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A doctor’s message for Nick Kristof — and NYTimes readers point out more holes

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 30, 2009 08:19 PM

In response to the NYTimes’ crappiest column on Obamacare ever, which I dissected earlier today, a neurologist in Oregon has posted the following noteworthy and newsworthy comment on columnist Nick Kristof’s blog:

In all due respect, this patient did not come see me. If he had and needed care he would get it. Cavernous hemangiomas have a low bleed rate and are only excised if surgery is low risk. They rarely result in a catastrophic bleed. I have many paitients that are observed with cavernomas rather than surgically excised. Others undergo craniotomy for resection. I suspect this journalist is bending the facts because he has an agenda. The gentleman with the cavernoma is welcome to call my office and I will see him. I would ask that the writers of the New York Times write factual editorials rather than sensationalizing a story. You are not being helpful.

Johnny Delashaw
Professor of Neurological Surgery
Oregon Health Sciences University
Portland Oregon

And from another commenter friendly to Kristof who asks more pertinent policy questions than Kristof did:

I don’t understand why Mr. Brodiak was not directed by an Oregon Health Plan (OHP) caseworker to a hospital that accepts OHP covered patients. I am surprised that Mr. Brodniak could not have surgery at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) which is the major research hospital in Portland, and I believe it accepts patients with Oregon Health Plan (OHP) insurance under CareOregon. It seems unlikely that they don’t have a salaried neurosurgeon on staff and that this prestigious hospital would not accept this patient? If this is the case, the hospital and physicians should be investigated by OHP.

Have you contacted OHP to determine if ANY neurosurgeons in Oregon see and treat OHP patients? Please contact OHSU and verify that they could not or would not treat Mr. Brodniak. Please write a follow-up article and clarify this situation.

Another commenter adds:

I simply cannot believe that every neurosurgeon in the state of Oregon denied this patient the surgery that he stated was necessary. Before rushing to judgement, I think the public is entitled to all the facts in this case–why didn’t the New York Times interview the neurosurgeons to asertain why surgery may or may not be the best option for this patient?
— Theresa Ryan

And another:

Article says: “With John unable to work, he lost his job — and his insurance coverage. Esther had insurance for herself and for her two children (from a previous marriage) through her job building manufactured homes. But she couldn’t add John to her plan because of his pre-existing condition.”

This is false. The HIPAA Act of 1996, signed by Pres. Clinton, PROHIBITS precisely this type of “pre-existing condition exclusion.” John losing his job is what the law defines as a “qualifying life event,” at which point his wife could have added him to her plan within 30 days of the event WITHOUT any exclusion whatsoever.

This article is just plan wrong — NONE of this had to happen to John, without ANY “health reform.”… See More

And by the way, if this health reform passes, John will be hit with a huge tax penalty, since he can’t afford insurance. And if he can’t pay the penalty, he could go to jail.
— Robert A. Book

And another:

To all those who want the doctors who treat this patient for free:

1. Are farmers “greedy” because there is hunger in this world and they dont give everyone who asks free food? Is everyone who lives in a house “greedy” because there are homeless people who are not allowed to choose a house and demand part of it be given rent-free? The ludicrous nature of these demands to have doctors required to treat patients for free just because they have a serious illness is apparent from these analogies. If the government wants people treated (which they dont since it would cost too much), they would pay the costof the operation rather than undercost (even public utilities get cost plus 3%)…To the commenter who seriously compared pro bono work (where lawyers are actually paid and do not have to pay the hospital) to this surgery, I would recommend you learn more about the legal field…

2. This patient’s story obviously makes no sense and is likely mere propaganda/lack of factchecking by Mr. Kristof. I say this because of the lack of treatment at OHSU (the natural choice for any patient in these circumstances), the lack of surgery after the initial tests/hospitalization (again unlikely and probably indicative this tumor is inoperable), the unfamiliarity with EMTALA rules in the article (no ER can refuse service to ANYONE in this country), etc. I look forward to the eventual retraction in the ombudsman section….

Oh, and another:

My heart goes out to Mr. Brodniak and his family. I feel, though, that there must be more to this story than just what was reported. Academic and teaching hospitals are required by law to take medicaid reimbursement as payment in full, regardless of their customary fees. This is because hospital resident physicians are paid with federal GME funding, not out of the general operating costs of the hospital. Mr Brodniak’s medicaid could be denied by private hospitals which do not have GME funded residents, but not by any of the state or academic hospitals.
— Stephen Minehart

Kristof still hasn’t responded to exposure of all the holes in his piece. And I’m still waiting on a response from Oregon Medicaid officials. I’ll post any updates.

Long on emotionalism. Short on facts. When you’re the Fishwrap of Record, that’s not crap. It’s Pulitzer Prize-level journalism.

***

Where’s that NYTimes “opinion media monitor” when you need him/her?

NYTimes ombudsman Clark Hoyt’s contact info:

Contact

* E-mail: public@nytimes.com
* Phone: (212) 556-7652
* Address: Public Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

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