The latest in anti-health care reform scare tactics comes from the Independent Women's Forum, which wants Americans to know that "women will die" if "Obama inflicts his nationalized health care" on America. Rachel Maddow, for one, is not amused.
In the clip above, Rachel Maddow explains that while every major breast cancer advocacy group in the country is in support of health care reform, the IWF wants Americans to think that women will not have access to life saving drugs and techniques if more people are allowed access to quality care. The organization is so serious about this premise that it has spent close to two million dollars to air the ads in eight battleground states.
Here is the full segment:
Terry O'Neill, president of NOW, put it all on the line: "[The Republicans] are using women's bodies as a political football" in their efforts to derail conversations about health care reform. She adds: "If they care so much about women with breast cancer, let's have them call for full coverage for women, so we can be protected against that kind of thing."
Funny how that option never makes it to the table.
Over at the Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg provides a little more background on where this meme came from and why it is gaining popularity:
John McCain, another conservative with a reputation for reasonableness, brought up the breast-cancer argument at a town hall last Tuesday. England, he said, has "repeatedly blocked breast cancer patients from receiving breakthrough drugs. … That's what they do there. But obviously we don't want that in this country."
The entire argument about breast cancer and health care reform is based on a comparison of survival rates in the United States and England. There's little question that breast cancer treatment is better in the U.S. Last summer, The Lancet Oncology Magazine published a comprehensive international comparison on cancer survival. It found that five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, American women had an 83.7 percent chance of survival, while those in England had only a 69.8 percent chance. England, which lags behind the U.S. in screening, has a government-run health program, while the United States does not. This is being interpreted as proof that government-run health care leads to more cancer deaths. And that is a dishonest distortion.
Goldberg's piece also points out the ugly reality of the opposition to this health care debate. She cites a couple - The Colliers - who were concerned about how healthcare reform was going to be implemented. The Colliers expressed concerns that people would be placed on waiting lists for treatment and that if that was the case, Ms. Collier may have died from breast cancer. However, that isn't the full story. Goldberg uncovers that not only are the Colliers committed conservatives (being presented as ordinary citizens), but they are essentially advocating to save a system that failed them:
Meanwhile, horror stories about the rationing of cancer care by the American insurance industry abound. In an almost grotesque irony, it turns out that Mr. Collier's wife endured one of them. Their insurance refused to cover Ms. Collier's radiation treatments, leaving them owing $63,000 that their hospital eventually wrote off.
Obama is apparently planning to make a speech on health care to help illuminate the basics of the policy being discussed. Hopefully, he is able to make a dent in all the misinformation. At this point, the health care lies are proving to be both resilient and potentially deadly.