Beck, Fox & Friends take a trip down health care misinformation lane


Fox & Friends hosted Glenn Beck to rehash tired health care reform misinformation, including that the health care reform bill is modeled after the British system, which will lead to "very little care" and "death panels" for infants and the elderly, and that Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) appointee Donald Berwick is "into rationing care." In fact, the new health care reform law does not create a health care system modeled after the British system; the existence of death panels in health care reform has been comprehensively debunked, and in his comments about rationing, Berwick was pointing out that insurance companies already ration care.

Fox & Friends falsely claims health care reform was based on British system

Doocy: British system is "sort of just like the one we made law." On the July 27 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy teased an upcoming segment on Britain's National Health Service by claiming: "Britain now ready to admit its health care system is a big, fat mess. It's a system that's sort of just like the one we made law in the United States of America."

Johnson: "Didn't we just pass health care modeled after" the British system? Later in the show, guest co-host Peter Johnson Jr. teased Beck's upcoming segment by asking: "The U.K. admits its socialized medicine is a mess. Didn't we just pass health care modeled after theirs? So what does this mean for our future?"

In fact, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not resemble Britain's NHS. As Media Matters has noted, the United Kingdom has a single-provider health care model, wherein the government owns and operates the health care system, employing all doctors and other medical personnel through the National Health Service (NHS) and paying them for all medical services. Our own Veterans Affairs offers a single-provider system for veterans. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act implements private health insurance exchanges and an expansion of Medicaid, not a nationwide single-provider system.

Beck, Fox & Friends revive debunked "death panel" claims

Johnson asks Beck if limiting care to the elderly is "what we're going to do in the United States." During a segment with Beck, Johnson claimed that, in Britain, there were reports that "they are going to limit end-of-life care. Now we talk about death panels. They're saying to cancer patients -- potentially terminally ill cancer patients -- you go home, and we're going to teach you about self-management in the end stages of life." After Johnson asked Beck, "Is this what we're going to have in the United States?" Beck falsely claimed that under health care reform, "for small babies under 3, you're going to get very little care. Once you hit 60 years old, you're going to get very little care. That's the way it works."

Media debunked the death panels -- more than 40 times over. Numerous media outlets debunked right-wing claims that health care reform would encourage euthanasia of the elderly, including Sarah Palin's claim -- forwarded by the conservative media -- that the bill would create a "death panel." Media Matters has identified more than 40 instances of media reporting that these claims are false.

Right-wing media have continually changed the definition to keep accusing health care reform of implementing "death panels." Conservative media figures have repeatedly accused health care reform of implementing "death panels." The definition has changed to incorporate different aspects of health care reform, all of which have been debunked.

Beck distorts Berwick's words to claim he's "into rationing care" and "England's health care system"

Beck distorted comments to falsely claim Berwick is "into rationing care" and thinks health care is "about redistribution of wealth." Beck also attacked CMS appointee Donald Berwick, rehashing old attacks that Berwick is "into rationing care" and that his statements on wealth redistribution confirm "everything that we've been pointing out on the show. We said that health care was about redistribution of wealth."

In fact, Berwick was explaining that we are currently rationing care. In the interview with Biotechnology Healthcare, Berwick acknowledges that the current health care system already rations care and that the question for the future is how best to do it. From Biotechnology Healthcare, June 2009:

BIOTECHNOLOGY HEALTHCARE: Critics of CER have said that it will lead to the rationing of healthcare.

BERWICK: We can make a sensible social decision and say, "Well, at this point, to have access to a particular additional benefit [new drug or medical intervention] is so expensive that our taxpayers have better use for those funds." We make those decisions all the time. The decision is not whether or not we will ration care -- the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly.

Indeed, insurance companies already ration care. The insurance industry has already admitted that it currently uses cost benefit analyses to determine health care coverage. In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition, Wellpoint chief medical officer Dr. Sam Nussbaum 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." Former CIGNA senior executive Wendell Potter testified in front of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation that "insurers routinely dump policyholders who are less profitable or who get sick" and that insurers "dump small businesses whose employees' medical claims exceed what insurance underwriters expected."

Medicare and Medicaid are popular programs that are "by definition redistributional." In attacking Berwick for his comments about health care and redistributing wealth, Beck ignores that Medicare and Medicaid, which Berwick will oversee, are federal programs that provide health insurance to people who are elderly, disabled, or are in low-income brackets. The funds for Medicare and Medicaid come from federal tax revenues, including a 1.45 percent payroll tax on all earnings. In other words, Medicare and Medicaid are funded by the redistribution of wealth. A June 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 74 percent of adults "say Medicaid is a 'very important' government program, ranking it close to Social Security (88%) and Medicare (83%) in the public's mind."

Beck attacked Berwick for previous positive statements about NHS. Beck also said Berwick "called England's health care system a seductress. He thinks it is the best system that's ever been created," ignoring that Berwick criticized aspects of Britain's National Health Service.

In fact, Berwick also made comments critical of NHS, such as, "Is the NHS perfect? Far from it." In the same 2008 speech cited by Beck, Berwick indicated that the NHS is "far from" being perfect and that "the NHS has a lot more work ahead." Berwick also listed "ten suggestions" for how the NHS "can do even better." From Berwick's 2008 speech:

BERWICK: Is the NHS perfect? Far from it. Far from it. I know that as well as anyone in this room, from front line to Whitehall, I have had the privilege of observing performance and even to help to measure its performance.


There is less progress in some areas, especially with comparison to other European systems, such as in specialty access, in cancer outcomes, in patient centeredness, in life expectancy and infant mortality for socially deprived populations. In other words, in improving its quality, two facts are true: The NHS in en route, and the NHS has a lot more work ahead.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Fox News Channel
Glenn Beck, Steve Doocy, Peter Johnson Jr.
FOX & Friends
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