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Getting Past All the Shouting: Finding Truth in Health Reform

September 2, 2009

LAS VEGAS - While supporters of the public health insurance option will hold a rally tonight in Reno, the news around the country has been filled with images of hecklers and shouting protesters at town hall meetings, and some people are calling for a return to more thoughtful discussions.

Laura Dean Freidrich, director of education and advocacy at the organization 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 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 Nevadans 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."

Kaiser has posted side-by-side comparisons of all major health care proposals on its Web site.

Just under a half a million Nevadans had no health insurance as of 2007, according to Kaiser. Friedrich says she understands that people who do have insurance are afraid of losing what they already have.

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

Freidrich says Nevada residents and lawmakers need to listen to the concerns of both sides.

"I think the opponents have some good points probably, but it gets lost in all the uproar that's going on. And I think the proponents certainly have some good points as well, but it gets lost in all the defensiveness."

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

Tonight supporters of the public option will hold a rally in front of the Thompson Federal Building in Reno calling on lawmakers to include it in President Obama's health care reform legislation. Opponents call that a first step towards socialized medicine.

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

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV