Talking with Betsy McCaughey about health care reform, Cavuto guest host Elizabeth MacDonald did not challenge McCaughey on falsehoods she advanced during the Cavuto segment, or on false claims that she has previously made on the issue.
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Talking with former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey about the Obama administration's efforts to reform health care, Fox Business' Cavuto guest host Elizabeth MacDonald did not challenge McCaughey on falsehoods she advanced during the Cavuto segment, or on false claims that she has previously made on the issue. As Media Matters for America has documented, Fox News has repeatedly provided a platform for McCaughey's falsehoods, most notably about health information technology provisions in the economic recovery act.
During the May 11 Cavuto segment, McCaughey purported to read a statement from White House health care policy adviser Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. Although McCaughey did not explain from where she drew Emanuel's statements, they are similar to comments he made in a June 18, 2008, Journal of the American Medical Association piece co-authored by Victor R. Fuchs. Claiming that Emanuel said something "that's very disturbing to patients," McCaughey stated:
McCAUGHEY: He said you hear all of these vague promises of savings from health information technology, from eliminating waste, from preventive care. He calls that "merely lipstick cost control" -- more for show and PR than for real.
He said if you want to save money in health care, we're going to have to push doctors to eliminate the Hippocratic Oath and give more attention to costs when they're treating a patient. Don't be focused so much on the welfare of your own patient; think about where else the money could be spent -- maybe for prenatal care for the lady down the hall. [emphasis added]
However, contrary to McCaughey's claim, in his JAMA commentary, which McCaughey previously criticized in an April 29 Investor's Business Daily opinion piece, Emanuel did not call for "eliminat[ing] the Hippocratic Oath," but wrote that the culture of health care "overuse" has led physicians to interpret the Hippocratic Oath "as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of cost or effect on others":
At least 7 factors drive overuse, 4 related to physicians and 3 related to patients. First, there is the matter of physician culture. Medical school education and postgraduate training emphasize thoroughness. When evaluating a patient, students, interns, and residents are trained to identify and praised for and graded on enumerating all possible diagnoses and tests that would confirm or exclude them. The thought is that the more thorough the evaluation, the more intelligent the student or house officer. Trainees who ignore the improbable "zebra" diagnoses are not deemed insightful. In medical training, meticulousness, not effectiveness, is rewarded.
This mentality carries over into practice. Peer recognition goes to the most thorough and aggressive physicians. The prudent physician is not deemed particularly competent, but rather inadequate. This culture is further reinforced by a unique understanding of professional obligations, specifically, the Hippocratic Oath's admonition to "use my power to help the sick to the best of my ability and judgment" as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of cost or effect on others. [emphasis added]
From the May 11 edition of Fox Business' Cavuto:
MacDONALD: President Obama getting one step closer to his promise of universal health care, today announcing a promise by health care companies to cut spending. Take a listen.
OBAMA [video clip]: Groups are voluntarily coming together to make an unprecedented commitment over the next 10 years from 2010 to 2019. They are pledging to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year, an amount that's equal to over $2 trillion.
MacDONALD: The American Medical Association is one of those groups making the pledge: altruism or self-preservation. Let's ask the president-elect, Dr. James Rohack.
Dr. Rohack, take it away. What do you think?
You're with us, Doctor? OK, he's -- we're having a little technical difficulties here, but I want to go to my next guest. She's terrific. We're going to go fair and balanced now. She's Betsy McCaughey. She says that cutting health-care costs will only lead to worse care not better. Betsy is founder and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infectious Deaths.
Betsy, why are you so concerned?
McCAUGHEY: Well, I'm a patient advocate and I can see that this is going to mean cuts in hospital budgets, nurses spread even thinner, fewer diagnostic machines available, longer waits for treatment.
MacDONALD: Betsy, what are you hearing -- what's going on inside the Beltway? What are you hearing behind the scenes on these -- you've been telling me about some blogs you've been reading.
McCAUGHEY: That's right. And you ask, why are all of these companies following into line -- falling in line? And it seems as if there's a lot of political arm-twisting, Chicago-style, going on. For example, I read Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel -- he's the brother of the president's chief of staff and he's one of the key health advisers to the president -- and he says --
MacDONALD: On his blog?
McCAUGHEY: Yes. If automakers want a bailout then they and their suppliers have to support the administration's health agenda. If any constituency wants a favor, then it has to be linked to support for their health care legislation.
MacDONALD: All right. So, let's stay on that one. What do you make of that?
McCAUGHEY: To me, it's tainted. It's not democratic. I certainly wouldn't want to be pushed to support this legislation.
MacDONALD: They're saying that if you're going to come for any bailout, you have to also sign up for health care --
McCAUGHEY: If you want to come for anything --
MacDONALD: -- reform.
McCAUGHEY: -- from this federal government, you have to pay us back. They're using our money to buy support for their health care rationing.
MacDONALD: Well, and he's -- he had more to say. What else did he say?
McCAUGHEY: That's right. Well, one of the other things he said that's very disturbing to patients is this: He said you hear all of these vague promises of savings from health information technology, from eliminating waste, from preventive care. He calls that "merely lipstick cost control" -- more for show and PR than for real.
He said if you want to save money in health care, we're going to have to push doctors to eliminate the Hippocratic Oath and give more attention to costs when they're treating a patient. Don't be focused so much on the welfare of your own patient; think about where else the money could be spent -- maybe for prenatal care for the lady down the hall.
MacDONALD: Betsy, this is -- I mean, do you think this is an attitude that's pervasive throughout the administration?
McCAUGHEY: Well, I've spend a lot of time studying the writings of his very impressive academic appointees -- Dr. David Blumenthal, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. These people have many, many degrees, but they don't share our American values about health care. They want to impose European-style government heavy rationing -- an environment of medical scarcity. They argue in their writings it's all right for people to have to wait in line; Americans have gotten used to standards that are too high.
MacDONALD: They say this in their writings --
McCAUGHEY: They do.
MacDONALD: -- that you've seen. Now, here's the thing. Some Americans will say, "Look, I pay a lot of taxes anyway, why not get more for my money? Why shouldn't I get government health care?" You know, but then you have to say, what are you swapping out? A faceless bureaucrat at an --
McCAUGHEY: I support -- I support offering --
MacDONALD: -- at an insurance company for another one.
McCAUGHEY: I support offering universal coverage for anyone who doesn't have insurance. Now, the poorest people in the United States are eligible for Medicaid. It's that group on top, who earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid -- we can offer health insurance to shield them from the dangers of losing their home or a lifetime of savings when serious illness strikes.
Providing that kind of major medical insurance for them, we could do that for all 24 million who are currently uncovered and lack that kind of insurance -- not 47 million, because many of those are already covered by Medicaid; they just haven't signed up.
McCAUGHEY: But for the 24 million who are in that economic level, we could provide coverage for them for under 28 billion a year -- under 28.
MacDONALD: Under 28.
McCAUGHEY: That used to sound like a lot of money, but not in the current administration.
MacDONALD: Betsy, we're running out of time, but will you come back and talk to us more --
MacDONALD: -- about that, 'cause that's really important: whether the free market or the government can fix this.
McCAUGHEY: The key is: Let's insure those who don't have insurance, but don't take health care away from people who already have insurance and need good care.
MacDONALD: All right. Betsy, thank you so much. We really appreciate it. You stay on this. We need you.