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Painting the Red State Purple.

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FactCheck.org and Jon Stewart vs. Betsy McCaughey

Posted by ALmod on August 26, 2009

A lot of other folks have already posted on this, but I was waiting on the response from FactCheck.org before I covered it as well.  I did leave a rather lengthy comment over at Left in Alabama, though.  For those who haven’t seen the interview, you can find it in its full unedited form here (part 1) and here (part 2).  I’ll warn you that it’s rather uncomfortable to watch.

What you’ll see is McCaughey reading a passage from (I believe) HB3200 to try to prove her euthanasia claim.  Further, she’s arguing that the clause regarding seeing your doctor for what amounts to setting up a living will would not be voluntary.  McCaughey’s argument was that the bill gave incentives to doctors for providing this service and would therefore make it something that doctors rammed down their patients’ throats.  Here’s the portion she read that “proved” her point.

H.R. 3200, page 431-432: (1) PHYSICIAN’S QUALITY REPORTING INITIATIVE.—Section 1848(k)(2) of the Social Security Act 19 (42 U.S.C. 1395w–4(k)(2)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraphs: (3) PHYSICIAN’S QUALITY REPORTING INITIATIVE.— (A) IN GENERAL.—For purposes of reporting data on quality measures for covered professional services furnished during 2011 and any subsequent year, to the extent that measures are available, the Secretary shall include quality measures on end of life care and advanced care planning that have been adopted or endorsed by a consensus-based organization, if appropriate. Such measures shall measure both the creation of and adherence to orders for life-sustaining treatment.”

Now, if you look at this as is or listen to someone read it, you might be inclined to agree with McCaughey.  The problem is that you’d be skimming and not actually reading it.  And listening to someone read it isn’t exactly going to give you the opportunity to break it down and see it for what it actually says.  In other words, McCaughey’s argument depends heavily on you not reading or understanding the passage in question.  So let’s break this down a bit…

“For purposes of reporting data…”  This is for reporting purposes.

“…on quality measures for covered professional services furnished during 2011 and any subsequent year, to the extent that measures are available…”  They’re reporting what services were covered and what was available.

“…the Secretary shall include quality measures on end of life care and advanced care planning that have been adopted or endorsed by a consensus-based organization, if appropriate.”  This is big wording for saying that whatever is reported might include (but isn’t limited to) how many such consultations they did.

“Such measures shall measure both the creation of and adherence to orders for life-sustaining treatment.”  The key words here are “life-sustaining.”  This means exactly what it says.

And as FactCheck.org points out, McCaughey’s claim that this somehow affects a physician’s “quality rating” is false.

What McCaughey didn’t count on and what so many others before her have taken for granted is the fact that Stewart is no dummy, and he doesn’t just nod his head and listen.  Nor does he follow the Bill O’Reilly formula of simply yelling over the other person.  Stewart allowed her to first make her argument and even produce the portion of the bill that she said proves her point.  Stewart probably would have been either a lawyer or investment banker had he not gone into comedy, and he saw right through the bullshit and interpreted the passage exactly as it was– line by line– to prove her wrong.  McCaughey was left with saying, “You’re wrong,” as her main argument.  She simply couldn’t produce the wording to back her claims, and what she did produce, Stewart read back to her to show her error.

To boot, McCaughey actually added to her argument that decisions made by a patient while they were still of sound mind and body were not really what the patient would want when they were no longer able to voice their wishes.  In short, the one arguing that health care reform would take away your choices was actually arguing that your wishes should not be followed if she (or someone else) didn’t personally agree with them– that your choices should be ignored.  Why?  Because you wouldn’t really know what you wanted unless you were unconscious and unable to convey your wishes?

Then McCaughey referred to FactCheck.org as “SpotCheck.org.”  It’s nice to think that Fact Check is the only fact checking site or source out there.  Unfortunately, there are several, and I haven’t found one that agrees with her.  And invoking FactCheck.org, as our former vice president found out, is a sure fire way to get them to respond.  Calling the nonpartisan watchdog groups liars isn’t exactly the best way to prove your point.

Oddly enough, McCaughey resigned the next day.  From what?  Well it might explain where her true interests lie, but McCaughey was the director of a medical company.  The company, among other things, sells medical equipment and would likely have a much smaller bottom line after the passage of a health care reform bill.  Sounds familiar.

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