The ACP Advocate Blog
by Bob Doherty
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Just the facts, ma'am
With the vote on the health reform legislation expected to take place within hours, it would be nice to believe that we can begin moving to the stage where people begin looking at what the legislation will and will not do-- not based on speculation or the political rhetoric--but what is actually in the legislation itself. I realize that this is unlikely, since we all tend to engage in cognitive dissonance when confronted with information that does not square with our own pre-conceived notions, political leanings, and philosophical bent. I know I do it, as much as I try not to, and I am sure this is true of just about all of us. Still, there are trusted and highly credible sources of information that I hope will be of value to anyone who is open to learning more about the legislation and its potential impact:
Today's Washington Post has an excellent interactive tool that shows how the legislation will benefit different categories of people and in different income brackets: insured married with children, small business owner, and Medicare beneficiary, and uninsured middle-age couple, uninsured single father of two, and a recent college graduate.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has an excellent summary of the legislation, which can help you answer questions about what is actually in the bill. You can use that chart to search for key words.
There are two independent fact-checking organizations, www.politifact.com and www.factcheck.org, which provides accurate information to debunk the misinformation being spread by proponents and opponents alike. For instance, they address the claims that the legislation authorizes the federal government to ration care (not true), will result in massive cuts in benefits to Medicare recipients (also not true), or deny women access to mammograms (not true), or impose a government-run health care system like Canada's and the U.K's (not true). Politifact's lead article offers the top ten facts to know about health care reform. These sites don't just take issue with inaccurate information from opponents, but also misinformation from proponents, including President Obama, such as the statement that most people's insurance premiums will go down (not true).
I remind readers to look the information on ACP's own Web site, including FAQs, a two page summary of how the legislation compares to ACP policy, and a more detailed section by section analysis of the bill.
Finally, the Kaiser Family Foundation's March health care tracking poll provides some important insights into the public's views on health reform, showing that the public is divided on the merits of the legislation and the next steps in Congress, but that many don't have a good understanding of some of the key elements in the bill. For instance, the survey found that most respondents were unaware that the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that the legislation will reduce the deficit, not increase it.
About the Author
Bob Doherty is Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians Government Affairs and Public Policy; Author of the ACP Advocate Blog
Email Bob Doherty: TheACPAdvocateblog@acponline.org.Follow @BobDohertyACP
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