U.S. health care debate — Part 2: Debunking propaganda and phony claims by Miguel A. Faria, MD

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In Part 1 of this article we discussed the content and tone of the political rhetoric used by leftist propagandists in criticizing the proposed GOP health care plans vis-à-vis ObamaCare. GOP health care reform news conferenceWe will now describe the propaganda efforts used by progressives to cite dubious statistics, tar, and misrepresent the U.S. health care system. A recent commentary illustrates this propaganda, claiming, “the British Medical Journal revealed the overall danger of American medical care in an editorial, “Medical error — the third leading cause of death in the U.S.” The writer goes on to compare our “broken system” to those of other industrialized nations that purportedly are cheaper and better.

The British Medical Journal article cited by the author, in fact, had a significant caveat, “Medical error is not included on death certificates or in rankings of cause of death,” further warning that the statement is “only an estimate by two researchers,” concluding that “better reporting” is needed. Indeed, let’s begin with the British themselves.

British officials of the National Health Service (NHS) are so proud of their NHS that they are willing to concoct figures, not only to praise their system, but also to lie about the fact they ration health care by queues and waiting lists, restrictions to specialists and access to life-saving medical treatments, and even outright denial of medical care to the elderly.

The Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis has pointed out that although the NHS claims, “British patients deaths or serious injuries due to medical errors is 11,000 cases a year,” the reality is quite different. As early as 2009, the House of Commons Health Select Committee reported, “thousands of NHS mistakes are covered up and that a better estimate is that 72,000 patients die each year.”  So much for medical errors in the U.S., which indeed occur, but at least they are more objectively and more accurately reported. Hidden in the statistics is the fact that, not only are the poor and disabled properly and promptly treated in the U.S., but the elderly are aggressively treated. It is the fact that potentially life-saving treatments, which also carry risks for complications, are administered to patients seeking them in consultation with their physicians, that also increase the chances for untoward reactions that are then reported as “medical errors” by medical and eagerly critical public health researchers.

Truth be told, Americans want the best health care money can buy and that prolongs life as long as possible, sometimes perhaps unreasonably so, to the point that some progressive academicians have even proposed to restrict access to medical care at a certain age — proposals that have not been acceptable to the general population.

When comparing U.S. health care to those of the social democracies of Western Europe and other industrialized nations, proponents of socialized medicine (i.e., single payer system) argue about lower costs and alleged better medical care “in other industrialized nations.” In a recent article, Dr. David Stolinsky succinctly encapsulates the argument:

“We are told that despite all the money we spend on health care, America does not rank with the best in regard to infant and maternal mortality, or in regard to life expectancy. In fact, the difference is minimal. Life expectancy at birth for the European Union is 78.67 years, while that for the U.S. is 78.11 years − only six months shorter.”

Progressive academicians and other proponents of socialized medicine neglect to mention the fact that our mortality statistics are also affected by taboo social issues, such as the fact fatal drug abuse has increased dramatically in the inner cities, and that black on black crime has reached epidemic proportions and dreadful levels of lethality. Dr. Stolinsky asks:  “So what is killing Americans before the age of 60? Americans are. The number-one cause of death for African-American males from the ages of 15 to 34 is homicide. Faster ambulance response and more trauma centers may reduce this figure somewhat. But clearly, this is not a problem of health care.”

Another problem is illegal immigration and providing necessary care to those coming from across the southern border. Dr. Stolinsky writes: “If women come across the border eight months pregnant, never having seen a doctor, is the fetal and maternal mortality a problem of health care? If pregnant and nursing mothers drink alcohol or use illegal drugs, can doctors solve the problem?”

Europeans are just now experiencing legal and illegal immigration on a large scale. Let’s wait and see as the new data and projecting statistics start providing numbers for Germany and Italy — that is, if officials are honest and release authentic data.

Although we could have used data from Los Angeles or Chicago, the drug and crime capitals of the United States, Dr. Stolinsky chose to use data from the District of Columbia in Washington, DC, to illustrate the problems of the inner cities. (In passing, it should be noted that these three metropolitan areas are located in states or districts with the strictest gun control laws in the United States.) After describing the toll that crime, life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases, such as hepatitis and AIDS, as well as drug abuse have taken in the inner cities, Dr. Stolinsky writes:

“If you doubt this, check out the life expectancy and the rates of infant and maternal mortality in the various states. Compare the best figures with those from the District of Columbia, which is similar to other inner cities. For example, the maternal mortality rate for DC is 34.9 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared with 2.7 in Massachusetts. The infant mortality rate in DC is 14.1 per 1,000 live births, compared with 4.5 in Utah. The life expectancy in DC is 72.0 years, compared with 80.0 years in Hawaii.”

In short, these statistics provide ample reason for why U.S. mortality rates do not surpass the Europeans.

Admittedly, as evinced by Dr. Stolinsky’s aforementioned statistics, the U.S. has its share of social problems due to our generosity in bestowing benefits, lenient immigration policy, and permissive criminal justice system. But those are not problems with our medical care system. If the U.S. health care system is so “broken,” as claimed by leftist propagandists, why do so many foreign dignitaries and private citizens still come to the U.S. seeking medical treatment? Why do Canadians, who have a fully socialized health care system, cross the northern border to receive medical care in the U.S.? Why is a disproportionate number — namely an astounding 60% — of Nobel Prizes in Medicine or Physiology won by American medical scientists? Why are cancer survival rates in the U.S. so much higher than in the rest of the world? Obviously, these questions answer themselves.

Certainly, there are problems in the U.S. health care system — for example, medical care delivery and prescription drugs are too expensive. The underlying cause of the problem is government involvement in health care. In Part 3, we will discuss how the free market has been perverted by government interference, and further contravene other false claims promulgated by proponents of socialized medicine.

Written by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria, M.D. is a retired clinical professor of neurosurgery and long time medical editor. He is the author of Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). His website is http://www.haciendapub.com.

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. U.S. health care debate — Part 2: Debunking propaganda and phony claims. HaciendaPublishing.com, July 5, 2017. Available from: http://www.haciendapublishing.com/articles/us-health-care-debate-%E2%80%94-part-2-debunking-propaganda-and-phony-claims-miguel-faria-md

Similar versions of this article have appeared in The Telegraph (Macon), GOPUSA, and AIM. The AIM version was re-titled, "U.S health Care is World’s Best, Regardless of What the left Says. " It appeard July 22, 2017.

Copyright ©2017 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

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Comments on this post

Good Ammunition!

Down here in Kentucky, it is true that the state was fairly red in the last election, but contrary to what snooty liberals in the north think, a great deal of people here do have access to those modern inventions such as the radio, television, and internet, and they can be just as susceptible to leftist propaganda as anyone else.

This is a great series on health care, and I can use it to counter many false claims I hear on a regular basis. The most common is the infant mortality statistic.

I will always love New York City, because I was born and raised there, but the leftist atmosphere is such lately that I can't tolerate more than a one week visit before running back to the airport. I partially thank Republicans for that, because De Blasio should not have been hard to beat, even in NYC. --ARB

If Government health insurance is so great, why require private

My first encounter with Socialized medicine was in Germany during my 2 1/2 years there as a serviceman in the mid-70s. A Polish immigrant there at the base was telling me about the free college and healthcare. At 18 years old this sounded wonderful until Joe showed me his paycheck stub and I saw about ½ of his wages taken for taxes. In mere minutes my position had switched back to capitalism.

Having lived in Australia for many months until four years ago, I have learned about their socialized medicine as well. In Queensland I kept seeing advertisements for private health insurance. But how can there be a need for private healthcare when the government already has forced everyone into their government option? Again and again, Aussies told me that yes they must pay taxes for the publicly funded healthcare, and they must also buy private insurance if they make over $60,000 or so AUD. (Roughly the same in US dollars). If they choose not to pay for private health insurance, then they will pay more in taxes. So they get gouged twice.

Aussies also told me another, perhaps more alarming reason for buying private health insurance in addition to the high taxes paid for government health insurance: proper healthcare. One Aussie close to my age told me of a severe auto accident he was in where his femur had a compound fracture. He was shuffled from hospital to hospital for many hours in severe pain. This is because he did not have private health insurance, although he still had the government insurance. Moreover, several Aussies informed me that getting an operation will likely take months, even when time is essential, unless you have private health insurance which will get your medical operation done quickly, just as here in the US.

None of this was disputed by any of the Aussies; they were the ones telling me. However, they were mostly defensive of this system; after all, it is their system. So while they defended it, they readily admitted the faults. Part of this may be due to defending their system, as one defends the neglectful mom or abusive dad simply because they are “my parents.”

Nor had they had never experienced a fully private insurance care at a much higher standard and without the huge tax burden, as we in the US have. With the passage of Obamacare and its flawed design set to drive private health insurance into bankruptcy, outrageous premiums and deductibles making insurance in need of government rescue, or simply the merging of government and approximately 1/5th of the private economy known as healthcare--future generations here may never know how well our healthcare was either. Before Obamacare.
Great information. I did not know how private insurance was coveted in Australia. Another factor is that since only 4% of the people are seriously ill at any one time— that is the small percentage that complains. Only the close relatives know and are complicit to the truth. The rest are so proud of their nationals systems, they are blind to their shortcomings — that is, until they themselves become ill, but then it is too late. Those who die, their complaints died with them. Those who survived are glad and thankful they did, and forget! Thanks for the instructive post.---MAF

Medical Malpractice lawsuits

Liberals (and especially liberal lawyers)love to claim that medical malpractice suits do not drive up the price of US healthcare, but I do not believe them.

My father has been subpoenaed countless times for "mistakes" lawyers have felt he made in the interpretation of radiographic studies, and has never lost a case, because the lawyers had not idea about what a normal or pathological radiograph, CT, or MRI looks like in the first place.

A funny one I remember from when I was younger is when a construction worker fell from a few flights down to the ground while he was working on a new building. Chest x-rays show several broken ribs, and a pneumohemothorax, but later on he died of lung cancer after fully recovering from the injury.

Soon after his death, his widow sued my dad because her lawyer felt that there was a small "shadow" in one of the lungs that indicated the cancer was already present. If my dad had seen that as an incidental finding, her husband might have been treated for it much earlier, and the prognosis would have been much better. Perhaps, but as my dad attended the autopsy, he simply stated in court that the cancer which killed the man was located in the lung opposite where this so called "shadow" was present. Case dismissed.

There is a certain neurosurgeon my dad associated with in the 1980's who decided to give up operative practice to get a law degree. Now that he is a lawyer and a neurosurgeon, he makes 10x what he did operating, because unlike the previous lawyer I mentioned above, he does know medicine, so he will take on any neurological or neurosurgical case and he has the knowledge to make it look like the attending neurosurgeon goofed while operating. This is a greedy and vile person, and he is largely ostracized in the medical community. Not that he cares.

These are just two of tons of similar stories. Am I really expected to believe this type of thing has no effect on the price of medical care in the US? I guess I am, because rich liberal lawyers never lie.

Liberals never can understand that as these suits drive up the cost of medical malpractice insurance tremendously, that cost gets passed on to the patient. It seems to me that the most complicated concept a liberal can grasp is high priced medical care is due to doctors and pharmaceutical companies plotting together so they both make as much money as they can at the expense of sick and helpless patients.

Yup. It must be that Marxism first has to dumb down and simplify a person's mind so that they could accept something that stupid without question. ---ARB
Very true. Adam. I've written quite a bit on the subject. Here is one of my last articles on that topic:


Infant mortality, Med Errors & life expectancy

For years the statistics of infant mortality, life expectancy, and medical errors have been written about with glaring errors. The USA is probably the most particular in recording the infant mortality statistics. Other countries use different parameters to collect infant mortality data to make their systems look good. For example stillborns are not counted in many countries as infant mortality. There are other examples. 

Life Expectancy is also affected by infant mortality, thus this figure is also corrupted. And the Medical Error rates in the USA are extrapolations from studies not intended to evaluate errors and then extrapolated to the whole population. What the errors are, is also in question. 

All of this is done in for propaganda to dissuade people from looking honestly at their own health systems. the single payer system of Socialized medicine is the goal. I wrote about this some years ago.

For once and gladly, we see the media being challenged on its accuracy of reporting. This is only the beginning of the dismantling of the corruption of the Left, Socialist, Collectivist agenda that has captured the Democrat Party and infiltrated our governments and schools. --- Jim  

James I. Ausman, MD, PhD
Professor, Neurosurgery, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center;
Emeritus Editor in Chief SURGICAL NEUROLOGY INTERNATIONAL, Worldwide Internet Neurosurgical Journals read in 229 countries/territories; Publisher, SNI Publications;
Chairman of the Board, The Waymaster Corporation Productions
Creator, Executive Producer, THE LEADING GEN® TV Series;
President. Ausman Family Foundation Inc. A charitable foundation.

Monday morning quarterbacking!

So called Medical Errors, do occur, but it shouldn’t take an excessively observant person to acknowledge the fact that at least once, if not on several occasions, he, family members, or neighbors, have been saved or at least successfully treated by physicians. Doctors have done great things for their patients and medical errors pale in comparison.

Medical errors, as the third highest cause of death, is utter nonsense for reasons mentioned in the article, the comment by Dr. Ausman, as well as my own additional remarks in this comment. Unexpected complications and untoward reactions, the vast majority of these events categorized wittingly or unwittingly as “medical errors,” are not such things. Unexpected, severe allergic reactions, for example, either because they occur, or because they are claimed to be so by subjective investigators, because the doctors allegedly did not respond soon enough, are not medical errors. What is soon enough?

Here is another example. A patient with a serious form of cancer is given Drug A by her physician. She doesn’t respond and succumbs to her disease. A medical reviewer comes in Monday morning and after reviewing the record, decides that in his opinion Drug B would have been more effective. He judges a medical error was the cause of the demise of the patient. Another opinion physician agrees with the treating physician. But, it was the judgment of the first reviewer that it was a medical error that was entered in the record as the cause of death. What do you think?

In addition to the different medical opinions, the fact remains that the patient in question was treated for a serious illness that carried a greater than 50% survival even with treatment, and would have died without treatment. What do you think?

In short it is easier to go through the medical records and make a judgment which in hindsight seems always correct. It is another to be the person managing the emergency in the arena. These judgments after the fact are subjective, and, not only so because of the uncertainty of the art and science of medicine, but also because the judgement of human beings enter the picture. It is akin to Monday morning quarterback with even greater uncertainty!