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UNMC Cuts Through Health Care Hype

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Meghan Youker

OMAHA (KPTM) - With all the back and forth over health care reform, it can be hard to figure out what's true, much less see the bigger picture.

Several months back, the University of Nebraska Medical Center launched a non-partisan committee to take an objective look at health care legislation.  It's meant a lot of separating fact from fiction when it comes to the potential impact on hospitals, doctors and patients.

In rallies and town halls, Nebraskans have spoken out on health care reform, and they didn't always play nice.  "A lot of the bickering and argument that goes on is over a small proportion really of the total picture," said Dr. John Benson, a UNMC professor of internal medicine.

Benson is heading up a group of fellow UNMC doctors and administrators keeping tabs on health care bills.  He says although there's no one reform plan, people need to realize there's mostly consensus on issues like universal coverage, lowering costs, and insuring people with pre-existing conditions.  "This is the time to act, if we postpone this, if we delay it, things are only going to get worse," Benson said.

It's debate over paying for reform and how to best achieve competition that's most controversial.

UNMC warns people to be wary of potential myths on TV and the radio.  "This accounts for 1/5 of our economy so the special interest groups have a lot at stake in this game and the special interest groups are spending millions and millions of dollars right now to debunk this," said UNMC consultant Sean McGuire.

Doctors say an overhaul is too important, and that the country has a broken health care system that can't wait to be fixed.  "No change, the consequence of it will be blind to politics and it won't matter if you're Republican, Democrat or Independent, the result will be universal pain and not coverage," Benson said.

UNMC isn't endorsing a specific plan or bill for addressing the health care system, but says with universal coverage and an added emphasis on preventative care, there will be an urgent need to address a significant shortage of primary care doctors and nurses.

Benson says they'd really like to see some compromise in Congress, and says it should be the first choice rather than the last resort.

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