Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dr. Sanjay Gupta Breaks Down The Bipartisan Health Care Summit

Update: Hey guys. I'm taking a bit of a blogging break and will most likely return on Tuesday or Wednesday. In the meantime, you can check out my new Chile Twitter list for on-the-ground updates on that situation. What a world we live in, huh?

Hi everyone. Keeping with our revolving roster of CNN talent, tonight Sanjay Gupta finds himself in Anderson Cooper's anchor chair. The walking toothpaste commercial has subbing duties? Oh yes. I suppose it makes sense, given that those two letters behind his name do tend to denote some skills regarding health care. And that is what we find ourselves talking about tonight. Well, health care reform, anyway. Well, health care insurance reform. Well,...yeah.

Today our prez and congress peeps from both sides of the political aisle locked themselves in a room for a gazillion hours to talk argue posture about that whole health care bill thing. At least, that's what the Internets told me was the impression you got from the news people on the TeeVee. I wasn't able to watch the summit (job thing kept me busy-gotta keep that insurance!), but apparently cable coverage was sucko all around.

Now, for the aftermath. We begin with an Ed Henry piece that meticulously analyzes statements made by the participants and fact checks them against verifiable data. I kid! That would be way too helpful! No, this is all about who got in the best zingers and pushed their talking points. Speaking of which, did you see Obama telling McCain "the election's over"? (I know you did, since every media outlet has played it a zillion times.) All together now: oh snap! Thanks media! (To be fair, there was a fact-check in this piece regarding CBO numbers.)

Next up, discussion with David Gergen, Dr. Bernadine Healy of U.S. News & World Report, and cardiologist Dr. Sandeep Jauhar. I'm not really sure what to do with this. Dr. Healy accused Obama of having a rigid "one-size-fits-all" policy for every American and I would have liked to hear more about that complaint--specifically whether or not it has any merit. But this is cable news, so...yeah. These panels can be rather worthless.

On to Jessica Yellin at the Magic Wall to explain reconciliation. You know all that stuff you learned in your high school government class? Forget all that. See, we live in bizarro world where 41 votes can actually quash the majority. Operating in a sane system, a simple majority of 51 votes would be able to pass health care reform. Well, that sane system exists and it is called reconciliation.

Thing is, it's usually only used for important stuff like budgets, and hey, it's not like health care reform is crucial or anything. I'm sure those millions without insurance can wait. So anyway, the threat of this maneuver has predictably sparked outrage (OUTRAGE!) in Republicans, but Democrats need to man up and tell them to suck it. Also? Stop jerking us around on the public option. This was an informative little segment. Good job.

Back to the panel now. Not a lot to note here, though the Gerg does do some eye roll-worthy hand-wringing over passing the bill along party lines. Newsflash to the Gerg: the Republicans are never going to vote for this. Ever. The actual legislation doesn't even matter. They will not vote for it. The Village needs to get over themselves and realize that bipartisanship is not the end all and be all. As for public polling? Americans want reform, they just don't know if they want what's being proposed. Gee, I wonder why.

Hey, you know how I said the summit was a gazillion hours long? Well, this necessitated a need to break for lunch. And CNN thinks it would be helpful if we took a look at the menu. Obama had the chicken, you know, in case you were wondering. Thanks media!

Moving on to a Tom Foreman piece on the day's showmanship, because I guess we haven't covered that enough yet. He brings us the health care reform summit in four acts. Act one, bitching over speaking time. Act two, Obama called everyone by their first name, while they were forced to call him Mr. President (suckers!). Act three, props. Gotta tout that massive bill. And act four, monologuing. Remember, the thing went on for hours. Tom does not mention if this play was a comedy or tragedy.

Next up, Sanjay lays some facts on us regarding tort reform. About a million people claim injury due to malpractice every year, with about 85,000 of them filing suit. Only a fraction see any money, though there are always the rare cases that see a lot of money, thus causing people to get up in arms. Sanjay tells us that according to the CBO, malpractice payouts only amount to two percent of health care costs.

But! Defensive medicine costs us about $850 billion a year, and some malpractice insurance is so high in some places that doctors can't even keep practicing. This segues us into discussion with Anthony Tarricone, president of the American Association of Justice, and Dr. Albert Strunk, vice president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology. They duke it out on tort reform, but meh. I'd rather just hear Sanjay give us more facts on the matter. I've learned nothing here because I can't trust these people and no one is holding them accountable.

After that segment, we get Sanjay's piece from yesterday on hospital costs, which you might recall I praised. The country would be in so much better shape on the overall issue of health care reform if the majority of coverage focused on fact-based reporting. For the love of God, stop with the horse race focus. This is life and death here. Anyway, since our CNN friends didn't do it, check out to find out the summit's untruths.

Transitioning now to discussion with Dan Buettner, author of "The Blue Zones." I guess it's that time again. It seems like every year or so Dan shows up on 360 to say the exact same things about living longer. But I'm not really complaining. Who doesn't want tips for living longer? So, according to Dan, first thing you need to do is make sure to eat a big breakfast. Ruh roh. Great, first one and already I'm going to die young.

Then there's the suggestion to eat less meat and more vegetables, which sounds reasonable. And finally, have lots of sex! Oh my. Okay, the actual word Dan used was "regular" and he clarifies that he doesn't know if sex made the group he's referring to live longer or if they lived longer to have sex. Hm. The world may never know.

For the "shot" tonight...happy birthday Jessica Yellin! She had the headlines for us and now she is being presented with a carrot cake, with candles and everything. Jessica is way more excited about this than the Silver Fox ever is for his surprises. She blows out her candles and wants to slice that sucker right there. But the hilarious (and some might say cruel) part is when the cake's calorie and fat content pop up on the massive wall behind her. You know, we'd probably be a much fitter country if every American had their own Magic Wall that did that.

The show was okay. I vaguely recall Sanjay anchoring the broadcast once a couple years ago and not having the best time of it. Maybe I'm misremembering. In any regards, he did a very smooth job tonight. But I have to say, I'm a little disappointed because his medical expertise was underused. We actually had ourselves a doctor and he barely challenged anybody on anything. I think we get more from him as a panelist. The factual reporting was all good (though way too brief). I think I made clear how I feel about the horse race reporting. That'll do it.

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