Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama Challenges Lies, But Lies Seem to Persist


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How can naysayers like Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), who gave the Republican response to President Obama's address, and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), who heckled the President by yelling "You lie" during his remarks, just close their ears to the truth and keep right on spreading lies? I don't get it.

I especially take issue with Rep. Boustany's assertion the President's proposed reforms would force each and every one of us into a government-run program. President Obama directly addressed this in his speech, saying:
First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. (Applause.) Let me repeat this: Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

Furthermore, independent group FactCheck.org has said the claim that citizens will be forced into a government-run health program is simply not true:
The legislation wouldn’t require anyone to switch health insurance – though, in most cases, plans would eventually have to meet minimum benefit standards. The bills don’t require anyone to join the federal plan. Keep Your Insurance? Not Everyone

Rep. Boustany also asserted that Medicare will be gutted by the President's reform proposals.
And, it cuts Medicare by $500 billion, while doing virtually nothing to make the program better for our seniors.

Protecting Medicare is important not only for seniors, but also for all of us who receive Social Security Disability benefits and get our health care through Medicare. As someone who hopes to go on Medicare next spring and has seen how much it helps our seniors, the program is very important to me. I would not support any proposal that did anything to damage this program or its stability.

President Obama has proposed certain changes in Medicare that would save the program money without reducing benefits for program participants or cutting payments to doctors. FactCheck.org agrees with this characterization:

The claim that Obama and Congress are cutting seniors’ Medicare benefits to pay for the health care overhaul is outright false, though that doesn’t keep it from being repeated ad infinitum.

The truth is that the pending House bill extracts $500 billion from projected Medicare spending over 10 years, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office, by doing such things as trimming projected increases in the program’s payments for medical services, not including physicians. Increases in other areas, such as payments to doctors, bring the net savings down to less than half that amount. But none of the predicted savings – or cuts, depending on one’s perspective – come from reducing current or future benefits for seniors. Seven Falsehoods about Health Care


A misguided outburst from Rep. Joe Wilson during the Presidential address suggests he believes President Obama was lying when he said nothing in the proposed reforms would provide any kind of health benefits for illegal immigrants.

FactCheck.org has addressed this assertion, too, dismissing it as clearly false:
One Republican congressman issued a press release claiming that "5,600,000 Illegal Aliens May Be Covered Under Obamacare," and we’ve been peppered with queries about similar claims. They’re not true. In fact, the House bill (the only bill to be formally introduced in its entirety) specifically says that no federal money would be spent on giving illegal immigrants health coverage Seven Falsehoods about Health Care

Of course, Rep. Joe Wilson is the same man who recently wrote an opinion piece for South Carolina's The State newspaper promoting the existence of so-called "death panels." What President Obama has facetiously called the plot to "pull the plug on grandma."
These include the end of life counseling program, which has been correctly highlighted by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a program which could lead to seniors being encouraged to seek less care in order to protect the government’s bottom line. Wilson: Active Citizenry Can Make a Difference

This whole "death panels" claim is one of the most insulting lies being spread about proposed health care reforms. End of life planning is incredibly important and empowering. It puts the decisions about what will happen to you in your own hands so those wishes can be carried out even after you're able to express your wishes. That is all these proposed reforms call for: paying for the cost of an end of life planning session with a health care provider. There is nothing in the language requiring such sessions to be offered by doctors or participated in by patients. The provision simply modifies existing Medicare language describing what the program will pay for.
End of life planning has absolutely nothing to do with the costs associated with your care. To spin such a helpful provision into something negative and scary is downright despicable.

Needless to say, these are just a few specific instances of claims that have raised my ire. The bottom line is we all agree there are problems with the way things currently operate in the health care system and far too many people going bankrupt to pay for care or dying for lack of access to care. If you don't agree with the proposals currently being discussed share your own ideas with everyone you possibly can. But don't resort to lies and distortions. It's lazy and we're all tired of being lied to.

Sources:
Full Text of Rep. Charles Boustany's Republican Response
Remarks by the President to a Joint Session of Congress on Health Care
The President's Remarks and a Letter from Ted
A Voice on the Floor on Illegal Immigrants: 'You lie'
Seven Falsehoods about Health Care
Wilson: Active Citizenry Can Make a Difference
Keep Your Insurance? Not Everyone
Palin vs. Obama: Death Panels

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.