Thursday, October 31, 2013

The View Mainstreams Serial Misinformer Betsy McCaughey As A "Health Care Policy Expert"

JUSTIN BERRIER/Media Matters For America:

ABC's The View hosted Betsy McCaughey to attack the Affordable Care Act (ACA), praising her as a "health care policy expert" and ignoring her history of misinformation, including inventing the persistent lie that the health care law contains "death panels."
On the October 29 edition of The View, co-host Barbara Walters introduced a segment with McCaughey by calling her a "health care policy expert" and asking if health care consumers "were not told the truth by the Obama administration," saying, "they are about to lose their current medical plans and they don't know what they are getting instead." The View provided no background about McCaughey aside from naming her as the author of a book opposing the ACA.
McCaughey, who is by no means a "health care policy expert," has no credibility to comment on the ACA. In 2009, during the legislative debate over the bills that would later become the ACA, McCaughey distorted language in the House version of the bill to claim that it would "absolutely require -- that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner, how to decline nutrition, how to decline being hydrated, how to go in to hospice care." McCaughey's misinformation was echoed throughout the right-wing media, leading to the lie that the ACA contains "death panels" that will judge whether patients are deserving of life-preserving care.
McCaughey's history of health care misinformation doesn't end at death panels. In fact, during her appearance on The View, she solicited a question about senior care in order to push another of her debunked health care claims: that the ACA cuts benefits for Medicare patients. McCaughey has long pushed this false claim, consistently ignoring the fact that the ACA explicitly stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits will not be affected.
McCaughey also used her View appearance to claim that health care consumers who cannot afford plans will be required to purchase one anyway. As the Kaiser Family Foundation pointed out in 2010, however, the law provides automatic exemptions for "those for whom the lowest cost plan option exceeds 8% of an individual's income, and those with incomes below the tax filing threshold (in 2009 the threshold for taxpayers under age 65 was $9,350 for singles and $18,700 for couples)." 
Despite The View's presentation of McCaughey as a health care policy expert, she has originated or pushed numerous false or misleading health care claims, including:
  • The law would turn doctors into "government agents" who are required to ask "intrusive" questions about patients' sexual history.
  • The ACA is a plot to create a "beholden" Democratic majority.
  • Section 1311 of the health care law "empowers the federal government to dictate how doctors treat privately insured patients." 
  • The health care law will limit preventive care.
  • A provision in the House bill would have replaced physicians with physician assistants in overseeing hospice care.
  • The Senate bill would have forced "Americans into low-budget plans."
  • Provisions in the economic recovery law authorized a "new bureaucracy" to "monitor treatments" and restrict doctor discretion.
  • Repeal of the health care law would reduce the deficit.
  • The Obama administration engaged in "favoritism" when granting temporary waivers for some provisions of the law.
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