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Surgeons skill needed for health care reform
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
The Bulletin offers readers a valuable forum to express their thoughts and opinions in its “Your Views” section. But along with this opportunity comes the responsibility of providing accurate information and facts. While we are all entitled to share our own opinions, writers cross the line when they make false assertions and spread misinformation or distortions of the facts.

I must challenge Frank Aquila’s letter on the Health Care bill. Unfortunately, Aquila’s submission is filled with inaccuracies and liberties with the facts. Aquila claims, “President Obama has aligned himself with Paul Joseph Watson, who is the Science Czar, who wrote a shocking proposal to have a mass sterilization of the population by artificially medicating municipal water supplies to control the population growth.” Firstly, Paul Joseph Watson is not the “Science Czar.” John P. Holden fills that position. Who is Watson? He is associated with Alex Jones and the Prison Planet website. On this website, Jones praises Watson’s “Order out of Chaos,” a supposedly “shocking expose” which claims to document how “both the Clinton and Bush administrations protected Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network before September 11. The highest levels of U.S. government were complicit in the attacks on the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon” and that “many of the named ‘suicide hijackers’ are still alive and the real culprits have never been officially identified.” The Conservative Politics Examiner website gives Watson the credit for unearthing Holdren’s extremist population control views. To support his assertions Watson cites the book Ecoscience, co-written by Holdren and Paul Ehrhich in 1977. Over 30 years ago, these authors were concerned about the dire effects of overpopulation and discussed, not advocated, possible scenarios which included forced abortions, forced adoptions, and the quote Aquila selected on sterilization. They dismissed the latter plan as both unpopular and impractical. Holdren came to favor public information and available contraceptives as a more viable means to prevent overpopulation. Holdren went through confirmation hearings and this book from his past did not derail his selection for his job. But those who choose to believe Watson’s 9-11 conspiracy theories are also free to swallow the scare tactics of the “forced mass sterilization through drinking water plot.” I remain unconvinced.

As for Aquila’s laundry list of health care bill statements, I was also skeptical, so I did some on-line research. The Patients First website offers a point-by-point analysis of different parts of the bill (HR 3200). This is a conservative website, an offshoot of Americans For Prosperity. AFP launched Patients United Now, whose purpose is to design ad campaigns opposing U.S. health care reform. The actual slogan of Patients First is, “hands off our health care,” so I hope I don’t get accused of cherry-picking a liberal source. Of the statements covering the 36 pages that Aquila cited, Patients First declared 19 were either “false” or “only partially true.” Statements on pages 50, 58, and 265 were completely false, while those about pages 29, 42, 65, 95, 170, 239, 241, 268, 272, 317, 335,427, 429, 430, 489, and 494 were deemed partially true. Statements also have qualifiers along the lines of “this may lead to”, “might happen”, and “could possibly result in.” For example, “Pg. 25: Admission: your health care will be rationed.” According to Patients First, “the bill does not outline rationing in this section.” It does set up cost sharing limitations which the site fears “could become rationing once costs inevitably spiral out of control...” Generous leeway is given to the “partially true.” designation of some of the statements Aquila listed. Statements about pgs. 429 and pgs. 430 deal with end-of-life care. While stating these as “partially true,” Patients First, in fact, acknowledges that an “individual can leave a medical order with the end-of-life consultant who will then execute it should the need arise.” So basically the government representative would follow the decision that the patient actually made. This discredits the idea that the government “will dictate treatment as patient’s health deteriorates.” It is clear who really has control — the patient.

As I previously noted, Patients First is a very conservative, anti-government health care reform site. If this site disputes over half of what Aquila claimed, what would a more neutral or a liberal site offer as a rebuttal? It does bring into question Aquila’s credibility. The health care reform debate is too important to get side-tracked and bogged down with scare tactics and misinformation. There are people with legitimate concerns and ideas for refining the proposed bills. Let’s hear some well thought-out, constructive alternatives that don’t just put a band-aid on the health insurance industry abuses when a surgeon’s skill is really required.
Karen Pearsall
Sept. 11, 2009