The Left’s Distraction on Health Care

In the battle over healthcare reform, one man has become a thorn in the side of the left and the left’s reaction to his talking points is an interesting story in how the left fights.

Rick Scott, the former CEO of Columbia/HCA, has started a group called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (“CPR”). In a new ad campaign, CPR is doing what we all should be doing — highlighting the stories of patients stuck in Canada’s and Great Britain’s healthcare systems.

The ads are powerful. Here is a sample:

Katie Brickell was told by Britain’s NHS at age 19 that the government wouldn’t pay for a pap smear until age 20, she waited. A year later, the government decided they needed to save more money and moved the minimum eligibility age to 25 years. At age 23, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and has been told the disease is not treatable.

In 2005, Kate Spall’s mother was diagnosed with renal cancer. She was forced to wait two months for surgery that might have saved her life. But by the time her name was called on the waiting list, the cancer had spread to her kidneys and she later died.

After waiting for the government to treat her kidney cancer, Angela French’s family convinced her to see a private doctor, which she paid for out of her own pocket. The doctor told her the situation was urgent and operated on her immediately. But when Angela tried to get the government to pay for lifesaving cancer drugs, she found out that patients in her geographic area were not eligible for the medication, even though patients in other parts of the country were covered. As of the filming of the ad, Angela was still waiting on government approval so she could receive the medicine.

We know, because Senator Jay Rockefeller, among others, has already told us that government, in Obama’s healthcare system, will make cost/benefit analyses and some people may not get treatment they want. In other words, the same criticisms the left has hurled at HMO’s for years will now be done by Uncle Sam.

We also know that Obama’s healthcare options are bad for Americans because it will take away freedom to choose our own coverage and costs.

So how has the left responded to the points Rick Scott has made? They haven’t. Instead, they have attacked him directly.

Ben Smith, writing in the Politico, tells us Barack Obama’s allies meet every morning by conference call at 8:45 a.m. to build their talking points. The calls operate as a left-wing character assassination squad run by John Podesta of the Center for American Progress (“CAP”). Podesta was also Co-Chairman of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. The attacks on Rick Scott took shape on one of these calls.

On March 3, 2009, Jonathan Cohn wrote at the New Republic that Scott is “public enemy number one.” Ezra Klein, who also coordinates attacks against the right with journalists on a private email list, then took to the American Prospect to attack Scott for business practices at HCA. Two days later, John Podesta, on Fox News, tried dodging a question Rick Scott had raised about the costs of Obama’s program by smearing Scott. On March 11th, Christopher Hayes parroted his left-wing brethren at the Nation writing, “Having Scott lead the charge against healthcare reform is like tapping Bernie Madoff to campaign against tighter securities regulation.”

There has been no refutation of his arguments. There has been no refutation about his objections to Obama’s proposals. Instead, they have tried to discredit him personally. Sustained attacks on character as proxies for assaults on policy are a consistent left-wing construct.

We’re going to be seeing a lot more of it. But on our side, we need to pay attention to what Rick Scott is saying. He’s giving us the ammunition we need to fight back.

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Erick Erickson

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