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11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]

11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

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11.20 New York City subway and bus services have entered 'death spiral', experts say [death spirals are the end-thing nowadays]

11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]

11.19 Michael Bloomberg: Why I’m Giving $1.8 Billion for College Financial Aid

11.19 Trump’s Diminishing Power and Rising Rage

11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder

11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]

11.19 SNL explains Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s HQ2 strategy: trolling President Trump [2:55 SNL video]

11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]

11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]

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11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]

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11.17 CIA finds Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi killing – report

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  Frontline Distorts Global Healthcare Options
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PUBLIC BROADCASTING HAS BEEN BRIBED OR COERCED:

Frontline Distorts Global Healthcare Options

PBS show treats mandatory for-profit insurance as the only alternative

SOURCE: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
7 April 2009
Frontline's new documentary perpetuates the media's longstanding pattern of ignoring proposals for single-payer health insurance, despite the fact that this proposal polls well with the American public and has been codified in a bill co-sponsored by 74 congressmembers.
The March 31 documentary by PBS's Frontline, Sick Around America, treated mandatory for-profit insurance coverage as the only alternative to the current U.S. healthcare system--even though the documentary was a sequel to a 2008 Frontline special, Sick Around the World (4/15/08), that examined several publicly funded healthcare models, including Taiwan's single-payer system.

In a segment of Sick Around America subtitled "How to Get a Fairer System," Frontline narrator Will Lyman asked Karen Ignati, a spokesperson from the insurers' trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, why the U.S. couldn't guarantee coverage for all like other developed countries do. After Ignati responded that her industry could only guarantee universal coverage if the government required all citizens to have insurance, Lyman stated:

That's what other developed countries do. They make insurers cover everyone and they make all citizens buy insurance. And the poor are subsidized.

This generalization about other developed countries being places where "people are mandated to buy" insurance is also repeated on Frontline's web page about Sick Around America, in a paragraph that contains a link to the Sick Around the World investigation. The only alternative to the current U.S. healthcare system that was examined in any depth in Sick Around America was Massachusetts' system of mandating that people buy insurance from for-profit health insurance companies.

But this exclusive focus on mandatory for-profit health insurance as a solution to the healthcare problems facing the nation negated Frontline's earlier findings about the healthcare systems in developed countries. None of the healthcare systems featured in Sick Around the World is based on mandatory purchase of for-profit insurance; indeed, as a report by the Canadian government noted (5/97; revised 2/01), "The United States is the only OECD country that relies primarily on private insurance for healthcare financing."

Frontline's 2008 documentary actually highlighted Taiwan's single-payer model of healthcare system. As Frontline correspondent T.R. Reid explained, when Taiwanese healthcare adopted single-payer it went from being "worse than America's is today," with high rates of uninsured, to a system that guarantees coverage for all and "has the lowest administrative costs in the world, less than 2 percent." The U.K.'s system of public national health insurance was also featured.

And as Reid emphasized in the conclusion of the 2008 report, in countries where there is some private-sector role in health financing, one of the central lessons is that they "all impose limits," including that insurance companies "can't make a profit on basic care." (This point is made by one source in passing in Sick Around America, but it's easy to miss.)

Reid was supposed to be the correspondent for the new documentary, but he revealed in an interview with Corporate Crime Reporter (4/2/09) that he quit over concerns that the new documentary contradicted his earlier research:

"I said to them, mandating for-profit insurance is not the lesson from other countries in the world," Reid said. "I said, I'm not going to be in a film that contradicts my previous film and my book. They said I had to be in the film because I was under contract. I insisted that I couldn't be. And we parted ways.

"Doctors, hospitals, nurses, labs can all be for-profit," Reid said. "But the payment system has to be non-profit. All the other countries have agreed on that. We are the only one that allows health insurance companies to make a profit. You can't allow a profit to be made on the basic package of health insurance."

Frontline's new documentary perpetuates the media's longstanding pattern of ignoring proposals for single-payer health insurance (FAIR Media Advisory, 3/6/09), despite the fact that this proposal polls well with the American public and has been codified in a bill co-sponsored by 74 congressmembers. While Sick Around America included several spokespeople from the health insurance industry, no single-payer advocate was featured in the documentary.

ACTION:

Ask Frontline why Sick Around America misrepresented the findings of Sick Around the World, treating mandatory for-profit insurance coverage as the only alternative to the current U.S. healthcare system.

CONTACT:
Frontline
frontline@pbs.org
617-300-3500

Please share your letters to Frontline by posting them in the comments section on the FAIR Blog.


Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is a nonpartisan media watchdog organization. Visit http://fair.org for more information, or share your opinion about this story by writing to fair@fair.org. Republished in the Chronicle with permission from F.A.I.R.


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This story was published on April 9, 2009.

 

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