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Getting Past All the Shouting: Finding Truth in Healthcare Reform

September 4, 2009

Charleston, WV - While the news has been filled with images of hecklers and shouting protesters, some people are calling for a return to more thoughtful discussions about health care reform. Laura Dean Friedrich, director of education and advocacy for Protestants for the Common Good, says many people can't figure out whether or not the proposed legislation would be good for their families. She believes that is because most media coverage has focused on protests at town hall meetings 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."

It's up to West Virginians to educate themselves by looking for trusted non-partisan sources, she adds.

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

Friedrich says she understands that people with insurance are afraid of losing the benefits they already have.

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

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

Supporters of a health care plan with a public option will speak at Labor Day events around the state, calling on lawmakers to include it in President Obama's health care reform legislation. Opponents call it a first step toward socialized medicine, and unfair competition for private insurance companies.

Families USA reports about a quarter million West Virginians lack health coverage and estimates four state residents a week die prematurely because they're uninsured.

Information is available at www.thecommongood.org or at www.kff.org/healthreform/sidebyside.cfm.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV