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Friday, August 21, 2009

Post-Gazette Combats Health Care "Lies" With Actual Lies

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Sally Kalson has a ridiculous piece on health care reform (HT PA Watercooler), in which she admittedly fabricates a number of proposals she "imagines" Republicans would propose on health care. She then claims that "Democrats have been strangely absent from this fiction-writing competition" and proceeds to attack any critics of government-run health care ... unfortunately the things she pretends to be honest about are less factual than those she made up.

First off, Obama and Congressional Democrats have made numerous false statements about health care proposals including that it would lower federal deficits, that everyone would be able to keep their current coverage, that it doesn't include an individual mandate.

I have spoken at several forums on health care, attended a few others, and watched a couple televised in full. These have not been rowdy, yelling audiences (with some exceptions, which seems to be all the media will cover), but generally informed and concerned citizens, with specific questions about the various proposals - often referring to details in the legislation and even page numbers from the bills. This calling those who object to Obamacare "the mob" is simply an attack the messenger approach to distract from the real debate (in fact, you will not find any discussion of what is actually in proposed health care legislation in Kalson's column).

Kalson thinks that since the phrase "death panel" seems over-the-top (I'll concede that it is) that we shouldn't be concerned about rationing. But Sarah Palin was mostly right when she said this, as health care policy gurus Greg Scandlen and Michael Cannon point out - the proposed legislation would empower a new federal board with far greater power to deny "unnecessary care" based on their calculation of its worth.

And Kalson tries the easy out by pointing to Medicare and Medicaid as showing that we already have "socialized medicine" ... on that point, she is right, government currently represents half of U.S. health care spending - that is the problem. What Kalso fails to point out is that:

  • Medicare and Medicaid are growing ever more costly and threaten to consume federal and state budgets.
  • Medicare and Medicaid underpay doctors and hospitals, causing many doctors to not take new patients, and shifting billions in costs onto private coverage.
  • Medicare and Medicaid coverage is very poor, which is why those who can afford to (wealthier Medicare recipients) buy supplemental coverage. In fact, the uninsured often get better care than those on government programs.
Perhaps most egregious is Kalson - and many in the media - pretending the debate on of "reform" or "no reform", rather than about the right kind of health care reform. Kalson doesn't have to "imagine" Republican's health care reform plans would look like, she could actually study their proposals (including legislation by Jim Demint, who she demonizes).

I recommend using the useful tool that Conservative's for Patients Rights has created to compare actual health care reform proposals.


huw said...

"the uninsured often get better care than those on government programs" to
quote Barney Frank, "What planet are you living on?" Millions of hard working Americans - the so-called working poor - bank tellers, self employed, small business owners, janitors etc have no access. That's
what's driving the process. They are desperate to be on medicaid/medicare and are willing to settle for just about any kind of health care. This is the group,
hard working lower income Americans, who the right and the left have forgotten.

Nathan Benefield said...

The planet I'm living on is one where we look at the facts about government health care programs, instead of engaging demagoguery.

And it would not appear that everyone without insurance is "desperate to be on medicaid" - about 10% of the uninsured are eligible to be on Medicaid, but choose not to enroll.

Josh said...

What is the big rush on this issue? It is being crammed down our throats by the Obama administration. It seems less to me about health care than the role of government. Based on my own family's exoerience, I can think of dozens of ways to lower health care costs, or provide cheaper health care to more people, without resorting to turning American government upseide down.