Felicia Muftic – Health care reform critics make baloney
August 16, 2009
While Congress is making sausage of health care reform legislation, the right-wingers are making baloney.
A couple of weeks ago I received an “analysis” of a House bill (HR 3200) written by an unnamed source with an unknown affiliation. My doctor husband showed me an e-mail from the Colorado State Medical Society that referred doctors to a site that debunked most of the “analysis” point by point. (www.politifact.com). The CMS also referred doctors to an American Medical Association site, http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1, “Frequently Asked Questions”. They give a detailed response to the “analysis” as well, with the comment:. “many of the descriptions being broadly circulated by e-mail make extreme claims based on cursory readings of the legislation supplemented by conjecture and misinterpretations that do not reflect an understanding of current law, medical practice, or insurance regulation.”
Of course, this House Bill, the object of the Right’s disaffection, will not be the one that is eventually passed. The action will move to the Senate in September. The Senate version will be the one most likely to dominate.
Unfortunately, the recess has given the opportunity for political operatives to do their thing, including a misinformation campaign. It is an easy campaign. Most lay people have never sat down to read a bill and the issues are complex. They rely on others to give guidance. If I believed what many are being told, I would be manning the barricades, too. The amount of intentional misinformation floating around is astounding.
The absolutely over the top example is the nearly hysterical demand by some older Americans that the government should not take away “their Medicare.” Many of those interviewed by the media were unaware that Medicare is a government-run system, similar to the maligned “public option” they so vehemently oppose and fear. Instead of confining Medicare to the elderly the President is proposing that something similar would be open to all ages. Yes, indeed, if you love Medicare, your children just might love a public option, too.
Seniors also fear talk about reducing the Medicare trust fund size, which means benefits will be cut. President Obama addressed the American Association for Retired persons in July. He said, “Nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits but we do want to eliminate some of the waste that is being paid for out of the Medicare trust fund.” He pointed to the Medicare trust fund subsidizing for-profit insurers to the tune of $177 billion over the next 10 years to administer Medicare Advantage, a subsidy he wants to end and use instead toward insuring all Americans.
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An older person waived this poster: “Seniors will have mandatory end-of-life counseling every five years.” Somebody fed that person some wrong information. There is no mandatory requirement in any legislation in either the House or Senate. According to the AMA, “The bill would create a new Medicare benefit that allows physicians to bill for the time they spend on advance-care planning consultations with Medicare patients. It would not mandate that patients take advantage of this benefit. The new Medicare benefit would allow doctors to be compensated for such consultations”. Those consultations refer to your discussing whether you want a living will, resuscitate directions, or other end of life directives while you still have your marbles.
Another poster I saw read: “RIP, Grandma; cause of death: treatment denied.” There is no rationing of health care being planned in any legislation. Period. President Obama spoke before the AARP recently and made it clear that “we just want to provide some guidelines to Medicare, about what treatments work and what doesn’t…”
The body established to propose those best practices guidelines has been characterized by right-wingers as a death panel. Holy cow. Somebody cannot read. Fortunately, the AMA lobbyists can and they wrote: “HR 3200 would not provide the government with the authority to decide what medical treatment patients will receive. … The Bill would not ration care; it would expand access to health care coverage and increase the information needed to support strong clinical decision-making.”
Another poster: “Long waits; service denials, and this benefits me how?” It appears the poster-waver confused what Obama was proposing with the Canadian system. Canada has one permitted insurer: the government. No bill in Congress provides for that system in the United States. Unlike Canada, per HB 3200, if you do not like the public option, you can get your insurance from a private company. It is already bad enough that your private insurer can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, can drop you if you get sick, plus charge you for their outrageous “administrative” costs. Obama wants to end those practices. Those are some whopping good benefits.