ACTION: Put an End to Backroom Health Care Deals

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Jun 17, 2009 at 13:35


Get answers from your Senators on health care today.

So, what is going on with health care reform lately?

  1. Today, The Hill reports that Blue Dogs and Republicans are holding secret talks on health care reform:

    The talks have been so secretive and politically sensitive that some members interviewed by The Hill refused to name other legislators involved in the bipartisan effort.

  2. Also today, former Democratic and Republican Senate majority leaders are coming out with plans to tax health care benefits, but with no public option.

  3. A few days ago, Senators like Mary Landrieu and some Blue Dogs in the House have backed off their public statements in support of a public option.

  4. Over the weekend, Kent Conrad is telling the world that there aren't enough votes for the public option. He claims that he was instructed to craft a compromise, non-public option plan by Senate leaders.

Pardon my sounding like an angry blogger for a moment, but what the frak is going on here?

For years, candidates for, and members of, Congress told us that we needed to elect and re-elect them in order to lower health care costs and provide universal coverage. And so, for years, we dutifully worked our collective asses off, delivering wide majorities for Democrats--who said they would lower health care costs and provide universal coverage--in both branches of Congress.

Now, when it comes time for them to deliver on health care by providing a public option--the care minimum required to reduce costs and provide universal coverage--what we are getting instead are backroom deals, flip-flops, and cop-outs.

Enough.

Today, along with Health Care for America Now, Democracy for America and numerous blogs, a campaign is being launched to put an end to the backroom deals on health care. We made and delivered on a commitment to bring about wide Democratic majorities in Congress. Now, instead of negotiating in secret, this Congress needs to make a public commitment to us on where it stands on health care.

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.

Chris Bowers :: ACTION: Put an End to Backroom Health Care Deals

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You know what is really disgusting ... (4.00 / 4)
most of these idiots(meaning Kent Conrad .. Ben Nelson .. the Blue/Bayh Dogs) know what the right thing to do is ... yet they won't do it .. and even tons of phone calls don't always get them to do the right thing .. it is so sad .. and says a lot about them

Bayh (4.00 / 2)
Why won't Bayh support the public option? I just can't imagine.

[ Parent ]
Self importance (4.00 / 1)
Bayh is simply far more important defining what game gets played than doing the right thing along with 50+ others.  He'd rather be Mr. Big Shot than be a team player.  Larry Bird, another Hoosier, needs to school him a bit.

Maybe part of it is over reaction to his dad's defeat decades ago.  At least Birch Bayh stands for something.  This clown stands for himself.  Evan Bayh is a disgrace.


[ Parent ]
Bayh (0.00 / 0)
Bayh is simply far more important defining what game gets played than doing the right thing along with 50+ others.

I think there is something more to it than that.


[ Parent ]
Bayh's just one of many (4.00 / 1)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Does the term "conflict of interest" still exist?

The thing damn sure does.


[ Parent ]
I've always suspected that's because a lot of them (0.00 / 0)
flat out don't believe in a progressive populist worldview. During the New Deal or the Great Society, they wouldn't have been Democrats. They would have been New England Republicans.



[ Parent ]
what is this bizzaro world (4.00 / 4)
where the compromise solution was the very plan that went down in flames in the last election? There is zero, absolutely zero support for taxing employer benefits to create for subsidies for health insurance companies. You should see the threads on Digg on this subject. Lefty bloggers are mild by comparison.

The indifference to public opinion is simply staggering.


You are on Digg? ... (0.00 / 0)
email me at the address in my profile .. and put "Digg" in the subject ... that goes for any of the other regular commenters here .. and make sure you identify yourself with the name you use here ... thanks!!

[ Parent ]
let's get the message to the democrats that if they don't pass a strong public option, there will be no more votes/money/organizing (4.00 / 1)
start a petition, a group, whatever is needed to make them understand

I don't give a damn what their excuse will be, this is the one subject where I draw the line

no support from them = no support from us, good luck in 2010


Chris, with all due respect (4.00 / 2)
You have the wrong frame. The powers that be want you to be begging for a public option, any public option (or for those who need a little caffeine in their weak-tea, a so-called "strong public option").

I urge you to listen to three authorities...

Admiral Ackbar:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Avedon Carol:
http://sideshow.me.uk/sjun09.h...

Barack Obama, who was quite clear on what we could accomplish if we put Democrats back in charge:
http://www.correntewire.com/ju...

It's called HR 676. Please get behind it, instead of playing the "public option" game, which is virtually guaranteed to lead to a piss-poor "compromise" that feathers the nests of Big Insurance and screws the American public.


You might notice that this is journalism (4.00 / 1)
We aren't emailing people in support of anything. We are looking for answers to questions.

I support HR 676. What we are doing here is getting Senators on record.


[ Parent ]
To quote a great man, "what the frak is going on here?" (4.00 / 1)
A few paragraphs up, you were "sounding like an angry blogger."

Now, you're intoning about the hallowed halls of journalism, like I've offended the Mighty Oz and Charles Foster Kane in one fell swoop!?

Look, we're both passionate about genuine health care reform. That's a good thing.

I'm not attacking you, just making the point that the most pernicious backroom deals (which, if I read your title correctly, is the topic of this piece of journalism) were the ones that took single-payer off the table, beginning with Daschle's house parties, and continuing now with reports that Obama is seeking to ensure that his plan can never evolve into single payer.

I'm finding that even the best of them -- and I do consider you one of the best -- are seeming not to be sufficiently wary of accepting the "public option" Trojan horse as the definition of what we should be fighting for.

If that's a crime, then ship me off to journalism jail.


[ Parent ]
We got hosed (4.00 / 1)
when single payer was taken off the table.

Now Chris wants us to care about how bad we're getting hosed?

I've got better things to do.


[ Parent ]
Good point (0.00 / 0)
and a legitimate story.
Any chance you will cover the Pennsylvania single payer legislation?

[ Parent ]
Email sent (4.00 / 3)
Emailed both of my senators (Menendez and Lautenberg) - going to also hit up Menendez via Facebook as well.

Let's see who gets the answer first! (0.00 / 0)
How does contacting Menendez on FB work?

[ Parent ]
I'll do this, but we need to step it up (0.00 / 0)
Emails aren't worth the paper their printed on.

We need to show we're serious.  For example, sit ins at Senators' and Congresscritters' local offices.  

If someone else commits to organizing this on their end, I will too.

Anyone want to take me up?


Yes and No (0.00 / 0)
A lot of the offices while they may not read in depth every email, what they do is they tally how many emails they get per subject etc and if they see a high volume on a particular topic they know they cannot ignore it.

This is more about keeping the issue on the front burner than anything else.


[ Parent ]
Won't that lead to arrests? (0.00 / 0)
Wouldn't a Mall Protest be a better idea?

[ Parent ]
There is a rally planned for next week, June 25 (4.00 / 1)
Health Care for America Now is one sponsor, and Dr Craig Newhall's Health-Justice single-payer site is another.

The march takes place, see the map in their flyer. They suggest that participants make appointments to see their Congresspeople and Senators in the afternoon.

I understand that Obama is going to be speaking on health care reform on ABC on June 24. That's convenient...


[ Parent ]
Sorry, that should be CLARK Newhall, MD & JD (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
What if our Senators support the Public Option? (0.00 / 0)
Both of my Senators are on record supporting the Public Option.  Should we still email them?

I would say yes (0.00 / 0)
Since these questions would keep the pressure on and questions 2 through 4 ask them to quantify their support about specific aspects of a public option.

[ Parent ]
Get the specific details (0.00 / 0)
listed above in written form. So yes.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
Done! (2.00 / 2)
Pretty easy because I only have one Senator at the moment.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


Er, maybe mail the White House too? (4.00 / 4)
Via NPR:

Asked if the administration's program will be drafted specifically to prevent it from evolving into a single-payer plan, Sebelius says: "I think that's very much the case, and again, if you want anybody to convince people of that, talk to the single-payer proponents who are furious that the single-payer idea is not part of the discussion."

Some have supported the public option because it might evolve into single payer, or at least a truly universal system where profit was taken out of the equation. So it would be nice if the Democrats didn't craft the bill so that single payer was made impossible forever. And it looks like the driving force there is the White House, from Sibelius's quote.

Incidentally, the public option sounds great, at least to non-wingers, perhaps because it has that word "public" in there. But the real advantage of single payer from a cost perspective is that it has 3% administration costs, as opposed to the 30% that goes the CEO salaries, profits, and call centers to deny people health care, in the profit sector. Moving from 30% to 3% is what gets you the $350 billion a year savings. Since the public option is, by definition, not a single payer system, you don't get the savings.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  


And one more question (4.00 / 7)
Do you believe that single payer should be included in the CBO scoring process for health care plans?

As long as we're just getting 'em on the record...  

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  


This is going in my letter (0.00 / 0)
to NJ's Lautenberg & Menendez. Thanks for the suggestion.

[ Parent ]
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