Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 1, 2009

'HARRY & LOUISE' LOOKED FAIR BY COMPARISON.... We've known for a while that Rick Scott and his Conservatives for Patients' Rights group were going to play a very unhelpful role in the debate over health care reform. Looking over Scott's new ad, we're getting a sense of just how spectacularly dishonest Conservatives for Patients' Rights is prepared to be.

Scott: Deep inside the stimulus bill Congress buried an innocent-sounding board, the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. It's not so innocent. It's the first step in government control over your health care choices. This federal council is modeled after the national board that controls Britain's health system. Listen to Britain's Dr. Karol Sikora about what happens to patients once the government takes over.

Sikora: They'll lose their own choice completely. Lose control of their own destiny within the medical system.

Scott: Not only could a government board deny your choice in doctors but it can control life and death for some patients. Ask Canada's Dr. Brian Day about bureaucrats rationing care.

Day: Patients are languishing and suffering on wait lists. Our own Supreme Court of Canada has stated that patients are actually dying as they wait for care.

Scott: Tell Congress you won't trade your doctor for a national board of bureaucrats. Let's put patients first.

I've looked for the slightest bit of honesty in this ad, and I literally can't find any.

The claim about the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research is patently false. The claim that the government will have "control over your health care choices" isn't even remotely true. The notion that Obama's plan is similar to Britain's and Canada's health care systems is just ridiculously wrong.

But the closer one looks at the ad, the even more dishonest it becomes. Richard Scott relies on Dr. Brian Day, former head of the Canadian Medical Association, without noting that Day considers the current health care system in the U.S. -- the one Conservatives for Patients' Rights hopes to defend -- as the one thing Canada should go out of its way to avoid.

For that matter, if they want to talk about patients "languishing and suffering on wait lists" and "waiting for care," perhaps Conservatives for Patients' Rights would be interested to know that's already happening in the U.S. under the status quo.

Despite the overwhelming deceit, both CNN and Fox News have already begun airing the ad, and Scott's far-right group has invested $1 million to keep in on the air for a while. The Service Employees International Union has asked both networks to pull the commercial, describing it as "unfit to air."

Here's hoping SEIU is successful.

Steve Benen 10:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

if they want to talk about patients "languishing and suffering on wait lists" and "waiting for care," perhaps Conservatives for Patients' Rights would be interested to know that's already happening in the U.S. under the status quo.
======================

No, they wouldn't. They already know -- everybody knows.

And they're definitely not interested.

Posted by: please correct the error on May 1, 2009 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Corporate insurance company underwriters who cancel your insurance or triple your rates, and get paid extremely well to do that are somehow a complete unknown to the American public. Wonder why that is. Are there any underwriters or claim adjusters denying claims that are willing to go on camera defending their corporate selves?

Posted by: Jan in Stone Mtn on May 1, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

cnn doesn't give a shit about the facts... it's more interested in that advertising revenue stream. which, if they're lucky and steadfast, will force the unions to buy their own time to run counter advertising.

Posted by: linda on May 1, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

There needs to be some pushback involving the juicy details of exactly who Rick Scott is. He ought to be a serious liability to their cause and should damn well be made one.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on May 1, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

"similar to Britain's and Canada's health care systems"

Mr. Benen, shouldn't you say "Britain's or Canada's"? The two are very different.- and in fact while there is a federal component ($$$) to health care in Canada, each province runs its own system.

Is it a constitutional issue? If not, wouldn't it be interesting to follow the Canadian example, and try a single payer system in one or more states?

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on May 1, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"They'll lose their own choice completely. Lose control of their own destiny within the medical system."

And for all but the most wealthy in American, how would that differ from the current situation? How can you lose what you don't have?

Posted by: Jon on May 1, 2009 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Day considers the current health care system in the U.S. -- the one Conservatives for Patients' Rights hopes to defend -- as the one thing Canada should go out of its way to avoid.

Then, by all means, let's get him on the air saying just that.

cnn doesn't give a shit about the facts... it's more interested in that advertising revenue stream.

CNN is in the business of selling cars and beer. Any actual news transmitted in the process is accidental, and CNN apologizes in advance should it ever occur...

Posted by: Doozer on May 1, 2009 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Rick Scott is a total tool who nearly ran the nation's largest for-profit hospital company into the ground with his greed. If he's the face of the opposition, I really like our chances.

Posted by: Chocolate Thunder on May 1, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Not sure if the same set of circumstances are available to the conservatives this year who want to jettison global health care -- long waiting lists are prevalent here in the United States as well, and people are used to Managed Care and HMOs and PPOs now and "experimental/elective" treatments and are frankly quite used to being told what they can and cannot do.

BUT. This group was instrumental in getting the public against Universal Health Care/ Insurance a decade and a half ago, and rather than hope, we need to meet them point for point, publically, and strongly.

Posted by: Kenneth Cavness on May 1, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Canada has had single payer provincial/federal insurance for years. It works. The doctors don't have to consult with insurance companies prior to treatment, you can go to any hospital you like, drugs are cheap (or often free), waiting times are in minutes and the best modern care is available for all.

What exactly is so terrifying to americans about health care. It's not as if you've got much to lose.

Posted by: Polaris on May 1, 2009 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

The claim that the government will have "control over your health care choices" isn't even remotely true.

Whereas these jackasses are defending a system in which corporations with a profit motive to deny care have control over our health care choices.

Looking over Scott's new ad, we're getting a sense of just how spectacularly dishonest Conservatives ... are prepared to be.

Fixed for brevity. But then again, the fact that their demagoguery is this dishonest this early smacks of a certain desperation, doesn't it?

Posted by: Gregory on May 1, 2009 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

The practices of the current "health-care system" are untenable and hurt human beings - something fundamentally in opposition to the Hippocratic Oath. As long as the for-profit insurance industry dominates medical practices and political debate Americans will suffer, as pencil pushing gamblers have never had to take such an oath!

Political smear machines will never go away, but at this juncture - 1994 to 2008 - we've witnessed enough politics of destruction to choose a different direction. Bending truth to fit a political argument is a much more difficult prospect now than it was for the preceding 14 years (12 if you count 2006 as the initial year of our nation's willingness to say enough is enough!) -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 1, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

in this economy, neither fox nor cnn will turn do this ad money.

Posted by: eric on May 1, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

"Canada has had single payer provincial/federal insurance for years. It works. The doctors don't have to consult with insurance companies prior to treatment, you can go to any hospital you like, drugs are cheap (or often free), waiting times are in minutes and the best modern care is available for all." Polaris

I believe everything Polaris says about what we have in Canada is true except the bit about waiting times. Demand exceeds supply- there are significant waiting times for some procedures, the difference is the rich don't automatically get to by-pass the queue.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on May 1, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry for the misunderstanding. (Why would I lie ? ).

There are short waiting times in hospitals throughout Canada but long waits are extremely unusual and are more related to localised rather than systemic problems (somebody forgets their health card and can't remember their name, a sudden influx of injured people from a road accident, 30 people deciding to get a vasectomy on the same day - Ok I made that one up).

Anyone in any pain or distress is admitted at once and the paperwork follows later.

Complicated procedures are scheduled in advance but only if the waiting period will not harm the patient. It also allows the patient to plan for being in the hospital for an extended time.

At no point is the government or any insurance company involved in this process. Hope that clarifies.

Posted by: Polaris on May 1, 2009 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

The other issue with wait times in Canada is that it all depends on what the people want to pay.

Any problems in the system can be solved by paying a little more. In national systems, the problems can be addressed by everyone paying a little bit more. In our system, the problems are individual, and they are often so expensive to fix, they are, in effect, unsolvable.

IOW, funding is a key issue in any system. An unfunded system, no matter how brilliantly devised, will fail. Of course, we have managed to create a system where an infinite amount of funding is necessary.

Posted by: inkadu on May 1, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

This is consumer fraud and should be prosecuted. There isn't a single fact in this, and it is designed to intentionally mislead. There should be economic sanctions against Fox and CNN for airing these as well--far worse than the occasional expletive or clothing malfunction. They did this in 1994 too.

Posted by: Sparko on May 1, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

And lest anyone think that Polaris's account is limited to Canada or monopsonies, here in the United States, it is quite common for you to get a quick appointment with your Primary Care Physician, but the further you go into a specialty, the longer the wait times get. And that's even IF your issue is life-threatening. you just can't point at long waiting lists as a good reason to avoid universal health care.


My personal support goes to universal health insurance, but with the government NOT taking over health care. I'm not against munincipal hospitals and the like, I just think our health care system can still be vital and wonderful, and that universal health insurance would be a major boon.

Posted by: Kenneth Cavness on May 1, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Jon,

Well said. My first reaction was exactly that. How is this going to play with people who already feel they have no control over their healthcare 'destiny?'

Posted by: doubtful on May 1, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

the CPR..(lol) ad isn't running alone..

have you seen the spot from farmer's insurance about lawsuit abuse?

even grover nordquist was hawking it when he guested on the ed show thursday...

...

no doubt both commercials will be noticed among the shamwow and snuggie ads...


Posted by: mr. irony on May 1, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

So, on one side we have the blatant, malicious liars on the "right" running despicably dishonest adverts like this.

On the other side, we have the Democratic Party leadership which has already preemptively declared universal, single-payer, nonprofit health insurance under efficient, open, accountable public administration -- which every other developed nation in the world has, with better health outcomes at lower cost -- "off the table".

What these liars and the Democratic leadership agree on is that preserving the profits of the insurance corporations is more important than providing health care to the American people.

They are really just arguing over the details.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 1, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist on May 1, 2009 at 12:12 PM hits the nail on the head. I don't see much hope of this current mess turning out as a benefit to anyone but Big Insurance, and they are the problem. We've got to get our government to start representing the People, not the soulless corporations!

Posted by: Otolaryx on May 1, 2009 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

What this ad relies on is the fact that very few Americans travel abroad and know first hand that everything it claims is utter codswallops. On the other hand, it's speaking to a vanishing minority of Americans who actually have anything close to what one might call health care "choice" these days. 40 million Americans don't even have a doctor whose care can be usurped by some horrible faceless government bogeyman bureaucrat. What will win out: fear born of ignorance, or anger born of pain and injustice? These days, I might just bet on the latter.

Posted by: jonas on May 1, 2009 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Socialized health care - longer wait times for principal care. Because everyone uses it, and as soon as they're not feeling well, they get treated, rather than waiting for it to become something more serous, and perhaps more life threatening.

American health-care, you'll see shorter lines in PCP offices, because if you don't have insurance, you'll go to a clinic or to the emergency room...or wait until your problem is so severe you HAVE to go to an emergency room.

I understand this, and between you me and the internet, I'm rock-stupid. Why conservatives even try to pretend this is otherwise is an insult not to my intelligence, but to their own.

Posted by: slappy magoo on May 1, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

The claim that the government will have "control over your health care choices" isn't even remotely true. I don't know the details, but these things are almost always about "how much" - so better to find to what extent if any, then simply push back at statements that aren't clear about the matter of degree.

Posted by: Neil B. ♫ on May 1, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

This ad is just the start of the huge lobbying effort to prevent a national health care ins program. The industry will be throwing Billions in that effort to make sure their bread and butter profiteering from our health care continues.

Medicare already exists and does none of those things this ad charges and could be easily made available for all within 3 mos. as a national not for profit single payer health care "ins." plan....finally ending the tyranny of the wealthy elite profiteering from our health care needs.

Posted by: bjobotts on May 1, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

JC--Is it a constitutional issue? If not, wouldn't it be interesting to follow the Canadian example, and try a single payer system in one or more states?

Well, we do have a law (ERISA dating from 1974) restricting how far states can go in terms of experiementing on health insurance issues. (Though states can get a waiver from the feds under the law as well.) But the real reason is political. Insurance companies know Canadian history and they know that single-payer went from Saskatchewan alone in 1962 (and having to face down a doctors' strike to do it) to nationwide in 1971. A couple of states trying it (and it working, as many expect) might have the same result, and they have no intention of chancing that.

Posted by: noplot on May 1, 2009 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

This ad is just a disgusting tissue of lies. In Canada you choose your own physician. The primary doctor has to refer you to a specialist, but the choice can and should be discussed with your doctor. Waiting times for serious illness or emergencies is not a problem. There are delays for elective surgery, but even there, the more serious the health issue, the quicker you will get the treatment.

I have had multiple operations in Canada and can attest to the basic efficiency of the system. It costs us considerably less than than the US system, and our life expectancy is better. Does this mean it is the perfect system? No, but the US hodge-podge is a disaster for millions and a huge burden on businesses. If I lived in the US, I would be uninsured. As a self-employed person with a modest income, I could not afford the premiums. I am forever grateful to be Canadian for many reasons, but universal health care is at the top of the list.

Posted by: Alison S on May 1, 2009 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

There are too many falsehoods in this ad to list, but the bottom line for Canadians is that health care works generally quite well for all of us. We have an ongoing problem with private health care providers trying to set up for-fee clinics to cherry pick the easiest, most profitable procedures. These are usually shut down by the government or pressured to change to not for profit as any perceived chink in universal health care would be subject to a NAFTA claim and open the door to for-profit US health care providers. I think a blended system of private and public care could work if we adopt the European model where you're either public or private - for life. In or out, no using the public system when it suits you and paying for private to jump the queue for elective surgery. The US system appears to be better at heroic measures while ours is more geared to preventative care which you can do when everyone goes to the doctor regularly.

This nonsense about the government choosing your doctor and limiting access bugs me. What about the US insurance company clerks who decide what procedures a patient may have based on the company's drive for profitablity? The access problem is mainly one that we all have: doctors are retiring and there are not enough new ones to replace them just as the boomers and their parents need more care.

Posted by: Heather on May 2, 2009 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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