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ABC Double-Doses Attack on Private Health Care

     The second day into “Prescription For Change,” a weeklong series on American health care, ABC News revealed its recent poll found nearly 9 out of 10 Americans are happy with their health care. But rather than finding the statistic an encouraging sign, reporter Bill Weir spun it to gripe about a lack of political will to overhaul health care.


     “Despite a shattered system full of pain and worry, our poll found 89 percent of Americans satisfied with the quality of their own care, and nearly 60 percent content with cost,” Weir said on the October 16 “World News with Charles Gibson.”


     The day before, “World News Sunday” anchor Dan Harris mentioned in passing that “most Americans say they are satisfied with the care they get,” only to introduce a complaint by liberal former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-Ore.) about the cost of health care.


     “It is a mindset that makes sweeping change so difficult to prescribe,” Harris continued, complaining that it was “an attitude that keeps national health far below the national wealth.”


     Weir’s lament about the need for “sweeping change” hints at a government-based overhaul, a recommendation ABC medical correspondent Dr. Timothy Johnson explicitly advocated on the October 16 “Good Morning America.”


     “The only answer is going to be, eventually, some kind of national, universal coverage. A guaranteed system that everybody regardless of income will have at least basic health care,” Johnson insisted.


     But ABC isn’t just pushing for more government involvement in health care – it’s also attacking solutions being offered by private firms in the marketplace.


     On the October 16 “Nightline,” anchor Terry Moran dramatically opened his program with a look at how “the country’s biggest retailer,” Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), was “getting in on one of the country’s most troubled businesses: The giant American health care mess.”


     Moran found patients happy with the cost and convenience of the in-store clinics, but the ABC anchor cautioned that “There are certainly still a lot of questions about how these store-based clinics will fit into the big and troubled picture of American health care.”


    For example, Moran cynically noted that “neither Wal-Mart nor any of the other big chains in this business are setting up these clinics for charity’s sake.”


     “Retailers are getting into this, I believe, because they benefit from anything that brings customers into the store,” Stanford University’s Alan Garber told Moran.


     Moran didn’t add that many Wal-Mart customers fit into the demographic of un- or under-insured Americans many liberals complain are falling through the cracks in America’s health care system, although he did include a sound bite from Wal-Mart executive Bill Simon defending Wal-Mart health clinics.


     Simon told Moran it was an opportunity for his company to inject “a little dose of Sam Walton’s business philosophy” into the health care industry, which is bedeviled by the costs and complications of third-party insurance payments.


Editor's Note: This article was corrected to indicate that Bill Weir was the reporter in question. BMI regrets the error.