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About those GOP press releases ... sometimes, we stub our toe


We're in the midst of big changes to how we cover health in our community.

In the big picture, it's less about us and more about you. Less, "we talk, you listen," more, "let's start a conversation." As part of that process, we have an interim health site up and running right now. Journal-World reporter Karrey Britt took the plunge into the digital space to be our lead reporter on the health project, which will ultimately become a new site we're calling HealthCommons. We hope to unveil it in early 2010.

In the meantime, Karrey's working to try out techniques on LJWorld.com that we will want to use on our new health site. In recent weeks, you might have seen her tweeting live from an event, or encouraging other reporters and the community to post personal stories of encounters with the health system and trying to find tips and information you'd never expect from a newspaper to share with you.

We also have formed a series of advisory groups that will help us determine what is and isn't the right content for our health site. You'll soon see this group of community members blogging on our Web site. Part of our advisory group meeting this week was a discussion about the proposed healthcare legislation before Congress. It was an active discussion with people expressing very passionate opinions about whether it was the right or wrong change to our healthcare system.

So, when a couple of legislators put out two press releases about that very legislation, Karrey knew it was something that would prompt a very active online conversation. That was part of her goal — which is a primary goal of our new site — to prompt people to have a conversation. In that sense, posting the press releases was 100 percent successful.

But where we failed was in not explaining what our goal was with this; not to pass professional politician's talking points as a verified news story, but rather to give people a place from which they could start a conversation. And to let people know what the politicians who represent them are thinking and — probably more importantly — saying. If you disagree with their opinions; if you think that the current healthcare system is broken and needs help, we want you to know who you should be talking to. But we didn't really explain any of that to you.

So, what have we learned? We've learned that we need to be even more transparent with you. Part of our goal with our new HealthCommons site will be to create a trusted place where you can get the facts and have a conversation about how we can be a healthier community.

Practically, for us, that means we'll probably do more explaining, summarizing and linking to press releases, and less straight posting of politician's talking points. We'll also try to do a better job of letting both sides of the debate know what we're doing. If you're pro the new bill, we want to let people know where to find your opinions. If you're anti, there's a place for you too.

Ultimately, that's what has to be at the heart of our new site, and the heart of what we deliver you: trusted information, balanced opinions and a place for respectful conversations that lead to a healthier Lawrence and a healthier Northeast Kansas.


frank mcguinness 8 years, 5 months ago

Wow kubacker, It's great to see you can read minds, Jkealing isn't it nice you can have you mind read?

What KUbacker fails to point out is that infact the american majority is unhappy with the current Medical/insurance system.

But to kubacker the truth is that ignorance is bliss.

jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

kubacker, positing a standpoint on an assumption = fail.

feeble 8 years, 5 months ago

Mr. Kealing,

This addresses my complaints about yesterday's press releases in full, thank you. I look forward to seeing your new HealthCommons section/site.

And kubacker, while I have never said that upon returning to from a trip to a health provider (doctor, dentist, ER, e, etc), I certainly have said it when I see the eventual bill, broken down by what my insurance covers, what it doesn't, and the number of individual doctors on the bill itself and again every month when I review my pay stubs (my employer kindly provides data on what my benefits actually cost.)

$150 dollars, just from the doctor, for a five minute consult that results in a script for a $4/mo generic is insane.

Jonathan Kealing 8 years, 5 months ago


I certainly didn't mean to say that the healthcare system is broken, but a lot of people do think that. And a lot of them spoke out yesterday. What I want them — and everyone else — to know is that we want this to be a place where people who are on both sides of the aisle can find information that supports and refutes their views. But we want that to be done respectfully.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

gccs14r 8 years, 5 months ago

My doc wants a single-payer system. She thinks the system is broken.

frank mcguinness 8 years, 5 months ago

gccs14r .... I want your doctor!! Sounds like she is following her hipocratic oath and not just trying to pad her pocket.

Kirk Larson 8 years, 5 months ago

For the most part, the Doctors are not the problem. Most are in it to help people and surveys show most would support a single-payer or public option system. The problem is with the insurance companies. Something I've experienced that I have heard from an insider is common practice: Refusing to pay for something that is clearly covered (insider said it's common to refuse three times in hopes you will just give up and pay for it yourself) making you go through hoops and appeals.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

When I had cataracts in both eyes and was legally blind I could not find one doctor in Lawrence who would accept my Medicaid card. I ended up going to the Frank Eye Clinic in Ottawa and they are the nicest people. I have always been treated with respect. I can now see and as I love to read that is very important to me. There are many cases like this where people are forced to go out of town for medical services. The paper is providing a great service getting all of this out in the open. Thanks.

temperance 8 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the explanation, Jonathan -- it was much appreciated.

and what jimmyjms said. Contra-kubacker, a lot Americans (arguably most), upon leaving the doctors office or the hospital, think "man, our health care system is broken." Or, they have a similar realization when they see the paperwork behind their insurance billing (e.g. feeble@10:22) or when they talk to a friend from another country who receives better health care for half the costs. The system is broken, and polling data suggests that people know this to be the case.

So what explains kubacker? I think it's a case of American exceptionalism. His logic is this: I was born and raised in America and America is the greatest country ever, therefore, our health care system is the greatest (because our country is the greatest), and any criticism directed at our health care is a marxist/socialist/Leninist/Trotskyist attack on America, the greatest country ever -- the country in which I was born and raised.] Or he just listens to a lot of Glenn Beck. Or both.

Sparko 8 years, 5 months ago

Health care is more expensive than ever, covers fewer Kansans, is more prone to cause bankruptcy than any other life event, is tilted toward profiteering on the part of no-value added concerns such as insurance companies, and is the leading reason why America cannot compete in the world marketplace. Nothing to see here. Let's make this into a partisan hate-slinging fest and not do anything about it.

MyName 8 years, 5 months ago

If the costs continue to rise at this same rate, the health-care system will fail. For example, GM is paying more on insurance per car than they are in parts to make it. There is something wrong with that equation.

Part of the problem is that you don't pay all of the costs for a bill, so you don't actually feel as if all of it is "your money". Even if the numbers are big, it's still the insurance companies money, so there's hardly any incentive to advertise costs.

Heck, the truth is that it's often impossible to even know what some procedure will cost beforehand as alot of the time the real price is just "whatever the insurance company is willing to pay" +/- some amount.

How anyone can claim to be supporting a free market system that is so out of whack that none of the people who are using the system pays for their services directly or can have any real notion of the prices being offered is what boggles my mind.

gccs14r 8 years, 5 months ago

A single-payer system doesn't make healthcare workers government employees.

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