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Just for kicks, jump onto your web browser and Google the phrase “Medicare facts.” On the first few pages of results, count the number of sites offering Medicare facts and compare this with the number of sites offering to dispute someone else’s Medicare facts.

Now consider this quote from a recent article by Leonard Pitts, Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with the Miami Herald:

“We cannot discuss what color to paint the room if we cannot agree on what constitutes red, green – or the room. We literally have no shared language with which to even have the discussion.”

In a nutshell, Pitts is lamenting the fact that in the age of the Internet and constant political discourse, facts–clean, black-and-white facts sans the colorful bend of agenda–can quickly become muddied and indiscernible. And this is a problem.

If we can’t agree on a common body of facts, how can we have thoughtful, constructive discussions, both interpersonally and in the public square? How do we collectively move forward? How can we effectively solve problems?

Recently, a team of both journalists and medical experts concerned with the state of Medicare decided there was a lot of inaccurate and contradictory information floating around about the program. And they found this particularly troubling during an election year when political journalists–often people with little to no medical background–were being asked to play the role of Medicare experts.

So this team of experts decided to step forward to help, essentially creating the “common body of facts” about Medicare they found lacking in journalism, in politics and certainly on the Internet. They created The Medicare NewsGroup.

“At a time when competing proposals to reform Medicare have become a key part of the presidential campaign, four of the nation’s most respective health care experts have joined a Medicare NewsGroup advisory board aimed at helping journalists provide accurate coverage of the program,” stated a news release on the site.

This advisory board, says the news release, includes two former heads of the Medicare program, the former head of its physician payment office, and the former chair of a prestigious advisory commission on the program–two Democrats and two Republicans in all. (Read about this “Medicare Dream Team” here.)

“Their deep expertise and commitment to ensuring the public receives fair and accurate information will help journalists better inform the American people about the critical choices facing them about Medicare’s future,” said Judi Isreal Rosen, publisher and co-founder of the Medicare NewsGroup.

How accurate and user-friendly is Medicare NewsGroup? You’ll have to take a walk through the site to see for yourself. Your personal knowledge and experience with Medicare will allow you to form your own opinion.

Regardless of what you find, though, I certainly applaud the site’s intent: to dig up facts, wash them off and lay them side by side to form the foundation of a shared language–one that will allow us to have a constructive discussion on Medicare