August 17th, 2009
03:02 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Truth Squad: No eye care until you're blind in one eye?

The Statement:
Florence Mackie of North Carolina writes to CNN, "I got a disturbing e-mail that said the new health bill would not help a person with macular degeneration until they lost the vision in one eye first." She asks, "Is this true?"

The facts and the verdict after the jump:

The Facts:
Macular degeneration is a disease that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Chances of suffering from it increase with old age. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness for people age 65 and older and affects more than 10 million Americans, according to the American Medical Association.

Whites are "much more likely" to lose vision due to AMD than African-Americans, and women "appear to be at greater risk than men," according to the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

There is no final version of health-care legislation in either the House or the Senate. But each chamber has a version of a bill that is available to be read online . The House bill has more than 1,000 pages; the Senate bill has more than 600.

Neither bill contains the words "macular," "degeneration," or "sight." Neither establishes special rules over eye health.

The rumor appears to stem from concerns expressed by some conservatives earlier this year during the battle over stimulus legislation.

In a commentary published by Bloomberg News on February 9, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey wrote, "In 2006, a U.K. health board decreed that elderly patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they could get a costly new drug to save the other eye. It took almost three years of public protests before the board reversed its decision."

She added, "If the Obama administration's economic stimulus bill passes the Senate in its current form, seniors in the U.S. will face similar rationing."

The example seems to have been taken out of context by opponents of the current health care reform plan, who are suggesting that impending legislation would target macular degeneration.

The Web site wpcva.com, shared by several Virginia newspapers, published an opinion piece this month from a Virginia resident stating that under the House bill, "Surgery to correct macular degeneration would be denied until the patient lost sight in one eye."

Chain e-mails are having a substantial effect on the health care debate. On the Obama administration's "Reality Check" Web site, which the administration says is aimed at counteracting myths about health care, one of the top two videos is headlined, "The return of the viral e-mail."

The Verdict:
False. There is no such rule in the health care legislation working its way through Congress.


Filed under: Health care fact check
soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. Houff

    The truth is, no one knows what the law will look like. More important, none of the related regulations have been drafted (or at least not publicized), so there is no definitive answer.

    We do know that none of the bills is really targeted at high costs, or else tort reform would be included. Ask Dems why that is not in any bill.

    In theory we are going to insure 46 million more Americans, with no new hospitals and no new doctors (I know there will be more doctors, but not enough to treat 46 million more people). When these new people are added to the rolls (and paid for by the rest of us, again), there will obviously be a strain on the system, and rationing will be a certainty, unless suddenly very many of us have no more health problems.

    Perhaps we would all be reassured if at the very beginning of the bill there would be absolute statements that everyone would get all the health care they want, for free (the health care fairy will pay for it!!), from the very best doctors, with NO waiting. I have a hunch we won't see that language.

    August 17, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Jimmy

    How can you be expected to respect a political party that insists on terrorizing the elderly. There is low depth too low for the current republicans. Absolutely shameful.

    August 17, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Chandler

    How can people continue to believe such absurd lies about health care reform? When one lie has been proven to be unfactual, doesn't that make people doubt all of the other information that health insurance reform opponets are spouting?

    August 17, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. Hall for Obama

    Every one who donot want health care please stand up. You may leave now, because the rest of us do. I have work over 45 years never been on welfare have no need to be on walfare but my job left town now I have no job no health care. So if all you dumb ass who thank it ok to be sick and can't see a dr. is fun I hope you wake up tomorrow with your eyes in the back of your head.

    August 17, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. TCM

    it's true, and worse yet, Obama's going to double the tax on your remaining good eye....

    However, look at the bright side; with one eye, he'll only seem to be half as corrupt.

    August 17, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. schmedly

    I wonder if the Dems are starting some of these rumors. They are just so unbelievable, Reps will not benefit from telling them because not too many people would believe them. The only ones that will benefit would be the Dems when they debunk them.

    August 17, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Lilarose

    Florence lives in North Carolina.

    Sorry, Florence (if you can read this). The South has a big problem understanding English, let alone stuff like the rules and regs for insurance coverage.

    Please understand there are others "out here" in America who are going to interpret all this stuff for you. Not to worry.

    August 17, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. Doug, New Jersey

    Maybe they could add a provision that gives a person who is completely blind unlimited healthcare options, considering that all of Obama's supporters are blind and ignorant. No wonder ACORN is their church, they are all nuts.

    August 17, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. Leo

    I still see fear mongering everwhere..... seriously people wake up... read the bill and don't let Sam sixpack, any Elephant, or any Donkey tell u what's in it in thier words.... look for yourself.... geez point and click !!!!!!!!!!!! i've got a copy of the full 1100 pages written out so far.....

    August 17, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Dale

    Republicans sell fear. If they didn't, they would have nothing to sell.

    August 17, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. Post always rejected by CNN

    I guess the health industry with the help of the republicans are starting another campaign to scare people. We know they are a common bunch. Look at how they would come out especially before elections and yell "terror alert" "terror alert" and saying if we didn't vote for republicans the terrorist would set off dirty bombs and kill us......now they are scaring old people.

    What in Hades kind of people are they. Why in the devil can't people realize what they are. If they would take rush and drudge and malken and Fox News off the air til they starting reporting the truth maybe we could get something done.

    I can not believe that any body could be that cruel to tell people that but at this point you can't put anything pass a republican. Their actions border on criminal.

    August 17, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Dale

    Wow. It amazes me everyday that the Republican party claims to care so much about small business then spread these lies which really only hurt them with moderates.

    A public option will be the biggest boon to small businesses.(I know this as a small business owner) It will allow small business to have a better chance at recruiting more talent. My company currently does NOT offer health insurance because we can NOT AFFORD it. While many of us have individual insurance I am sure some of my employees do not. If any serious injury should occur the tax payers will be forced to flip the bill anyways.

    Considering small businesses makes up a huge chunk of the Labor market is only makes sense that America will want to be strong. It will help level the playing field dramatically vs big corp.

    August 17, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Whack-a-Mole

    Far too many simpletons like Florence Mackie.

    August 17, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. Deuce

    There is no support, for the hemorrhage of Pelosi. I guess your just going to bleed. USA.

    August 17, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. single mom

    If this is such a great plan, why aren't ALL the Democrats on board to pass it? They control Congress. If they all think it's so wonderful, then it should be a piece of cake. The fact that enough Democrats aren't for it, and the Democratic party leaders, including Obama, are blaming the Republicans is extremely telling.
    Soooo? Why aren't ALL the Dems on board for this?

    August 17, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. John

    The GOP is doing what it does best, "FEAR MONGERING" .

    August 17, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. linell, Winter Park, FL

    There are, as I understand it, five different health insurance reform bills in the House of Representatives and none in the Senate. Nothing has passed either house. Which bill is everyone talking about? And why are the insurance companies spending $1.4 million dollars a day to make sure there is no public option?

    August 17, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Proud Member..Party of No

    lolol.....Wow, that's some deep investigating from the crack "truth squad" at CNN. Cherry-pick one email that is obviously wrong and hold it up as an example of the "out-of-touch" public.

    Consider this my email question: Is it true that illegal aliens are to be covered by Obama's health care plan? And is it true that tort reform is not a part of Obama's health care plan? And is it true that both of these could save billions of dollars for the American consumer? And wouldn't that be a good place to start?

    August 17, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. Case Open

    The verdict on the original question is still open, although CNN's Truth Squad is technically correct that ObamaCare has no provisions directly on macular degneration and its treatment.

    IF ObamaCare eventually results in universal, government-run, single-payer healthcare like the UK, then patients with MD might expect to see the same wait times as those in the UK. Based on the anecdotal evidence cited.

    Whether you like "fear-mongering" in politics, depends on which side of the issue you are on. ALL politicians use "fear" to sway their constituents, no matter which party.

    August 17, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. Emmanuel Goldstein

    I"ll be shocked if this gets past the CNNsors, but the truth squad and politifact are, regrettably, as biased as their sponsors.

    On Political Mann this weekend, the Politifact team rated Obama's claim that AARP endorsed his program as "barely true" even though they conceded that, as reported, AARP expressly stated that they had NOT endorsed any of the health care proposals. AARP further said that they came out with the statement expressly to correct Obama's misstatement about AARP's position. Yet Politifact concluded that Obama spoke truthfully, if barely.

    Conservatives were, of course, deemed to be liars by the Politfact-meter and its programmers. Nope, no MSM bias here.

    August 17, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Kevin B

    Acorn
    Socialistic
    Death panels
    Birth certificate
    Pull the plug on grandma
    Goverment take over
    "I fear for my country" etc, etc. blah, blah........

    All of the above poppycock is a mere euphemism; for hate the black president.

    At least have the balls to say it out loud republicans and stand for something except lies for once.

    August 17, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  22. MomofFour

    The spreading of lies continues....Sad !

    August 17, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  23. Buster

    That's OK, for all you college students that voted for Oliar. When your 3 year old kid needs surgery, Zeek Emanuel will treat them like an 85 year old. They won't get it. My kids are grown, so I don't really care about your future.

    August 17, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. Johnny DC

    This is unreal. CNN purposely picks the clearly crazy rumors and "fact checks" them, as if these are the only possible threats to this health care legislation.

    Government-run health care is a horrible idea, period. I want to say it's hysterical that CNN tries so hard to make challengers to it look like idiots. There are idiots on both sides, CNN.

    How about showing some of those false thoughts... like how some people claim this won't force private insurance out of the market. False. How this won't cause any rise in the budget deficit. False. How this won't require a tax increase (sales tax or federal income tax) on the middle class. False.

    CNN does great unbiased reporting. False.

    August 17, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  25. Dennis -- Toronto

    FEAR thru IGNORANCE is unfortunately what is being used to challenge the Pres. Obama’s Healthcare reform initiatives. Healthcare should not only be available to the privileged but should be a RIGHT for all American Citizens. Let us not confuse the high quality of Medical Technology in the U.S.A. with quality of the Healthcare System in the U.S.A.

    Many US politicians (mostly Republicans) are making stupid, inaccurate and uninformed statements about the Canadian Healthcare System as if it was some Socialist bogeyman conspiracy. I am a LIFELONG CONSERVATIVE and I believe that our system, although NOT #1 and NOT PERFECT, is EXCELLENT!!

    August 17, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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