Betsy McCaughey Argues That The United States ‘Is The Best Place To Be’ If You’re ‘Seriously Ill’

On The Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart hosted notorious anti-health care reform provocateur Besty McCaughey, who played a prominent role in sinking President Clinton’s reform effort in 1994 and recently helped spawn the “death panel” myth. Stewart lambasted McCaughey for her “hyperbolic” and “dangerous” claims, but the former Republican lieutenant governor of New York refused to back down on any of her assertions.

When Stewart challenged her on her false claims about end-of-life counseling, McCaughey repeated her debunked argument that the counseling was essentially mandatory because it supposedly ties doctors’ “quality” rating to how many of their patients have living wills. Later, in the segment of the interview that was only posted online, McCaughey claimed that Americans have the best life expectancy in the world:

MCCAUGHEY: Let me say one thing that’s really important. Right now, if you’re seriously ill, the best place to be is in the United States. We are number one…

STEWART: If you have the resources.

MCCAUGHEY: No, we are number one.

STEWART: If you have the resources.

MCCAUGHEY: We are number one in cancer survival rates in 13 out 16 most common forms of cancer and that, those data reflect the experiences of all people, not just those with insurance. So, my view…

STEWART: We’re 50th in infant mortality and 46th in life expectancy.

MCCAUGHEY: Wait a second, life expectancy, when you remove violent crime and car accidents, we are number one.

Watch it:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests

McCaughey is referring to a commonly cited University of Iowa presentation. But she and others who cite it are ignoring the fact that there is another measure that is used to specifically examine a health care system’s impact on life and death — “amenable mortality.”

Amenable mortality measures “deaths from certain causes before age 75 that are potentially preventable with timely and effective health care,” such as treatable cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. According to the Commonwealth Fund, the United States ranked last in comparison to 19 industrialized countries with a rate of 109.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2002–03. In the leading countries, mortality rates per 100,000 people were 64.8 in France, 71.2 in Japan, and 71.3 in Australia.


James Fallows, a longtime McCaughey watcher, comments on her performance here.

Share Update