Two examples of shoddy journalism that irked me.
The first, described on Twitter as being an example of “Tory values”:
In a bid to crack down on so-called ‘health tourism’, 20 NHS trusts across the country have taken part in a government pilot scheme to trial identity checks for patients. The results of the pilots are due to be published later this year, but doctors, patients and health organisations have spoken to Politics.co.uk to raise serious concerns about the impact they have had.
“One of the worst cases involved a pregnant French woman who was of Asian descent,” one doctor says. “She arrived for a routine scan and was asked by reception staff if she was eligible for free care. She told them that she was French and had never needed to provide ID before. The receptionist told her that she didn’t ‘seem French’ and called the Paying Patients department to question her further.
“The woman was so upset by what was happening that she had a panic attack. I was called to check her over. I had to tell the Paying Patients department to leave the room because they had upset her so much.”
Sorry, but this doesn’t pass the smell test. Firstly, French people habitually carry ID with them everywhere and I doubt it’s a habit they ditch when they move to the UK unless they’ve been there many, many years. And to access the healthcare system in France they need to produce a separate carte vitale, which most French people carry in their wallets alongside their ID. It is therefore highly unlikely a pregnant French woman went to a hospital expecting treatment without bringing some form of ID. It is even less likely she had a panic attack on being asked for some.
Secondly, I have a hard time believing a hospital receptionist said she didn’t “seem French”: this isn’t the 1970s, and even the NHS would have given their receptionists some rudimentary training as to how to deal with those without ID. According to the journalist who wrote it, the doctor witnessed the whole thing – yet later she says he or she was “called to check her over”. Did the doctor stand idly by as this woman went into a panic attack, waiting to be called over? And who called her? Or was she actually out of earshot when the “didn’t seem French” remark was made (which I suspect is more likely) in which case who are we relying on for the quote?
This whole thing looks to me like an embellished story fed to a gullible reporter by an anonymous doctor who doesn’t like the policy. As a piece of journalism, it fails to establish key details of the story and doesn’t make sense even on a superficial level.
The BBC, reporting on the withdrawal of subsidies to health insurance companies, doesn’t do much better:
US President Donald Trump will end subsidies to health insurance providers designed to help low income households, as he continues his attempts to dismantle Obamacare.
The White House announced the move hours after Mr Trump signed an executive order allowing the sale of health insurance plans which are exempt from some of the law’s regulations.
The announcements come after Congress repeatedly failed to repeal Obamacare.
They were instantly criticised.
Democratic Party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement denouncing the end of subsidies as a “spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage” which would harm the poorest citizens.
Meanwhile, critics of the initial announcement argued it could de-stabilise the Obamacare market by encouraging healthy consumers to leave their current plans, prompting a spike in premium costs for older Americans and those with pre-existing conditions.
According to a statement from the White House, the subsidies, which run into billions each year, were not legal.
This might come as a surprise to the BBC, but rulings on legality are not made in the White House but in courts. As the Washington Post reported last August:
Republicans have long protested the payments, and in late 2014 the GOP-led House filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration, contending that the subsidies were unconstitutional because Congress had not made a specific appropriation for them. Last year a federal district court ruled in the House’s favor, and the Obama administration appealed the case to the D.C. Circuit.
All Trump has done is stop the appeal. The illegality of the payments is therefore not a matter of a White House statement, implying its merely Trump’s opinion, but something ruled upon by a federal court. It’s yet another example of Obama deciding to do things on his own without consulting Congress, as he was constitutionally obliged to do. Not that you’d know that if you relied on the BBC for information.