A brief history of PolitiFact’s ‘Lie of the Year’

Health care has been a subject ripe for misleading claims from both political parties over the years, according to PolitiFact.

The fact-checking Web site is out with its annual "Lie of the Year" award. This year's winner (loser?) is President Obama's oft-repeated line that if Americans liked the health insurance plans they were on, they could keep them after the implementation of the federal health-care law.

PolitiFact has been giving out the award since 2009. Four in five times, it has opted for a claim related to health care. In some cases, a Republican claim has taken the award. In others, Democrats' words came under scrutiny.

Here's a look back:

* 2012: Mitt Romney's Jeeps/China ad. This commercial received widespread attention in the closing stage of the 2012 campaign for leaving the impression that Chrysler was moving jobs from Ohio to China. PolitiFact wrote:

It originated with a conservative blogger, who twisted an accurate news story into a falsehood. Then it picked up steam when the Drudge Report ran with it. Even though Jeep's parent company gave a quick and clear denial, Mitt Romney repeated it and his campaign turned it into a TV ad.

* 2011: Democrats' claim that the GOP was trying to "end Medicare." House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposed a budget plan that would turn Medicare into a voucher program that would not affect those under 55. But that's not how Democrats framed it. From PolitiFact's 2011 write-up:

At times, Democrats and liberal groups were careful to characterize the Republican plan more accurately. Another claim in the ad from the Agenda Project said the plan would "privatize" Medicare, which received a Mostly True rating from PolitiFact. President Barack Obama was also more precise with his words, saying the Medicare proposal "would voucherize the program and you potentially have senior citizens paying $6,000 more."

But more often, Democrats and liberals overreached.

* 2010: The GOP refrain that Democrats were engaging in a "government takeover" on health care. A staple of the GOP's health-care talking points (dubbed by GOP strategist) Frank Luntz was the 2010 winner. PolitiFact wrote:

It's true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market.

Republicans who maintain the Democratic plan is a government takeover say that characterization is justified because the plan increases federal regulation and will require Americans to buy health insurance.

But while those provisions are real, the majority of Americans will continue to get coverage from private insurers. And it will bring new business for the insurance industry: People who don"t currently have coverage will get it, for the most part, from private insurance companies.

* 2009: Sarah Palin's "death panel" claim. In a Facebook posting, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee wrote that the "America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's ‘death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care." PolitiFact wrote that year:

On Aug. 10, PolitiFact rated Palin's statement Pants on Fire. In the weeks that followed, health care policy experts on both the right and the left said the euthanasia comparisons were inaccurate. Gail Wilensky, a health adviser to President George H.W. Bush, said the charge was untrue and upsetting.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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