Fox News invokes Canadian health care bogeyman in talking about Richardson's death

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

In talking about Natasha Richardson's death, Betsy McCaughey and Martha MacCallum misrepresented a health-care provision in the recovery act and baselessly suggested the United States might be headed "down the same path" as Canada with regard to health care.

On the March 30 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, in talking about the death of actress Natasha Richardson, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey (R) misrepresented a health-care provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while co-host Martha MacCallum baselessly suggested the United States might be headed "down the same path" as Canada with regard to health care.

During the segment, McCaughey again falsely claimed that the recovery act "actually will require doctors to practice cost-effective care and the government will monitor it to make sure they do it." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, the provisions to which McCaughey referred address establishing a national coordinator for health-care technology and an electronic records system such that doctors would have information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care." Indeed, as FactCheck.org wrote, "there's nothing in the law that says the national coordinator will 'make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems ... cost effective.'"

MacCallum later said: "[I]n this piece this morning, one of the doctors in Canada said, 'Well, I don't really want the United States lecturing to us about our health-care system, because we don't have, you know, 40 million people uninsured.' But this is what they do have, a cost-benefit analysis when you're lying there on the table." She then asserted: "[I]t's such a sad story, and, you know, for the family ... woulda, coulda, shoulda at this point is not going to change anything in their lives, but it is worth examining on this basis because there are things in this provision in the stimulus bill that might lead us down the same path." However, President Obama has explicitly rejected replacing the U.S. health-care system with one based on the Canadian model. Salon.com's Alex Koppelman noted in a March 27 blog post that several conservative media figures and outlets have claimed that the Canadian health-care system caused Richardson's death.

Teasing the segment on Richardson's death, America's Newsroom ran on-screen text reading: "Did Canadian-Style Health Care Hasten Richardson's Death?"

From the March 30 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

BILL HEMMER (co-host): Also, there is this -- Martha?

MacCALLUM: And now we have the 9-1-1 transcripts from the accident that caused the death of actress Natasha Richardson. Some critics are saying that Canada's health-care system does share the blame for her death. We're going to go through those transcripts. We'll tell you if there's anything in there to substantiate that claim.

[...]

MacCALLUM: Well, as friends and family struggle to move on following her death, there's new light today being shed on the possibly crucial moments that could have changed the fate of Natasha Richardson. The 9-1-1 transcripts have just been released, and they detail the following hours after her fall on the ski slopes at a Canadian resort. They also raise some questions about whether the Canadian health system played a part in her tragic death.

Joining us is health-care expert Betsy McCaughey. She is the former lieutenant governor of New York, of course -- Betsy, good to have you here today.

McCAUGHEY: Thank you.

MacCALLUM: You know --

McCAUGHEY: Very sad times.

MacCALLUM: It is, and as you go through some of what happened, you know, on that day: She fell down. She went back to her room. She rested for a little while. She's -- really didn't feel right.

They took her to a facility that was 25 miles away. And now we do know that there was a CT scanner there, which raises the question, was it used? We don't know the answer to whether or not it was used. But that in and off itself raise the question: Why wouldn't they use it if it was there?

McCAUGHEY: Well, Dr. Paul Saba, the emergency room physician, has told the press that doctors have to do a cost --

MacCALLUM: Right.

McCAUGHEY: -- benefit analysis. In the U.S., when an accident victim is brought in, all resources are used. That patient is given every chance to live. Unfortunately, there's more and more emphasis on cost-benefit analysis, and the new stimulus legislation just passed in Washington actually will require doctors to practice cost-effective care and the government --

MacCALLUM: So --

McCAUGHEY: -- will monitor it to make sure they do it.

MacCALLUM: -- what on earth does that mean? You know, you have this woman, she's young.

McCAUGHEY: That's right.

MacCALLUM: And she's lying there -- they have a CT scanner. And it's my understanding that we don't know whether or not they used it, but there's no doubt that what you're talking about -- this cost-benefit analysis -- went into that decision.

McCAUGHEY: Exactly. And it's very important for Americans to understand when they hear that the government is going to lower the cost of your health care, it means fewer nurses on the floor, longer waits for treatment, and doctors who are forced to think about the cost before they give you the treatment to make you live.

MacCALLUM: And, I mean, in the current system here, they're going to employ whatever they have available to them.

McCAUGHEY: Exactly.

MacCALLUM: And now, you're going to have the doctor perhaps saying, "Well, you know, we're not sure. It looks -- I mean, it's very unlikely that this is anything serious. It wasn't a great fall." But then you get this bizarre set of circumstances where, indeed, it was.

And the other thing I want to ask you about is the helicopter issue, because there was no chopper. You know, they wasted a ton of time when you think back on it -- 25 miles to the first hospital, and then another two-hour plus over to the Montreal trauma.

McCAUGHEY: And time is critical with this kind of injury.

MacCALLUM: Yeah.

McCAUGHEY: And medevacs are much more common in the United States. They do enable skiers and people who are in remote places to get emergency care when needed.

MacCALLUM: So, you know, about the helicopter issue -- I mean, in this country, she would have been choppered out of that area and probably brought to New York, right?

McCAUGHEY: In most ski resorts that's available now. But the really critical issue here for all Americans is to think twice about whether they want to lower their health-care costs if it will mean that they don't get the care they need to live.

MacCALLUM: Because I thought it was interesting -- in this piece this morning, one of the doctors in Canada said, "Well, I don't really want the United States lecturing to us about our health-care system, because we don't have, you know, 40 million people uninsured." But this is what they do have --

McCAUGHEY: I do want to see people go --

MacCALLUM: -- a cost-benefit analysis when you're lying there on the table.

McCAUGHEY: Exactly. And there are ways to give people health insurance -- they already get emergency health care --

MacCALLUM: That's right.

McCAUGHEY: -- in the United States --

MacCALLUM: Absolutely.

McCAUGHEY: -- but there are ways to give them health insurance, without taking away what everybody already has insurance expects when they're in an accident.

MacCALLUM: Yeah. And it's such a sad story, and, you know --

McCAUGHEY: It's a very sad story.

MacCALLUM: -- for the family, it's a -- you don't want is -- woulda, coulda, shoulda at this point --

McCAUGHEY: That's right.

MacCALLUM: -- is not going to change anything in their lives, but it is worth examining on this basis because there are things in this provision in the stimulus bill that might lead us down the same path.

McCAUGHEY: Let's scrimp on the things that we don't need to save our lives.

MacCALLUM: Thank you, Betsy -- Betsy McCaughey.

Posted In
Economy, Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Martha MacCallum, Betsy McCaughey
Show/Publication
America's Newsroom
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