Health Care Reform 3: Rumors, Lies and Distortions

Sep 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Social Security & Medicare

The viral reaction to rumors, lies and distortions about health care reform has taken on a life of its own. It is perplexing to watch choices people make to believe the lies and spread them among their email contacts on the Internet, when the truth is just as easy to retrieve.  SCJ remains committed to spreading the truth and will make that clear in this article.

SOCIALIZED MEDICINE:  Does health care reform mean we will have to live with socialized medicine?  NO.  None of the bills currently being considered in Congress propose any socialized medicine plans whatsoever.  Let’s first take a look at how socialized medicine is defined.  Interestingly, the term is primarily limited to use in the United States, and pejoratively at that.  It was coined by opponents when President Truman was proposing health care initiatives during his term of office.  It is generally used to describe medical care that is both paid for and administered by the federal government. 

None of the current plans being considered in Congress propose a single payer system for health care.  And none of the plans propose government owned hospitals and federal government control of physician salaries.  However United States Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense health programs will likely continue to own hospitals, medical clinics and will continue to control salaries of medical personnel–all of which is socialized medicine.  In addition, Medicare is a ‘government-run’ program that pays for medical care for Seniors.  It is available to every United States citizen at the age of 65. 

PULL THE PLUG ON GRANDMA and DEATH PANELS:  None of the health care reform proposals include any plan to approve euthanasia.  Unfortunately, some opponents of health care reform have said on national television that “Congress would make it mandatory…” to require counseling every five years for Seniors so they will end their life sooner and cut down medical costs nationally.  Rep. John Boehner (Ohio-R) issued the following statement July 24:  “This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia if enacted into law.”  The clause referenced on page 425 of HR3200 actually required Medicare to pay physicians for services provided to Seniors if they choose to ask their doctors about advanced directives (living wills, medical power of attorney and hospice care).  Hospice care is already covered by Medicare, and advanced directive counseling was first required in 2003 in the Prescription Drug Plan enacted by Congress.

AARP called Betsy McCaughey’s statement on national radio on July 16,  “…rife with gross–and even cruel–distortions of legislation that would not only help people make the best decisions for themselves [on end-of-life-care]’, but also better ensure that their wishes are followed.”  (AARP Bulletin, September, 2009, Pg 16)  SCJ will post a video interview with hospice expert, Patricia M. Olsen, that further clarifies what actually occurs during end-of-life counseling. Watch for it.

PRIVATE vs PUBLIC INSURANCE:  Private insurance companies will continue to be on the national landscape, as will a public option for health care insurance.  SCJ has already addressed this issue.  Both President Obama and the congressional committees wrestling with the various plans say they will not dismantle the present private insurance system; rather they will build on it and add to it a public option for people who are not currently covered by private health care.  Of course, those on a private plan will have the option to choose the public plan if they want to do that.  Sound familiar?  Medicare, with its Medicare Advantage Programs, has a similar system currently in operation in the United States.  Some Seniors stay with the original Medicare program, and some choose to enroll in a private plan (Medicare Advantage) offered by private insurance companies.

SCJ believes these are the major issues traveling in the national rumor mill.  Reliable and objective sources for sorting out fact from fiction can be found on the Internet.  In particular, SCJ recommends, a website managed by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, that can be counted on to separate lies and distortions from truth.

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