Monday, July 16, 2007

'SiCKO' Truth Squad Sets CNN Straight -- Again

July 11th, 2007 8:44 pm
'SiCKO' Truth Squad Sets CNN Straight -- Again

[In response to Sanjay Gupta's appearance with Michael Moore on the July 10th broadcast of Larry King Live (VIDEO: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)]

GUPTA: "Well, I mean, he pulls $251 from this BBC unsourced report ... Where you pulled the $251 number was a BBC report, which, by the way, stated that the per capita spending in the United States was $5,700. You chose not to use the $5,700 from one report and chose to go to a totally different report and you're sort of cherry picking data from different reports ... Well, why didn't you use the $5,700 number from the BBC report?"


Actually, the number 'Sicko' cited for per capita Cuban spending on health care - $251, a number widely cited by the BBC and other outlets - comes from the United Nations Human Development Report, helpfully linked on our website. Here it is again:

That UN report does list American health care spending as only $5,700, but it's a few years old. Since then, the U.S. government has updated it's projections for health care spending, to $7,498 in 2007. So we used that number. It's the most recent, and comes right from the Department of Health and Human Services. If the Cuban government gave a figure on 2007 projected health spending, we'd have used it.

GUPTA: "Medicare is going to go bankrupt by 2019, and is going to be $28 trillion in debt by 2075 ... Look, I believe the very measure of a great society is in how we take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. But would you say that this is going to be still a working system 20 years from now?"


Medicare indeed has enough money to cover all seniors until 2019. At that time, it will simply need more funding. That shouldn't be hard to find in a nation spending trillions of dollars to invade other countries.

Medicare is not in trouble because it is socialized medicine. Medicare faces the same economic problem private health plans do - health care inflation is out of control, far outpacing inflation for other goods and services. And in fact, Medicare is much more efficient at dealing with this inflation than is private insurance. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Table 13), per beneficiary costs have risen in nominal dollars by 519.5 percent since 1980. By contrast, the cost per enrollee of private insurance has risen by 676.6 percent over this same period. So Gupta should instead be pointing his finger at the inefficiency of private insurance. (Social Security and Medicare Myths, Lies, and Realities. Institute for America's Future.; "Gupta Says Medicare is Going Bankrupt," Dean Baker, Beat the Press blog.
There is a clear way to make our health economy more efficient. We waste $400 billion dollars per year administering our mess of a private, profit-driven system. The answer is switching to a single-payer, Medicare-style system and taking absurd profits and administrative costs out of the equation. (Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., Terry Campbell, M.H.A., and David U. Himmelstein, M.D., Costs of Health Care Administration, N Engl J Med 2003;349:768-75 )

GUPTA: "The point is, though, and I think you would have to concede this point, Michael, that you are trying to lead people to believe, again, people who are really concerned about this issue, that it is free in these other countries. And that is what I think is - (MOORE): It is free. (GUPTA) It's not, Michael."


'Sicko' doesn't hide from the obvious fact that higher taxes are needed to pay for free, universal health care. Former UK MP Tony Benn reads from the National Health Service founding pamphlet, which explicitly states that "this is not a charity. You are paying for it mainly as taxpayers." And 'SiCKO' also acknowledges that the French are "drowning in taxes," a line that clearly stuck with Gupta since he used it himself during the broadcast.

The medical care in countries with socialized medicine is still free. Gupta doesn't seem to grasp that. Here in America, when you go to the library and check out a book, it's free. When the fire department puts out a fire at your house, it's free. In Canada, when you go into the hospital for chemotherapy, it's free. You don't walk out with a bill. Yes, citizens pay higher taxes in countries with socialized medicine, but they don't pay the premiums, co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket medical costs that we face in America. Moreover, in other industrialized countries citizens are not bankrupted by huge bills during a medical crisis – as is the case in America, where the leading cause of bankruptcy is medical bills. (Medical Bills Make up Half of Bankruptcies. Feb. 2005, MSNBC.

GUPTA: (On the lone expert shown in the original piece, Paul Keckley). "His only affiliation is with Vanderbilt University. We checked it, Michael. We checked his conflict of interest. We do ask those questions."


Keckley left Vanderbilt in October, 2006 to become the executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. The chyron on CNN even notes his new position. ('Vandy administrator to head Deloitte research center,' Nashville Business Journal. Nov. 1, 2006.
The independent chairman of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions is Tommy Thompson, who was George W. Bush's Health and Human Services Secretary from 2001 to 2005 and is currently running for president as a Republican. ('Meet Tommy G. Thompson, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.,1007,sid=80772&cid=86217,00.html)

Keckley has made large contributions to Republican candidates and organizations. He gave $1,000 to GOP Senator Bob Corker in 2006, $1,000 to the Tennessee GOP in 2002, along with $1,500 to two GOP Congressional candidates, and $1,000 to the Tennessee GOP in 2000. (

Keckley was also the CEO and Founder of EBM Solutions Inc., of Nashville, Tennessee, which counted among it's customers Blue Cross of Tennessee, the drug company Aventis, and others. Considering Keckley makes his living in the for-profit health care world – a world 'Sicko' argues should be abolished – viewers should have been told exactly where Keckley was coming from.

When will "the most trusted name in news" correct these many factual errors?

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