(from Carolyn McClanahan’s Forbes’ column, 7/3/2012 – click here for the original post. Carolyn is a physician, financial planner, educator and storyteller. For more on Carolyn, visit her Forbes’ profile.)
When the Affordable Care Act was originally passed, misinformation and inflammatory lies regarding the law made their rounds on the internet. Great examples from the right – seniors on Medicare would face rationed care, death panels were going to be enacted, or you would have to pay extra taxes on the sale of your home to name a few. Great examples from the left – the life of “Julia” and the exaggeration of the numbers who would be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions.
The lies and misinformation slowed down a bit over the past few months as everyone waited on the Supreme Court decision with rabid anticipation. Those against the law thought the case was all locked up to repeal. Immediately after the Supreme Court decision was released the misinformation started again. What a surprise (not really.) On Facebook, what showed up? The oldie but false picture of a van with the following painted on the side – “President OBAMA – If the Health Care Reform Plan is so Great, Why does it EXEMPT YOU, Michelle Obama, Congress, Senators, and their families? Page 114 Line 22”
I’ll debunk this in a minute, but first I want to share my hope for the people of this great country as the election approaches. My hope? We take the time to understand the problems in this country from more than our individual perspective and then obtain non-partisan education on solutions from reputable sources. We should choose our leaders based on truth, understanding, and a desire to improve our greatness instead of basing our decisions on rhetoric and ideology. When we hold ourselves to a higher standard in our own education on important matters, we can hold our leaders to a higher standard, and maybe they will begin to deliver. I am an optimist.
To help you focus on issues with health care, I point you to two non-partisan and highly reputable resources. These will help you pick through the bunk and exaggerations from both sides.
Kaiser Family Foundation:
This is the granddaddy of all sites on health care reform. There is a section with the basics, and delves as deep as you want to go into the details of health care and the Affordable Care Act. In addition, the good people at Kaiser Family Foundation provide regular updates and a roundup of the news in health care on The Scan. I also enjoy the regular polls they conduct and share from others on public opinion in numerous facets of health care.
This site looks at the facts behind statements in the press, chain emails, and other questionable propaganda. Sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, FactCheck.org goes beyond health care and is a great tool for all matters of fact in our public debates. In their archive, 408 articles are devoted to health care or the health care law. There is an abundance of misinformation out there, and this site helps you sort through the bull. It has an easy search engine if you are looking for a particular topic, like our lovely quote on the van.
So don’t rely on some photo of a van with billboard lies to learn what this law is about. Check out the facts for yourself. Even better, stop the misinformation and lies. As for the van? A waste of paint. Congress, the President, and the First Lady are subject to the law. The van doesn’t even reference the law – it references a draft of a bill not part of the Affordable Care Act. Page 114 of the real law discusses the four different levels of health insurance that would be sold on the exchange – and line 22 focuses on the “gold plan.” FactCheck.org backs me up on this one. In case you are curious, Title I, Section 1312 “Consumer Choice” contains the verbiage that Congress is required to use plans created under the law. You can actually go read it. Go to page 157, starting at Line 16.
Make no mistake about it. The Affordable Care Act has warts, but the majority of the law contains good provisions that will eventually make our country stronger and healthier. Learn what is good in the law, learn about the warts, and demand that our leaders move forward with further solutions.