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KHN & PolitiFact HealthCheck

Democratic Convention, Night 2: Defending the ACA and Attacking Trump on Pandemic

Former Vice President Joe Biden, now the official Democratic presidential nominee, embraces his wife, Jill Biden, after she spoke during the virtual Democratic National Convention seen on a laptop computer in Tiskilwa, Illinois. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention featured a 17-person keynote speech, past presidents, a roll call vote that doubled as a virtual tour of the United States and an emphasis on health care and national security issues.

Ady Barkan, a health care activist paralyzed by ALS, appeared in a video — speaking with a computer-generated voice in support of Joe Biden. “Nearly 100 million Americans do not have sufficient health insurance,” he said. Barkan emerged on the national scene as a backer of “Medicare for All,” an approach Biden does not support.

Jill Biden, the wife of the now official Democratic presidential candidate, closed out the evening with a speech from a Delaware classroom, highlighting the school’s silence and these difficult times.

Our partners at PolitiFact checked a range of those statements. Here are highlights dealing with coronavirus case numbers and the Trump administration’s position on the Affordable Care Act.

“Now, it’s unthinkable that Donald Trump is trying to take that health care away. In the middle of a pandemic, he is still trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.” — Narrator of a health care video segment

We checked a similar statement by former President Barack Obama and found it to be True.

The attack line refers to Texas v. Azar, a court case pending before the Supreme Court in which the Trump administration has joined with a group of Republican governors in an effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. The ACA is Obama’s signature health care law that expanded access to health insurance to millions of Americans and took effect in 2010.

It is estimated that 27 million Americans could become uninsured during the COVID-19 pandemic due to job losses and other factors. But the Trump administration has continued its legal challenge.

On Tuesday night, Biden addressed several patients who relied on ACA coverage, including Laura Packard, with stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma. She said, “Ever since I was diagnosed, every night I would go to bed concerned about what news I would get in the morning. And even still, even today, they’re still trying to take away our health care, even during a pandemic.”

Another woman later said in a video segment focused on health care that “I chose to become a Joe Biden delegate as I watched with our nation as President Donald Trump sought to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.”

For Trump’s part, he ran for president in 2016 on the promise he would repeal and replace the ACA. He supported a 2017 congressional effort to repeal the legislation that narrowly failed to pass. Since then, Trump has continuously promised to produce a Republican health care bill, which would replace the ACA and protect people with preexisting conditions. He has so far failed to deliver.

— Victoria Knight, Kaiser Health News

Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton took on the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, calling attention to case-count numbers to show how the U.S. is doing compared with other nations:

“We have just 4% of the world’s population — 25% of the world’s cases.” — Former President Bill Clinton

This statistic is correct. The Johns Hopkins database of COVID-19 cases shows about 22 million global cases as of Wednesday morning, including almost 5.5 million cases in the U.S. That works out to about 25% of the world’s cases. The U.S. represents about 4% of the world’s population.

As we explained in a fact check of President Donald Trump’s false statement that “our numbers are better than almost all countries,” there are other ways to compare cases globally. Those measures include case fatality rate, death rate per 100,000, per capita cases and the positivity rate.

Measured against the size of the population, the United States has the 10th-highest death rate in the world. It’s doing better than the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Chile, but worse than France, Canada and Germany, to pick a few examples.

Factoring in population size, the United States has one of the highest rates globally of people who have tested positive — 16,430 per million residents, which is lower than Chile’s, but higher than that of any other large country.

With a positivity rate of about 7%, the United States ranks in the middle of the pack, ranking better than countries such as Mexico and Argentina, but worse than just about every country in Europe, as well as Canada and Australia.

— Amy Sherman and Jon Greenberg

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