Donald Lambro falsely claimed that President Obama said that equipment and tests used to "diagnose, treat or otherwise care for" patients "don't make Americans any healthier."
In a July 27 column, The Washington Times' chief political correspondent Donald Lambro falsely claimed that during his July 22 press conference, President Obama said that the "costly equipment and tests" used to "diagnose, treat or otherwise care for" patients "don't make Americans any healthier." But Obama did not say that costly tests don't make Americans healthier; he said that inefficiencies in the system need to be eliminated so that, among other things, costly tests are not repeated unnecessarily. Specifically, after stating that the American people are "going to have to give up paying for things that don't make them healthier," Obama spoke of "wasting money" on repeating the same tests because "nobody is bothering to send the first test that you took, same test, to the next doctors."
Asked during the July 22 press conference whether "the American people are going to have to give anything up in order for [health care reform] to happen," Obama said:
They're going to have to give up paying for things that don't make them healthier. And I -- speaking as an American, I think that's the kind of change you want.
Look, if, right now, hospitals and doctors aren't coordinating enough to have you just take one test when you come because of an illness, but instead have you take one test, then you go to another specialist, you take a second test, then you go to another specialist, you take a third test, and nobody is bothering to send the first test that you took, same test, to the next doctors, you're wasting money.
You may not see it, because if you have health insurance right now, it's just being sent to the insurance company. But that's raising your premiums. It's raising everybody's premiums. And that money, one way or another, is coming out of your pocket. Although we are also subsidizing some of that because there are tax breaks for health care.
Further, as Media Matters for America has noted, insurance companies already ration diagnostic testing for financial reasons, and the insurance industry has readily admitted to using cost-benefit analyses in coverage decisions. For instance, during the July 15 edition of NPR's Morning Edition, Dr. Sam Nussbaum, chief medical officer for the health insurance company WellPoint, told co-host Steve Inskeep that "where the private sector has been far more effective than government programs is in limiting clinical services to those that are best meeting the needs of patients." Indeed, Nussbaum specifically pointed to the industry's effectiveness at reducing the use of imaging services such as MRIs and CAT scans when they are "not necessary":
NUSSBAUM: When we look at advanced imaging, and these -- this is MRI, CAT scan, PET scans -- we know that as much as 30 percent of those procedures are not necessary. And we've been able, over the last several years, to have growth in imaging procedures of between 0 and 5 percent. The government, under CMS, has seen imaging grow 15 to 20 percent a year during the same time interval.
As Media Matters noted, The Washington Times has previously grossly distorted the meaning of Obama's remarks on health care, falsely claiming he "admitted" doctors will bear brunt of spending cuts.
From Lambro's July 27 Washington Times column:
The medical advances over the past several decades have been historic. Consider heart-bypass techniques; the growing transplant technology; and the anti-cholesterol, anti-stroke and anti-cancer drugs that have lengthened survivor rates.
But you won't hear about this from the Obama White House, which is focused on denouncing the private marketplace system serviced by doctors and nurses and replacing it with a public monopoly controlled and run by the government and an army of federal bureaucrats.
At his news conference last week, Mr. Obama bemoaned once again the costly equipment and tests that hospitals and other medical facilities use to diagnose, treat or otherwise care for their patients -- saying they don't make Americans any healthier.
But these tests and medical scans are critically important to finding out the exact nature of illnesses and thus the best form of treatment. They do, in fact, help make millions of Americans healthier.
So why does Mr. Obama suggest otherwise? Cost is his main motivation because it is the critical part of the government takeover equation. Drive down costs through price regulations, and it may make his trillion-dollar-plus health care plans less expensive.