This one stands out, Taylor said: deaths preventable by medical care—that means deaths that could have been prevented had care been available. In 1998, the US ranked 15th out of the 19 countries studied. In 2003, the US ranked 19th, dead last in the group. There are, unfortunately, many more troubling stats about problems in our healthcare system, from many sources, such as the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation or OECD, which has comprehensive comparisons on healthcare outcomes between various nations.

It’s time to reexamine the trusty $716 billion cut claim, too, because the GOP is putting a new twist on the argument, as Romney did during the debate—a contention that this cut in future spending to providers will cut Medicare benefits to seniors, in the end, on the grounds that providers with reduced fees will cut services. In the debate, Romney claimed that some 15 percent of hospitals and nursing homes and 50 percent of doctors say they won’t take any more Medicare patients “under that scenario.”

Since older people make up the bulk of hospital and nursing home admissions and physician practices, that sounds absurdly high, and the press should check it out.


Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.