Is it too late to have a fact-based discussion about proposals to remake health care? Maybe.
With the disruption of town hall meetings practically a national sport and "death panels" making the rounds today, the White House launched an online counteroffensive, called "Health Insurance Reform Reality Check."
Before we go any further, can we do a smidge of reality-checking of our own? There's a lot more at stake in the proposals to overhaul health care than just reforming the insurance system. Sure, we know the Dems' talking points emphasize hammering on the insurance industry. Just ask insurance-industry lobbyist Karen Ignagni, as Kaiser Health News did the other day.
But ask doctors, hospitals and drugmakers how much money they might gain or lose under various plans for a taste of the topics beyond strict insurance reform.
OK, so what's the White House putting out there now? A half-dozen videos on some of the hottest topics, including one on the charge that the administration's plans will lead to rationing of care.
The response? "Rationing occurs right now," says Kavita Patel, a doctor working on health issues at the White House, in one of the videos. Health insurers already decide what services people will or won't get, she said. "But the notion that the government will interfere with what you have really is laughable," she said.
If you're looking for more help sorting through the debate, try Trisha Torrey's Patient Empowerment Blog over at About.com. She ably fact-checks some of the latest salvos.