John Barrasso is an orthopedic surgeon from Wyoming, a state with less population than the city of Milwaukee. Yet, having left practice to crusade against malpractice suits (we don’t know the connection there) and other Right Wing anti-middle class causes he has become the most recent spokesman for the Right Wing. In an interview recently on (where else?) Fox “news” he made outrageous claims in the latest frantic attack by the Neocon Republicans against the planned option offered by the President to help cut down medical insurance costs and make health care available to everyone.
Barrasso began by turning on his multiple-usage talking point: “Washington takeover” of health care. Let’s debunk that one first. President Obama’s plan is mild, too mild for most Americans who want a European-style, single-payer, simplified health care system. But President Obama says…no…let the people who have health care now decide if they want to keep it. If they do, then they keep their existing health care insurance. But if they lose it or if they like what they hear about the public option for health care, then they would be able to change. Barrasso and the Right Wingers don’ t like that. They might lose some customers that they are now extorting to the tune of literally thousands of dollars a month.
In an interview on health care, while Fox “news” had a slowly descending sign running down the side of the TV image that said “Alert” (can they be any more obvious?) Barrasso stated point-blank that “…119 million people may lose their health insurance…” That is, of course, a lie, just as is the comment that the government will take over health insurance. This is some kind of fabricated figure that Barrasso doesn’t explain and frankly is so bizarre that we cannot respond to it. Except to say that if we have a public health care insurance option and you cannot be turned away, then how can 119 million people lose their health insurance? If they lose their private insurance, they can automatically enroll in the public option. That is the reason for having the public option.
Barrasso goes on to say that “85% of the people in America are happy with the care they have; they just don’t like the price.” Well, of course you can see that this is a lie on its very face. Fewer than 85% of the people in America even have private health insurance. And as to the ones who do being unhappy with the price? Well, paying an average of $12,000 per year, which is what the statistics say people pay, no wonder people are unhappy with it. Maybe that is why 72% of the respondents to a recent CNN poll said that they wanted single-payer government-sponsored health care like those of the other 36 countries ahead of us in health care statistics.
Barrasso does the obligatory “attack the Canadian system to scare the Americans” routine. First of all, he does something somewhat stupid. He contradicts himself in the very claim he gives for the U.S. current system versus the Canadian system. He says that a Canadian government official, a strong supporter of the Canadian system, came to California for some procedure. He doesn’t say what procedure. Well, that’s nice, but then a.) why is she a strong supporter of the Canadian system, and b.) was it a cosmetic procedure….(California? Hollywood?)…because Canada does not pay for liposuction or nose jobs.
An atrocious lie that the Fox “news” reporter led Barrasso into and one that many Canadian doctors will resent is Barrasso’s attack on cancer care in Canada. Barrasso said that he agreed with the announcer’s comment that “if your wife was treated in Canada under their system, she wouldn’t have had the same result that she got in this country.” Barrasso agreed and then went on to talk about early diagnosis and detection. Canada actually has a better system than ours for this. The average number of days to see a doctor if you suspect cancer is six days. We do not have the stats handy on a comparison of deaths by cancer in Canada vs. the U.S., and so he may be right on that point…or not. We do know that there are fewer cancer deaths per thousand in other “socialized medicine” countries such as Austria, Norway, France, Sweden, Finland, Australia and the United Kingdom and others, than in the U.S.
Here’s how the opposition to your having a reliable, affordable health care option works. And by the way, remember, it’s just an option. No one is going to be forced into it. It’s voluntary. You can take it or leave it. Here’s how Barrasso frames this. He says that “when you deny health care, and it is not just a delay but a denial of that care…we’re going to lose people.” Wow! Because the government wants to give you the “option” to buy reasonably priced health insurance, they are then going to deny you access to doctors and care? And we’re going to “lose people?” We already lose an estmated 25,000 people a year who can’t afford health care and therefore diagnosis and die before they can be treated. So does this argument that health care will be rationed more than it is now in this country?
Of course not. It does not make sense that the Canadians, of whom over 90% say that they would NEVER change their health care system, can’t wait to come to Fargo for treatment, or can’t get an appointment with a doctor. It does make sense that John Barrasso, who does knee replacements would know about delays in that procedure. In Canada, if your knee causes you such problems that you cannot work or walk, you go to the head of the line. If you need a replacement but it can wait, it does. Of course, John Barrasso, who makes probably $25,000 a pop on these and does at least 100 a year does not want any to wait. But they do.
In this country, surgery is rationed. It is rationed by the number of doctors like John Barrasso who are available. There aren’t enough to go around. So you wait, and wait. Even if it is serious. We need about 25,000 doctors a year at least, just to keep up. But we only graduate about 16,000. That is controlled by the American Medical Association…the doctors themselves. Then we import about 5,000 from India, Pakistan and other parts of Asia. So we are still running short, but that’s good for doctors. Cuba, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere has more doctors than we do per capita. By the way, the Obama health care system will create more doctors and pay for the education of many Americans who volunteer to serve the country for a number of years in return.
John Barrasso is no dummie. Did you see how he got the the word “deny” and “denial” in the same sentence? He got the term “Washington takeover” in this conversation at least four times. That is his job. His job is to get the terms “Washington takeover,” “denial of coverage,” “delays,” and “long waits” into the interview. These conversations are not about the truth. They are about the Karl Rove method. They are about scaring the hell out of the public. Get your message…right or wrong…truth or lie…into the conversation and everyone in the fight…in this case to “deny” health care to Americans…uses the same terminology. Barrasso and Rove think…let’s be honest…that you are stupid.
Barrasso is fighting hard to keep the American people from having inexpensive health care. But it is not surprising. He has been fighting against malpractice lawsuits as well, and such things as…yes…global warming. Yes. Erzatz scientist, John Barrasso apparently does not believe in global warming or in the fact that states that have caps on malpractice judgements have higher insurance rates than states that do not. John Barrasso is an MD, though we have no way of knowing if he is or was a good one. So John thinks he can figure this all out himself. Don’t confuse him with the facts.