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. Typical Republican

    I saw it in section I@m1nsane while reading the bill. It's in there. They will replace your eyeball with the eye ball of your oldest relative...regardless of whether they are still living or not. If they didn't have an eye, then they sew the socket on to you. It's there in the Bill...totally!

    Read the's in there!

    August 17, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Sean

    So where's this front page headline: "Supporters of private insurance are just plain lying."?

    Can't we just call it what it is CNN?

    August 17, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. Tom

    So you are all happy so happy with how your existing insurance companies are screwing you that you don't want any change? I am stuck paying almost a grand a month for a family plan with a major carrier. Price goes up every year. Don't like it, switch people say....that's free enterprise...WELL guess what, both my wife and I have pre-existing conditions. Want to look at the exclusion forms stating how a new carrier will not cover me????
    We need some reform....

    August 17, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  4. Hammerer

    Attention; all of the intellectuals or those in the congress, in Obama's administration, the media talking heads who that claim to know all, why can you not understand that the citizens are not interested in your snake oil.
    How simple do we have to make it. We are not interested in your ideas or opinions. We are not interested in socialism.
    What part of that do you not undrestand?

    August 17, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. Voted4HealthCare

    Thank you, CNN, for the Truth Squads. Americans deserve honesty on this important health-care legislation.

    The misinformation and lies being told by a so-called "family values" party only confirm why I left the GOP.

    August 17, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. Mississippi Mike

    It doesn't matter if the fringe rumors are correct. If only one or two of the main ones are correct, we are in deep trouble. Americans want to control their government, we don't want to be controlled.

    August 17, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Seriously...the question is so outlandish and ridiculous that even bothering to answer it with one word, "FALSE," pays it too much credence. Of course, pretending that such nonsense isn't merely rank partisan shenanigans helps keep up the superficial appearance of being "fair and balanced" (or some such tripe) and keeps some of the GOPers coming back for more, which helps ad revenue, so its really compltely understandable that CNN would not simply tell this woman she's a moron and to never ever look at email again.

    August 17, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. The Death Panel

    Oh, It's in there alright. Along with the mandatory suicide clause. We'll vouch for that. Have a nice day!

    August 17, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. noirin

    My guess is these rumors start because one or more of the Big Business health maintenance organizations already have such a restriction. Anyone who thinks there shouldn't be a system that gets these bullies in line has never been denied care for a "preexisting condition," a drug not on the HMO's "preferred list" or services they arbitrarily decide are "not medically necessary" such as physical therapy after an injury or stroke. How about their "recision" clauses that they use to dump you just when you need the health insurance most, (True case, a woman denied treatment for breast cancer because she forgot to list on her application form that she has once been treated for acne.) You want to know where the death panels are? they are in the HMOs, who regularly deny or delay lifesaving care knowing that the patient can die waiting for it to be argued in court.

    August 17, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Tort Reform is a SHAM

    Tort Reform has already been passed in several states, Texas for example. What it does is basically say "If an OOOPSIE happens and you what. Your life isn't worth too much. It's ok if a doctor kills you...being incompetent is how us republicans do things".

    And, much to everyones dismay, Insurance costs just kept on rising. All it did was keep doctors rich. Nobody saved money but the doctors.

    Tort reform does not WORK (PROVEN in SEVERAL states that passed it already)'s simply a way to say it's ok for doctors to kill people.

    August 17, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. Chester Drawers

    One medical procedure I recommend for all Republicans is a good colon cleansing, because they are really full of it.

    August 17, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. Kevin B

    Why don't the republicans just say what they really want to say:

    We just do not to see any improvement in the nations dysfunctional health care sector, especially if it is brought forward by the first black president whose mother died while fighting the insurance companies.

    There, you GOP type should feel much better now this it has been said

    Now can we begin to deal with issue of out of control cost of health care?

    August 17, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Kate in SW Fla

    Dick Armey, the founder of FreedomWorks and Tea Party Patriots is trying to scare seniors senseless, and is succeeding bacause the Media is not challenging any of this nonsense. Nor are they helping to point of that Mr Armey is on record numerous times as wanting to ELIMINATE the very programs Seniors are worried about. This goes well beyond just being disingenuous; it is outright dishonesty. CNN and all other MSM need to investigate this discrepancy and report on it. You are being completely unfair to Seniors to neglect doing this.

    August 17, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. Duck Fallas

    Old people are gullible twits.

    Repeal Medicare NOW!!

    August 17, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  15. Jeanne

    Most of the "policy" of what will be covered hasn't been written yet. But it will be by a "panel" appointed by the administration.

    What do you people think is going to happen if they cover 47 million additional people but spend less money? Rationing. Just as is done in every country with socialized medicine.

    Nothing is free!

    August 17, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. Ha Ha Ha Ha

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

    GOP is bent upon Sending Baseless and Bogus E-mails to Mislead.

    Just like this E-mail that was sent:

    "I got a disturbing e-mail..........................until they lost the vision in one eye first.".

    GOP will be sending another E-Mail which would read:

    "Organ Transplant will be for Free under the new health plan. A man suffering from Elephantiasis will have his testicles transplanted with a nice pair of a Potent Pig's Testicles for free" 🙂

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha 😛

    August 17, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. Gonzo in Houston

    The "deathers" are just another version of the birthers. It starts with a lie told by a cynical outlet for political gain. It goes viral, but is repudiated by every legitimate fact-check group on the web. Nonetheless, there are people who repeat it and insist it is fact. For the deathers, it is the threat of "death boards" to pull the plug on grandma.

    Get used to this lying nonsense; you're going to see a lot more of it.

    August 17, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. jdquest

    After having a few discussions with those who are continuing to spread the viscious lies to prevent us from getting healthcare, I wonder if there is any reason to try and check the facts. I feel like I am running into brick walls. Once these rumors are out there some people refuse to believe anything else. I don't wish what I have gone through, without good healthcare, on anyone but I am afraid a certain percentage of them will experience it anyway and things will continue to go downhill with the current system.

    August 17, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. Susan

    You know, when I finally found the "over 1,000" page bill that was thrown on the floor by one of the Republicans because he was so upset he didn't get a chance to read it I almost fell off my chair. He was acting like it was a 6 font 1,000 page novel!!! When I opened the bill and saw that the font was at least 22, and maybe 100 words per page, I finished reading it in one night!! What the......
    Lets go page by page, whatever doesn't click or makes any sense, lets go over that. I hate, hate, hate it when people are saying they heard this and they heard that, is this ture, is that true.....Gosh darn it people can't you read!!!!!

    Read it, then what you don't understand bring that up at your next town hall meeting, email Cnn, do something instead of listening to everything you hear and find it out for yourself.


    August 17, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. Kevin B

    Why don't the republicans just say what they really want to say:

    We just do not to see any improvement in the nations dysfunctional health care sector, especially if it is brought forward by the first black president whose mother died while fighting the insurance companies.

    There, you GOP types should feel much better now this it has been said

    Now can we please deal with issue of out of control cost of health care that is affecting all americans and america's overall fiscal health

    August 17, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. Stacey

    What is the matter with the republicans and some seniors at these meetings? I'm sure they are smart but it is hard to understand why they believe the junk being told by the republican party, fox news comentators, limbaugh, etc.

    What so hard to understand? They hate President Obama plain and simple. They hate him so much, they want him to fail. As far as being smart, if they believe the garbage they hear, then they are not smart. They are very ignorant and gullible or they are indeed smart, but hate Obama so much that the lies they hear from Palin, Limbaugh and the other jerks mean nothing. This is not about health care, stimulus or anything else but hatred for a black president.

    August 17, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Greg H

    Maybe you dolts should read the bill and quit trust cnn, fox news, Obama or anyone else for that matter. Quit being a bunch of sheeple. The GOP isn't anyone worse that the Democrats when it comes to propaganda.

    August 17, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Ron Ft. Myers

    It seems the people that respond to these articles rarely have the facts, nor respond to the article. Instead, they end up in left field. First off, this is not a Republican rumor. There was a couple from England that reported that the husband was told he could not have the necessary medicine to cure/help his degeneration of one eye until the other went bad. This was not a political issue, it was a story by two English folks, period. If their story was untrue, they, not the Republicans or Democrats were the fibbers!

    August 17, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. Sam Sixpack

    According to Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Obama's Special Advisor for Health Policy, "services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia."

    If President Obama gets his way, such issues will be decided by budget.

    The requisite financial analysis is slated to be performed by the "Independent Medicare Advisory Council" as described in the White House's July 17, 2009 letter to Nancy Pelosi.

    August 17, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  25. g ontario

    americans who want real health care reform better wake up soon , employers will not pay for ever

    August 17, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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