For example, Fox News's Glenn Beck - never a man closely acquainted with the truth at the best of times - claimed that world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking would have been left to die by the NHS. Hawking immediately rebutted:
"I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS," he said. "I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived."
That just about covers that, then. Well done Glenn. As "fair and balanced" as we have come to expect.
It gets worse, though. Much worse.
Hypothetical question - what would YOU do, if you knew you had (a) no coherent argument, and (b) were about to lose a debate? That's right... you reach for Godwin's Law (Limbaugh), call the other side Nazis (Beck), and harp on incoherently about an "evil" system involving state-sanctioned murder by "death panels" (Palin).
Nurses model their new NHS uniforms [above]
Obviously we have come to expect this sort of behaviour from the Fox News brigade, and the shock-jocks. This isn't new. But for a recent VP candidate, and probable future Presidential candidate, this demonstrates an alarming shift towards the loony end of the political spectrum from the Republicans.
Even the British are at it (or, at least, one Brit who makes a career out of talking complete bollocks). The NHS isn't perfect, but this doesn't tally in the slightest with my experience of the NHS. This, however, is a reasonable riposte to Mr Hannan which I wholly endorse:
Despairing of anything that might resemble a proper fact-based debate in the United States, I turned closer to home to see if the recent elevation in this story's prominence might actually prompt the Tories to come up with a policy. I've been waiting a long time for this moment. Would "Call me Dave" Cameron oblige, or would there just be more mealy-mouthed words about supporting the NHS, while packing his team of health ministers with people paid by private healthcare companies?
Searching for Tory policies these days is no small task. Yes, they make statements on a daily basis - and some of these statements appear, at first glance, to be policy-type commitments... but on closer inspection they generally turn out to be piffle. Thus far, I have found one in particular that caught my eye, thanks to the snappy name they gave it - the "Bonfire of the Quangos". Oh yes, Tories, very clever and hilarious. Shame there's no substance, but never mind. At least you've set your stall out in terms of not supporting massive unelected organisations running the nation's infrastructure. And fair enough, I say.
Back to their health policy. I went to the one place where surely I'd be able to find an unadulterated summary. For the first time in my life, therefore, I visited the Tories' own website - and look what I found:
Few things matter more to our country than the NHS – it’s an institution that binds the nation together.
And a Conservative Government will work tirelessly to earn the trust of the patients and staff of the NHS.
* We will always provide the funding the NHS needs and are committed to real increases in health spending
* We will scrap Labour’s plans to cut A&E and maternity services, which are not supported by evidence that patient access and care will be improved, so that patients have access to high-quality services at their local hospital
* We will protect family doctor services by opposing Labour’s plans to impose impersonal "polyclinics" at the expense of local GP surgeries
* We will make money available for 45,000 more single rooms in the NHS over five years, almost doubling their current number. This will mean every patient going into hospital for planned care can have a single room if they want one
* We will reform the way drugs are priced so that all new treatments that are clinically effective are made available, ending the situation whereby cancer drugs that are routinely available in the rest of Europe and not provided in this country
* Most importantly, we will set the NHS free from the ministerial meddling that has resulted in money being diverted from patient care to wasteful bureaucracy. We want to deliver an NHS that provides the best health standards in the world, and ensure every patient is able to choose a good healthcare provider for their needs.
Our draft NHS Autonomy and Accountability Bill, published in 2007, set out plans to release NHS staff from top-down interference and allow them to concentrate on doing what they do best: providing top-quality care to patients.
A vital part of this is the creation of an independent NHS Board to take responsibility for dividing up NHS funds between different parts of the country away from Ministerial meddling. This body will allocate money fairly and in a way which will help secure equal access to healthcare for all.
Much of this is, of course, rubbish. How can anyone, for example, disagree with the first sentence - and are there any political parties that don't say just the same as the Tories' second sentence? And what is "top-down interference", if it's not just "doing as your boss has instructed"?
The bit that interests me most, though, is the creation of a new NHS board to replace "ministerial meddling". (Funny, I thought it was the Health Secretary's job to get involved in the NHS, but no... apparently it's meddling.)
How big would this NHS Board have to be, to run an organisation with 1.5 million employees, and a budget of around £100 billion? Even Andy Burnham realises that this would involve the creation of the world's largest Quango.
Could it possibly be, that Cameron was once again talking out of his Eton-educated multi-millionaire completely-out-of-touch pandering-to-the-Mail behind? Again?
Given all the private healthcare interests already ensconced in Cameron's shadow cabinet, I think we can see through these statements to the real future of the NHS under a Tory government. And it makes Glenn Beck look almost sane.
Cartoon (c) Martin Rowson, The Guardian