Coulter, Beck jump on health IT falsehood bandwagon

››› ››› GREG LEWIS

Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck further advanced the false claim that the economic recovery package will allow the federal government to control or interfere with doctors' treatment decisions, echoing an assertion by Betsy McCaughey in a Bloomberg commentary. In fact, the provisions McCaughey referred to in her commentary address establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have complete, accurate information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."

On February 11, syndicated columnist Ann Coulter and Fox News host Glenn Beck further advanced the false claim that the economic recovery package will allow the federal government to control or interfere with doctors' treatment decisions.

Coulter alleged in her February 11 column that pursuant to provisions in the economic recovery act, Health and Human Services "bureaucrats will soon be empowered to overrule your doctor" and "cut off treatments that merely prolong life." She also claimed, "Doctors who don't comply with the government's treatment protocols will be fined." During the February 11 broadcast of his Fox News program, Beck allowed Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) to similarly claim that under the legislation, a "health technology czar" will "oversee what procedures doctors are doing and help decide at what point in life they will receive certain treatments and perhaps what treatments are acceptable and not acceptable for payment." Rather than challenge Fleming's assertion, Beck replied:

BECK: So this is -- really, this is the beginning -- I mean, this is the way it happens in every society. I mean, you know, the extreme example is what happened in Germany, when -- they actually had a chart on how many potatoes you could, you know, make, how many hours you could work, how many fields you could till, et cetera, et cetera. And if you couldn't do very much, well, then, you didn't get, you know, the primo health care.

That's just the way it works when everybody has to share for the common good. Sometimes for the common good, you just have to say, "Hey, Grandpa, you've had a good life. Sucks to be you." That's not compassion.

The falsehood apparently originated in a February 9 Bloomberg "commentary" by former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, in which McCaughey claimed that under provisions in the House version of the economic recovery bill, "[o]ne new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and 'guide' your doctor's decisions." In fact, the language in the House bill that McCaughey referred to does not establish authority to "monitor treatments" or restrict what "your doctor is doing" with regard to patient care, but rather addresses establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have complete, accurate information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."

Indeed, CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen reported during the February 11 edition of CNN Newsroom, "I had a PDF of the bill up on my computer. I said, 'Show me where in the bill it says that this bill is going to have the government telling your doctor what to do.' And [McCaughey] directed me to language -- it didn't actually say that." Cohen added, "Now when we asked the folks who wrote this bill, 'Hey, is this bill going to allow the government to tell doctors what to do?" they used words like, 'preposterous' and 'completely and wildly untrue.' "

As Media Matters for America documented, Beck hosted McCaughey on the February 10 edition of Glenn Beck, during which he did not challenge her false claim that "[t]he secretary of Health and Human Services is empowered to determine which medical providers, doctors, and hospitals are, quote, 'meaningful users of this system,' and therefore, in compliance. And, the HHS secretary is also authorized to use 'increasingly stringent measures' -- that's the language in the bill - 'to enforce compliance.' "

Other media figures who have advanced McCaughey's misrepresentations of the recovery bill's health-care provisions include washingtonpost.com blogger Ed O'Keefe, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh, Internet gossip Matt Drudge, CNN host Lou Dobbs, Wall Street Journal senior economic writer Stephen Moore, and Fox News anchors Bill Hemmer and Megyn Kelly.

From Coulter's February 11 column:

Second, bureaucrats at Health and Human Services will electronically collect every citizen's complete medical records and determine appropriate medical care.

Judging by the care the State Department took with private visa records last year, that the Ohio government took with Joe the Plumber's government records, that the Pentagon took with Linda Tripp's employment records in 1998, and that the FBI took with thousands of top secret "raw" background files in President Clinton's first term, the bright side is: We'll finally be able to find out if Bill Clinton has syphilis - all thanks to the stimulus bill!

HHS bureaucrats will soon be empowered to overrule your doctor. Doctors who don't comply with the government's treatment protocols will be fined. That's right: Instead of your treatment being determined by your doctor, it will be settled on by some narcoleptic half-wit in Washington who couldn't get a job in the private sector.

And a brand-new set of bureaucrats in the newly created office of "National Coordinator of Health Information Technology" will be empowered to cut off treatments that merely prolong life. Sorry, Mom and Pop, Big Brother said it's time to go.

At every other workplace in the nation -- even Wal-Mart! -- workers are being laid off. But no one at any of the bloated government bureaucracies ever need fear receiving a pink slip. All 64,750 employees at the department of Health and Human Services are apparently absolutely crucial to the smooth functioning of the department.

With the stimulus bill, liberals plan to move unfirable government workers into every activity in America, where they will superintend all aspects of our lives.

From the February 11 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Tell me about what is happening in the stimulus bill. What now are we going to have inflicted on us from the government with health care?

FLEMING: Well, specifically with regard to health care, there's a very interesting provision that was put in the stimulus bill that provides for a health technology czar, if you will, a person who will oversee what procedures doctors are doing and help decide at what point in life they will receive certain treatments and perhaps what treatments are acceptable and not acceptable for payment.

BECK: So this is -- really, this is the beginning -- I mean, this is the way it happens in every society. I mean, you know, the extreme example is what happened in Germany, when -- they actually had a chart on how many potatoes you could, you know, make, how many hours you could work, how many fields you could till, et cetera, et cetera. And if you couldn't do very much, well, then, you didn't get, you know, the primo health care.

That's just the way it works when everybody has to share for the common good. Sometimes for the common good, you just have to say, "Hey, Grandpa, you've had a good life. Sucks to be you." That's not compassion.

FLEMING: Exactly. Well, Glenn -- no, but, Glenn, you -- I think you remember the Hillary health-care plan, which failed miserably because they tried to pass it all at once. And what they've come to understand is, they have to do it incrementally, so they're slipping these things into bills. There were some items put in SCHIP, the bill that passed before this one, that extended government health care to those who are already on the insurance rolls and taking them off.

Posted In
Economy, Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck
Show/Publication
Glenn Beck Program
Stories/Interests
Economic Recovery Plan
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