Tuesday, The Blaze reported on President Barack Obama's alleged mischaracterization of his mother's, Ann Dunham, arguments with her insurance company as she lay dying (Obama claimed the insurance company wanted to deny her coverage based on a pre-existing condition). Now, the White House is declining to challenge the charge that Obama fabricated the story in an effort to convince Americans to support his Democratic health care reform plan.
In his initial report on the story, The Blaze's Christopher Santarelli wrote:
A new book by New York Times reporter Janny Scott sheds new light on the life of Barack Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, including her final years. Scott found while assembling information for “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother,” that Dunham in fact did have health coverage for her ovarian cancer, based off Dunham’s own past correspondence.
If these allegations are true, Obama's statements about his mother's care were based on outright lies, fabrications -- or, at the least, incorrect memories regarding what had actually occurred. Throughout his 2008 presidential campaign and during the political battle over the contentious health care legislation, the president utilized his mother's story to instill pathos in audiences. In 2010, he said:
"I do remember the last six months of her life, insurance companies threatening that they would not reimburse her for her costs."
The New York Times explains that the president and the White House, at this juncture, are not refuting Scott's conclusions:
The White House on Wednesday declined to challenge an account in a new book that suggests that President Obama, in his campaign to overhaul American health care, mischaracterized a central anecdote about his mother’s deathbed dispute with her insurance company.
On Wednesday, following the newspapers' repeated attempts to illicit comments from the White House, the Times finally received a response. A spokesperson for the president neither debunked Scott's account nor admitted that Obama's memory was incorrect. In his rebuttal to the Times, White House spokesman Nicholas Papas says:
"We have not reviewed the letters or other material on which the author bases her account. The president has told this story based on his recollection of events that took place more than 15 years ago."
Then, after this dismissal, Papas claims that even if Scott is correct in her findings, the president's previous comments do not constitute as a mischaracterization, because "...his mother needed her disability insurance payments to cover unreimbursed medical costs."
That, even in its most meritorious form, seems to be a stretch, as Obama had been explicitly speaking about his mother's health care insurance coverage:
The White House response goes on, using the opportunity to again drive home the need for limits on pre-existing conditions:
"As Ms. Scott’s account makes clear, the president’s mother incurred several hundred dollars in monthly uncovered medical expenses that she was relying on insurance to pay.
She first could not get a response from the insurance company, then was refused coverage. This personal history of the president’s speaks powerfully to the impact of pre-existing condition limits on insurance protection from health care costs."
So far, this is the only response to emerge from the White House. Judging from the way this has been handled thus far and the political sensitivity that accompanies presidential campaigns, the administration will likely tread carefully in further addressing the matter further.