Surgeons Rebuke Obama's $50k Per Amputation Claim, Media Mum

At Tuesday's healthcare town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, President Obama disgustingly said the following (video embedded right):

[L]et's take the example of something like diabetes, one of --- a disease that's skyrocketing, partly because of obesity, partly because it's not treated as effectively as it could be. Right now if we paid a family -- if a family care physician works with his or her patient to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they're taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance. But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that's $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 -- immediately the surgeon is reimbursed. 

The following day, the American College of Surgeons issued a statement harshly rebuking the President's comments, but America's media almost completely ignored it (h/t Jamie Colby):

The American College of Surgeons is deeply disturbed over the uninformed public comments President Obama continues to make about the high-quality care provided by surgeons in the United States. When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform. We want to set the record straight.

Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.

Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon's decision to remove a child's tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what's right for the patient.

Pretty powerful stuff, yes? Yet, according to LexisNexis, not one major newspaper in America reported this admonishment of the President by the ACS.

Not one!

The Associated Press did report this, but in the second to last paragraph of a piece published Friday entitled "Obama Denounces Emphasis On Health Care Protests":

The American College of Surgeons also weighed in by criticizing comments Obama made in New Hampshire and at a news conference last month suggesting that doctors might be motivated by profit to amputate a diabetic's foot or remove a child's tonsils. 

That was it! From what I could find, that was all the attention our major print media gave to this matter.

As for television, the only news outlet that considered this relevant was Fox News. I could find nothing about it on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, or MSNBC.


I guess the current President can basically say whatever he feels like and so-called journalists in our nation will just turn their backs.

Isn't that special?

Noel Sheppard's picture

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