After Vladimir Putin Unfriends Him on Facebook” and “President Obama and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un in Twitter Feud.”

The Duffel Blog — We last caught up with these guys when they ran a story that said military absentee ballots that arrived a day late swung the election in favor of President Obama. “We are in no way, shape, or form, a real news outlet,” the site warns. It serves up “military humor, funny military pictures, and faux news.”

Duh Progressive — It fancies itself a conservative/libertarian alternative to the Onion.

Free Wood Post — We’re not sure why anyone would take seriously a report from a website whose motto is “News That’s Almost Reliable.” This site serves up satire with a left-leaning bent, as evidenced by headlines such as “Louie Gohmert: ‘Healthcare.gov Smiling Woman Taken Out By Death Panel,'” and “Sarah Palin: ‘Thanksgiving is for Real Americans Not Indians.’”

National Report — Sometimes, satirical sites even fool the media, with embarrassing results. Such was the case when Fox News host Anna Kooiman bought and repeated on air a story from National Report that claimed President Obama personally funded the International Museum of Muslim Cultures.

Newslo – Newslo describes itself as “the first hybrid News/Satire platform on the web.” It provides its readers with a “fact-button” on stories containing satire. It also marks stories that are completely true with “#NNTS,” which stands for “No Need To Satirize.”

The Onion — Plenty of media outlets have mistaken satirical Onion articles for the truth. One of our favorites was when the website of China’s state paper, People’s Daily Online, noted that the Onion had named  North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as the “Sexiest Man Alive”  in 2012. Even the New York Times has fallen victim to the Onion’s satire. It had to run an embarrassing correction explaining that Tiger Beat had not, in fact, run a cover with Obama appealing to “tween” voters — that it was a parody cover created by the Onion.

— Madeleine Stevens, with Robert Farley


Government Opening Free Gas Stations in Poor Neighborhoods.” The Daily Currant. 29 October 2013, accessed 21 November 2013.

About – The Daily Currant.” The Daily Currant. Accessed 21 November 2013.

Public Law 111–148. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 111th Congress. Enacted 23 Mar 2010.

Andy Borowitz – Search.” The New Yorker. Accessed 21 November 2013.

Borowitz, Andy. “Shocker: The New Yorker Acquires the Borowitz Report.” The New Yorker. 18 July 2013, accessed 22 November 2013.

About.” The Daily Rash. Accessed 21 November 2013.

About Us – The Duffel Blog.” The Duffel Blog. Accessed 22 November 2013.

Farley, Robert. “Did Undelivered Military Ballots Give Election to Obama?” 9 November 2012, accessed 22 November 2013.

DuhProgressive.com – About.” Duh Progressive. Accessed 21 November 2013.

Free Wood Post (site currently undergoing maintenance)

Disclaimer – National Report.” National Report. Accessed 21 November 2013.

Fox News Host Totally Thinks Obama is Funding a Muslim Museum.” msnNow. 6 October 2013, accessed 22 November 2013.

About Us – Newslo.” Newslo. Accessed 21 November 2013.

Frequently Asked Questions – The Onion.” The Onion. Accessed 21 November 2013.

Kim Jong-Un Named The Onion‘s Sexiest Man Alive For 2012 [UPDATE].” The Onion. 14 November 2012, accessed 22 November 2013.

Tiger Beat: Still Squeaky Clean After All These Years.” The New York Times. 16 April 2011, accessed 22 November 2013.