RX for Reform Online Chat with Gov. Howard Dean

By Joe Frandino

Last night, Gov. Howard Dean held a national live online chat with grassroots activists from across the country. Those who logged into the Stand with Dr. Dean website were able to submit their questions electronically to Gov. Dean.

The online chat was a big success, with more than 2,500 questions being submitted and more than 2,000 people taking part in the chat.

To list a few of the excellent questions posed to Gov. Dean last nigt:

Does the public health care solution cover those who cannot pay at all?

DEAN: Yes, premiums would be income based.

The money and lobbying staff of drug and insurance companies are huge. What makes you think we can effectively counter that?

DEAN: Real change always comes from the grassroots, but its hard work and that’s why you are so important. You can write letters to the editor, contact members of Congress, sign the petition at standwithdrdean.com and make it clear that you want real change in healthcare or that you’ll work very hard for change in Congress.

What [are you] doing to spread the need for a public healthcare alternative to the non-believers?

DEAN: I’ve been spending a lot of time on the road doing town hall meetings to make sure people know what’s at stake and have been explaining this on television, radio and in print. I also wrote a book, Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform.

What would be the incentive for people to move from employer-based healthcare to this new program?

DEAN: It’s cheaper, comprehensive, and it travels with the individual wherever they live, no matter who they are employed by, and even if they are unemployed.

Do you think private insurance companies would really be able to compete with the public option?

DEAN: They will be if they behave themselves. As I point out in my book, they will have to treat their clients better and treat providers better. They will have to focus more on patient care and less on profits.

To read more questions and answers from last night’s online chat, click here.

3 comments

Clark Rieke on June 14, 2009 at 7:46 PM says:

It seems to me that a big issue is convincing voters that the competition between the public plan and the private plans will be fair and on a level playing field.

Can you answer this concern?

Bluevoter on June 16, 2009 at 6:00 AM says:

I am very concerned that current health care debate in Congress is strongly driven by the special interests of the health care "insurers" and providers. It will take a concerted effort to overcome the special interests if we are to obtain new health insurance programs that provide for universal coverage and a government-sponsored health care option. If we don't achieve this program in 2009, it may be many years before such an opportunity again arises. For me, this is the battle of my lifetime for my children, so that they can be assured of the fundamental right of health care.

I offer the following principles to guide us through getting a decent plan in the US:

1) No private, for profit company should have the right to decide who can and who cannot have health insurance in the US

2) No individual should have to take or keep a job solely to obtain or maintain health care coverage

3) No individual should have to marry someone or remain married to someone solely to obtain or maintain health care coverage

4) No individual should be forced to declare bankruptcy because of his or her inability to pay for health care for someone in his or her family

5) No individual should have to emigrate from the United States for the purpose of obtaining affordable health care (no health insurance exiles)

6) No business should be at a severe competitive disadvantage against its international competitors because of the cost of providing health insurance for its employees (the GM principle)

As things stand, people are working past their retirement ages because it is the only way to provide employer-based health insurance for needy children and spouses who would otherwise be unable to obtain insurance. Also, people are staying in abusive relationships (both employment and marital) to keep their access to employer-based health insurance. Companies are reducing or eliminating health care insurance because it is the only way that they can afford to stay in business, thus putting more and more of the burden on individuals.

Many individuals who oppose a universal or single payer plan think that they could never find themselves in a situation where they would need such a plan. If they lose their job or have a severe health problem in their family, they will quickly discover the need to have a program that is independent of insurance companies and employment requirements.

The special interest lobbies (America's Health Insurance Plans, Big Pharma, the AMA, etc.) have spent billions and are prepared to spend billions more to protect their hugely lucrative positions. For them, the debate is not about providing affordable health care to the largest number of people, but about maintaining their franchises and maximizing their profits. They should be forced to put a "conflict of interest" disclaimer, sort of like a "Smoking Kills" sticker, on all of their ads.

If we want to join the ranks of advanced countries that view health care as a right, then we have to stand up to these companies and to our elected representatives and tell them (and President Obama's team) that every citizen should be entitled to a health care plan just like the one given to every member of Congress.

One Voice on June 16, 2009 at 12:20 PM says:

Howard Dean ruined healthcare options in the state of Vermont, now he wants to provide the same "service" nationally. Our country cannot afford this. Write checks out of your own check-book, stop writing them out of mine.

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