IBD advances baseless "bribe" allegations, NEJM falsehood in attack on health reform

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

An Investor's Business Daily editorial advanced baseless allegations that House Democrats accepted "bribes" in exchange for their votes on health care reform. Moreover, IBD falsely claimed both that The New England Journal of Medicine "released a survey" "finding that 46% of primary care physicians would consider quitting medicine" because of health care reform and that the Democrats' bill would not "expand coverage."

IBD claims "increased water rations" in CA and ND bank provision were "bribes" for health care votes

From a March 22 IBD editorial, titled, "Madam Pelosi's House Of Ill Repute":

[Rep.] Stupak [D-MI] was had. So was a bare party-line majority of the House of Representatives, in the face of bipartisan opposition, which proved the adage about everyone having a price, whether it be increased water rations for California's San Joaquin Valley or a bank in Rep. Earl Pomeroy's North Dakota that's now the only one in the country that can still issue student loans.

Such bribes were necessary because the Democrats' "reform" doesn't improve care, expand coverage or reduce costs.

FACT: Contrary to IBD's claim, DOI said increased CA water allocations resulted from "additional precipitation"

DOI: "[A]llocations have increased throughout the valley as a result of additional precipitation, improved snowpack, and improved storage at Shasta Reservoir." From a March 16 Department of the Interior press release:

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the Bureau of Reclamation's 2010 Central Valley Project Water Supply allocations have increased throughout the valley as a result of additional precipitation, improved snowpack, and improved storage at Shasta Reservoir. As forecast by Reclamation on February 26, California is having a near-average water year following three years of drought.

The Department is deeply committed to working with all stakeholders to find solutions to the challenges -- both short term and long term -- facing water users throughout the Central Valley," said Secretary Salazar, who was joined on the teleconference by Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Mike Connor. "In this case, we accelerated our reporting of updated allocations, hoping to get the best available information to agricultural water service contractors as quickly as possible. This allocation update shows improvements from the previous allocation -- just as we hoped in our recent announcement.

Salazar: "Winter rains have helped replenish the state's biggest reservoir." In a March 17 article, The Wall Street Journal noted that California's Central Valley had been experiencing severe drought, and that, according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the "increase is made possible in part because winter rains have helped replenish the state's biggest reservoir, Lake Shasta, which now stands at 81% of capacity, compared with 55% a year ago." The Journal further reported that Salazar's announcement "further eas[ed] drought concerns in a state where El Niño rains have raised the mountain snowpack after three severely dry years."

AP: "Interior secretary: Recent storms mean California farmers, cities will get more water." In a March 17 article, the Associated Press wrote, "A series of drenching storms have replenished many of California's reservoirs, freeing up more water for parched farms and cities throughout the state, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Tuesday."

FACT: Both representatives called allegations of bribery "absolutely false"

Cardoza: "[A]llegation that he has somehow traded a vote on health care reform for more water is absolutely false." Rep. Dennis Cardoza's (D-CA) office stated in news release that the allegation that Cardoza sold his vote on health care reform "is absolutely false" and that he was not satisfied with the announced water allocation, which he said "is not enough for our Valley farmers."

Congressman Cardoza has been working on the water crisis for as long as there has been a water crisis.

The allegation that he has somehow traded a vote on health care reform for more water is absolutely false and nothing more than an election-year smear tactic.

As he has said, Congressman Cardoza is awaiting the release of the final language of the health care bill and will make a decision after he reads it. He is on record as stating that the water allocation announced earlier this month is not enough for our Valley farmers.

Given that he is not satisfied with the water allocation and he has not yet taken a position on the health care reform bill, this accusation has no basis in facts and in fact makes absolutely no sense at all!

Costa: Allegations of a deal are "laughable, and certainly false." When asked in an interview with Fresno radio station KMJ if he would vote yes on health care even if it was the only way to secure water for his district, Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) said, "No, I think the suggestion that I made some sort of deal with the White House is laughable, and certainly completely false. You know, Ray that I have been working on water issues for the people of our valley for 30 years."

IBD, as well as numerous conservative media, have previously advanced GOP conspiracy theory. On March 17, the National Republican Congressional Committee alleged that the increased water allocation was "another backroom deal to force Obama's bill down the American people's throats." That night, Fox News' Sean Hannity advanced the charge. Thereafter, IBD, Glenn Beck, National Review Online, Chris Wallace, and The Wall Street Journal's editorial and news pages repeated the baseless claim.

FACT: Contrary to IBD's claim, provision benefiting Bank of North Dakota was not in the bill

Manager's amendment removed state-owned bank provision. Contrary to IBD's claim that "a bank in Rep. Earl Pomeroy's North Dakota [is] now the only one in the country that can still issue student loans," a proposal that would have exempted state-owned banks from a provision to eliminate federal subsidies for private lenders -- originally contained on Page 145 of the reconciliation bill -- was removed from the reconciliation bill that was voted on by the House. From the manager's amendment:

Page 145, beginning on line 18, strike section 2213 (and redesignate the succeeding section accordingly).

Politics Daily: "Special Provision for North Dakota Bank Removed From Health Bill." A March 18 Politics Daily article reported that "Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) Thursday sought the removal of a special provision he had written into the package of fixes to the Senate health care bill that would have applied only to the Bank of North Dakota. The provision would have allowed the Bank of North Dakota to continue to originate and service student loans even though a pending overhaul says that all such loans will originate through the U.S. Department of Education, beginning July 1."

NPR: "OUT: A student-loan provision for North Dakota, from Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)." A March 19 NPR article provided examples of "what's in, what's out and why" and reported that the "student-loan provision for North Dakota" is "out." According to the article, "when the exemption became controversial, Conrad asked the House to remove it."

IBD falsely claims NEJM "released a survey" on primary care physicians

From the IBD editorial:

This legislation will cause doctors to flee in droves. The New England Journal of Medicine just released a survey, confirming our own polling, finding that 46% of primary care physicians would consider quitting medicine under this bill.

FACT: NEJM did not "release" or conduct survey

NEJM spokeswoman: Survey had "nothing to do with the New England Journal of Medicine's original research." Media Matters for America contacted The New England Journal of Medicine and received confirmation from spokesperson Jennifer Zeis that the study had "nothing to do with the New England Journal of Medicine's original research." Zeis also made clear that the study "was not published by the New England Journal of Medicine."

The Medicus Firm conducted the survey in December 2009. The Medicus Firm, a Dallas- and Atlanta-based firm that recruits and places physicians in jobs, was responsible for conducting the survey. It issued a press release about the results on December 17, 2009.

Article actually appeared in employment newsletter. The report appeared in Recruiting Physicians Today, an employment newsletter produced by Massachusetts Medical Society, "the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine." The report also appeared on the NEJM "CareerCenter" website, but was taken down on March 17. Zeis also said that this article "was written by The Medicus Firm." Both versions of the write-up clearly indicated that the source for the survey was The Medicus Firm and provided contact information for its media relations department.

Moreover, Zeis told Media Matters that "NEJM editors had nothing to do with the decision of placing [the Medicus survey] on the CareerCenter. The survey did not go through NEJM's peer-review process. The CareerCenter has nothing to do with NEJM's editorial process." Zeis also confirmed that the NEJM editors did not approve the inclusion of the "survey" in the employment newsletter, Recruiting Physicians Today, and added that "the NEJM editors have nothing to do with 'Recruiting Physicians Today.' "

IBD falsely claims that health care bill does not "expand coverage"

From the IBD editorial:

Such bribes were necessary because the Democrats' "reform" doesn't improve care, expand coverage or reduce costs.

FACT: CBO says bill expands coverage to 32 million people

CBO: Bill "reduce[s] the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured by about 32 million." In its March 20 analysis of the health care reform proposal passed by the House on March 21, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated:

CBO and [the Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate that by 2019, the combined effect of enacting H.R. 3590 and the reconciliation proposal would be to reduce the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured by about 32 million, leaving about 23 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants). Under the legislation, the share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage would rise from about 83 percent currently to about 94 percent.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
Investor's Business Daily
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