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Truth Squad: Bachmann aims high with health-care claim

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 2:37 AM EST, Sun December 11, 2011

Editor's note: Part of the CNN Republican debate fact-checking series

(CNN) -- The statement: "We can cut government bureaucracy, which is Obamacare. The NFIB tells us -- that's the small business agency -- that we will lose 1.6 million jobs over five years if we keep Obamacare." -- Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, at Saturday's Republican presidential debate in Iowa.

The facts: The National Federation of Independent Business, the small-business lobby, did estimate in January 2009 that a national mandate for employers to provide health insurance would cost 1.6 million jobs over five years. But the study was done months before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care legislation that critics call "Obamacare," took shape in Congress.

That estimate is far more dire than other conclusions by researchers who have projected the health-care law's effects. The Lewin Group, a research subsidiary of United Health Care, put the number of jobs lost between 157,000 to 366,000.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found the effect might reduce the number of workers by about 800,000 jobs, partly because some people won't need to enter the workforce, the CBO reported in 2010.

The conservative Heritage Foundation projected in 2010 that the legislation would cost 670,000 jobs annually, a figure based on the assumption that the legislation would end up widening the federal budget deficit.

The CBO estimates the Affordable Care Act will bring down deficits by $143 billion over 10 years.

In March, the nonpartisan Urban Institute found the health-care law "will not have a noticeable effect on net levels of employment."

The NFIB study looked at the impact of a national mandate that would require all employers to pay at least 50 percent of the cost of private health insurance for all workers. But that's not what eventually passed: The final bill, signed more than a year after the NFIB's estimate, exempts businesses with fewer than 50 workers from requirements to provide coverage and offers tax credits to offset the cost for businesses that do offer health coverage to workers.

The verdict: Misleading. While Bachmann does accurately quote the NFIB's report, the figure is on the upper end of estimates, and it's based on projections about the legislation that differ from what Congress passed.

CNN's Matt Smith and Julie In contributed to this report.

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