Facts, schmackts. Getting lost in the hubbub over health care seems to be a little thing called “facts,” it seems. Confusion over what’s what in the complex health bill has spawned town hall shouting matches and claims of ‘un-American’ attacks from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Judging from the health-care hijinks over the weekend, it doesn’t look like the noise is going to die down anytime soon.
In July alone, President Obama gave no less than nine speeches on his health-care plan. But getting the facts out is proving to be easier said than done: Phrases like “euthanasia,” “socialized health care” and “rationing” are still being bandied about. (None of which are in the health-care bill, by the way)
On Friday, former Gov. Sarah Palin raised more than a few eyebrows with a Facebook post on Obama’s “evil” vision for health care. In it, she claims that the administration’s bill includes “death panels” that would decide who receives health care:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Newt Gingrich defended Palin’s attack on “death panels,” even after host George Stephanopoulos helpfully pointed out that the bill doesn’t actually include any kind of provision for “death panels.”
A USA Today op-ed decries the “misinformation” and “mayhem” that are firing up both sides of the debate. The op-ed clarifies what it identifies as top issues that are being twisted into something they’re not, including euthanasia (not true), keeping your existing health care (maybe) and illegal immigrant coverage (not true).
In an effort to get everyone’s facts straight, the White House launched a “Reality Check” webpage on whitehouse.gov aimed at debunking “malicious” health-care bill myths. It features explainer videos on the “euthanasia distortion,” veterans’ health care, and how reform will affect small businesses. There’s also an FAQ and information on how consumers will be protected.
Don’t trust the official government website? Then check out FactCheck.org, which targets factually challenged TV ads and “false euthanasia claims,” and fact checks Obama’s July 22 news conference on health care. The site’s fact checkers even fact check the White House’s “Reality Check” on health care facts. That enough facts for you?
If not, CNN.com’s “Health Care in Focus” page features a debate explainer that breaks down the major players and compares the different plans before Congress. The Washington Post’s health-reform web page includes interactive graphics that show the current health-care system and a simple, bulleted explanation of what you “stand to gain or lose” with the various plans under consideration.
PolitiFact.com’s Truth-O-Meter rates the “truthiness” of public statements on health care from both sides of the aisle, including statements made by Karl Rove, several senators and President Obama himself.
NPR.org’s “Prescriptions For Change” section includes Obama’s timeline for a health bill, stories from patients and providers, and a debate on the always-interesting question, “What’s Canadian Health Care Really Like?”
(Fact: Despite some grumbling, Canadians actually like their nationalized health-care system).
— Lili Ladaga
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