Huffpost Politics

Herman Cain's Claim That He Would Have Died From Cancer Under 'Obamacare' Ruled False

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Presidential candidate Herman Cain's claim that he would have died from cancer under the new health care law is inaccurate, according to PolitFact, the fact-checking project run by the St. Petersburg Times.

In 2006, Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in his liver and colon. At the Fox News-Google debate on Thursday, Cain said that if "Obamacare" had been in place at that time, he wouldn't have survived because of bureaucratic interference:

The reason I said that I would be dead on 'Obamacare' is because my cancer was detected in March of 2006. And from March 2006 all the way to the end of 2006, for that number of months, I was able to get the necessary CAT scan tests, go to the necessary doctors, get a second opinion, get chemotherapy, go to get surgery, recuperate from surgery, get more chemotherapy in a span of nine months.

If we had been on 'Obamacare' and a bureaucrat was trying to tell me when I could get that CAT scan, that would have delayed my treatment. My surgeons and doctors have told me that because I was able to get the treatment as fast as I could, based upon my timetable, and not the government's timetable, that's what saved my life, because I only had a 30 percent chance of survival. And now I'm here five years cancer-free because I could do it on my timetable and not on a bureaucrat's timetable. This is one of the reasons I believe a lot of people are objecting to 'Obamacare,' because we need to get bureaucrats out of the business of trying to micromanage health care in this nation.

Though it pulls at heart strings, no part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows a "government bureaucrat" to intervene in treatment decisions. PolitiFact surmised that the closest thing Cain might have been referring to was the Independent Payment Advisory Board -- a group responsible for lowering the rising costs of Medicare but which became maligned as "death panels" by conservatives.

According to PolitiFact, however, even IPAB would not have had any bearing on his treatment:

But saying that the IPAB will determine the course of treatment for individual cases is an entirely different matter -- and it's factually incorrect. Even people who oppose the IPAB agree that it will not intervene in the cases of individual patients but will rather determine how much the government pays health care providers for various services. It can also reduce payments to hospitals with very high rates of readmission or recommend innovations that cut wasteful spending. (See PolitiFact Georgia's fact-check for more details on the IPAB.)

But we should point out here that the IPAB applies to Medicare. Medicare is a government-run health insurance program for those over age 65. When Cain was diagnosed with cancer in March 2006, he would have been 60 -- too young for Medicare. So the IPAB wouldn't even have applied, even if it had been in effect at the time.

Cain won the Florida Straw Poll the Saturday after the Orlando debate, beating out Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

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Filed by Luke Johnson