Our congressman, Rep. Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Great Bend) voted for the American Health Care Act, saying it would be good for patients and good for Kansas hospitals.
However, he was contradicted by Andrew Gurman , M.D., president of the American Medical Association, who warned that the AHCA would cause “serious harm to patients and the health care delivery system.”
Rep. Marshall, what do you know that the AMA does not?
In a telephone conference following the passage of the bill, reporters gave Rep. Marshall plenty of opportunities to answer that question. They repeatedly confronted Rep. Marshall with the fact that what he says about the bill is just the opposite of what health care experts say about it.
But the congressman avoided the substance of those questions. He never challenged critics’ methodology, data, or assumptions. Instead, if a conclusion undermined his narrative, he dismissed or disparaged the source.
For example, when told that Sheldon Weisgrau, the director of Kansas’ Health Reform Resource Project, says “AHCA would mean less money for Kansas because it cuts Medicaid and over the next 10 years will cause 24 million people to lose insurance,” Marshall said, “I have never heard of Sheldon Whatever-his-last-name-is, so I’m not sure what kind of expert I would consider him.”
When asked why the American Hospital Association and the National Rural Health Association oppose the AHCA, if it’s so good for hospitals, especially rural hospitals, Marshall replied, “I don’t think they totally understand the bill.”
When told that numerous analysts say the AHCA would hurt “the elderly, the disabled, and especially those in categories of low-income,” Marshall said, “That’s what the national media wants to spin.”
But there is one source Rep. Marshall does not discredit: Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, a long-time proponent of reducing funding for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In the same interview in which Marshall made the infamous comments about the poor not wanting health care, he also said he considered Price “a brother.”
Rep. Marshall faithfully echoes what Price says about the AHCA. But in a recent interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Price earned Four Pinocchios from Fact Checker at the Washington Post for his misleading claims about the AHCA.
So what evidence is there that Rep. Marshall’s nice-sounding promises are actually true, and not just an effort to get us to accept the right-wing’s long-held goal — to reduce public benefits and transfer that money to the rich?
That question dominated Rep. Marshall’s town hall in Wamego on May 10. Over and over again, constituents asked him: Where is your evidence, Rep. Marshall? What studies or data are you relying on? What are your views based upon?
He had no answer! He asked us simply to trust his years of experience as a physician.
But Rep. Marshall, the American Medical Association has a few years of experience, too. And unlike you, the AMA uses data, studies, and analysis. They’re the ones telling us the AHCA would cause “serious harm” to Kansans and Kansas hospitals. You can’t dispute that conclusion — but you voted for the bill anyway? How then can you say you are keeping your physicians’ oath to “do no harm?”
If the health care system gets worse, rather than better — if your claims turn out to be as baseless as they currently appear — right-wing catch phrases will not protect Kansans from increased physical suffering or financial pain.
— Margy Stewart lives in Junction City.