Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell on FNC's Hannity, 10:40pm ET/PT Wednesday

ABC's Johnson Recites Canard Lack of Health Insurance Kills 45,000 Annually

In contending America already has health care rationing, ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, a universal coverage advocate, on Friday night's World News asserted "we have a lot of rationing, based on income, the kind of insurance you have, the way you can navigate the health system" and "a recent Harvard study estimated that 45,000 people died each year in this country because of lack of health insurance. If that's not rationing, I don't know what is."

That "Harvard study," which the CBS Evening News promoted two months ago, was really produced by the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a left-wing advocacy group which touts itself as "the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program." Study co-author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler of PNHP is one of five signers of an "Open Letter to President Obama to Support Single-Payer Health Care."

The September 18 BiasAlert item, "CBS Disguises Single-Payer Group's 45,000 Deaths Claim as a 'Harvard' Study," recounted:

Trying to boost the rationale for ObamaCare, Thursday's CBS Evening News ran two stories from far-left sources, but the network disguised the agenda behind both. Katie Couric announced that "while the debate goes on over the cost of insuring everyone, a new study reveals the cost of not doing it. The Harvard study says nearly 45,000 American deaths every year are linked to a lack of insurance." Neither she, nor reporter Jim Axelrod, noted that the report was really produced by Physicians for a National Health Program, "the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program."

....with the numbers on screen credited to "Harvard Medical School" and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler identified on screen as with "Harvard Medical School," Axelrod reported Woolhandler "was part of a team that tracked more than 9,000 people for up to 13 years, comparing the health of those with insurance to those without. After factoring in education and income, smoking, drinking, obesity, researchers found the uninsured had about a 40 percent higher risk of death. In 1993, it was 25 percent."

Woolhandler is one of five signers of an "Open Letter to President Obama to Support Single-Payer Health Care" and the CBSNews.com online version of Axelrod's story provides a link to a PDF of the "study" - as posted on the Physicians for a National Health Program's site.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth caught this exchange on the Friday, November 20 World News on ABC anchored by George Stephanopoulos, following a story on task forces on breast and cervical cancer which recommended fewer and later cancer-screening tests:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Tim, let me begin with you. You know, we see this political debate already beginning. Let's start out with a little reality check. How much is what we saw this week the future of health care, and how much is what's being debated now on Capitol Hill going to accelerate that process?

TIM JOHNSON: Well, George, I'm always amused when I hear a politician imply that we already don't have rationing, that it's something in the future. We have a lot of rationing, based on income, the kind of insurance you have, the way you can navigate the health system. A recent Harvard study estimated that 45,000 people died each year in this country because of lack of health insurance. If that's not rationing, I don't know what is. The real question is, who's going to do the rationing? Will it be 535 politicians subject to lobbyists and special interest groups, or experts who really wrestle with objective evidence? I would vote for the latter.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center