Barone trumpets McCaughey falsehood on "freedom to choose" medical treatments


In an April 12 column, Michael Barone cited Betsy McCaughey's suggestion that the health care bill could be unconstitutional because it would remove the "freedom to choose a hip replacement or a Caesarean section," which McCaughey argued would violate privacy rights established in Roe v. Wade. In fact, the section to which McCaughey refers simply sets minimum requirements for an insurance plan to operate in health care exchanges, and nothing in the legislation bans "hip replacements or a Caesarean section."

Barone, McCaughey falsely claim health care bill removes "freedom to choose a hip replacement or a Caesarean section"

McCaughey: "Can the federal government dictate how doctors treat their patients?" In an April 9 Wall Street Journal op-ed, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey wrote: "During the last half century, the Supreme Court has established a zone of privacy protected by the Constitution. It includes a couple's choice to use contraception recommended by their physician (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965) and a woman's choice to have an abortion provided by her physician (Roe v. Wade, 1973)." McCaughey added: "How can freedom to make these choices with your doctor be protected and not freedom to choose a hip replacement or a Caesarean section? Either your body is protected from government interference or it's not." McCaughey claimed that the government will "dictat[e] how doctors treat privately insured patients" and that Section 1311 of the health care bill, which she claims "says plans can pay only doctors who implement whatever regulations the Secretary of Health and Human Services imposes to improve health-care 'quality,' " is "likely to meet disapproval from a pro-privacy court."

Barone: Health care bill "could prove embarrassing for Democrats who have lauded" court cases establishing "a right to privacy." In an April 12 column entitled, "Putting Obamacare on Trial," Barone quoted McCaughey's op-ed and claimed that her assertions "could prove embarrassing for Democrats who have lauded Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade for creating a right to privacy that includes contraception and abortion." Barone further suggested that Republicans pose McCaughey's question, "How can the freedom to make such choices with your doctor be protected and not freedom to choose a hip replacement or a Caesarean section?" to President Obama's nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

In fact, Section 1311 sets minimum requirements for an insurance plan to operate in the exchange

Legislation requires HHS secretary to establish minimum guidelines for health insurance plans in the exchange. According to the Democratic Policy Committee's summary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the legislation requires the secretary to "[e]stablish certification criteria for qualified health plans, requiring such plans to meet marketing requirements, ensure a sufficient choice of providers, include essential community providers in their networks, be accredited on quality, implement a quality improvement strategy, use a uniform enrollment form, present plan information in a standard format, and provide data on quality measures."

CRS: Section 1311 establishes "consumer choices and Insurance competition through health benefit exchanges." From the Congressional Research Service's (CRS) summary of Section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

Part II: Consumer Choices and Insurance Competition Through Health Benefit Exchanges - (Sec. 1311, as modified by Sec. 10104) Requires states to establish an American Health Benefit Exchange that: (1) facilitates the purchase of qualified health plans; and (2) provides for the establishment of a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP Exchange) that is designed to assist qualified small employers in facilitating the enrollment of their employees in qualified health plans offered in the small group market in the state.

Requires the Secretary to establish criteria for the certification of health plans as qualified health plans, including requirements for: (1) meeting market requirements; and (2) ensuring a sufficient choice of providers.

Sets forth the requirements for an Exchange, including that an Exchange: (1) must be a governmental agency or nonprofit entity that is established by a state; (2) may not make available any health plan that is not a qualified health plan; (3) must implement procedures for certification of health plans as qualified health plans; and (4) must require health plans seeking certification to submit a justification of any premium increase prior to implementation of such increase.

Permits states to require qualified health plans to offer additional benefits. Requires states to pay for the cost of such additional benefits.

Allows a state to establish one or more subsidiary Exchanges for geographically distinct areas of a certain size.

Applies mental health parity provisions to qualified health plans.

Kaiser Family Foundation: Plans "will be required to offer benefits that meet a minimum set of standards." According to a summary of the bill by the Kaiser Family Foundation: "Plans in the Exchanges will be required to offer benefits that meet a minimum set of standards. Insurers will offer four levels of coverage that vary based on premiums, out-of-pocket costs, and benefits beyond the minimum required plus a catastrophic coverage plan."

Nothing in the bill will remove freedom to "choose a hip replacement or Caesarian section"

Nowhere in the section McCaughey cites or elsewhere in the bill does health care reform ban hip replacements or Caesarian sections. As Media Matters for America has documented, McCaughey has repeatedly claimed that health care reform will ration care or create government interference in doctors' health care decisions.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Michael Barone, Betsy McCaughey
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