Nancy Snyderman's Fluffy Health Care News Show

Crossposted from DailyKos.

It yanks my chain whenever I see a show like MSNBC is putting on at noon Monday through Friday. Health care is at a tipping point, so what does MSNBC do? They put on fluff. She gets meaty guests, then flubs it. This interview with Tom Daschale is all broad strokes and no nitty gritty. She asks some tough questions, but lets Daschale skate without answering them.

Dr. Snyderman has been around tv for years. She was on ABC regularly. Now she's got her own spot on MSNBC at noon. The problem is she relies too much on her "authority" as an MD and she doesn't do what it takes to back up what she says.

Dr. Snyderman, trying to win an argument by saying, "Because I said so" or "I've read the research and it says I'm right on this" (without citing the source) doesn't do it for me. Take a page from Ross Perot's book and do the charts and show them to your audience. Cite your sources, don't use suspect sources. Spend less time grinding your ax and spend more time exploring ideas different than your own.

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So, I've written a letter to Dr. Snyderman. I originally sent a similar letter to her via email to her show, but since then, I've made a few changes and decided to put it here. I would send her this piece, but I don't think the links will do well in their email/comment system.

Dr. Snyderman,

I've watched you over the years on MSNBC and on ABC. I'm disappointed with your take on health care reform and suppose you have come to your biases from your experiences as a physician. You need to look at health care from the perspective of someone earning the mean income in the U.S. today, about $50,223 per year. $15,000 estimated family health care costs is just shy of 30% of that annual income and remember 50% of all incomes are BELOW that $50,223 number.. If you make $300k like many surgeons do, $15k is only 5% of the income. This colors the health care debate and you don't talk about that - maybe because you can't relate to it. ...and you promote taxing health benefits to encourage "responsible" consumer health care spending? You just increased that percentage from 30% to 34.5% for people earning at the mean and less than 2 points for you. That's an incredibly regressive approach to health care, perhaps elitist is a more appropriate description.

I have other issues with your approach to health care.

You don't quote peer reviewed sources for your opinions. You don't back up your assertions. Being an MD doesn't excuse you from citing sources. You don't point out that the Lewin Group is owned by UHC and make that disclaimer whenever anyone cites their publishings. You don't point this out unlike one of your coworkers who does. This is a serious academic issue that makes their findings in their studies suspect. You have a reputation for being a stickler for following rules. Why are you giving this organization a pass? If any pundit on your show quotes this source you need to call them out. Maybe you should let the "taxing soda" subject slide and focus on how some lawmakers use suspect sources to advance their health care agenda or maybe what a good source looks like.

You don't talk about how the U.S. rations health care. The U.S. rations care solely upon the patient's ability to pay for it whether it be out of their own pocket, their insurance (they pay for) or through Worker's compensation or Medicaid. This is disingenuous at best. Health care is already rationed, but you seem to think this is a future issue that will affect us after health care reform. You are wrong. People are denied care every day because they can't pay for it or can't get their insurance to pay for the care they need. You spend a lot of time on the money aspect of health care reform but nothing on how little value we get for the $2.35-$2.51 trillion we spend now for health care (depending upon source).

You don't talk about the bureaucrat that is between the patient and their doctor in U.S. medicine today and that's the case manager hired by the insurance company to countermand the physician's orders. You love to talk about rationing care, but somehow don't talk about how insurance companies ration care. I would think you would be talking about this bureaucrat every chance you get and how they make decisions counter to yours. You don’t explain how capricious and arbitrary our health care system is compounded by the patient’s personal wealth and insurance plan.

You talk about the "Public Option" (Check out pg 7 where 83% like it) as if it gives you a bad taste in your mouth. You don't talk about how Tricare has the highest customer satisfaction rate (for 6 years running) in the country followed by Medicare satisfaction rates and people on FEHB plans are as happy as the rest us. You don't talk about the fears of people who don't have government plans. If the government is going to "screw up" health care so bad, then why don't you ask the next Senator or Representative if they plan on letting FEHB go and getting their own individual health plan?

Lastly, where on earth did the media get the idea that 90% of the U.S. population has insurance? More importantly, why aren't you challenging this perception? You don't explain what happens to people who have periods of lapsed coverage. You don't talk about people who lose Medicaid mid course of treatment. You don't talk about 50% of people earning less than $40,000 per year routinely put off medical care. You focus on personal responsibility for our health but don't talk about people forced to put off care due to unaffordability. You focus on illegal alien issue and ditch the uncompensated care issue and don't wade into the cost shifting issue. With 50 million people uninsured at least once during a calender year, that means the preexisting clock is reset. That means 50 million people "think" they have insurance until catastrophe strikes. Do you know about recission? Why don't you talk about it? The fact is that insurance companies do a crappy job at servicing their customers and are afraid that people would opt for a government plan like Tricare. What people want is a public plan that enforces a medical cost lost ratio of 85-86%, no preexisting conditions and portability. I would think you could see that and would talk about it more objectively than you do.

Do us a favor. Do a real health care oriented show that does more than fluff pieces.

Please show your analytical abilities.

  1. Say you know the Lewin Group is a suspect source and reference good sources of information.
  1. Honestly assess health care rationing in the U.S. Plenty of people talk about how health care rationing in the U.S. is done by insurance company bureaucrats and our ability to pay for our care - you should join us.
  1. Say that there are long waiting periods for care in the U.S. - that disabled people who qualify for SSDI then have to wait 2 years (usually uninsured) before they can get onto Medicare. That's a heck of a waiting period, don't you think.
  1. Do better. You don't have to be a wonk. Just be more honest than you are now.


Perhaps you may want to add your input to Dr. Snyderman's show and would like to send her an email as well. You can do that here.

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mommapolitico's picture

I, too, am amazed that they have put this gal in the MSNBC lineup. SHe's never been a standout at ABC or anywhere else, and is clearly out of her league with the top-notch talent they've been dumping in her lap. Would really love to know the rationale...any idea?



Perry MacNeil
AKA Momma Politico