A Fake Tom Price Quote

Q: Did Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price say “it’s better for our budget if cancer patients die more quickly”?

A: No. That’s another made-up quote from a “news/satire” website.

FULL QUESTION

Did Tom Price state that cancer patients dying earlier would save money? What was the context and content of his remarks of this subject?

FULL ANSWER

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price didn’t say “it’s better for our budget if cancer patients die more quickly.” That spurious quote appears as the headline on a story on USPoln.com, which was flagged by Facebook users as potentially fake.

Actually, USPoln, which is short for U.S. Political News, credited the bogus story to Politicops.com, which falls under the Newslo umbrella of websites. Newslo, as we’ve written before, claims to be “the first hybrid News/Satire platform on the web.”

Politicops.com posted the satirical story on March 16. The opening paragraph was taken from a real article that RawStory.com published the same day about a CNN town hall on health care with Price.

RawStory.com, March 16: Brian Kline is the type of person who voted for President Donald Trump in November. He’s a working-class man whose job is in retail, scoring him $ 11.66/hour. Thanks to Medicaid he’s being treated for cancer.

During the CNN town hall with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Kline explained his situation and his struggles. “My question is pretty straightforward,” Kline told Price. “Why do you want to take away my Medicaid expansion?”

Price’s dispassionate answer seemed to fall flat on the audience.

“I took care of a lot of patients with cancer,” Price explained about his 20 years as an orthopedic surgeon. “We don’t want to take care away from anybody. What we want to make certain, though, is that every single American has access to the kind of coverage and care that they want for themselves.”

Price went on to explain why he believes Medicaid is flawed and what he feels the GOP health care bill does to strengthen the program. But, according to the CNN transcript of the event, at no point did he say that “it’s better for our budget if cancer patients die more quickly.”

Newslo made up the “die more quickly” quote and more of an exchange between Price and Kline that wasn’t reported in the RawStory.com article.

Kline didn’t ask Price, “what if there are people out there who are going to die more quickly because of what you’re doing here, because you’re essentially taking medical care away from people who need it the most?” And Price didn’t respond by saying, “I understand how all of this sounds right now, but you know, there comes a time in everyone’s life when they just have to stop talking B.S. and be practical.”

Posts on politicops.com, and other Newslo websites like politicono.com, have “fact-buttons” that allow readers to show or hide the facts in the posts. The default is set to “hide facts,” but if a reader selects “show facts,” the portion of the post that the site deems accurate will appear highlighted in yellow, as seen in the image below.

A screen capture of part of Newslo’s satirical story about Price with only the “facts” highlighted.

The option to hide and show facts wasn’t available on USPoln.com, where those who saw the story had no hint that most of what they were reading wasn’t real. Not unless they also read that website’s “contact us” page, which includes its own “News/Satire” disclaimer.

“USPOLN is a US Political News and hybrid News/Satire platform on the web,” it says.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.

Sources

CNN. “DHHS Secretary Tom Price in Town Hall Meeting on Health Care.” Transcript. 15 Mar 2017.

USPoln.com. “Tom Price: ‘It’s Better For Our Budget If Cancer Patients Die More Quickly.’ ” Accessed 22 Mar 2017.

Newslo. “Tom Price: ‘It’s Better For Our Budget If Cancer Patients Die More Quickly.’ ” Politicops.com. 16 Mar 2017.

Burris, Sarah. ” ‘We don’t want to take care away’: Tom Price lies to cancer survivor saved by Obamacare.” RawStory.com. 16 Mar 2017.

Gore, D’Angelo. “A Fake Mike Pence Quote.” FactCheck.org. 21 Dec 2016.

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