On August 21, 2009, while the Congress was in the heat of the debate over the health care reform bill that would eventually become the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) stood on the House floor and told a terrifying story of America's certain future under health care reform. Scalise darkly warned of "health care rationing," and cited something that had happened just the day before in socialist-healthcare loving England.
"When you look at the bill, you start to realize what they're doing and proposing is the very government takeover where rationing of care would exist where a government bureaucrat can get in between the relationship of you and your doctor," Scalise said. "It's the same thing that's happened in Canada, the same thing that's happened in England, where unfortunately just yesterday, we saw the story of a 22-year-old, who was denied life-saving care, denied a transplant by this government bureaucracy that exists in England that rations care."
The story sounded scary enough, and it was perfect for the fearmongering needs of the moment -- provided, of course, that nobody bothered to check on what had actually happened.
A 22-year-old British man who became an alcoholic as a teenager has died after doctors refused to give him a liver transplant.
Gary Reinbach began binge drinking when he was just 13 and ended up with severe cirrhosis of the liver.
He was admitted to a London hospital in May but died after doctors refused to give him a liver transplant amid fears he would not stay sober for six months after the operation.
Livers, being in short supply as they do not grow on trees, are already rationed. Seems to me that the scarier "rationing" story would be the one about the person who didn't receive their ration of care because it was used on a career drunk.
But Scalise's tale nevertheless had all the essential ingredients of health care fearmongering -- a dollop of truth to be twisted, a willingness to omit key details, and a little bit of play-acting. Scalise, however, deserves some credit for creativity and abstruseness. Most of the fearmongering that has occurred since then ... well, as HuffPost Video Producer Andrew Rothschild demonstrates, it hasn't exactly set records for subtlety.
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