The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

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January 28, 2014

FACT CHECK: Less than meets eye in Obama speech

WASHINGTON — EDITOR'S NOTE: An occasional look at political claims that take shortcuts with the facts or don't tell the full story.

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President Barack Obama promised to clear red tape away from highway projects that actually are stalled because there's no money for them, not because rules are in the way. He's ordering a higher minimum wage for a sliver of the workforce, which affects no one now and not many later.

Going it alone — without Congress making a law — just doesn't go as far as Obama made it sound at times Tuesday night in his State of the Union speech.

And when he talked about his health care law — a source of Obama misstatements in the past — he hit another fact bump.

A look at some of the facts and political circumstances behind his claims, along with a glance at the Republican response:

OBAMA: "Because of this (health care) law, no American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain or cancer. No woman can ever be charged more just because she's a woman. And we did all this while adding years to Medicare's finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat, and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors."

THE FACTS: Some Medicare premiums have gone up, not stayed flat.

As Obama said, insurers can no longer turn people down because of medical problems, and they can't charge higher premiums to women because of their sex. The law also lowered costs for seniors with high prescription drug bills. But Medicare's monthly premium for outpatient care has gone up in recent years.

Although the basic premium remained the same this year at $104.90, it increased by $5 a month in 2013, up from $99.90 in 2012. Obama's health care law also raised Medicare premiums for upper-income beneficiaries, and both the president and Republicans have proposed to expand that.

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