If you have conservative relatives, perhaps you've been forwarded an ominous email like the following:
I had one of the most troubling, most disturbing conversations ever with Julie’s sister-in-law, Dr. Suzanne Allen, head of emergency services at the Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee.
We were discussing the “future” and I asked her had she seen any affects of Obama Care in her work?
“Oh, yes. We are seeing cutbacks throughout the services we provide. For example, we are now having to deal with patients who would normally receive dialysis can no longer be accepted. In the past, there was always automatic approval under Medicare for anyone who needed dialysis — not anymore.” So, what will be their outcome? “They will die soon without dialysis,” she stated.
Factcheck.org offers a debunking of the story, which is pretty ridiculous on its face. Dr Allen is purportedly speaking in the present tense about a law that still has not gone into effect. The vague claim of cutbacks in Medicare forcing patients off dialysis is not connected to any reported event in Tennessee or anywhere else in the real-world United States.
Yet on the other hand, Suzanne Allen does exist, she does work at the Johnson Medical Center, and she may well have said something pessimistic to a visitor to her house, who knows? Doctors are human beings like anybody else, they have opinions, and not always well-founded ones. The fact that Factcheck's debunking cites a spokesman for the Johnson City Medical Center—rather than Dr Allen herself—may suggest that indeed the words in the email do bear some resemblance to something Dr Allen actually said to somebody.
If any of those hypotheses are true, the author of this email, although paranoid and hyperbolic, might at least be something less than an outright and deliberate liar. But then I get this in my email box over the weekend:
In a conversation about the "future," Dr. Suzanne Allen, head of emergency services at the Wilson Medical Center in Toronto, was asked if she has seen any affects of the upgraded health Care in her work. "Oh, yes. We are seeing cutbacks throughout the services we provide. For example, we are now having to deal with patients who would normally receive dialysis can no longer be accepted.
In the past, there was always automatic approval under OHIP for anyone who needed dialysis --not anymore." So, what will be their outcome? "They will die soon without dialysis," she stated. What about other services? She indicated as of 2013 , no one over 75 will be given major medical procedures unless approved by locally administered Ethics Panels.
Somebody has gone to the trouble of editing the Allen letter to change the place references so as to make a point about Canada. That is an outright and deliberate lying.
And as someone who is forwarded a great many of these kinds of emails by baffled and frightened friends and relatives, I can only marvel at how much of this kind of lying occurs, committed by people whose passionate partisanship has led them to a purely instrumental view of truth. Such people have always existed. But never before in American history have they had so many and such effective ways of reaching a mass audience—or had a mass audience so eager to be duped.