Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Straw Men

I've had the misfortune to spend time at the gym tonight, unavoidably facing the smug fat face of Fox's Sean Hannity on one of the TVs there that dangle from the ceiling like piles from the arse of Rupert Murdoch. Luckily the sound was turned down low enough that I could listen in peace to English Freakbeat Volume 2 on the mp3 player. It wasn't quite enough, though. I knew what he was saying and just the fact that he's up there mouthing it is irritating enough. He was talking about healthcare reform.

There are lies aplenty about healthcare reform without Hannity getting in on the act. Today, the Investor's Business Daily managed a few whoppers about it, starting off with this claim about the British National Health Service:

The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through rationing,
and the health consequences thereof are legendary. The stories of people dying
on a waiting list or being denied altogether read like a horror movie script.
Well, yes, in the sense that they are fictional treatments to make us afraid of non-existent boogeymen, I suppose they do.

The article tells us that there is a panel set up in Britain for killing old people.

The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) basically figures out who deserves treatment by using a cost-utility analysis based on the "quality adjusted life year."

One year in perfect health gets you one point. Deductions are taken for blindness, for being in a wheelchair and so on.

The more points you have, the more your life is considered worth saving, and the likelier you are to get care.
This is just utter crap. NICE does not interview shivering oldsters and tell them they are for the chop - its job is to evaluate different treatments for the same condition and advise on the most cost-effective course of treatment.

The article originally stated that Stephen Hawking, the brilliant but physically handicapped astrophysicist, would have been told his life was not worth saving if he'd lived in Britain. This rather overlooked the fact that Stephen Hawking does live in Britain, and his life was not only worth saving, it was in fact saved, and continues to be significantly aided, by the National Health Service. Someone pointed out this error to IBT and the outrageous claim was taken down. You can still see a screenprint of it here.

A Guardian columnist, Hugh Muir, followed up on this:
We say his life is far from worthless, as they do at Addenbrooke's hospital, Cambridge, where Professor Hawking, who has motor neurone disease, was treated for chest problems in April. As indeed does he. "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS," he told us. "I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived." Something here is worthless. And it's not him.
Thank you Hugh Muir. And Professor Hawking.

If you want to make yourself angry, you can read the full Investor's Business Daily article here.

The spectacle of tens of agitated people demanding that the US government get its filthy hands off of Medicare would be funny, if lives weren't at stake.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin
I sometimes mention a product on this blog, and I give a URL to Amazon or similar sites. Just to reassure you, I don't get paid to advertise anything here and I don't get any money from your clicks. Everything I say here is because I feel like saying it.