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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Nov. 10-Nov. 16

This week, readers sent us comments on the federal health plan, our Just The Facts! vidcast and the H1N1 vaccine.

In the FactCheck Mailbag we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Can Congress Learn to Share?

If government employees (Congress, senators, the president, etc. and their families) already have a health care system set up, and if, as they say, it works really well, why can’t we just use that for everyone?

Sarah Fraser
Evansville, Ind.

FactCheck.org responds:The Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan was cited as the inspiration for the nationwide health insurance exchange being proposed in new health care legislation. Members of Congress get some health perks that wouldn’t be included in the exchange, like the ability to get treatment at military hospitals. But the idea behind the FEHBP — that is, giving people a choice between a large number of private plans that offer varying levels of coverage but must meet certain minimum requirements — is similar to the health insurance exchange, and was cited by Obama as his model during the campaign. Under the bill that just passed the House, this exchange would be available to individuals who are not insured by their employers and to small businesses that want to insure their employees.


Bring Back the Vidcast!

My wife and I used to watch every episode of your podcast ["Just the Facts"]. We looked forward to it so much because we feel there is so much spin out there, we don’t believe anything we read, see or hear unless it’s from you.

Please bring back the video podcast. I don’t have time to read all your articles, but I can listen/watch the video on demand while driving/on the couch in the evening while my wife watches "Brothers and Sisters." Ugh.

Anthony Chabot
Putnam, Conn.

FactCheck.org responds: Our video maven, Emi Kolawole, has moved on to even bigger things, but look for FactCheck.org to expand its media offerings in the future. Meanwhile, may we recommend that you not watch vidcasts while you drive?


Vaccine Fracas

Just wanted to say a big thank you to Jess Henig for taking the time to fully address the article ["Swine Flu Emergency?," Nov. 5]. It’s exactly what I was hoping for, especially pointing out how Mercola is a salesperson competing with the vaccine — I never thought of it that way!

Take good care and stay healthy!

Elizabeth Koozmin
Reston, Va.


I am amazed and appalled by your article on the H1N1 vaccine. Since you know that big pharma and the FDA are financially tied, why would you accept what the FDA says without critical evaluation? Why do you suppose at least half of doctors and their families are refusing to get the shots? You have certainly lost your valued credibility with a lot of people.

Perhaps you should also review comments by physician researchers who do not accept the government’s whitewash, instead of the straw man propaganda set-up by the government, and then re-comment on the issue.

Norbert Weckstein
Roanoke, Va.

FactCheck.org responds: We suspect our reader is referring to a poll conducted in the United Kingdom when he states that “half of doctors … are refusing to get the shots.” We couldn’t find any surveys of U.S. doctors that indicated such a refusal to be vaccinated. The U.K. poll that found about half of doctors weren’t going to be vaccinated wasn’t a scientific survey, and it had a very small sample size – 115 doctors total. It also didn’t indicate why the physicians didn’t intend to get the vaccine. Pulse magazine, a publication for health professionals, conducted the survey and described it as a “snapshot survey.” In a comment to the Pulse article about the poll, Pulse Editor Richard Hoey said: "This was a quick email survey which simply asked: Do you plan to have the swine flu vaccine yourself?"

A second U.K. poll, conducted by GP newspaper, said that 29 percent of 216 doctors said they wouldn’t get the vaccine and 29 percent said they weren’t sure whether they would do so.

The U.K. vaccine includes squalene, which we discussed in "Inoculation Misinformation," though there’s no evidence that this ingredient was to blame for doctors reporting that they were unlikely to get the vaccine.


Give Us Some Love

You are the absolute BEST! I love it that we have a place to verify political claims! Thank you, thank you, thank you for your brilliance!

Anna Bralove
Sanibel, Fla.