The White House has emphasized that it is our patriotic duty to report inaccurate rumors and correct misstatements that infiltrate the health-care debate, so let’s nip this one in the bud: On MSNBC today, Angela Burt-Murray of Essence magazine questioned Congressman Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) about a report he released from the Joint Economic Committee. In doing so, she made a whopper of a statistical misstatement. (Hat tip: Newsbusters.)

Burt-Murray said:

Recently you released a report on women and health care, and taking a look at the very real issue that families are facing we have more than 64 million women who have lost health care due to loss of job or a spouse that has lost a job.

According to the U.S. Census, there are about 304 million people in the United States; a little less than a quarter of those are under age 18, and a little more than half are women. That means there are around 116 million women over age 18. According to Burt-Murray’s question, more than half of all adult American women have lost their health insurance.

Actually, the JEC claims that 64 million lack adequate health insurance (obviously, the same government that runs Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration should know inadequate care when it sees it). The JEC estimates that since December 2007, about 1.4 million women actually lost health coverage as a result of the economic downturn.

Of course, regardless of whether it’s one million or 64 million women who have lost health insurance, a government takeover of health care isn’t the best way to help them. It’s certainly true that some women face unique challenges under the current system. Most glaringly, the bias in favor of employer-provide health insurance is far from ideal for women, who tend to move in and out of the workforce more frequently than men and are more likely to take on part-time jobs while also managing family responsibilities. Yet there are ways to address this (such as giving health insurance purchased by individuals the same tax advantages as employer-provided insurance) without embracing the so-called public option.

I sincerely hope the White House truth squad will jump on Burt-Murray’s misstatement right away . . .

Carrie Lukas is vice president for policy and economics at the Independent Women’s Forum.