Michael Moore-Sanjay Gupta Showdown Inspires Most Earnest Gawker Commenting, Like, Ever

2007-07-11-Guptastic.JPGSomething interesting is happening on Gawker right now — intelligent, impassioned, earnest discussion! Guess we weren't the only ones unimpressed with the Larry King-Sanjay Gupta shout-down of Michael Moore last night, incredulous that we are that Moore was even capable of being so expertly cut off and, on a larger level, the facts so insidiously obfuscated. But back to the comments: Lots of good points raised by lots of commenters, but particularly by one who calls himself "TheDecider" who picks up on Mooore's assertion that the one expert used in Gupta's "fact check" — one Paul Keckley — is actually "from a think tank group who is a big Republican contributor" who has "done business with Blue Cross, with Avantis" and other HMO-esque groups. Gupta responded that "His only affiliation is with Vanderbilt University. We checked it, Michael." — but on his web site, Moore notes that Keckley left Vanderbilt in 2006. Now his page is still up on the Vanderbilt website and there could still be an affiliation — and CNN ID'd him as being a Deloitte health care analyst, so no harm no foul so far — except that Gupta said that Vanderbilt was his "only affiliation," and Moore clearly establishes that Keckly is nothing if not well-affiliated, most notably with several HMOs.

Plus, there's his area of expertise: Keckley was formerly the Executive Director, Vanderbilt Center for Evidence-based Medicine. What's "evidence-based medicine," you ask? The Nashville Business Journal explains it like so:

"evidence-based medicine is that, by identifying medical best practices by researching patient populations, guidelines can be formed that will lead to more effective care and cost reductions."

Sounds great — but a little Luntz-esque to my ears, and anytime you've got an emphasis on "cost reductions" where health care is concerned, alarm bells should probably go off. But even if they do not — the Deloitte think-tank headed by Keckley addresses various public health issues, including the issue of coverage for the uninsured — there's the weird, unsupported assertions he made in the Gupta piece: "That's the reality of those [government-provided healthcare] systems. There are quotas. There are planned wait times." Wha? This statement came right after a diss on Canadian wait times, and as a Canadian who grew up not knowing what a co-pay was I can say that those two concepts sound utterly unfamiliar to me, unless "planned wait times" is code for "scheduling appointments on a specific date," which sort of sounds pretty standard. The notion of quotas/applying specific metrics to health care does arise in Sicko (as does the notion of long, long wait times), but either way, Gupta's report introduces these concepts into the discussion with no context or explanation — just as another means to inveigh darkly against the scary threat of universal healthcare without actually providing the facts to back it up.

So! Just wanted to clear that up. Keeping them honest, right?