Obama Falsely Claims There Are 47 Million Uninsured Americans

By Terence P. Jeffrey | July 22, 2009 | 10:28 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - In a nationally televised primetime press conference tonight, President Barack Obama falsely claimed there are 47 million Americans without health insurance.

This inflated claim of the number of uninsured Americans was even higher than the false claim of 46 million uninsured Americans that the president’s Council of Economic Advisers made last month.

The Census Bureau says that there are only 35.92 million uninsured Americans and that this number includes 9.1 million people who earn more than $75,000 a year and simply choose not to purchase insurance.

“This is not just about the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance,” Obama said in a prepared statement at  the start of his Wednesday night press conference. “Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change their job.”

But Obama’s claim of 47 million uninsured is not supported by the Census Bureau report, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007,” which was published in August 2008 and is the government’s most up-to-date official report on the number of uninsured in the United States.

This Census report says that within the borders of the United States as of 2007 there were 45.65 people without health insurance. But this number, according to the Census Bureau, included 9.73 million foreigners, leaving only 35.92 Americans who were uninsured.

The Census Bureau also said that the number of uninsured people was declining.
“Both the percentage and number of people without health insurance decreased in 2007,” said the Census Bureau report.

Among the uninsured in the United States, the Census Bureau said, there were also 9.1 million people making more than $75,000 per year who did not choose to purchase health insurance.

On June 2, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a report entitled, “The Economic Case for Health Care Reform.”  The report falsely claimed that there were 46 million Americans who lacked health insurance--as opposed to the 47 million claimed by the president tonight.

“Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance,” said the CEA report.

CEA Chair Christina Romer published an op-ed on Yahoo! News the same day that made the same false claim.  “Health care expenditures in this country are currently 18 percent of GDP and, without change, will keep rising, until they account for nearly one-third of our total output by 2040,” wrote Romer. “Even with this exorbitant bill, about 46 million Americans lack health insurance coverage today, and this number is predicted to rise to 72 million over the next three decades.”

Like the CEA report and commentary by CEA Chair Romer, President Obama’s inflated claim of the number of uninsured Americans was not an off-the-cuff remark. It came in the prepared text at the beginning of the president's press conference that should have been checked and vetted by White House staff.

The president cited no source for his claim that there are 47 million uninsured Americans.

Since the White House first falsely claimed in June that there were 46 million uninsured Americans, CNSNews.com has reported on the correct Census Bureau figure on multiple occasions. Radio show host Mark Levin has also repeatedly pointed out the discrepancy between the White House claim of 46 million uninsured Americans and the Census Bureau’s assertion that almost 10 million of that number are not Americans but foreigners who happened to be present in the United States in 2007.

Each year in August, the Census Bureau releases an annual report citing the number of uninsured—“Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States.”  The next report should be released next month, reporting the number of uninsured for 2008.

The numbers in the new report—including the number of foreigners uninsured in the United States—could play into the health-care reform debate, especially if a bill is not passed by Congress before the August recess.

The Census report released in 2005, said there were 45.82 million uninsured people in the United States in 2004 of which 9.54 million were foreigners. This means that the number of uninsured Americans declined from 36.28 to 35.92 between 2004 and 2007.

Meanwhile, according to the Census Bureau, the number of uninsured foreigners in the United States increased by 190,000 during the same period.