August 17th, 2009
03:02 PM ET
13 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, 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. Deuce

    But the USA, is Blind in Both eyes to Barack Obama..

    August 17, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  2. CindyTea

    Sounds like something Sarah Palin would say!

    August 17, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. Kalia

    Just another Republican scare tactic. Keep em fearful!

    August 17, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |

    GOP propaganda.

    August 17, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. john driscoll

    Imagine that!
    -more lies and fear mongering from the Right Wing Nutjobs that can't tell fact from fiction!

    August 17, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. Mike in Montana

    I am a little confused. Is it the Republican Party, the far right, FOX News or big insurance companies with 'greed' that are starting these malicious lies and rumors ? Mike in Montana

    August 17, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. Steph

    This is getting absurd! No one is going to kill Grandma, and no one is going to sit around while you lose sight in one eye, and NO ONE is going to force everyone to get government run health insurance....the lies are making me sick, and making all of us Americans look like complete idiots! We need to have a real, honest discussion about health care reform. The status quo is literally killing us (unless you are an exec at an insurance company...they can afford fabulous health care).

    August 17, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. daisy

    Of course it's true! DUH.

    They're also going to kill my grandma. They also eat children.

    August 17, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  9. Sick of It

    Yup and you won't get a bronchial inhaler until one lung stops functioning. More hooey!

    August 17, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. Matt Jones

    This article is somewhat euphemistic – call it what it is: another LIE passed down by the "Party of NO". For a group that was so amazingly offended by lying about sex in the Oval Office, they certainly don't appear to have any compunctions about lying to protect their campaign donors' profits...

    August 17, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  11. here we go

    I guess scaring the elderly will and apparently are having the desired effect, scare the b-jesus out of the population to get the desired effect, NO HEALTH CARE REFORM in any shape or form. THis preying on the weakest of our citizens seems to happening with alot. THis is just pure discusting....

    August 17, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. Rick

    Another piece of "misinformation"? Easily deniable?

    Death panels, blind in one eye? Pick another scenario. The "final" bill has not even been submitted. The House has passed a version to be submitted to the Senate. NO negotiations have taken place. NO legislation final vote in Congress. NO final legislation forwarded to the President for enactment.

    Rumor, innuendo, selective quotes, partisianship, lobbyists, political groups advertising pro or con, gullible public.

    NOTHING has been cast in stone. NOTHING has been decided. NOTHING has been debated, negotiated, or enacted.

    August 17, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. Kevin B

    Don't these republicans ever get tired of lying and distortions? "pull the plug on grandma" lie, the "death panel" lie, the "government take over" lie, then the President was "born in kenya" lie, and on and on and on.......

    Doesn't the bible say; thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    Americans have become so used to lying to each other and thier families, that it isn't even called out as a lie any more and considered normal.

    This nation has a real reckoning to deal with if public policy continues to be based on lies. i.e. the war in Iraq.

    Nothing good ever comes out of a lie.

    August 17, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. Angie in PA

    PATHETIC!!! To do this to people and these people call themselves Christian Americans they are not they are Political terriost!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. Deuce

    Here goes CNN's experts again... I wouldn't know most. Just about every drug your saturated with USA. Is alien to me, I guess you live in your own world too mucfh.

    August 17, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Jefferson Handcock

    I guess you wont get a knee replacement until both knees go out, or a hip replacement untill both of those are goneToo bad the republicans have one heart, cant be replaced even though it has went out

    August 17, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  17. Greg in MO

    These truth squads always seem to come up with a false verdict. Why don't we look into the penalty for those who choose not to have health insurance? Or the "rumor" that this is ridiculously expensive when we don't have the money to afford it? How about examining how we already have a single-payer health insurance for low-income families and how the U.S. has always tried to fix that? These are not lies or misinformation. This is the exact opposite of what you get from Obama – the facts without the glitter. This program will be one more addition on the list of government programs that are costing way too much and are always in need of fixing.
    Don't let this go through – there is no returning from this mistake!
    Let the each individual state solve their own health care reform issues – that would allow much more experimentation and help reveal the best solutions.

    August 17, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. jane

    CNN, rather than keep telling us what is not in the bill, why don't you tell us what is in it? A real "Truth Squad" would tell us nobody knows what is or is not in it, because there is no final version of the bill. Where is your journalistic integrity?

    August 17, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. tina

    so deep deuce. so deep.
    now go back to your email and forward those rumors like a good little rightytighty.

    August 17, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. Chris W

    This is just another example of the shameless and cynical fear-mongering the Right and their wealthy special interests. Apparently they have no qualms about perpetuating lies and fear among our weakest and most vulnerable citizens. I am ashamed to say that I was once a Republicant.

    August 17, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  21. Haas

    Actually you have to be blind in both eyes and have an ulcer that originated from drinking the Republican cool-aid.

    August 17, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  22. FormerGOP

    What is up with the outright lie’s? I thought the Republican Party was the moral party above telling a lie???
    I’m so glad that as a Republican I voted for President Obama!
    Obama 2012!!!!!

    August 17, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  23. Alfred E. Neumann

    Politics 101 – never let your opponent define your position!

    Conservatives have had a field day in distorting the reform package.

    So, why should we trust Obama if he is so stupid or innept as to allow himself to be in this position.

    He is too late at the dance with too little to offer.

    August 17, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    People, remember who is going to get rich off health care reform, then ask yourself if they have your best interests at heart. So, who will get rich? Pharmaceutical companies because they will have 49 million new people to sell to. Lawyers, the bill is a legalistic monstronsity and armies of lawyers who love to sue will get rich. The pharma and lawyer lobbies are also some of the biggest contributors to Senators and members of Congress regardless of party. Now ask, is your Senator and Congressperson looking out for you or are they in it for the money? If you answered they are looking out for you, I have a swamp in Florida I'd like to sell you.

    August 17, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. BOBS

    Judging by past similar affairs with people of his type, pretty soon the name "Satan" is bound to come up in this farce. Real convenient
    guy to have around. We atheists just have to accept responsibility for our actions.

    August 17, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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