Shortly after 10 a.m. last Thursday, I heard one of my coworkers shout out, “The individual mandate has been shot down. CNN reports that the Supreme Court has found it unconstitutional. Thank goodness!”
I hadn’t checked the news yet, but I got this feeling of dread. Oh no, I thought. How are we going to explain to all these Medicare beneficiaries that they may have just lost all the extra benefits they received under the Affordable Care Act? What a mess this is going to be!
Luckily, I didn’t take my coworkers’ announcement as set in stone and fret all day. Instead, I decided to do some due diligence and read the news for myself. I went to MSNBC.com and read that the Supreme Court had upheld the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. I then read the same news on several other reputable news and healthcare sites. Finally, I did some checking and found out that both CNN and Fox had erred in their initial reporting.
Now, it is very rare that a major news outlet jumps the gun and gets it so wrong. In fact, New York Times reporter Charlie Savage called it a “Dewey defeats Truman” moment for this 21st century. However, the point I really want to make is then when it comes to important information that can affect you, it pays to play detective and do your own research to confirm the facts—or what passes as facts these days.
AARP survey: People are sick and tired of non-factual ‘attack’ ads
Speaking of “facts,” for the past few years—although it seems more like forever—there have been a lot of rumors going around about Medicare and Social Security. These rumors often rear their ugly head in political ads, and from what I’ve been seeing and reading, it’s only going to get worse as we get closer to the November elections.
A new voter survey of 1,001 registered voters by AARP of Washington shows that voters are “sick and tired of negative and misleading political ads, and most are misinformed or unaware of what’s behind the spin.” According to the survey, 79 percent of those polled agree that it is difficult to determine if claims made in TV ads are correct. But only a third of the respondents said they know that it is NOT a violation of federal law for candidates to use deceptive or misleading statements in political advertising.
Other survey findings:
• 98% said Social Security is important to financial security
• 97% said Medicare is important to health
• 81% agree that politicians are “trying to make too many decisions behind closed doors regarding Social Security and Medicare”
• Only 8% think “most or all of political television ads” have given “objective, factual information about an issue or candidate”
• 13% understand that the contents of political advertising are not regulated by any government agency
Don’t be fooled by ads about Medicare and Social Security
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a University of Pennsylvania political communications expert, tells AARP members to watch out for ads that play on fear, use emotional images or music, or in any way distract them from thinking critically about what it being said. “There is deception on both sides, and you might be deceived by your own side,” Jamieson tells the AARP.
Jamieson suggests three ways voters can inform themselves:
• Watch the candidate debates.
• Read, watch and listen to news reports that cover all sides of issues.
• Check politicians’ claims by visiting nonpartisan fact-checking websites such as PolitiFact.com, FlackCheck.org and FactCheck.org.