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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Good: Obama's Health Care Reform. Great: Debunking Right Wing Lies

The Obama Administration has good reason to ask us to help identify websites and other media outlets peddling misinformation about health care reform. It's not some sinister plot to control the press; it's a perfectly logical response the lies, lies, and damned lies being used by right-wing nut jobs to fuel the less-than-patriotic and less-than-civil expressions of rage at town halls.

Mike Madden at Salon.com puts the lie to five major myths peddled by the cranky Rightists who can't come up with a plan of their own to fix the failing health care system. Before you go to yell at your Congressperson, check this list:

"Myth 1: Democrats want to kill your grandmother." Bunk: H.R. 3200 would pay for end-of-life consultations that Medicare doesn't cover now. No one has to get such consultations, but 75% of seniors say such consultations are important. Plus, they would help save money as seniors would be able to give clear instructions on what care they want in case they are unable to communicate those desires in the hospital. Gee, sounds like increasing patient rights to me.

"Myth 2: The government -- i.e., you -- will have to pay for abortions." I hear Senator John Thune is perpetuating this lie in his written responses to constituent questions (anyone with a such a letter, please scan and forward!). There is no abortion language in the pending legislation—or if there is by the time you read this, it's likely keester-covering amendments from legislators pandering to the anti-abortion crowd. And you know what? If you have employer-based insurance, there's an 87% chance you're already paying for abortions.

"Myth 3: Obama will ban all private health insurance." I had this lie nailed the moment it came out. Mullen backs me up; PolitiFact shouts "Liar liar pants on fire!"... and John Walker still hasn't apologized or retracted his lies. Such are the tactics of professed "patriots" who can't win with the truth.

"Myth 4: The government can't possibly run a healthcare program." Enemies of health care reform like to make vague accusations of how the government can't run anything right. They ignore facts like the Veterans Administration's recognized position as the best health care in America. They ignore the fact that the VA outscores private-sector health care on independent studies of customer satisfaction. They ignore the fact that lots of the folks yelling at the town halls are on Medicare and don't want to give up their government-run health coverage. They ignore reality.

"Myth 5: Unlike private insurance, government bureaucrats will ration care." Mullen deflates this myth thus:

Of course, there are already plenty of faceless hacks denying people care right now; they just work for private insurance companies, not the government, and they're denying care because that helps keep the insurers' profit margins up. At a recent House hearing, just three insurance companies testified that they had "rescinded" -- or dropped -- coverage for nearly 20,000 patients between 2003 and 2007, often after patients had submitted claims they thought would be covered. Even Republicans seem to know the insurance companies can be bad. "I would always rather the devil I know than the devil I don't know," House GOP boss John Boehner said last week, explaining why going after the government works even though private insurance companies would seem to be just as much of a villain [Mike Mullen, "Obama Wants to Kill Your Grandma: Five Right-Wing Myths about Healthcare Reform, and the Facts," Salon.com, 2009.08.06].

Let's have an open, vigorous debate about health care reform this month. Let's pack DakotaFest and any other forums where Herseth Sandlin, Thune, and Johnson may appear and ask them a whole heck of a lot of questions. (Questions about health care at DakotaFest are fair game, since farmers and ranchers and all of rural America desperately need a good public option.)

But in honor of the American solider, or the flag, or democracy, or whatever trips your moral trigger, stop making stuff up.


  1. Sadly Cory, there are many more lies circulating. Can you post your link in Sibby's comment section? And other conservative blogs? Most of your readers probably get it, I hope. This is a fight worth fighting.

    Here's a local story: A farmer friend had coverage through Arctic Cat (wife's employment) for years. During that time he developed a heart condition. After closing they extinguished COBRA, but he couldn't get an individual policy (his wife and kids could). He is a totally responsible person. Fortunately he was able to get in a high risk SD pool which is $600 a month. That's $7,200 a year. How many people can afford that? Without coverage, people can loose everything they have worked for and leave their family in a bad set of circumstances, or with nothing.

  2. [Babs, you're not listening.]

    John, I'd like to link-bomb all of the conservative propaganda blogs... but that would be comment spam. Unlike the shouters and euthanasia-criers, I have some standards. ;-)

    You do make an excellent point that health care reform isn't about sinister commie plots or welfare queens or anything else: it's about taking care of each other when times get tough, the kind of ethos America was built on.

  3. One of the things that happened during the Great Depression of the 1930s was the failure of fraternal and ethnic associations that provided modest benefits when their members got sick to keep up with the demand for payouts. The country's economic circumstances were too overwhelming.

    I bring them up because they are an example of private institutions being OK to take care of social needs in prosperous times, but not being able to handle things during extreme, widespread financial hardship.

    I think we're at the moment now where the financial hardship isn't widespread enough for a lot of people to understand that the private system of health insurance we have now is failing. Many people still have decent, relatively affordable employer-provided insurance. They just don't get that others don't have it as good as they do.

    I offer as example a veteran reporter I know whose job went away at age 60 due to the newspaper industry imploding. He can't get a job with or without health benefits, no matter what he applies for, and he applies for a lot. Why hire him when you can hire somebody younger?

    Individual health insurance for someone who's 60 is a lot more expensive than someone who has no job anymore can pay, so not the answer. In short, the private sector has failed him, but until it fails a whole lot more people, there will be a lot of denial that the private system of health insurance is falling apart.

  4. To support what Kelly said above, have y'all noticed how young the reporters are on KELO?

  5. Unfortunately, Cory, you are correct: The right wing is circulating lies about Obamacare, along with severely stretched or extrapolated partial truths. I've almost been taken in by some of the "fibs."

    This behavior is downright evil, and all responsible Republicans should denounce it at once. I won't wait for any deafening roar from that quarter, however.

  6. ["Babs" -- I commented on your blog. I left a link above. Can you hear above your own voice? Read the comment policy or don't come play.]

  7. Steve Sibson8/09/2009 8:57 PM

    You guys still have not answered this:

    Question: Should someone else pay for your $1 million per day health care bill? And if so, for how many days? Those questions need to be answered before we continue down the road of socialism.

  8. Neither have you, Steve. Are you saying that if you need $1 million to survive, and if you don't have that money in your pocket, your life is not worth saving?

    What I don't like in the current system is private companies take our premiums for policies that say they will cover that $1 million, then find clever ways to deny us that coverage when we occasionally need that million-dollar treatment.

    We do insurance to help each other through hard times. Almost no one can pay that $1 million bill themselves. So in principle, yes, if we can find the resources, someone else—everyone else—should help pay that bill.

  9. By the way, Steve, who paid Terry Schiavo's medical bills?

    --malpractice lawsuit (GOP wants to cap those rewards)
    --Medicaid (i.e., you and I) paid for some care
    --Woodside Hospice provided free care (meaning other customers footed the bill)
    --we also paid for President Bush's special flight from Texas to Washington to sign the Terri Schiavo law.

    Gee, Steve, looks like we're all already paying for each other's care. (And you'll notice that, unlike various Republicans, I don't have to make stuff up to make my point.)

  10. There are numerous other lies that require attention. One of the most common tactics used and a rebuttal can be found in the comments section here: http://theamericannews.net/election/?p=860#comments. Comment 14 contains loads and loads of lies and distortions. The idea behind is to make it appear official by making it look as though someone read everything very carefully. It is just horrible. Comment 23 contains the response.

    Just thought this information could be useful. Perhaps I will be accused of helping you create an enemies list.

  11. MYTh 4;

    Obama has stated several time, his plan is to phase out private insurance.

    Tim Higgins


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