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Big Whoppers of 2009 from FactCheck.org
Date:12/27/2009

NEW YORK, Dec. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Double check what was said by Lori Robertson, managing editor of FactCheck.org. Ms. Robertson is frequently in over her head, especially when she purports to know the contents of federal legislation. That's why FactCheck.org's "Whoppers of 2009" is not to be believed.

Robertson admits that she does not read the bills in their entirety and has no training in analyzing legislation beyond her BA in advertising. What she does is spot check, not fact check.

Ms. Robertson writes that Betsy McCaughey "falsely claimed that the stimulus bill required that doctors follow government orders on what medical procedures can and can't be performed." What McCaughey actually said was that the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology would "monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and 'guide' your doctor's decisions" (442, 226 of the bill). Robertson, who admitted in a telephone interview that she had not read the entire stimulus bill, had difficulty locating the provisions on health information technology and confused them with another section of the bill that addresses comparative effectiveness research. But it is the health information technology that establishes the framework for guiding doctors' decisions.

Dr. David Blumenthal was appointed by the President to head the system of computer-guided medical care as National Coordinator of Health Information Technology. In March, Blumenthal settled the debate on whether the system will control doctors' treatment decisions. In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine (April 9, 2009), he stressed that the real importance of computers is to deliver "embedded clinical decision support." He predicted that if controls are too tight, physicians may resist the government encroaching on their treatment decisions: "many physicians and hospitals may rebel -- petitioning Congress to change the law or just resigning themselves to...accepting penalties." Dr. Blumenthal's article corrects Robertson, who insisted incorrectly that nothing in the stimulus legislation indicated "the government is going to tell your doctor what to do."

Robertson is wrong again on what HR 3200 said about end-of-life counseling. She claims the bill "merely called for Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling sessions." If this were the case, it could have been accomplished with a line or at most a paragraph. Instead, the end-of-life section went on for six pages and was highly prescriptive, detailing what doctors "shall" discuss. That should be left to the doctor and patient. Medicare billing codes already permit doctors to bill for time spent counseling patients and families.

Robertson fails to mention the penalties against doctors for non-compliance. "Quality" measures of a doctor's performance would be determined in part by the percentage of patients who created living wills, and the percentage of those documents that were adhered to.

Fortunately, members of the House heard the concerns expressed by me and countless Americans, and removed these alarming requirements before voting on the health bill. FactCheck.org should rely on more qualified analysts than Ms. Robertson to critique lawmakers and policy experts.

SOURCE Defend Your Healthcare


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SOURCE Defend Your Healthcare
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1. FactCheck.org Gets It Wrong on Stimulus Package
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