Health Care Scare


We’re about to find out whether Americans are as suspicious of the right’s anti-health care reform propaganda as Iraqis are dismissive of America’s lame hearts-and-minds campaign in Iraq. 

“These commercials are boring, poor and annoying,” Noor Sabah, an engineer in Fallujah, told the Washington Post’s ” title=”ad and infomercial campaign” target=”_blank”>ad and infomercial campaign to kill Obama’s plans to fix the health care mess.  The public relations firm coordinating it is the same one that spread the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” lies about John Kerry, and the mastermind behind it, CPR chairman ” title=”factcheck.org” target=”_blank”>factcheck.org points out – “praises the health care systems of countries like Switzerland, Austria, France, Belgium and Germany, all of which have nationalized health care.”

The ads don’t say that the “innocent-sounding board” in the stimulus bill that supposedly puts us on the road to healthcare serfdom is actually a research council with zero legal authority over insurance coverage, reimbursement policies, or clinical guidelines for payment, coverage or treatment.  The council’s only job, factcheck.org notes, is “something the government has funded since the late ‘70s… scientific research into which medical treatments are most effective and, in some studies, which are most cost effective.”  Is research into medical effectiveness and cost effectiveness dangerous?  Not nearly as dangerous as the Medicare time bomb ticking in our future.

Nor, of course, do these ads tell the colorful story of Richard Scott.  As The Century Foundation’s ” title=”Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Healthcare Costs So Much” target=”_blank”>Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Healthcare Costs So Much, Richard Scott, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer from Dallas, was asked in the late ‘80s by Texas financier Richard Rainwater “to join him in ‘doing for hospitals…what McDonald’s has done in the food business and what WalMart has done in the retailing business.’” Scott rose to the challenge, ultimately becoming CEO and chairman of the for-profit megachain Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.

Columbia/HCA’s business plan was to destroy the competition.  ” title=”ConsumerWatchdog.org ” target=”_blank”>ConsumerWatchdog.org explains, “Scott must have seen what Randall did in his expensively produced 30-minute video for Chevron, meant to counter a real 60 Minutes report on the lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador, where predecessor company Texaco left behind a toxic stew in the rainforest.”  If you don’t pay close enough attention, you might think the CPR hit job on health care reform is the news.

“’The millions spent on this is wasted money,’ Ziyad al-Aajeely, director of Iraq’s nonprofit Journalistic Freedom Observatory, said as he flipped through a recent edition of Bagdad Now,” a psychological warfare Arab-language newspaper supported by your tax dollars.  “Nobody reads this.”  Other words Iraqis are using to describe the American multimedia campaign:  “childish,” “ineffective,” “crude.”  They liken it to Saddam Hussein’s propaganda, which they also mocked. 

I wonder whether Americans will be equally as skeptical about Richard Scott.

Marty Kaplan directs ” title=”USC Annenberg School for Communication” target=”_blank”>USC Annenberg School for Communication.  Reach him at

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