On Monday, former Republican lieutenant governor of New York Betsy McCaughey published a commentary on Bloomberg.com, falsely claiming that health information technology provisions in the economic recovery package will have the government “monitor treatments” in order to “‘guide’ your doctor’s decisions.” “This stimulus is dangerous to your health and the economy,” declared McCaughey.
Who is McCaughey? In 1994, she was a key player in the attacks against the Clinton health care plan, writing a “viciously inaccurate” article in The New Republic that claimed the plan would lock people in to government-run care. This claim was “simply false,” but it “completely distorted the debate on the biggest public policy issue of 1994.”
McCaughey’s inaccurate attack on health IT was quickly picked up by the conservative echo chamber of Rush Limbaugh, the Drudge Report and Fox News. Yesterday and today, McCaughey made appearances on two Fox News shows and Lou Dobbs’ CNN show in order to promote her misinformation. Watch it:
On CNN this morning, senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen fact-checked McCaughey’s claims, finding that the bill “didn’t actually, specifically say” what McCaughey claims it says:
COHEN: Now, we asked Betsy McCaughey, because she’s been through this bill page by page, “point us to the language that says that this bill will dictate what your doctor does,” and she showed us language that didn’t actually, specifically say that. It didn’t say that the government will have the right to dictate what your doctor does. But she says it’s vague enough that the government would be able to do that. And, of course, we ran this by the folks who wrote the bill. They said that any accusations that this bill will allow the government to dictate anything to your doctor, they say those accusations are “wildly inaccurate and preposterous.”
Cohen then explained how investment in health IT would allow doctors to “switch over from those paper records that most of them use to electronic records,” which “many say are much more efficient and allow for much more patient safety.”
The New Republic has re-posted Mickey Kaus’s 1995 take down of McCaughey’s attack on the Clinton health care plan.