White House Launches Web Site to Battle Health Care 'Rumors'

The Obama administration has launched a new Web site to battle what it calls "wild rumors" about the health care reform plans being pushed through Congress -- including an invitation for the public to tattle on any other "myths" they come across.

It comes a week after the White House asked the public to send in "fishy" information about health care reform.

The Web site, activated Monday, uses the same set-up as the "Fight the Smears" page the Obama campaign maintained last year to battle rumors seen as potentially damaging to his candidacy.

The new "Reality Check" site features a half-dozen alleged rumors about health care reform, responding to them with videos of top aides rebutting them.

"We're offering the site and tools to empower individuals across the country to take this content into their own hands and share it among their networks," a senior administration official said.

"That's the sort of bottom-up process that got us to the White House, and it's what's going to deliver meaningful change to the health insurance system."

In one clip, an aide to adviser Valerie Jarrett disputes the claim that health care reform will lead to "rationing." Kavita Patel says rationing already occurs in the form of private insurers determining how to fund clients' health care, but said the notion that government will interfere in health care is "laughable."

In another clip, Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council, disputes what the White House calls a "malicious myth" -- the idea that reform would lead to euthanasia for seniors.

That claim is rooted in a provision in the House bill that provides Medicare coverage for an end-of-life consultation every five years.

Barnes says the claim that such counseling amounts to euthanasia is false and that nothing is mandatory about the consultations.

"We've seen these antics too many times before," she says.

The Web site is part of an aggressive effort to keep the health care reform push from losing traction as lawmakers break for the summer recess.

Those lawmakers who have been hosting town hall meetings during the break have been confronted by vocal critics of the legislation, some of whom are concerned about the claims the White House tries to address on the new Web site.

It's unclear whether the claims addressed on the site were solicited via the effort last week to gather "fishy" e-mails. That effort led to charges that the administration was gathering information on health care reform critics, something the White House denies.

But the new site continues the effort to solicit information, featuring a "We Want to Hear From You" section which encourages readers to submit their "myths" for the White House team to address.

The site has tools that allow readers to e-mail the videos and pages to others.