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Giuliani Under Fire: NH Health Care Group Demands Misleading Ad Be Pulled Down

New Hampshire for Health Care, which “represents more than 60,000 residents who consider health care a top priority in the 2008 election,” has called on Giuliani to pull down his misleading ad on prostate cancer statistics. In the ad, Giuliani claims that his “chance of surviving prostate cancer” was 82 percent in the United States, and just 44 percent “under socialized medicine” in England.

Giuliani’s campaign confirmed that it took the statistics from a summer 2007 article entitled “The Ugly Truth About Canadian Health Care.” The piece by David Gratzer appeared in the right-wing quarterly magazine City Journal, an arm of the conservative Manhattan Institute.

Gratzer told reporters that “he based his figures on a study by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit group that researches health care policy.” But according to the Concord Monitor today, the Commonwealth Fund disputes Giuliani and Gratzer’s use of its figures:

But the Commonwealth Fund said the figures didn’t come from its reports. They can’t accurately be calculated from the seven-year-old report Gratzer references, said Dr. Stephen Schoenbaum, executive vice president for programs at the Commonwealth Fund.

“The figures that they’re working on (are) not correctly derived,” he said. “They’re also old numbers. The numbers are possibly changing.”

The Commonwealth Fund report relied upon by Gratzer is from 2000, and contains a chart on prostate cancer “incidence and mortality rates”:

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Incidence rates “simply report the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer in a given year.” This number is higher in the United States because prostate cancer screening is more common. Mortality rates — which are comparable between the United States and Britain — chart the number of men who died of the disease in a given year. Gratzer and Giuliani, however, cite five-year survival rates.

As a Commonwealth Fund statement from earlier this week noted, survival rates “can not be calculated” using the incidence and mortality rates contained in its report.

UPDATE: Steve Benen has more examples of Giuliani continuing to cite these faulty statistics and Ezra Klein explains some of Giuliani’s “fuzzy math.” Joe Conasan takes a look at what type of health care Giuliani had when he was battling prostate cancer. Eugene Robinson and Paul Krugman also have more.

UPDATE II: At a campaign event in New York City today, Giuliani stood by his inaccurate numbers:

GIULIANI: Oh, sure — no, those figures are absolutely accurate as of the time that I had them. In fact, they remain accurate today. You just have to look at the City Journal article.

I made my decision about what to do about prostate cancer in 2000. The report is from the year 2000. The report indicates that in the United States, back in the year 2000, there was an 82 percent chance of my surviving prostate cancer if it was detected, whereas in England, there would have been a 43 percent chance.

Actually, the inaccuracy is, I think I say 44 percent — it’s actually 43 percent in England.

And those statistics have changed slightly today. The chance of survival in the United States now is up to 98, 99 percent, and in England it’s about 74 percent.

But the statistics, as of the time I made the decision, absolutely accurate and I stand by them.