Please Read Between the Lines
Stanley Feld M.D., FACP, MACE
Most of us have trained ourselves to speed read the daily newspaper. I have asked my readers to read between the lines of the New York Times’ healthcare articles. Most articles are not factual or half-truths. The articles are an opinion and express a confirmation bias.
“Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses while giving disproportionately less attention to information that contradicts it. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position.”
Often, the application of confirmation bias is subtle. During speed reading, one’s opinion can be influenced by the presentation of confirmation bias. The bias is interpreted as fact because the “media is the message.”
The traditional media is losing its influence on our culture because peoples are realizing it is feeding us a confirmation bias that does not comport with reality.
The development of ideological manipulation is a science unto its own. The print media and television media are its masters. The traditional mainstream media leans towards the progressive left.
Conclusions should be backed by facts and not by opinion. All sides of an opinion should be presented. A huge problem is social science is imperfect. It does not use scientific principles utilizing reproducible double-blind studies.
Much of the traditional media sound like an echo chamber. It repeats the same soundbites over and over again rather than studying all the facts and reaching a logical conclusion.
In Carl Sandberg’s book, “The Prairie Years’ he said, If you tell a lie it over and over again it eventually becomes the truth.” If the confirmation bias is wrong, the public pays the price to correct it down the line.
Charles Blahous, a former Social Security and Medicare public trustee, has estimated that under Bernie Sanders’ plan of “Medicare for All”, the government could pay about 40 percent less than what private insurers now pay for medical care.
There are large discrepancies in these payments among experts. It has been estimated that there will be a 32.2 trillion-dollar deficit in a “Medicare for All” program over a ten-year period.
I would not believe the saving predicted by Chares Blahous. He was involved in creating a large deficit in our seniors’ Medicare program with the implication that Medicare would be financially viable.
It is predicted by a pro “Medicare for All” advocates, if this version of “Medicare for All” worked as planned, everybody would be insured, health care usage would rise sharply because it would be free without even a co-payment, and America would spend less overall on health care.
The math does not prove this theory. It does appeal to the notion that free is good.
This is a Democratic party pipedream to get more votes. I hope Americans do not fall for this false promise. The Democratic party has done this to taxpaying citizens of all ethnic groups over and over again in the past.
The New York Times has become a propaganda machine for progressives.
On March 3, 2019, David Brooks’ article headline washttps://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/opinion/medicare-for-all.html?searchResultPosition=1
David Brooks really didn’t mean it. He is just setting the reader up in order to express his confirmation bias.
“The Brits and Canadians I know certainly love their single-payer health care systems. If one of their politicians suggested they should switch to the American health care model, they’d throw him out the window.”
The reality is 80% of Brits and Canadian are not sick and do not interact with their healthcare system.
However, they have a false sense of security that they have good healthcare insurance. When they get sick or need emergency specialty care they realize the system is less than they thought it was. Both Canada and Britain have provider shortages, lack of access to care, long appointment waiting times and large financial deficits.
The defects in their healthcare systems can be followed in the local newspaper and not in the government’s press releases.
David Brooks goes on trying to convince us that “Medicare for All” is a good idea. Progressives have been telling us this since 1935 when Wilber Mills tried to ram a single party payer system down America’s throat in the midst of the great depression.
It didn’t work then, and I hope Americans do not fall for it now.
David Brooks says; “So single-payer health care, or in our case “Medicare for all,” is worth taking seriously.”
” I’ve just never understood how we get from here to there, how we transition from our current system to the one Bernie Sanders has proposed and Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and others have endorsed.”
He implies he doesn’t understand how it could work but says a lot of top-flight politicians have endorsed it. Therefore, they know more than he does.
“Despite differences between individual proposals, the broad outlines of Medicare for All are easy to grasp.”
“We’d take the money we’re spending on private health insurance and private health care, and we’d shift it over to the federal government through higher taxes in some form.”
I cannot think of a government-run agency that runs efficiently, without a large bureaucracy, red tape, or corruption. Inefficiency and corruption mean waste and higher cost.
“Since health care would be a public monopoly, the government could set prices and force health care providers to accept current Medicare payment rates.”
Price fixing has never worked. It leads to corruption
Medicare reimburses hospitals at 87 percent of costs while private insurance reimburses at 145 percent of costs.
The important question should be, why would the insurance companies pay a 58% premium when the healthcare insurance industry knows exactly what Medicare pays? The healthcare insurance industry knows exactly what the government pays because it does the administrative services for the government.
The answer is the healthcare insurance companies are competing with each other for providers, hospitals and patients.
On April 21, 2019, a New York Times headline read: “Hospitals Stand to Lose Billions Under ‘Medicare for All’
A reaction by a reader is who cares if hospitals lose billions. They have been ripping off consumers forever.
The headline immediately established the enemy. The first two paragraphs of the article confirm the enemy. It also sets up the liberal or independent reader to develop the same confirmation bias the New York Times has.
“For a patient’s knee replacement, Medicare will pay a hospital $17,000. The same hospital can get more than twice as much, or about $37,000, for the same surgery on a patient with private insurance.”
“Or take another example: One hospital would get about $4,200 from Medicare for removing someone’s gallbladder. The same hospital would get $7,400 from commercial insurers.
Yes, this pricing is too high in my opinion for both Medicare and private insurance. However, it is the result of insurance companies lobbying and financial reporting that permits the rise in premiums.
As hospital systems become less efficient, they hire more administrators and increase executive salaries.
Many hospitals say they spend their last penny on excessive overhead. If they cannot raise prices, they claim they would go out of business.
The progressives like Bernie Sanders then chime in with their talking points that the New York Times keeps repeating.
“If Medicare for all abolished private insurance and reduced rates to Medicare levels — at least 40 percent lower, by one estimate — there would most likely be significant changes throughout the health care industry, which makes up 18 percent of the nation’s economy and is one of the nation’s largest employers.”
The propaganda worked. The confirmation bias of “Medicare for All” is solid.
The only problem is, it will not reduce the cost of healthcare. This has been proven over and over again in many countries and in many of our government run agencies.
“The Sanders plan would increase federal spending by about $32.6 trillion over its first 10 years, according to a Mercatus Center study that Charles Blahous led.
This is the same Charles Blahous that said the cost would be 40% less. What does that study do to the confirmation bias the New York Times tried to promote? Which one is fake propaganda?
“Compare that with the Congressional Budget Office’s projection for the entire 2019 fiscal year budget, $4.4 trillion.”
The 32 trillion-dollar deficit over ten years is a fair estimate. The estimate could be correct if one simply examines the Medicare and Medicaid deficits. All we have to recall is Obamacare’s website. It was riddled with inefficiency and was a financial disaster.
Usually, as a result of cost overruns, there is a decrease in access to care. The glaring example is the VA Healthcare System.
“That kind of sticker shock is why a plan for single-payer in Vermont collapsed in 2014 and why Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected one in 2016.”
“It’s why legislators in California killed a single party payer system In the California plan, the taxes are upfront, the purported savings are down the line.”
All it takes is a little reading between the lines to realize that we are subjected to ideological manipulation. “The media is the message.”
The New York Times is supposed to be “the nation’s newspaper of record with all the news that is fit to print.” With the advent of the internet and social media, Americans have more information to decide on what is the truth. People now have the ability to examine multiple sides of an issue.
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.
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