Egregious Lies

Filed under: by: Hey Doc Wait

Sorry for the delay in posting. Sick family member, busy intern, blah blah blah.

I wanted to make sure this link got attention: CTV News

The part that I'm focused on is toward the end.

Shona Holmes appears Friday at a Republican event on Capitol Hill.

Holmes, a 45-year-old mediator from Waterdown, Ont., has become a poster child for conservative opponents of health-care reform in the U.S. for her claims she would have died if she'd stayed in Canada for treatment of a brain tumour.

"If I had relied on my government for health care, I'd be dead," Holmes said in a television commercial for the anti-reform group Patients United Now.

In fact, Holmes didn't have a cancerous brain tumour, but a benign cyst that threatened her vision.

Nonetheless, she travelled to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, and spent US$97,000 for treatment rather than wait 36 days for insurance-paid care in Canada. She's now pushing for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan to reimburse her for the money she spent on surgery, tests and follow-up.

The organizers of the Capitol Hill event say she will be among several patients who will "share stories of overcoming life-threatening illnesses and explain their concerns about the president's plans for health-care reform."

This really upsets me.

Here's a woman who could have had a legitimate claim against socialized care--I was losing my vision and they wanted me to wait. However, she had to go and exaggerate on TV--"I'd be dead"--which made it onto all the television commercials. The reason this makes me mad is because people have used her example as reasons not to pursue health care reform. I'm not pushing for a Canadian-style system, necessarily, and certainly they have their problems. But it makes me angry that legitimate claims are overblown to sway vulnerable people who don't know better who then get the message "If you change our healthcare system then you'll be dead!"

Here's her Mayo Clinic "Success Story" where they talk about the benign tumor that was indeed threatening her vision (and I'd have had sympathy if she'd left the story at that). And here is her statement to as well as her testimony to the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. Again, it sounds like her situation was concerning, but I do not think she was in a life-threatening condition (and adrenal crisis is certainly treatable, especially if the doctors know you are adrenally insufficient and give you steroids, so I don't buy that; also, how can you have Cushing's disease, which is an overproduction of cortisol by the adrenals, and adrenal insufficiency at the same time?). Certainly, in her testimony, she raises good points about the Canadian system, points which go along with why I don't support a single-payer system. However, as she is currently suing the Canadian government for her health care costs (when she is the one who went outside the free care), I think her motives are suspect. Clearly, she (and many people) wants the free care of Canada with the luxury and speed of American private care--in other words to have her cake and eat it too.

I realize that no side of this argument is free of propaganda and attempting to sway opinion through sob stories and exaggeration. This one happens to be a TV commercial I've seen in my own living room, so I felt I should comment. Junk like this is why I hear perfectly well-educated people say things like "you people just want to make us like Canada, where they wait months for treatment and die". Well, maybe not so well-educated, or they'd look this up themselves.