How will the cost of medical care be controlled? So far, candidates have offered little to prove that their ideas for cost containment will actually contain costs. Nor has the media pressed for specifics. Just how much money to the system will be saved by the much ballyhooed disease management approaches, which have had mixed results, or by the salve called preventive care, which by the way, has upfront costs that someone needs to pay. And exactly how will market competition touted by both candidates lower the price of an MRI?

Because so much is at stake, it’s disturbing to see a new crop of stories predicting that reform won’t happen. Insurance executive turned blogger Robert Laszewski told his readers, “the chance for major health care reform in 2009—or—2010 is a long shot.” Reporting on the annual meeting of the Midwest Business Group on Health, The Chicago Tribune observed that not one person in a crowd of 200 thought health benefits would be expanded one year after a new president takes office. The danger is that these kinds of stories can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. More of them and editors might get the idea the debate is over before it has even started.

It isn’t.

Read parts one, two, three, four, and five of this series.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.