Friday, August 14, 2009

Misinformation, Health Care Reform, and the Media

A Message from J. Donald Schumacher
August 14, 2009

Misinformation, Health Care Reform, and the Media

As many people know, NHPCO has been working actively to clarify misinformation among national and regional media regarding health care reform legislation. An important part of our outreach has been to correctly explain the advance care planning provision and stress the value of this benefit for all Americans.

NHPCO leadership have spoken with reporters and producers with all the major network news outlets, ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN, as well as the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Washington Post, and many others.

Some highlights include NHPCO's Kathy Brandt interview on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" and Jon Keyserling’s interview on CNBC. NHPCO also provided information for the new feature that debuted on ABC Evening News with Charlie Gibson, "Fact Check," where the inaugural issue on this new segment was the misinformation about the advance care planning provision.

It's difficult to hear false and misleading statements in the media but rest assured that we are responding as effectively as possible. NHPCO offers some information that may be helpful. This includes:

Talking Points on advance care planning and health care reform.
• NHPCO’s press release from August 7.
NHPCO’s analysis about the advance care planning provision in the House’s bill.

NHPCO’s Caring Connections has some useful information about advance care planning that helps explain what it is, including a new piece that uses metaphor to explain the concepts:

What is Advance Care Planning
Healthcare Agents: Choosing One and Being One
Preparing Your Advance Directives
• NEW - Are You Traveling without a Map? A layperson's guide to advance care planning (PDF)

There have been any number of excellent news reports, articles and op-eds that clarify the misinformation but those are often overshadowed by the conflict. Here are some links of interest that people may be interested in looking over:

• "Honest Talk About the End," Newsweek, by Eleanor Clift, 07/31/09.
• "Elderly Americans should read the health care bill: It won't kill them," Cleveland Plain Dealer, by Connie Schultz, 08/02/09.
• "Getting health care healthy: Accepting death outside the hospital," * Chicago Tribune, by Anne Moore, 08/05/09.
• "Health Care Reform: The Assault on Truth," AARP Bulletin Today, 08/14/09.
• “Here’s the truth, Granny,” Obit Magazine, by Judy Bachrach, 08/11/09.
• "Health Care: Will Section 1233 Hasten Patient Deaths?" American Center for Law & Justice (from Christianity Today), 08/11/09.
• "Three Myths about the Ethics of Health Care Reform," Association of Bioethics Program Directors.
• "Advance-directives section fueling concern and, hospice officials say, misunderstanding," Winston-Salem Journal, 08/13/09.
• “While others rant, hospice keeps helping,” Orlando Sentinel, 08/14/09.
• “Doctors Providing End-Of-Life Counseling See Benefit In Current Controversy,” Kaiser Health News, 08/14/09.

At NHPCO, we will continue to do our best to provide accurate information that we hope will help Americans understand the value of advance care planning.

The importance of patient wishes have always been integral to the hospice philosophy of care and we understand why the provision in the House bill would only serve to benefit Americans. We also understand how complicated and challenging issues surrounding death and dying are for many people. And when faced with what seems like sweeping change in health care reform discussions, it is understandable that many people are passionate—and frightened. Yet, I have faith that in the days ahead, the truth about caring for people at the end of life and the importance of advance care planning will begin to spread where there has been misinformation and false accusation.

To cite our outreach materials, hospice and palliative care are about how you live. Making one’s wishes know is an important part of life’s journey.

I encourage all hospice and palliative care providers to continue with the important work they do to help patients and families and their broad communities. I am proud to be working with such a dedicated community—all those providing hospice and palliative care.

Thank you.

J. Donald Schumacher
President and CEO

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