Fudging the truth on health care


Geraldine Sealey
February 24, 2004 2:35AM (UTC)

The New York Times ran a story over the weekend following up on the news last week that more than 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, criticized the Bush administration for manipulating science to defend its policies on issues such as the environment, arms control and public health. The latest example is the administration's admission that it "improperly altered a report documenting large racial and ethnic disparities in health care," as the Times put it.

It's worth reading over the statements that were dropped from the final version of the report, because, in deputy assistant health secretary Arthur Lawrence's view, the original version was "highly focused on the health care system's supposed failings and flaws," thus "lacking balance." Lawrence also thought geography, income and other factors could be more important than race, and that the report should place more emphasis on "personal responsibility for one's own health status" and on "problems with the medical malpractice system."

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Here's what was deleted:
"We aspire to equality of opportunities for all our citizens. Persistent disparities in health care are inconsistent with our core values."
"Disparities come at a personal and societal price."
"Compared with whites, blacks experience longer waits in emergency departments and are more likely to leave without being seen."
When hospitalized for heart attacks, "Hispanics are less likely to receive optimal care."
According to the Times, "the original report included a stark, prominent statement that 'black children have much higher hospitalization rates for asthma than white children.' The final version included the data, without comment."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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