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Heard Enough Shouting? Finding Truth in Health Reform



September 2, 2009

NEW YORK - Thousands of public option supporters rallied in Times Square over the weekend, and major rallies are coming up in upstate New York cities. While the news around the country has been filled with images of hecklers and shouting protesters at town hall meetings, some people are calling for a return to more thoughtful discussions.

Laura Dean Freidrich, director of education and advocacy with the group Protestants for the Common Good, says many people can't figure out whether the proposed legislation would be good for their families or not. That's because, she says, it seems like most of the media coverage has been focused on the protests and ugly accusations.

"I think the danger is that we won't make a good decision because we get focused on the conflict rather than focused on what the actual facts are."

Friedrich says it's up to New Yorkers to educate themselves by looking for trustworthy non-partisan sources.

"The Kaiser Foundation, for example, has some excellent material. It's very complex; it's not a quick read but it's excellent materials."

Just over 2.5 million New Yorkers had no health insurance as of 2007, according to Kaiser. Friedrich says she understands that people who do have coverage are afraid of losing what they already have.

"If we work together we don't have to be afraid. We can figure it out; we're smart people in this country. We can figure out how to do this."

While some in Congress have stopped town hall meetings, others are scheduling more, and some are resorting to teleconference town halls in order to conduct a more thoughtful discussion.

Rallies are planned for labor day parades in Buffalo and Rochester next week.

Opponents of the public option say call it a first step towards socialized medicine.

There's more information at: www.thecommongood.org and at:
www.kff.org

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY