CBS adds nothing to McAllen, TX story

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Last week I praised the CBS Evening News for a piece on overuse of angioplasty.

Tonight I must criticize them for junk journalism on the McAllen, TX story.

They went to McAllen, admitting that they were simply following the Atul Gawande article, “Cost Conundrum” in The New Yorker.

But then they added nothing to the story, in fact, detracting from the original piece with this exchange:

“We need to think about reforming the payment system to start rewarding providers for providing better value not just for doing more services,” says Dr. Elliott Fischer.

Back in McAllen, Ruben Ramirez, who sees four different doctors per month, says he should have all the care he needs for his bad back, diabetes and erratic blood pressure.

He told (the CBS reporter) he wants more care, not less.

“That’s what I would like,” he says.

A total non-sequitur. Is the value and are the services discussed by Fisher (yes, it’s Fisher, not Fischer as CBS incorrectly put on its website) the services Ramirez needs?
We don’t know. That would require journalism.

If you want to deconstruct the Gawande piece, there are many ways to do it. Lord knows, many have tried to do so in the past two weeks. But this wasn’t one that contributed anything meaningful to the public discussion.

It simply showed, “Oh, yeah, we read The New Yorker, too!”

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Jody Schoger

June 15, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Excellent as always. Thank you. I’ve been screaming to anyone who would listen about the majority of health care reporting after I was treated for cancer. After I studied the disease and treatments, a lot of the health reports (electronic media) seemed almost laughable. You could almost go to PR newswire to see what institution had presented their “discovery for the day.”