The Healthcare Report

Get the latest news and opinion on the public healthcare option.

Statements from Senators on Public Plan Trickle In

Yesterday we wrote about a campaign coordinated by Health Care for America Now, Democracy for America, and Open Left to ask senators where they stand on a public option. Thanks to the work of grassroots activists who have emailed their senators, we’re starting to hear back.

At Open Left, Chris Bowers writes that Sen. Feingold supports the public option.

After some uncertainty about where Sens. Hagan and Bingaman stand on the public option, Jane Hamsher spoke with Sen. Bingaman’s office, where she was told the Senator “supports a strong public option.”

And reader MC pulled a number of quotes on health care from the websites of Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas; unfortunately these quotes don’t include direct statements regarding the public option.

We hope you’ll get involved with this campaign, because it’s already yielding important results. Here’s Chris Bowers’ summary of the campaign in case you missed it yesterday:

No more dodges. No more vague, open-ended responses. We need every member of the Senate–main obstacle to reform–to answer four questions on the public option:

Do you support a public healthcare option as part of healthcare reform?
If so, do you support a public healthcare option that is available on day one?

Do you support a public healthcare option that is national, available everywhere, and accountable to Congress?

Do you support a public healthcare option that can bargain for rates from providers and big drug companies?

As activists and as constituents, answering these questions are the minimum they owe us. We are entitled to specific, clear, written responses to all of these questions.

Email–don’t call, but email–these four questions to your Senators now. Make it clear that you want a written response to all four questions. There needs to be as little room for interpretation as possible. The Senate is going to be the biggest hurdle on health care, as it has proven to the biggest hurdle on all legislation in 2009. That is where we must focus our pressure.

When you receive a response, post it on this webpage. We are going to collect all of the responses to find out where every member of Congress, but especially the Democratic members, stand on the public option. It is only with this information that we can prevent backroom deals that will sell us out to insurance companies.

If they don’t respond, we will keep emailing until they respond. If they dodge the questions and don’t provide specifics, then we will keep emailing until they do. If we keep the pressure up, they are going to have to respond eventually.

It is about time that every Senator make their position clear. We are entitled to responses. Email your Senators today.


With several responses already just in the first day, we’re excited to keep going on this project. We hope you’ll get involved!

[UPDATE 1:41 PM]: My Left Nutmeg lets us know where Connecticut’s senators stand on the public option – Sen. Dodd supports it and Sen. Lieberman opposes it.

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Private Muscle and the Public Option in Health Care

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post

We’re headed into the end game for health care reform. The president has put himself in the arena. The insurance lobby is unleashing the scare campaign. A strong bill will pass the House. But at this point, too many Senators are still standing in the way.

The reform includes a broad range of measures to extend and improve care and help curb rising costs, but the epicenter of the debate is over what is called the “public option.” Health care reform will mandate businesses provide insurance or pay into a general fund. Individuals will be responsible to get health insurance, with subsidies for those that can’t afford it. We’ll able to retain the insurance we have, or have the choice of a range of plans, including a public option, modeled after Medicare. A strong public option, competing with private insurance, is key to helping to get costs under control.

And costs must be brought under control. We now spend nearly 50% more on health care per capita than any other country, with mediocre results. We ration care by price, with some 47 million Americans uninsured. It costs the rest of us about $1000 a year to pay for the price of their care when they are forced finally to check themselves into emergency rooms.

Tell stories, not statistics, the pollsters tell us. But after adjusting for inflation, health care costs have soared by 58% since 2000; while wages for most Americans were stagnant or lost ground. As the auto companies showed, businesses increasingly can’t afford health care. Families find it unaffordable. Virtually the entire long term debt challenge facing the US government is from the projected rise of health care costs. Get health care costs under control, the US has no long term fiscal problem. Fail to get them under control, the costs will bankrupt the federal government, state governments, businesses that offer health care (and increasing numbers won’t) and families. Reform that gets costs under control is imperative. There is no choice.

A key to getting costs under control is the public plan. It can take advantage of its purchasing power to gain cost reductions. It can model best care practices. Private insurance — which in most localities translates into a couple of dominant providers that don’t compete on price — will be forced to measure up with greater efficiency, innovation, and cost savings techniques.

Yet the debate in the Senate has been fixated on how to weaken or abandon the public plan rather than strengthen it. Republicans, for the most part, have taken themselves out of the adult conversation. Like first generation robots, they endlessly repeat the exact same words crafted by Frank Luntz – “government takeover,” “no choice of doctor,” “bureaucrats not doctors prescribing medicine.” It’s frankly pathetic. We have no choice as a society but to figure out how to fix this – and Republican leaders have chosen simply to peddle lies and scare stories and absent themselves from any serious discussion.

A gaggle of Democratic Senators — led by Senator Baucus and the so-called “moderate” Senators — have publicly thrashed around for ways to weaken or gut the public option. Outside groups like the Third Way have provided guidelines for disemboweling it. Some have suggested putting it off until private insurance competition proves it can’t get costs under control — as if that hasn’t been proven over the last decades. Baucus suggested decentralized local “co-ops” would serve as the public option — an idea notable for being both unmanageable and ineffective. Even if a network of coops somehow arose to insure that people had an option, they wouldn’t have the clout to hold costs down and force private insurance to compete.

Others, remarkably, have detailed ways to deprive the public option of the power to lower costs. They call for a “level playing field” with private insurance. The public plan can’t be subsidized, can’t use its buying power to lower costs, can’t take advantage of lower administrative overhead.

This sounds silly. We face soaring health care costs that will literally cripple our future. Surely, no Senator concerned about the country would work to undermine the key idea that would help get a lid on costs. They wouldn’t, as Barack Obama warned, just “create a system where the insurance companies have more customers on Uncle Sam’s dime, but still fail to meet their responsibilities.” If you assume that, you would be wrong. They’ve done it repeatedly in the past.

For example, early in Bush’s first term, Republicans decided that passing a prescription drug benefit for seniors would help cement Karl Rove’s permanent majority. The benefit would help 41 million Americans with a soaring cost of care not yet covered by Medicare. It would also create massive new market for the drug companies. And, of course, Medicare could do what governments across the world do — use its buying power to lower the cost of the drugs.

Only, when Republicans passed the law — in the dead of night, twisting arms to get it done — it actually prohibited Medicare from negotiating a lower price for drugs. Don’t worry, they argued, competition would lower drug costs (even as they banned the import of cheaper drugs from Canada or Mexico).

Why? Well, using government muscle violated “free market” sensibilities. More importantly, the drug companies have one of the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill. Billy Tauzin, the chair of the key House committee ushering the bill through, left soon after to get a two million dollar a year job as a head of Big PhRMA, the drug company lobby. Tom Scully, the administration’s point person who helped secret the actual cost of the bill, was already negotiating his million dollar job as the debate was going on. In all, 15 congressional representatives, aides and administration officials involved in the debate left shortly thereafter to take jobs with the drug lobby. With a $9 billion increase in annual profits at stake, the drug industry got an amazing return on its investment.

Today, seniors pay 60% more for the same drugs than the price charged veterans becuse the Veteran’s Administration does negotiate lower prices.

Extreme? Not really. The health insurance companies decided they should be allowed to compete with Medicare in providing health insurance options to seniors. Seniors would get more choice; Medicare, the bureaucratic behemoth, would get agile competition. Win, win, they argued, calling the program “Medicare Advantage.”

Only the insurance companies couldn’t compete with Medicare straight up. So they demanded subsidies from the government to enable them to vie with the Medicare program they described as horrendously inefficient, unpopular and bureaucratic.

And they stand to pocket an estimated $177 billion in excess payments over 10 years to compete with Medicare – subsidies that Obama would sensibly cut to help pay for health care reform.

Money talks. Nine Republican Senators on the key Senate Finance Committee wrote President Obama to say they would oppose any reform with a public plan. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that the nine had had pocketed $17.7 million in contributions from insurance and health care interests over the course of their careers.. http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news-1/Senators-Who-Signed-Letter-Opposing-Public-Health-Plan-Took—2417-7-Million-in-Campaign-Donations-from-Health-Care-and-Insurance-Industries-48233-1/

Not surprisingly, the 20 largest insurance and drug companies and their trade associations have pumped up their lobbying by 41% over last year — with reported spending over $75 million in the first quarter alone.

This is the corruption of crony capitalism; a compromised congress using taxpayer’s money to enrich entrenched interests. Only now, the cost of this in health care is not sustainable. Dramatic reform is vital or we all follow the auto companies and go belly up.

So if your Senator says he or she is opposed to a public option, or wants a weaker public option, or a non-profit co-op that isn’t big government, or prates about the “government takeover of health care,” about losing your choice of doctor, about bureaucrats not doctors prescribing medicine, don’t fall for it. Either he or she is either utterly clueless or more likely is representing the interests of the industry, not the voters.

This business as usual is no longer affordable or acceptable. We shouldn’t let cynicism lower our expectations. Soaring health care costs and the human tragedy of those without insurance can no longer be ignored. Reform can’t be postponed. It is a stunning disservice that Republicans have taken themselves out of serious discussion. And it is an open scandal that Senators are catering to the private insurance industry that has profited from the problem rather than helping to solve it. We must expect more and demand more from those given the privilege to represent us.
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The HELP Committee needs HELP

By Nyceve

mcjoan at Daily Kos has a clear and excellent diary about the machinations going on at the Senate HELP Committee. Here’s the very frightening take home message mcjoan received from a contact on the Hill:

“We’re still hearing conflicting things, but there is a very real danger that the HELP committee is considering going ahead without putting a public option in the bill, making it necessary to add the public option in via amendment as opposed to protecting it from being stripped. This would stack the deck against the public option and make it much more likely we couldn’t get the votes in committee to add it at all, or would have to weaken the public option to get it passed. Bottom line, going forward without a public option in the bill is like starting the game down by 10 points.”

If you ask me, this is like fighting George Foreman with one arm tied behind your back.

So you’ve got to get on the phones, especially to the so-called Democrats on the HELP committee. Here’s all the contact information, courtesy of mcjoan. Call, baby, call.

Tom Harkin (IA): (202) 224-3254
Barbara A. Mikulski (MD): (202) 224-4654
Jeff Bingaman (NM): (202) 224-5521
Patty Murray (WA: (202) 224-2621
Jack Reed (RI): (202) 224-4642
Bernard Sanders (I) (VT): (202) 224-5141
Sherrod Brown (OH): (202) 224-2315
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA): (202) 224-6324
Kay Hagan (NC): (202) 224-6342
Jeff Merkley (OR): (202) 224-3753


Sen. Dodd needs some special attention because as mcjoan says, “Sen. Dodd, [who] is Kennedy’s standard-bearer on this one.”

Tell Dodd a robust public option must be included in the draft that goes to markup: Tel: (202) 224-2823 | Fax: (202) 224-1083.

PS: And Harry Reed, who’s supposed to be on our team, is confusing the issue even further with his call for Nonprofit Community Health Plans. Call Harry and demand that he stay focused on the public option.

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Fight the Smears

Rep. Boehner Townhall op-ed purposely misleading

By Joe Frandino

House Minority Leader John Boehner recently wrote that attempts to criticize Democrats’ plans for environmental, financial and healthcare reform. Boehner’s claims, however, are in direct contradiction of several recent surveys and investigations by major, respected organizations:

Rep. Boehner said new legislation addressing global warming and healthcare will have “devastating consequences” for the middle class …

However:

Investment in clean energy technology will create more than 1.5 million American jobs, Center for American Progress, “Green Recovery,” Sep. 2008

Boehner’s home state of Ohio would gain more than 80,000 jobs from increased investment in clean energy, Center for American Progress, “Green Recovery,” Sep. 2008

More than 70% of Americans polled want an increased government role in health care, CNN survey from 3/5/09

Boehner attempts to promote the Republican plan of offering $5,710 tax credits to all families to pay for their own health care…

However:

In 2008, the full annual cost of employer-sponsored health insurance averaged $4,704 for an individual policy and $12,680 for a family policy, according to a report by The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, Jan 2009
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Bipartisanship needed?

By Joe Frandino

The private insurance industry and its spokespeople in Congress are making the argument that for healthcare reform to last and have the support of the American people, Congress must pass a “bipartisan” reform plan.

But as :

Of course you never heard a word about “bi-partisanship” from the insurance industry or Republicans when they passed the notorious “Medicare Part D” prescription drug plan in 2003. Back then, they froze Democrats out of all negotiations, and passed the bill …

Now that the political tide has turned … the Republicans and insurance companies have had an eleventh-hour conversion to the benefits of “bipartisanship” when it comes to health care reform.

According to Creamer, in order for the American people to support this reform, they care more about results than bi-partisanship.

More than bipartisanship, the American people want to make sure that:

* Something gets passed.
* It provides health care for everyone.
* It puts the brakes on skyrocketing health care costs.

The best way to produce these results is to create a public health insurance option that would compete with private insurance companies. The resulting competition would keep private insurance providers honest and seek more cost-effective and efficient healthcare for everyone in America.

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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.

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Sen. Ben Nelson says he will not vote against public option bill

By Joe Frandino

Under recent pressure from progressive Democrats, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) has to not vote against a public option bill if it comes up in the Senate, says HuffPo’s Sam Stein.

“The liberals are kicking him in the ass right now and he is feeling it,” said Bud Pettigrew, the chair of county chairs for the Nebraska Democratic Party, who received a phone call from Nelson on Monday.
Until recently, Nelson has spoken against the public-option plan, saying it would eventually lead the way to a single-payer system. He’s been under a lot of pressure from Democratic leaders in Congress to prevent Republicans in the Senate from being able to delay action on the public-option plan by filibustering.

“It’s good to hear that Senator Nelson is not going to block the views of the majority on reform,” said Richard Kirsch of HCAN.

Adam Green of Change Congress spoke positively about the implications of the conservative Nelson siding with the growing majority of progressive Democrats.

“If Senator Nelson supports cloture on the public option, that is welcome news. It’s also concrete proof that when we call out politicians for siding with their special-interest donors it forces them to be more responsive to their constituents.”
So call your Senator now and tell them that you demand a public option:

(202) 224-3121

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Obama takes leadership in health-care overhaul

By Joe Frandino

From The New York Times:

After months of insisting he would leave the details to Congress, President Obama has concluded that he must exert greater control over the health care debate and is preparing an intense push for legislation that will include speeches, town-hall-style meetings and much deeper engagement with lawmakers, senior White House officials say.

Mr. Obama until now had charted a different course, setting forth broad principles and concentrating on bringing disparate factions—doctors, insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, labor unions—to the negotiating table.

Now, the President has declared this summer “make-or-break” time for healthcare reform and has called on Congress to pass comprehensive legislation by the end of the year, saying America can no longer afford the costs of a system dominated by profit-driven insurance and healthcare companies which leaves 46 million people uninsured.

In an excerpt from the administration’s new public relations campaign:

“We must attack the root causes of skyrocketing health costs,” said President Obama. “We should learn from their successes and promote the best practices, not the most expensive ones. That’s how we’ll achieve reform that fixes what doesn’t work and builds on what does.”


“This is why we elected him,” said Sarah Starnes, a hospital social worker who has volunteered to help campaign for the Obama plan in Missouri. “It used to be that we’d elect a president and then the lobbyists would determine what happened. This time it is going to be us who determine what happens.”
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Fight the Smears

Report reveals truth behind Rick Scott and CRP's allegations against the public option healthcare plan

By Joe Frandino

SEIU’s Change That Works Health Care Campaign has produced a detailed rebuttal to “Bulldozer” that the Media Matters Action Network has posted below.

Media Matters Action Network released this report on June 5, following Rick Scott and Conservatives for Patients’ Rights’ controversial segment that was directed at combating the public option health-care plan…

CPR Wants Viewers To Believe That The Health Insurance Market Is Large And Varied

FALSE CLAIM: “There are hundreds of choices of health care plans today…” [Conservatives for Patients’ Rights “Bulldozer” Ad, 6/4/09]

FACT: Only A Few Insurance Companies Dominate The Market, Leaving Americans With Limited Choices In Health Care. According to the American Medical Association, 94 percent of United States health care markets are considered highly concentrated, meaning that one company or a small group of companies control a great deal of the market. [American Medical Association, “Competition in Health Insurance,” 2008 Update]

CPR Wants Viewers To Believe The Government Will Take Away American’s Choices

FALSE CLAIM: “This government-run plan could crush all your other choices, driving them out of existence…” [Conservatives for Patients’ Rights “Bulldozer” Ad, 6/4/09]

FACT: Public Plan Will Only Drive Out Inefficient Private Plans, Leaving Consumers With Greater Choices And Better Care Options. According to Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) chairman Glenn Hackbarth’s comments on National Journal’s health care blog, “some private plans will not survive this competition – namely, plans that do little more than offer free-choice of provider, fee-for-service coverage. We don’t need those plans; a public plan can do that better.” [National Journal’s Health Care Blog, 12/8/08]

FACT: Private Plans That Offer Lower-Cost Options And More Comprehensive Plans Will Be Able To Compete. According to the Urban Institute: “Private plans that offer better services and greater access to providers, even at a somewhat higher cost than the public plans, would survive the competition in this environment. It is also conceivable that private plans offering a lower-cost option – for example, lower premiums than the public plan, say by exploiting care management innovations, and network and payment rate limitations – could stake out a separate niche in some markets.” [Urban Institute, 3/18/09]

FACT:Many States Run Public And Private Plans Alongside Each Other Successfully. According to the Center for American Progress: “Today, state governments (all of which regulate insurance companies) operate public Medicaid programs, purchase insurance for thousands of public employees, and regulate insurers. In fact, many states successfully offer their employees and retirees private health insurance plans side-by-side with these states’ self-funded health insurance plans.” [Center for American Progress, March 2009]

CPR Wants Viewers To Believe The Government Will Remove Coverage For 119 Million Americans

FALSE CLAIM: “Government-run plan” will force “119 million off their current insurance coverage, leaving no choices in health insurance and government in control of your health care.” [Conservatives for Patients’ Rights “Bulldozer” Ad, 6/4/09]

FACT:CBO Director: Lewin Study Claims Are Overstated. According to National Journal’s Congress Daily: “CBO Director Elmendorf told Senate Finance Committee members and staffers he expects fewer Americans would migrate from private health insurance to a public plan than projected by the oft-quoted study by nonpartisan policy experts at the Lewin Group.” [National Journal’s CongressDaily, 5/20/2009]

FACT: Lewin Group Is Mouthpiece For Insurance Industry. The Lewin Group was “acquired” by Ingenix in 2007, according to the Ingenix website. Ingenix is “a leading health information technology company.” According to the New York Times, INgenix is the “database business” of UnitedHealth Group. [Ingenix.com, 6/12/07; New York Times, 3/31/08]

CPR Wants Viewers To Support Maintaining The Failed Status Quo

Rick Scott in “Bulldozer”: “It’s not too late. Protect your health care choices. Tell Congress to say ‘no’ to a government-run plan.” [Conservatives for Patients’ Rights “Bulldozer” Ad, 6/4/09]

FACT: Scott Has Made His Fortune Off Our Broken Health Care System

Scott was ousted by the company’s board of directors in 1997 in the midst of the nation’s biggest health care fraud scandal, which involved alleged Medicaid and Medicare fraud

Scott Received Nearly $10 Million In Severance And A 5 Year Contract With Columbia/HCA Following Resignation. Modern Healthcare reported that Richard L. Scott’s “$9.9 million severance included a five-year consulting contract with HCA.” [Modern Healthcare, 7/11/05]

Scott’s 5 Year Consulting Contract Paid $950,000 Every Year. According to the New York Times: “The Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation said yesterday that it had agreed to pay its former chairman and chief executive nearly $10 million when he was forced out in July in the wake of an unfolding criminal investigation of the company. The agreement with the executive, Richard L. Scott, provided for a one-time payment of $5.13 million, as well as a five-year annual consulting fee of $950,000, for a total of $9.88 million, according to a copy of a severance agreement included in the company’s quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.” [New York Times, 11/14/97]

Scott’s Severance Package Included $300 Million In Stocks. According to the Florida Times-Union, Richard L. Scott left Columbia/HCA “with a $10 million severance package and 10 million shares of stock valued at more than $300 million.”
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Senator Chris Dodd reaches out through YouTube for health-care reform

By Joe Frandino

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Chairman of its Subcommittee on Children and Families, is soliciting feedback from constituents on how best to reform our nation’s health care system as part of YouTube’s Senator of the Week feature.

Senator Dodd is asking YouTube users from Connecticut and across the country to record their ideas and present them to congress via the YouTube Senate Hub. for Senator Dodd’s YouTube message on healthcare.

“This is an opportunity to discuss with people why health care reform is necessary and to invite them to share their ideas on this important debate,” said Senator Dodd. “The present system isn’t working. When you have 46 million people without coverage, clearly we need to reform this process, and I am asking the users for their ideas on how best to do that.”

Dodd has been asked by HELP Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy to serve as his chief deputy on health care reform.

Don’t forget to to the Senate Hub Web site.

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Howard Dean’s New Book Promotes Health-Care Agenda and Attacks Opponents of Health-Care Reform

By Joe Frandino

In Howard Dean’s , “Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform: How We Can Achieve Affordable Medical Care for Every American and Make Our Jobs Safer,” Dean outlines the debate for much needed health-care reform, breaks down the arguments being used by the opposition and makes the case for ensuring a public option for all Americans.

The book will be released as an e-book in all formats the week of June 8, 2009, then will be released as a printed paperback on July 1, 2009. It will also be released as an iPhone application available for download in the iTunes Store.

In addition to being able to navigate and search the entire book, this interactive book application will allow readers to quickly and easily take action and get involved in the fight for health care reform.

In an official press release from May 29…

This new paperback original (and e-book) outlines a practical, pragmatic approach as proposed by President Obama during the 2008 Presidential campaign, and the arguments the opposition will use to prevent a system that includes the 48 million Americans who are forced to live without health insurance:

*Give every American the choice of public or private healthcare insurance
*Public health coverage for life, no matter where you live or work
*No forced moves if the consumer is happy with current coverage
*Small business assistance from the government for employee plans
*No American is disqualified for an existing health condition
*Similar premium costs for everyone, despite age or illness
*Fewer dollars spent on management and more on medicine

Dean argues that for real reform to happen, Americans must have the choice to either keep their existing coverage if they are happy with it, or have the option to select a public plan; and that America must continue to make key investments as President Obama has begun to make in health care information technology to reduce costs and improve the quality of care.

Dean also looks at the devastating impact has had on the American economy adding to job losses as rising health care costs cause a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds, 14,000 people lose their health insurance every day. Rising health care costs are also one of the major reasons why small businesses close down and corporations ship jobs overseas.

“This is the moment when real reform is finally possible. Governor Dean has been a passionate advocate for reform for a long time and, as a physician, has a unique perspective of what is needed and what will actually work” said publisher Margo Baldwin, representing Chelsea Green Publications. “Anyone who wants to better understand the debate and how to fight back should read this book. Chelsea Green is honored to publish this important book that will no doubt influence the national debate about health-care reform.”

Find out more about the book at Dean’s Web site.

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Dean brings national tour for health-care reform to Denver, Iowa

By Joe Frandino

More than 300 people crowded into the First Unitarian Church in downtown Denver last week to hear Gov. Howard Dean discuss the reform of the American healthcare system and the necessity of a public option.

Calling himself a “counterweight to the insurance industry,” Gov. Dean rallied the crowd to support a public option for everyone in America.

“All people get nervous about change,” he told the crowd. “If you like what you have, you can keep it.”

The public option gives Americans the choice between public or private insurance, depending on their certain needs, income levels, or other factors.

“We’re on the brink of having a healthcare program that every other industrialized nation has had for years,” said Dean in an interview with The Denver Post, explaining his commitment to travel across the country and hold town hall meetings to discuss healthcare reform in America.

“This needs to be an everybody program,” he ended. “Let’s have real choice.”

Dean’s tour continued with a stop into Des Moines, IA. An event in Portland will be held Friday, June 5. Admission is free, but be sure to RSVP at www.democracyforamerica.com/drdeanportland.

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Fight the Smears

Conservative campaigns attack health-care reform in key states

By Joe Frandino

Conservatives are ramping up their lies and fear mongering tactics to attempt to slow progress in the growing calls for American health-care reform.

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation plans to launch a “$1.7 million television-advertising campaign that negatively likens the U.S. health-care system envisioned by lawmakers to Canada’s publicly administered system,” though the proposed American plan has little resemblance to the Canadian system.

The Conservatives for Patients’ Rights plans a $20 million TV ad campaign beginning this Sunday that features 30-minute segments of uninterrupted commentary by doctors and patients from the UK and Canada (both government-directed health-care systems) describing the failings and shortcomings in their respective systems.

What these Conservative organizations fail to realize is the presence of choice within the proposed American system. The point of the public option is it offers Americans the ability to choose what kind of coverage they want—a choice they currently don’t have. Where Americans are currently forced to adhere to the private sector health-care system, and British and Canadian citizens are subject to only the nationalized health-care system, the proposed American system gives citizens the ability to choose.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) told reporters last week that he was trying to craft “a uniquely American solution” where people who like their health insurance can keep it.

The negative ads are scheduled to air in eight states with influential health-care lawmakers in Congress, including Montana, Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Indiana, Alaska, and Nebraska. This just goes to show how much your efforts are needed to help counteract the fear tactics being used by these conservative groups to try and delay the right, necessary and impending change in the American health-care system, specifically in the states mentioned above that will be soon be bombarded with these negative ad campaigns.

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Health care reform on the horizon?

By Joe Frandino

Citing tough economic times and the reevaluation of “business as usual” politics, President Barack Obama once again signaled his dedication to health care reform.

In a report by the Chicago Tribune:

President Barack Obama predicted travails ahead for the struggle to pass health-care reform but offered a hopeful outlook for passage of legislation providing access to insurance coverage for all, saying “the stars may be aligned” for a deal on a goal that eluded the last Democratic president.



Obama said he believed he would be able to succeed where President Bill Clinton failed on health-care reform because escalating costs have shifted the political climate.

“Businesses now recognize that if we don’t get a handle on this stuff that they are going to continue to be operating at a competitive disadvantage with other countries,” Obama said. "And so they anxiously seek serious reform.”

He’s committed to reform. Let’s make sure our Senators and Representatives are, too.

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Crossing the border for healthcare?

By Joe Frandino

According to researchers at UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, nearly a million Californians cross the border to Mexico each year because they cannot afford the rising cost of healthcare.

According to the study, at least 952,000 California adults – 488,000 of them described by the study as Mexican immigrants and about a quarter as non-Latino whites – head south annually for their medical, dental and prescription services.

Numbers most likely reach in excess of one million, since the data is compiled from 2001 figures and does not take into account today’s higher unemployment rate and higher rate of the medically uninsured.

“We suspect the number has grown by leaps and bounds,” said Gil Ojeda, executive director of the California Program on Access to Care, in a May 27 interview with The Sacramento Bee.

No matter who your Senators are or where they stand, call your Senator now and tell them that a public option is the only way to guarantee healthcare for everyone in America. There should be no need to leave our country to get adequate health care.

Call now: (202) 224-3121

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