Hannity relies on falsehoods and distortions in "nightmare" health special

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

In what was billed as a "Universal Nightmare" special edition of Hannity, Sean Hannity relied on distortions and falsehoods to raise the specter of "socialized medicine."

The July 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity -- billed as a "Universal Nightmare" special edition -- relied on distortions and falsehoods to raise the specter of "socialized medicine." During the show, host Sean Hannity stated: "Socialized medicine is by no means a new idea. In fact, the citizens of Canada and the United Kingdom are living through what can only be described as a 'universal nightmare.' Now take a look at what could soon become a reality right here in America." He then aired a segment that included footage of several people criticizing the Canadian and British health care systems. Subsequently, correspondent Griff Jenkins misrepresented comments President Obama made during a June 24 town hall, claiming that Obama "has vowed to examine other attempts at universal health care, like the United Kingdom and the Canadian systems." In fact, in those comments, Obama made clear that he did not support creating a system based on those models.

After claiming that Obama "vowed to examine other attempts at universal health care, like the United Kingdom and the Canadian systems," Jenkins aired footage of Obama stating:

OBAMA: A lot of those other countries employ a different system than we do. Not all of them, by the way, use a socialized medicine. ... Almost all of them have what would be considered a single-payer system in which the government essentially operates a Medicare for all.

In fact, moments after making those comments during the June 24 town hall, Obama stated, "For us to completely change our system, root and branch, would be hugely disruptive and I think would end up resulting in people having to completely change their doctors, their health care providers, in a way that I'm not prepared to go."

From the June 24 town hall (with the portion aired by Jenkins in italics):

Q: A little skeptical on cost, Mr. President. Other industrialized nations provide coverage for all of their residents, they have higher-quality care, and they do so spending about less than half of what we spend on health care now. So there's an argument that could be made that we actually don't need to spend any new money to fix the system if we're willing to make some tough decisions. Could you comment on that and maybe exploring that as an approach?

OBAMA: Well, you're absolutely right that we spend at least 50 percent more than any other advanced country and we don't have better outcomes in terms of infant mortality, longevity -- all those various measures of wellness.

Now, a lot of those other countries employ a different system than we do. Not all of them, by the way, use a socialized medicine, as I think the British National Health Services is called. Some of them have what would be considered -- almost of them what would be considered a single-payer system in which the government essentially operates a Medicare for all, even though doctors and health care providers are still separate.

The problem is, is that we have a employer-based system that has grown up over decades. For us to completely change our system, root and branch, would be hugely disruptive and I think would end up resulting in people having to completely change their doctors, their health care providers, in a way that I'm not prepared to go. This is one-sixth of our economy. I think that we can build on what works, fix what's broken, and still save substantial money.

Moreover, during the show, Fox News contributor Dr. Marc Siegel claimed, "Millions of people are going to lose their current health insurance in favor of this government insurance because the public option can come in cheaper for patients; the private insurers can't compete, the government can regulate the amount of care that's delivered -- that's also known as rationing care, by the way." But Hannity and Siegel failed to disclose that Siegel is affiliated with a group that is funded in part by the pharmaceutical industry. Siegel is a senior fellow at the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.

Hannity has previously falsely suggested that Obama has proposed a Canadian or U.K.-style health care system.

From the July 23 edition of Fox News Hannity:

HANNITY: Socialized medicine is by no means a new idea. In fact, the citizens of Canada and the United Kingdom are living through what can only be described as a "universal nightmare."

Now take a look at what could soon become a reality right here in America.

[begin video clip]

OBAMA: The very first promise I made on this campaign was that as president I will sign a universal health care plan into law by the end of my first term in office.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Folks, reform is coming. It is on track; it is coming.

HANNITY: It's coming all right, and if the Obama administration has its way, millions of Americans are staring at another massive government tax hike.

STEPHEN SIEGEL (gastroenterological surgeon): The current proposals for reform of health care are very worrisome to me. I think they represent a slippery slope. For health care reform to be successful, they have to reduce costs, and the only way, in fact, to reduce costs is to reduce services and ration care.

HANNITY: Canada and the U.K. have government-run health care systems, and many opponents say be careful for what you wish for.

STEPHEN SIEGEL: I think that once the American people realize that this is where the plan will lead us, they will not accept it.

HANNITY: Shona Holmes is a native of Ontario, Canada, and she knows all too well the struggles of being a patient in a government-operated health care system.

HOLMES: Before I went to the doctors in Canada, I started to come down with some symptoms, and I had to go and find out what was wrong with me. And at that point I was told that my vision was going, and that we needed to see an endocrinologist and a neurologist immediately.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get an appointment with either one of them for up to four to six months for either one. I realized that I was in trouble, and at that point I decided that I better go down to the States and get a diagnosis and at least find out whether or not there was something serious to worry about. And that's when I traveled down to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

HANNITY: Within one week, Shona received the frightening news. She had a life-threatening brain tumor, and with a full diagnosis in hand, she headed back to Canada to fight for her life.

HOLMES: People wouldn't even look at the diagnosis that I brought back from the States, and I basically got thrown back into the system for testing. And I had been told that I needed to have this surgery in order to save my eyesight within four to six weeks.

HANNITY: With little health from her own health care system, Shona and her husband returned to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Within weeks she had surgery that changed her life.

HOLMES: The U.S. health care absolutely saved my life.

HANNITY: Earlier this month, Shona testified on Capitol Hill about the horrific experience.

HOLMES: What started many years ago as a seemingly compassionate move in our government to treat all equally and fairly by providing the same medical coverage has, in fact, turned into a nightmare of everyone suffering equally. And I'm here to say, when it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

HANNITY: Recently, a Pajamas TV reporter went undercover in a Canadian hospital to get a firsthand look at what the American people could experience.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But it's hard to get a family doctor when he doesn't have one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I know. But the only thing you can do is just call the phone number.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I did that like three months ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. But maybe it's like two or three years.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Three year -- to get a doctor?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but you're young, so you have the time.

HANNITY: Stories like this are common across Europe. Katie Brickell of London, England, was another victim of a government-controlled system.

BRICKELL: When I was 19 everybody around me seemed to be getting smear tests, and I went to the doctors and asked if I could have one. And they told me that I was too young, that the age limit in England to have a smear test was 20. So I went back when I was 20 years old, and they said the same thing, but this time the age limit had been raised to 25.

And I didn't need one until then. But when I was 23 I had symptoms that I was worried about, and I went to the doctors, and we eventually found out that I had cervical cancer.

STEPHEN SIEGEL: When you have a X number of doctors for triple X number of patients, this results in waiting -- and waiting delays diagnosis, waiting delays treatment, waiting results in poor health and bad endings.

BRICKELL: I didn't get the care that I should have got. I didn't get it when I asked for it, and it ended up leading me to having an incurable cancer all because of one simple test that just is too expensive for the government to have allowed me.

HANNITY: So if patients lose out and doctors predict disaster and all we hear are stories of long lines and waitlists that stretch for years, well, we have to wonder why this president is pushing for a system where poor quality health care is the norm.

SIEGEL: I have difficulty understanding why we as a country are trying to move toward systems that are not successful. I don't recall hearing of anyone flying to Canada or to the United Kingdom for second opinions in specialized care. They all come here.

HOLMES: In the United States I felt like a patient, and I felt like I was cared for, and in Canada I'm nothing but a number.

OBAMA: For those naysayers, cynics who think that this is not going to happen: Don't bet against us. We are going to make this thing happen.

[end video clip]

HANNITY: Unbelievable.

[...]

[begin video clip]

HANNITY: America has some of the top health care and top medical technology available anywhere in the world today. What makes it so great?

MARC SIEGEL: The current health care system is based on choice. We need a system where Americans can choose the health care they want just as they can choose to buy one automobile versus another.

HANNITY: Now Congress has decided it wants to throw another choice into the mix: a cheaper, government-run, quote, "public option" for insurance coverage. But don't worry.

OBAMA: If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.

MARC SIEGEL: When President Obama says that you get to keep the health care you already have, he's being completely disingenuous. Millions of people are going to lose their current health insurance in favor of this government insurance because the public option can come in cheaper for patients; the private insurers can't compete, the government can regulate the amount of care that's delivered -- that's also known as rationing care, by the way.

[...]

OBAMA: We will have some up front costs -- anywhere from 1 trillion to $2 trillion. So what I've proposed is that we cap the itemized deductions that the top 2 or 3 percent get -- people making over 250,000 a year. With that additional money we would have paid for all of the health care that I'm proposing.

JENKINS: But the president may not be able to make good on that pledge, although, he has vowed to examine other attempts at universal health care, like the United Kingdom and the Canadian systems.

OBAMA: A lot of those other countries employ a different system than we do. Not all of them, by the way, use a socialized medicine. ... Almost all of them have what would be considered a single-payer system in which the government essentially operates a Medicare for all.

JENKINS: But note: He has failed to mention Hawaii's now-defunct program to insure all children.

[end video clip]

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sean Hannity
Show/Publication
Hannity
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