Everyone is passionate about healthcare reform, but does everyone know the facts?

    It’s no surprise that healthcare reform has been stirring passionate debates among Americans. People line up for hours to have a chance to be heard and shout their opinions.
    But as WHYY’s Chris Satullo comments on this week’s Center Square, in the middle of all that, the fine points of the proposals have become the source of speculations and manipulation.

    0909010stethoscopebuttonMore coverage on healthcare reform.


    Listen: [audio: satullo20090816.mp3]

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    All of a sudden, those health care town halls have become the hottest ticket this side of the Jonas Brothers. People line up at dawn for a chance to stand so close to a lawmaker that their spittle can land on his eyebrow. They wait to exercise their democratic right to shout down everyone else with witty lines such as “You’re a socialist Nazi.”

    I mean, who wouldn’t want a piece of that action?

    Given these logjams outside town meeting halls, we need a better system to sort the admitted from the rejected. Poor Arlen Specter’s Willie Wonka routine with the notecards just doesn’t cut it.

    How about this? Everyone takes a little quiz on basic facts of the health care issue. Only those who ace it will be let in.

    Here are some sample questions. Don’t worry I’ll spot the answers:

    – True or false. The United States will spend roughly $8,100 per person on health care this year. True, the U.S. is the world’s unquestioned health care money hog.

    – True or false. In the most recent World Health Organization ranking of national health systems, the U.S. trounced that den of socialized medicine, Canada. False. Canada ranks well ahead of the U.S… We’re a miserable 37th.

    – Who runs the health insurance plan known as Medicare? This one is a shocker for many of the noisy town hallers. The government runs Medicare. And, by the way, Medicare spends about half as much in administrative costs per enrollee as the average private plan.

    – True or False. Only two of the various health care bills now active in Congress actually include provisions for a “death panel” which would decide whether an elderly person got medical care. False, there is no such thing as a death panel in any bill in Congress. This lie issued from the fevered brain of Sarah Palin; where she got her wacky notion is a question only a trained Palintologist should venture to guess.

    There, you have it. A simple quiz. A simple point. If you seek to dominate democratic dialogue on a vital issue like health care, you should at least have a clue about the basic facts.

    If you don’t, why should anybody give a flying catheter what you think?

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