April 6th, 2008
02:11 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton drops hospital story from stump speech

Clinton campaigned in Montana Saturday.

Clinton campaigned in Montana Saturday.

(CNN) - Hillary Clinton’s campaign says the candidate will stop telling the story of an uninsured pregnant woman who lost the baby and died after being denied medical care, following a hospital raising questions over its accuracy.

Clinton has frequently told the emotional story of the woman from rural Ohio since late February. In the speech, Clinton said the woman made minimum wage working at a local pizza restaurant, without insurance, when she became pregnant. Clinton said the woman ran into trouble and went to a hospital in a nearby county but was denied treatment because she couldn’t afford a $100 payment.

In the speech, Clinton said the woman later was taken to the hospital by ambulance and lost the baby. The young woman was then taken by helicopter to a Columbus hospital where she died of complications.

As recently as Friday night in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Clinton said, “As I was listening to this story being told, I was just aching inside. It is so wrong, in this good, great and rich country, that a young woman and her baby would die because she didn’t have health insurance or a hundred dollars to get examined.”

But an Athens, Ohio hospital is questioning the accuracy of the story. While Clinton never named the hospital in her speech, the woman she was referring to was treated at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens. The hospital said the woman did indeed have insurance, and at least at their hospital was never turned away.

Hospital chief executive officer Rick Castrop in a statement said, “we reviewed the medical and patient accounts of the patient” after she was named in a newspaper story about Clinton’s stump speech. “There is no indication that she was ever denied medical care at any time, for any reason. We clearly reject any perception that we ever denied any care to this woman.”

A hospital spokesperson confirmed to CNN the woman had insurance. She said the hospital decided to come forward after people in the community began to question if they had denied her care.

Clinton was first told the story during a campaign visit to a family’s living room in Pomeroy, Ohio. Bryan Holman, who was hosting the candidate, at the event told her on Febuary 28, ‘I’d like to tell you a story of a young women I know that didn't have health insurance. She worked in a little pizza place around here and she was pregnant and worked for minimum wage ..The hospital told her she needed a hundred dollars up front that she didn't have, of course.”

Clinton’s speech accurately reflects what she was told that day, but the campaign admits they were not able to confirm the account.

Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said, “She had no reason to doubt his word”. He said,” Candidates are told stories by people all the time, and it’s common for candidates to retell those stories. It’s not always possible to fully vet them, but we try. For example, medical records are confidential. In this case, we tried but weren’t able to fully vet the story.”

Elleithee added, “If the hospital claims it didn’t happen that way, we certainly respect that and she won’t repeat the story.”

“She never mentions the hospital by name and isn’t trying to cast blame. She tells this story because it illustrates the point that we have a very serious health care problem in America. That’s a point very few people will dispute," he also said.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (884 Responses)
  1. Jared in WA

    Don't get me wrong. I am no Hillary supporter. Her behavior and mis-speaks have made me so disgusted that I cannot imagine a scenario that her nomination would be good for the party.

    However, that being said, I believe that most people are over-reacting to this story. Yes, the particular story she told may not be based on truth. Yes, it is inaccurate. She is right to stop telling it. However, there is a major problem in health care. I'm not convinced her plan is the right fix, but there is a problem. It is unfortunate that her efforts to illustrate this problem were not accurate in this instance.

    Hillary did not make up THIS story. She was told a story by a voter, and found that it fit nicely with her speech. Considering the multitude of false stories she has been telling, I have to wonder about the wisdom to go ahead and tell the story without confirming it. Finding out this story is false has had the unfortunate effect of turning attention away from the health problem in America and toward Hillary's strained relationship with truth.

    I have to disagree with Cal Jim 2. He seems to argue that because a mother and a baby are dead, it is definitely the fault of the hospital(s) and the broken system. So by his arguement if the system gets fixed, if hospitals treat people regardless of ability to pay, if insurance were given to all, and if health care providers gave their very best to treat their patients, then no mothers or babys would ever die again.

    Unfortunately, mothers do die. Babies do die. Real people with real lives die. Health care providers daily do a heroic job of treating, curing, and saving our loved ones. And yet, despite their best efforts, sometimes people die. Where negligent medical mistakes are made, then yes it is understandable to be angry with "the system." However, we have no such information that this mother or this baby were treated poorly (other than Hillary's word for it–yeah I don't trust it either). It is very likely that despite all the best efforts of all the doctors and nurses and others involved, this mother and baby would have died anyway.

    I am sad that in this great nation we have so many people overcome with hate, anger, dispair, and partisan politics that we are eager to place blame without having adequate information. That goes for Sen. Clinton, Cal Jim 2, myself, and all of us that waste time posting to these comment boards...

    April 6, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. Juan

    Sounds like a repeat of what Al Gore did when he ran. Guess Hillary is taking a playbook from his campaign. I mean after all, either HIllary is completely delusional about daily events and stories or she is just plain out right lying. If this was fox, they'd say, we report, you decide!

    April 6, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Jen in NH

    So what!! Clinton did not lie – she trusted a person who told her a very moving and poignant story. Stop trying to find every possible way to bash Sen. Clinton. This story is ridiculous and not even worthy of any news coverage. If you looked into Obama as closely as you examined every little thing about Sen. Clinton, then I'm sure we'd find a lot of skeletons in his closet. Sen. Clinton did nothing wrong – so stop trying to make it seem as if she did. Obama's Clinton bashers are sickening – all they do is attack Sen. Clinton in the most negative, cynical and personal way. If that's what Obama and his supporters are like then American and the Democratic party are in for trouble.
    This "story" is absolutely unimportant. Let's get Americans (all Americans) health insurance. Now that is important.

    April 6, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. bob

    Is it too hard to believe that she's becoming desperate? Having to make up stories to attract votes. Regardless of the fact that she's addressing a real issue, having to rely on lies to get that story across doesn't show good judgment or leadership. Also, I'd like to address another issue: Hillary female supporters. I find it odd reading through this post that a majority of those that support Hillary and asking people to look beyond the lying are women. Why is it that women find it so necessary to continue to support her illogically and unconditionally? I find it troubling that the need to have a woman president supersedes the fact that this woman wouldn't be a good president to begin with. It's a true shame.

    April 6, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. Moss

    I am not buying the half-baked responce of the Clinton campagain on this one. Unfortunately, there are many people in this world seeking their "15-minutes of Fame". A savvy candidate would allow his/her staff to look into the story before sharing it in a speech. In this case, this candidate has shown us just how gullible she is – grabbing an unverified story, inserting it into her speech, and expecting us to be stroked by her shallow sense of sympathy. I fault the candidate as well as her staff on this one. It just goes to show the incompetance that surrounds this candidates. Question: How many more "apologies" like this are headed down the pike? It is obvious to me there is a credibility problem here.

    April 6, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. from Boston

    The story was told to Hillary by a law enforcement officer. Why would she not trust him. Many candidates tell stories that they have heard as they tour the country. Besides – how can anyone confirm this when HIPPA laws prohibit the release of information. Also, how can this hospital say that the deputy sheriff was talking about this hospital since no hospital name or patient's name was every revealed by Clinton in any of her speeches. So, how is this confirmed as the same person and hospital?
    It's not Hillary’s fault, and if you can’t trust a law enforcement officer who can you trust?

    And CNN – please print my response since you are very selective

    April 6, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. JAY

    Yes she wants to attract people emotionally now because she knows that Barak is much more popular at this time among American voters and this is the reason that she is startedto look for new stories (lies like Bosnia, Sick women and may be more – who knows?. Barak is right when he says that Clinton is confured on foresin policy itself. Her visit to different countries with her husband or daughthers when she was Ist lady were just the respect givien to her as a wife of the President of America but it is not true she was a part of foreign policy experience. Clinton says she will perfectly handle from the 1st day – sure she know about all the rooms and offices of White House and nobody has to show her about it.

    April 6, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Nobody Asked Larry But...

    With all of her claims that she has heralded during this primary campaign which have been found to be far from the truth, if not outright lies, intentionally, or lost in translation from her own mind or from her staff, she is still "in the fight" for the nomination should Pennsylvania, North carolina, and Indiana go for her (they will claim victory whether she in fact does win or loses – "Obama" is outspending us 3 to 1").

    Her supporters, and those that are undecided, refuse to accept the fact that Hill and Bill will say and/or do whatever it takes to win.

    To have Clinton win the nomination, and possibly the presidential election, the thought of having the Clintons back in the White House should be a wake up call to Americans.

    Among those applauding the loudest – the media. Their cup will runneth over with so much to write and talk about for the next 4 years, and possibly 8.

    This is a scary movie that I would think most Americans would not want to see again.

    April 6, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. karen charlottesville, va

    Obviously she doesn't have time to check her own facts, but she is responsible for choosing people in her campaign to do so... just as she would choose a team to rely on as President of the US. She is demonstrating that she doesn't have the experience to surround herself with competent individuals with the integrity to tell HER the truth. Reminds me of Bush and those experts who told him about WMD. I don't want another president who surrounds him/herself with yes men who also lie to support a specific agenda.

    April 6, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  10. Bob

    I'm not a Clinton supporter by any means, but I think people are blowing this out of proportion. I'm really tired of the animosity I see in the comments on this site. There is no scandal here or in half the things people are blowing their stacks over. Please try to find some civility in yourselves and try to take the high ground for once. It's not going to matter who's President if we can't get it together and stop bickering all the time.

    April 6, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. shannon, PA

    I am from PA, I was a Clinton supporter. I cannot believe that she would say such a lie to play with people's emotions, just for the sake of winning people's vote. I am disappointed, really disappointed. After the Bosnia story came out, I accepted the fact that she might have mis-spoke, but I was suspicious, but after this one, there is no way i am gonna support her. Everyone that has a backbone and self-respect won't support her anymore. I feel ashamed that I supported her all this time, I express my disappointment here. My choice is clear now, it's Sen. Obama. I hope more people realize this, it's time for change. PA, IN, NC and the rest of the states, you should think about it. I supported Sen. Clinton, just because she was a women, but now I think that's totally wrong, I was wrong, I hope other women like me realize this. I do not trust Sen. Clinton anymore. I will be voting for Sen. Obama.

    April 6, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Tammy

    If you listen to urban legends and repeat them in speeches without checking the facts you will get burned. If you cannot verify the source or story keep your mouth shut. I will not vote for a woman who repeats urban legends like they are truths and makes hollywood movies out of them. This is the second "urban legand" lie that has come out in a few weeks. Don't try to buy votes and infuence people with lies. Shame on you.

    April 6, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. TC

    I am soooo tired of Clinton supporters blaming CNN for reporting good for obama and bad for clinton. Did you ever think maybe if she didn't LIE so much they wouldn't be able to report anything. They report whatever news they find out for each candidate, bad or good. Its not their fault that Hillary has so many bad stories to report cause she can't tell the difference between whats real and whats fake. This is Not a characteristic I want the next president to have, we've had enough of that with Bush.

    April 6, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Julio

    Julia wrote: "it doesn't change the fact that stuff like this does happen in the U.S. people are turned away or ignored for not having insurance and have died! so maybe she got the wrong hospital but the fact still remains, it does happen".
    Sure Julia, I'll forgive her if she can tell me the correct hospital where it happened, just like she can also tell me the right airport where she came under fire, if not the one in Bosnia.

    April 6, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Texan

    BIG selling news for the media, ever be thankful to Clintons.

    And try to scrutinized Obama next, you will find 100 more crispy-crunchy stories, but they won't sell, alas !

    April 6, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. Fred Carr

    Well, Sen. McCain could make some fodder, but I think he's above the fray. Only he can speak of making the nearly total sacrifice to our Nation. I am not pro-war even though I spent 27 years as a Marine. But I resent politizing a social agenda at the expense of national security. Sen. Clinton should give up the ghost right now. The American people do not like her. Then we'll see what happens between Obama and McCain.
    Semper Fi

    April 6, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. Tammy - KCMO

    If this is the voice of experience than I don't want it. She is not to be trusted and we already have that problem right now with the current President and all the lies he has told. Do you really want her answering the phone to solve world problems at 3am??? I know I don't. I hadn't made my mind up on who to vote for but I do know that as of now – it won't be her! It's time to remove the old political dinosaurs and start out fresh.

    April 6, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. Independent in NE

    I'm sick and tired of how negative the media is against Sen. Clinton. Let's try to be fair to both candidiates. This junk news story is NOT about a candidiate lying, it's actually about a candidiate being moved by a person's heart-wrenching story and it's about a candidiate who is fighting for health insurance for ALL Americans. Stop making "news" stories up about Sen. Clinton.

    April 6, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. prakash chand

    The hospital is wrong ,there are medical malpractices inthis country everyday and people do die.
    People in county hospitals wait for almost the entire day to be seen ,somtimes they have to come the next day.

    Ihad a kidney and pancreas transplant and i know what patients havt to go through.
    This hospital is dening its course,they all do.

    Hillary is correct.

    April 6, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. Discouraged

    Easy folks..she's under a lot of stress from being "pinned down by sniper fire". Sadley, knowing what we know about her look at the number of americans who would still vote for her...!

    April 6, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. cherrye

    why would you make a story up for your own personal gain , this is making me more and more sickening about the clintons, there own personal agenda the continue lying to the american people. When will we ever hear the truth? We've heard this lying before I did not have sex with that woman. Please.

    April 6, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. ER doc

    Since 1984, there has been a federal law (COBRA or EMTALA to those of us in the medical field) which mandates that any patient who presents to an ER receive a medical screening exam (which no one has defined) and treat a medical emergency. This includes a woman in labor who is not defined as treated until she delivers the baby. As usual, this is an unfunded mandate by the federal gov. and patients are seen and treated with no payment from anyone. Violation of this rule is a fine of $50,000 to the physician (which is not covered by the malpractice insurance) and $100,000 to the hospital. The chances that this is a true story as told by Mrs. Clinton is absolutely erroneous

    April 6, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. Just Listen!!!

    Here we go again, and again the media lightly touches on the things that she has "MISSPOKE" about. Sen. Clinton and her stories, WOW, what can you truly believe from her. She talks experience with foriegn policy. Bill was President, sitting down with other world leaders while she went to dinner parties exibiting proper FIRST LADY etiquette. Lets get real, most Clinton supporters, in my opinion, are there because of who and what Bill was. Wakeup middle americans, she is business as usual. I know CHANGE IS DIFFICULT but lets be smarter lets be stronger lets be more willing to break the cycles held by so many before and have a USA actually "FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE PEOPLE AND BY THE PEOPLE"

    April 6, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Renee Va

    Hold up people this time she did not lie I saw the clip and the guy did tell her about the incident. The only thing she can be accused of is not fact checking the man's story. I am an Obama supporter but that does not mean I will go along with blaming her for telling another lie, which is not the case here. It just shows that she may not be competent enough to be commander in chief because she needs to check her facts first as the president of the united states.

    April 6, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. Ty

    This is yet another example of Sen. Clinton's by any means necessary approach to winning the nomination. Dirty tactics, insincerity, and down right lies. Her "35 years of experience" is really showing.

    April 6, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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