Tuesday, April 27, 2010

PBS ombudsman backs single payer advocates

ProsperityAgenda.us reports action gets results with PBS--the ombudsman says Frontline has been at fault in not including single payer in their coverage of health care reform. Hat tip to Floridians for Health Care.

Thanks to all of you who responded to our call to action when Frontline reported on the new health law and how it became law and excluded single payer. The ombudsman wrote:

. . . our office was deluged with almost a thousand critical e-mails from people who said they were upset and angry that an hour-long look back at how the White House ultimately hammered out a historic agreement on health care, aptly titled 'Obama's Deal,' failed to deal with the single-payer system advocated by many of those who were not part of the deal. Many of these e-mails appeared to have been generated in response to a handful of websites that criticized the program for what they saw as failures to deal fairly or adequately with this single-payer option and with one of its major proponents, Dr. Margaret Flowers.

The ombudsman went on to note that their was deep and broad public support for single payer among American voters, indeed, it is the most popular reform among Americans:
A public opinion poll by CBS News and the New York Times in February 2009 reported 59 percent of respondents said the government should provide health insurance, and a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that the same percentage of doctors "supported legislation to establish national health insurance." A bill introduced years earlier in a House committee by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) supporting the single-payer plan through an expansion of Medicare had 87 co-sponsors as of February 2010 (more than any other universal health-care bill) and lots of labor union support.

Then, he concludes his discussion of single payer admitting it was an error for Frontline to exclude it and highlighting, as we did in our letter, that this was the second time Frontline examined health care this year and the second time they excluded single payer.
So, while the hard-nosed journalistic decision may be to focus on the real options and debate, it seems to me that to ignore something that was out there and popular with millions of people and thousands of health-care professionals but not really on the table, was a mistake. Although obviously tight on time, the producers should have found 30 seconds to take this into account because many Americans support it yet the deal makers never mention it nor is the politics of discarding it addressed.

What is also puzzling to me is that this is the second time that producers of major Frontline programs on health care have decided not even to mention the single-payer system with respect to would-be reform. The other program was a March 31, 2009, broadcast of 'Sick Around America' which provoked a substantial amount of controversy and that I also wrote about at the time.

Obviously, the producers, directors and PBS itself heard us and now know that they will be publicly criticized when their reporting excludes the most popular health care reform in America -- the only one that can control costs, provides health care to all, increases consumer choice and ensures health care security for all in America -- single payer health care. You can read the full article by clicking here.

Thanks again for taking action. It made a difference!

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