August 13, 2009

Surgical Strike: Surgeons’ Group Blasts Obama’s $30K-$50K Leg/Foot Amputation Claim

The White House’s perpetual campaign site, er, home page, currently has rotating messages at the top left. Two of them relate to health care (yellow underlines are mine):


The administration would be well-advised to hold back on the blather about “blatant falsehoods” and “misinformation” until their guy in charge stops disseminating them himself.

Take Obama’s claim that the surgeon’s fee for a single leg/foot amputation is $30,000 – $50,000 (please).

Here, from the White House’s transcript of the President’s Tuesday appearance in Portsmouth, NH, is the beginning of what Obama had to say in comparing the costs involved in preventive care against diabetes to the cost of one of its potential consequences:

So we are going to be taking steps, as part of reform, to deal with expanding primary care physicians and our nursing corps. On the doctors’ front, one of the things we can do is to reimburse doctors who are providing preventive care and not just the surgeon who provides care after somebody is sick. (Applause.) Nothing against surgeons. I want surgeons — I don’t want to be getting a bunch of letters from surgeons now. I’m not dissing surgeons here. (Laughter.)

He probably wasn’t going to get many letters at that point, but in his next statement, he guaranteed a groundswell of well-deserved outrage (bold is mine):

All I’m saying is let’s take the example of something like diabetes, one of — a disease that’s skyrocketing, partly because of obesity, partly because it’s not treated as effectively as it could be. Right now if we paid a family — if a family care physician works with his or her patient to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they’re taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance. But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that’s $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 — immediately the surgeon is reimbursed. Well, why not make sure that we’re also reimbursing the care that prevents the amputation, right? That will save us money. (Applause.)

And they said that George W. Bush was out of touch.

Yesterday, The American College of Surgeons struck back — hard (HT the Corner), and reminded the public that this isn’t the first time in recent weeks that the President has misrepresented and/or smeared these professionals (bolds are mine):

CHICAGO—The American College of Surgeons is deeply disturbed over the uninformed public comments President Obama continues to make about the high-quality care provided by surgeons in the United States. When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform. We want to set the record straight.

Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.

Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon’s decision to remove a child’s tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what’s right for the patient.

We agree with the President that the best thing for patients with diabetes is to manage the disease proactively to avoid the bad consequences that can occur, including blindness, stroke, and amputation. But as is the case for a person who has been treated for cancer and still needs to have a tumor removed, or a person who is in a terrible car crash and needs access to a trauma surgeon, there are times when even a perfectly managed diabetic patient needs a surgeon. The President’s remarks are truly alarming and run the risk of damaging the all-important trust between surgeons and their patients.

We assume that the President made these mistakes unintentionally, but we would urge him to have his facts correct before making another inflammatory and incorrect statement about surgeons and surgical care.

If a Republican or conservative had committed such an obvious gaffe, it would be front-page news. But then, so would “inhalator,” “57 states,” “Arkansas is closer to Kentucky than Illinois,” and any number of other howlers that the establishment media has ignored out of this guy for about two years.

The surgeons should therefore no be surprised if there is media near-silence on the latest error. In fact, they should expect it. Heck, on the high end of what Medicare pays, it’s “only” overstates the cost of an amputation by a factor of 26 to 44.

Cross-posted at

Patterico Busts Houston Grad Student/Obama Delegate Posing As Doctor


Topside Update, 2:15 p.m.: Imagine that — Roxana Mayer was also an Organizing For America “host” during the Texas primary last year.


Anyone visiting here even semi-regularly knows that the establishment media consistently fails to determine the legitimacy of people who “say the right things.” Further, when someone else, often a blogger, digs and finds the truth, the reporters and publications involved may sometimes grudgingly acknowledge it, but even then usually incompletely; and more often than not, they won’t give credit where due.

This all-too-typical scenario has played out in the past two days in the case of a certain Roxana Mayer. In two posts (here and here), LA-area blogger Patterico, best known for his relentless skewering of the target-rich environment known as the Los Angeles Times, exposed Ms. Mayer, who claimed to be a doctor when she spoke at a town hall meeting held by Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (and who later hugged her, as seen at the top right), as a leftist fraud.

As Patterico noted in the title of his second post, Mayer’s mantra ought to be “I’m Not a Doctor But I Play One at Town Hall Meetings.” Patterico also showed that Mayer was also a Texas Obama delegate at last year’s Democratic Convention.

At first, the Houston Chronicle took Mayer’s word that she is a doctor, failed to investigate her bona fides, and reported the following:

Some attendees at the meeting spoke in favor of the plan, go (sic — going?) so far as to want a system where the government had complete control.

One supporter, Dr. Roxana Mayer, a physician who does not live in Jackson Lee’s district, praised the reform plan for overhauling a broken system.

“I don’t know what there is in the bill that creates such panic,” she said.

Suspicious, Patterico began digging, finding the following in short order:

  • “The AMA Doctor Finder doesn’t list any physician named Roxana Mayer.”
  • “Nor does the Texas Medical Association.”
  • “Linked In lists a Roxana Mayer — who, according to LinkedIn, is slated to graduate from the University of Houston with a Masters in Social Work in 2010.”
  • “However, the University of Houston lists a student by the name of Roxana Mercedes Mayer.”

So Patterico went to the source, e-mailing the LinkedIn Ms. Mayer. Hilarity ensued. By the time the exchange ended, “poor” Ms. Mayer was in full moonbat mode:


1) Are you the person who attended Jackson Lee’s town hall meeting?

2) Are you a doctor?

3) If not, why did you claim to be one?

4) Were you a Texas delegate for Obama?

5) Why did you go to the town hall meeting?

6) Who encouraged you to go?

7) Did Sheila Jackson Lee’s husband have anything to do with your going?


I suspect you don’t need me to answer the first four…but I’ll say for what it’s worth, I went to get a question answered for myself and two other people close to me who are doctors. Too bad she didn’t answer it. I also went to lend support to the reform effort. It’s easier to be against something especially since anger is such a great motivator.

Also, I have never met the Congresslady or her husband–it’s a big school. I do think this is all very funny because I just assume that if my going had been part of a conspiracy, it would have been more seemlessly executed.

While I’m sure I lack your creativity and passion, I have possessed some spontaneity from time to time.


If I understand what’s going on here, you’re not a doctor, but you play one at town hall meetings. Is that about it?


Do you mean play a doctor like you play a journalist? Then the answer is no. But who knows, that was only my first town hall meeting–even though I was a delegate. If I go to another one, which I seriously doubt because my husband is already extremely annoyed, then maybe I’ll play a plumber.

After Patterico did the dirty work, the Chronicle’s Cynthia Horswell added the following four paragraphs to the story this morning, while giving Patterico no credit:

In an e-mail to the Chronicle on Thursday morning, Mayer confirmed she is not a licensed physician.

“I have been advised to refrain from making any further statements,” she said.

In the initial story about the event, the Chronicle reported that she was a doctor based on her claim at the meeting.

Today, Jackson Lee denied knowing Mayer and said she was not planted as a friendly voice in the crowd.

Horswell’s story, time-stamped at of 10:46 a.m. CT as of the time of this post (saved here at my host for future reference) has the same URL to which Patterico linked, meaning that Horswell’s current renditon has effectively flushed all previous versions down the Chron’s memory hole.

Horswell still hasn’t told readers that Mayer was an Obama delegate. Patterico commenter ”mike in houston” reports direct e-mail evidence from Horswell that the Chron reporter has known this from the very beginning of this sordid episode and has chosen not to disclose. Mayer’s status as a delegate, along with additional “coincidences” reported at, would tend to severely if not fatally dent the credibility of Jackson Lee’s claim not to know her — even beyond the hug picture with Mayer and Lee the Chron has already published.

The caption to that picture is currently on at least its third rendition, currently reading “Sheila Jackson Lee hugs Roxana Mayer at her town hall meeting at Peavy Neighborhood Center. Mayer identified herself as a physician who does not live in Jackson Lee’s district. However, her name does not appear in the database maintained by the Texas Medical Board, which licenses all doctors in Texas.”

Two previous renditions captured by Patterico read as follows:

  • “Sheila Jackson Lee hugs Dr. Roxana Mayer, a pediatric primary care physician, at her town hall meeting at Peavy Neighborhood Center.”
  • “Sheila Jackson Lee hugs Roxana Mayer at her town hall meeting at Peavy Neighborhood Center.”

Understatement of the week by Patterico: “Not the greatest vetting by the Chronicle.” Not the most honest either. And sadly, also not atypical.

Cross-posted at

Lickety-Split Links (081309, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:42 am
  • At HotAirPundit via Gateway Pundit “Bus–ted… Obama Bussed In Supporters For New Hampshire Town Hall.” Funny — I haven’t seen any footage of ObamaCare opponents bussed in from anywhere.
  • At the Wall Street Journal“U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in July despite the debut of the government’s ‘cash for clunkers’ program meant to jump-start the auto business and help turn around the economy.” As noted here a week ago (fourth item at link), it may be “because” of C4C, not “despite” it.
  • ChristineTitle IX Saved the World (not)” Brennan thinks Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino should take some time off or resign over what appears at the moment to have been a single extramarital episode, about which Pitino has apologized, apparently sincerely (see video at link). I’m inclined to agree with the time off part at least, but I’d welcome any evidence of where Brennan stood on Bill Clinton’s impeachment, which was about lying under oath in legal proceedings about affairs that lasted for years. Something tells me she wasn’t so harsh. If not, why not?
  • From Patterico (HT to an e-mailer) — “Roxana Mayer: I’m Not a Doctor But I Play One at Town Hall Meetings.” Capsule: “I questioned the credentials of a woman at a Texas town hall meeting who claimed to be a doctor, but turned out to be anything but. She is a graduate student in social work — oh, and an Obama delegate.”
  • Puncturing the “They have no alternative” lie — “RSC Chairman Tom Price has introduced the Empowering Patients First Act. This is another positive solution from the Republican Study Committee that grants access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans, and is centered around the patient.” Of course, solutions such as these have been around forever, but the statists who are in charge in Washington don’t want to hear about anything that enhances freedom and choice.