The 93 year old former U.S. Surgeon General Everett Koop claims falsely that the United Kingdom's health care system would consider seniors "too old" to qualify for the artifiial joints, heart pacemakers, and stents that he's received in the U.S.
FactCheck.org clarifies the record.
U.K. guidelines make clear that patients of "any age" may receive pacemakers, for example. And in fact, official statistics show 47 patients aged 100 or older got new or replacement pacemakers in a single recent year.
Koop, who held office during the Reagan administration, makes his false claim in a TV spot by the conservative 60 Plus Association. We asked 60 Plus to substantiate the claim but received nothing that backs up what Koop said about joints, stents or pacemakers being denied based on age. A spokeswoman for the U.K.’s Department of Health states that Koop’s assertions are "not true."
The ad is part of a national cable media buy of $400,000, according to the 60 Plus Association.
FatChek.org contacted a non-profit in the U.K., Age Concern and Help the Aged. The groups press office "pointed us to government statistics stating that "the over 65-year age group acounts for two in every three" hip replacements performed in the U.K.
A U.K Department of Health spokesman flatly told us that "it is not true that anyone aged over 59 years cannot receive heart repairs, stents or bypass surgery on the basis of their age." The spokesman added: "The NHS Constitution states that the NHS provides a ‘comprehensive service, available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief.’ "
Age Concern’s press office also told FactCheck.org "the group had never heard of a prohibition on heart surgery for patients aged 60 and up."
We sent a copy of the Koop ad to U.K. Department of Health Press Officer Julia Harris to ask about his claims. "The Department of Health can confirm that this is not true," she said.
Factcheck.org asked the 60 Plus Association for backup for the ad’s claims. Instead of addressing the three claims they pointed to three clippings that have nothing to do with its claim:
■ A newspaper story about a U.K. government report on abuses at nursing homes.
■ A newspaper story about some doctors in England expressing concern about a hospice approach that allows doctors and caregivers to focus on comfort instead of life preservation at the end of life.
■ A 2006 newspaper story about a then-new bone cancer drug, Velcade, that was not approved for use in England (though it was available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) because of a concern over cost and effectiveness. However, the drug was approved a year later.
Wonder how many falsies he's performed in his lifetime.