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Stephen Maseda: Vogel wildly incorrect

SCV Voices

Posted: October 12, 2009 11:14 p.m.
Updated: October 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Having read your letters section in the Oct. 6 edition, I have a couple of observations.

As a news organization, you must agree you have some obligation for accuracy in your reporting, at least one hopes so.

However, you seem willing to publish letters, which I am sure you cull from the many you receive on as high-profile a subject as health care, that contain patently false "factual" claims.

The Vogel letter ("Vakay doesn't get it," The Signal, Oct. 8) asserts that "a person dies every 30 seconds (presumably in the United States) due to lack of health insurance and many are the young."

This statement does not withstand even the slightest fact-checking, which one would assume a responsible news organization would do before it published such a claim.

If a person died every 30 seconds in the United Sates from any cause (we can certainly agree that lack of health insurance is not a cause of death) then 15,768,000 deaths per year would be attributable to this "cause."

However, the total number of deaths per year in the United States from all causes is 2,426,364, and 74.9 percent of those are people 65 or older who are, of course, covered by health insurance - Medicare.

Even if we assume that all of the remaining deaths, 609,018, are of people who are uninsured, that is a far cry from 15,768,000.

Vogel also asserts that of the asserted 46.3 million uninsured (more than 20 million of whom will remain uninsured after the "reform"), "40 percent die due to lack of health care which cannot be provided without health insurance."

While she fails to provide an essential element to make any such statement meaningful - a time period - she is at the least asserting that 18,520,000 people die because they cannot get care due to lack of health insurance.

Given again that everyone over 65 has coverage, then we are again left with 609,018 deaths per year for those who might, and I emphasize might, be uninsured.

Clearly that is an uncreditable claim, as it requires in excess of 30 years to arrive at her numbers.

Further, she asserts that "when our youth are ill and the parents can't afford health insurance, they must pay for it up front or go to an emergency room or the child receives no services at all."

Again, the difficulty with this is that the young of those who cannot afford health insurance, the "poor," are covered by SCHIP - under which a family making $32,490 with one child can get coverage for that child for $30 per month, with the income level increasing by $11,220 per child, but the premiums capped at $60 per month.

Thus for $60 per month, a family of five with an annual income of $77,370 covers all of their children.

She also asks, "What does history have to do with today's lack of health care from those who need it most?"

Arguably those who need it most are the 65 and older age group who are covered by Medicare - the program that will be most severely impacted by the "reform," and the poor are covered by Medicaid and SCHIP.

So I think we should discuss this on a rational, factual basis. I agree with Sherryann' Lima ("What's happened to the American spirit?" The Signal, Oct. 8) that shouting and name-calling get us nowhere, as does making false factual assertions, such as the president when he asserts that no one's heath coverage will be affected: "If you like your health insurance coverage, you will get to keep it."

That is a patently false claim if you have Medicare, and has been refuted by numerous studies for everyone else.

But I wonder what a nine-year-old's "opinion," more likely Mom's opinion, adds to the discussion.

Editor's note: Letters to the Editor and Opinion columns express the writers' opinions, not necessarily those of The Signal. We do not "cull" letters for any particular reason on any particular issue, but rather publish as many letters as space will allow.


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