Friday, October 17, 2014


A Daily Caller story is at going viral on the right:
US Ebola Hospital Laid Off Staff Due To Obamacare, Now Has Staff Constraints

The Nebraska hospital at the center of U.S. medical efforts to fight Ebola recently laid off staff due to budget cuts caused by Obamacare, and its Ebola-fighting resources are now limited due to staff constraints.

The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha recently treated journalist Ashoka Mukpo after the NBC News freelancer contracted Ebola. The center is one of the only hospitals in the country that can adequately treat Ebola patients in its biocontainment units.....

But the center's Ebola-fighting capacity is limited due in part to staff constraints.

"That's pretty much the level of staffing that we have as well," said the center's biocontainment unit nursing director Shelly Schwedhelm, referring to the center’s capability to hold only two or three Ebola patients at once.

The Nebraska Medical Center announced 38 layoffs, including those of top officials, in October 2012 with more possible layoffs to come. The center directly blamed the layoffs on decreased revenue from Obamacare's reduction of Medicare reimbursement rates....
Is this story accurate? Is the Nebraska Medical Center's biocontainment unit short-staffed because of Obamacare?

No. Here's what the biocontainment unit's nursing director actually said about limitations on the Center's ability to take on Ebola patients, according to the story the Caller linked:
Shelly Schwedhelm said the med center's 10-bed unit is "prepared to take on more than one patient." But Schwedhelm said the autoclave equipment -- the technology that sterilizes items with high-pressure steam -- would limit the unit's capacity to two or three Ebola patients at once.

"That's pretty much the level of staffing that we have as well," Schwedhelm said.
Right -- as Rachel Maddow explained at some length last night, this unit maintains sanitary conditions by autoclaving gowns, gloves, human waste -- pretty much everything that comes into the unit. That's the reason for the patient limit: how much its autoclave equipment can handle. Presumably the staffing level is adjusted accordingly.

Were there layoffs at Nebraska Medical Center? Yes -- the hospital announced the layoff of 38 people (out of a staff of 5,200) in October 2012, "citing reducing costs, changes in the marketplace and a reduction in the growth of Medicare spending," according to AP. But as an Omaha World-Herald story preserved at Free Republic makes clear, it's a distortion of the facts to say flatly that the layoffs were the result of Obamacare:
Reimbursement rates for Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older, have been targeted under federal health care reform. It's possible that the rates will be further reduced Jan. 1 when automatic spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect. Couple that with ongoing federal deficit-reduction discussions, and hospital officials recognize the need to look hard at controlling costs, said Adrian Sanchez, a spokesman for the Nebraska Hospital Association.
(Emphasis added.)

Right -- Republicans demagogue this issue shamelessly while demanding cuts of their own. The Paul Ryan budget passed by the Republican-controlled House in 2012 had the same Medicare cuts. And Republicans howl endlessly about deficits.

So this Daily Caller story is dishonest in more than one way. Just another day at the office for the right-wing noise machine.


Victor said...

Even Chubby Checker couldn't twist his body, like the Reich-Wing media twist the news!

The New York Crank said...

The story must be true. It says so right there in the Daily Caller.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank