This is going to be a long one. Slog tipper Sara sent along a conservative e-mail that a relative of hers forwarded around about the nightmare of government-run health care. Sara is a family doctor, and she decided to respond to the e-mail with facts and life experience. After the jump, I've included the conservative e-mail—minus the comic sans—and Sara's thoughtful, well-researched response. This is exactly how you handle those e-mails: Not by getting into a pissing match, but by pointing out the untruths and then providing facts.
Here's the e-mail Sara got:
Jackie is a dear friend of mine who has seen, first hand, many destructive results of government-run health care. Our health insurance industry needs reform, especially as it regards pre-existing conditions and the cost of coverage. But an actual reading of the Obamacare law reveals its true danger to lives and liberty. This law must be repealed and replaced with a better plan; otherwise, we will write our own sad stories. It's not too late. If enough of us will support Romney/Ryan, our vote will lead to a better plan. ~Cynthia
England, my home country, has mandatory Government run health care. My Mum, at 73 years old, after being diagnosed with blocked carotid arteries, was told she was TOO OLD at 73 for surgery and was put on an 81mg aspirin daily. Of course 4 years later, she died of a massive stroke. Dad at 69 died of prostate cancer while still on a waiting list for cataract surgery, Who has seen the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”? Did anyone take note that the character played by Maggie Smith was going to India for hip surgery, as the waiting list was at least 6 months in England? None of this should be taken lightly. Ask me about others; brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts. Jackie
What followed these two forwarded e-mails were a series of highlighted quotes "taken" from Obamacare "proving" the existence of death panels. If you're really curious to read it—the formatting would be a nightmare here on Slog—there are links below to the whole list. Here's the e-mail Sara sent in response, with a couple identifying characteristics removed:
This stuff does have real-life consequences—- ones that I see every day in my community health center. Just as an example, I certainly wouldn't want people to be required to talk to their doctor about end of life care (which HR3200 doesn't do—). But my goodness! I should be able to be reimbursed for discussing this important part of health care with my patients. I currently am not reimbursed for this, and thus am supposed to squeeze this very important topic deserving of 1-2 hours, into a 15 minute visit that is also for diabetes, hypertension, back pain and depression.
The Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama does NOT mandate end-of-life counseling nor seminars; and unfortunately, due to myths about "death panels" such as the ones contained in this email, reimbursement for this important health care service was dropped from the final version of the bill. So even with "Obamacare" I will continue to have to squeeze this important discussion into already-packed visits.
So I struggle with these issues every day as I sit down with my patients. My patients come from all walks of life and circumstances. I take care of countless working families, where one or both parents might work 2-3 jobs to try to make ends meet, and may or may not have insurance coverage to show for it. Choices sometimes come down to new school clothes for the kids, or this month's blood pressure pills, or Gramma's walker which needs to be fixed.
It is for them that I am taking time out of my evening when I have notes to finish and medications to refill, in order to respond to this email. It's important that forwarded emails ascribed to so-called/self-described "experts" be cross-referenced, researched, and independently reviewed. Without this, the result is partisan misinformation, scattershot blog-based lists of bite-size pseudo-facts, half-truths, and distortions that muddy the water, and prevent real, pragmatic solutions to problems that cause great suffering for millions of people right now— today, this minute. It's easy for these to be masked and hidden online—- which means doing the research is doubly important and the responsible thing to do.
The rationing we have now is based on income... and it is a spectacularly brutal and tragic system for those at the bottom who struggle with even having the barest minimum of disaster-insurance. My patients would love to be on a 6 month waiting list for a hip transplant. Health insurance and healthcare are unique markets, with unique market forces, unlike any other—- proposals that suggest otherwise are fantasy.
The list of claims in your forwarded email are made to appear to originate from a letter from a Judge Kithil, but are actually those of a conservative blogger named Peter Fleckenstein, who originally developed this list on a series of tweets and blog posts. Please take the time to read these links from multiple reputable sources which address and refute the claims below in detail.
Additionally, here is a timetable from the American Academy of Family Physicians which details when the major provisions of the bill will be rolled out:
Bottom line for me: The problems—-millions without insurance, out of control health care costs, and incentives to do more procedures rather than spend time with patients. Is Obama's plan going to fix all this? Nope. It doesn't go nearly far enough to fix these problems. But it is in the right direction. By propagating inaccurate information about its contents, we are not doing anyone any favors.
Love you all, no matter how you're voting—— which is precisely the liberal position of the matter—— :) Just have to throw in my two cents from the boots-on-the-ground perspective of a family doc in a community health center....
Your niece (who you may now want to throw some arugula and a latte at), Sara