I haven’t blogged about the health care debate much. I’ve been watching it go by on Twitter, I caught some on cable news last night, I hear it on the radio and read it in the paper. I even liveblogged it while President Obama was in Shaker Heights. It’s nearly impossible to avoid it, to be honest.
But this evening, the radio had what I think is the most relevant information for right now: a report on NPR called, “Separating Fact From Fiction In Health Care Debate.” The piece centers around the St. Petersburg Times’ PolitiFact operation and this key finding:
“…much of the dialogue is being set by the critics who are making some very strong claims about this, and when we check them out, we find that many of them are exaggerated or completely false,” he says.
Both the NPR piece and the PolitiFact website cover the extent of the false assertions and also point out where claims made by proponents, including President Obama, are also wrong.
One of the most egregious errors is the critics’ claim that abortions will be funded. And the prime critic is none other than Ohio’s own John Boehner, Republican representative (OH-8) and House Minority Leader.
We decided to wade into the debate to check out the facts surrounding a couple of the more popular claims being made about the plan’s effect on abortion.
First, we checked a claim by Rep. John Boehner that the plan would require Americans to “subsidize abortion with their hard-earned tax dollars.” While there are several versions of the health care plan floating around Congress, and it seems that full abortion coverage would be permitted in the government-sponsored program, we didn’t see anything in them that would put taxpayers on the hook for subsidizing abortions. In fact, we found an amendment in a key version of the House plan that specifically seeks to ensure that federal funds are not used to subsidize abortion coverage. And so we ruled that claim False.
We also checked an abortion claim by the Liberty Counsel, a group that describes its mission as an “education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family” and is affiliated with Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virigina.” In a memo on its Web site, the group says that page 992 of the health care bill will “establish school-based ‘health’ clinics. Your children will be indoctrinated and your grandchildren may be aborted!” There’s nothing in the bill to that effect, so we gave them a Pants on Fire.
I’m sure there are readers who would like to challenge PolitiFacts challenge so please feel free to do so, just keep it fact-based and documented so people can go see for themselves.
Here’s a re-cap of what the NPR story covered:
*”health care bill allows illegal immigrants to get free medicine”
“We gave that our lowest rating on our Truth-O-Meter: a pants on fire,” he says. “To the contrary, there’s language [in the bill] that says that undocumented aliens would not be eligible for the credit under this plan.”
*“health choices commissioner” would decide health benefits and that individual consumers would have no choices.
This claim, too, got a “pants on fire” from PolitiFact.
“There is a health commissioner that would be responsible for running the exchange under the main bills that have been discussed, but it’s not like that person would say you couldn’t get coverage or you could. That person would just be responsible to administer what the general standards were for the programs.”
*”…claimed that the Congressional Budget Office estimated the current plan would create a $6 billion surplus over 10 years.”
Adair’s group has rated that as false.
“That really was a little bit of budget trickery there,” he says. “He is wrong that the CBO said this. The CBO said that the health care plan would post a deficit of something like $239 billion, something like that.
And from PolitiFact’s site:
“Health care reform legislation is “likely to mandate free ‘sex change’ surgeries.” – FALSE
“The health care reform plan would set limits similar to the “socialized” system in Britain, where people are allowed to die if their treatment would cost more than $22,000.” – FALSE
How should media literacy teach the average taxpayer and health care patient about how to separate fact from fiction when some of the fictions are coming from people they’ve voted for and some of the facts are coming from online resources prepared by people like…bloggers?
I’m not sure but I would say that trying to get to sites like PolitiFact, trying to find Cliff Note versions of the actual legislation with links to the bill itself and speaking to your representatives and their legislative aids and liaisons would be the best thing.
What else do you advise people trying to figure this out to do?
NB: Anyone here anyone talk about mental health and health care reform? I haven’t.