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NYT's Seelye Busts 'Myths' About Obama-Care that Are Actually Valid

New York Times reporter Katharine Seelye insisted that many valid criticisms of Obama-care (that abortion would be covered, that illegal immigrants would get taxpayer-funded care, and that private insurance would be eliminated) are simply "myths" believed by Republicans.

Obama-care beat reporter Seelye's Tuesday post on the nytimes.com "Prescriptions" blog was adapted into a brief story in Wednesday's print edition, "Who Believes in Health Care Myths?"

Seelye sneakily used an Indiana University study to debunk "myths" Republicans and independent believe about health care, many of which are in fact up for debate.

Here are the statements that independents believed and disbelieved, with assessments of each statement provided in parentheses by Aaron Carroll, director of the university's Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research, which helped design the survey with the university's Center for Bioethics.

First question: Who made Aaron Carroll America's official health-care fact checker?

Blithe assertions to the contrary by Carroll (and by extension Seelye), many of these alleged "myths" are quite debatable, such as Carroll's claim that it's false to say "taxpayers will be required to pay for abortions."

Carroll also states the idea that "illegal immigrants will be covered" (which the Times has vigorously tried to stamp out) is a myth and stumps for Obama-care in his blunt statement that "if anything, a public option will bring costs down."

Carroll also claims it's untrue to say "private insurance or employer-sponsored insurance will be eliminated" under a public plan. Yet such luminaries as Times columnist and Obama-care cheerleader Paul Krugman foresees the elimination of private insurance as a welcome eventuality, once a public plan is in place: "...whereas something that lets people keep the insurance they have but then offers the option of a public plan, that may evolve into single-payer."

Seelye quoted more from Carroll's report, using Carroll, who clearly supports an Obama-type overhaul, as some kind of objective arbiter of health-care claims. Seelye breaks out the allegedly dubious claims into bullet points for Carroll to take swings at. Here are some of the more contentious assertions Carroll cavalierly dismisses as myths, and which Seelye passed on to her readers without independently weighing the claims:

- taxpayers will be required to pay for abortions (myth);

- small businesses will be hurt (nothing to indicate this is so);

- a public option that competes with private insurance companies will be too expensive for the nation to afford (myth; if anything, a public option will bring costs down);

- a public option will actually increase premiums for those with private insurance (no evidence to suggest this would happen).

- millions of Americans will lose their current health insurance (such change is prohibited);

- private insurance or employer-sponsored insurance will be eliminated (myth);

- a public option will put private insurance companies out of business (myth);

- illegal immigrants will be covered (myth)


- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site