Truth, Lies and ‘Talking Points’ In The Health Care Debate
Kaiser Health News: "Which phrase best describes Democrats' ideas on overhauling the health care system: a) a government takeover of health care, or b) a way to lower costs and improve the quality of care delivered? Is the proposal a) a package of tax hikes that will cripple small businesses, or b) a way to save families $1,800 a year? Those are just a few of the talking points crafted by Democratic and Republican leaders for Congress members to use during the August recess" (Carey and Pianin, 7/31)
The Washington Post reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi distributed the talking points to all 256 Democratic members of House, "arming the unruly Democratic majority for battle in their disparate districts across the country. After laboring for weeks in Washington to reach a compromise between liberal and conservative factions of her caucus, Pelosi is taking the fight outside the Beltway ... At stake is legislation that could define her legacy as speaker and shape President Obama's political future. Pelosi called health-care reform with a public insurance option the issue of an official lifetime'" (Rucker, 8/2)
The Associated Press examines "confusing claims and outright distortions" in the health care debate, including: "The Democrats' plans will lead to rationing, or the government determining which medical procedures a patient can have," or "Americans won't have to change doctors or insurance companies," or "Health care revisions would lead to government-funded abortions." The AP debunks these and also says: "To complicate matters, there is no clear-cut 'Obama plan' or 'Democratic plan.' Obama has listed several goals, but he has drawn few lines in the sand" (Babington, 8/2).
In a separate story, The Washington Post reported: "A campaign on conservative talk radio, fueled by President Obama's calls to control exorbitant medical bills, has sparked fear among senior citizens that the health-care bill moving through Congress will lead to end-of-life 'rationing' and even 'euthanasia.' The controversy stems from a proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical interventions they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills ..... The counseling sessions would be voluntary. But on right-leaning radio programs, religious e-mail lists and Internet blogs, the proposal has been described as 'guiding you in how to die,' ... and, in the words of antiabortion leader Randall Terry, an attempt to 'kill Granny'" (Connolly, 8/1).
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.