Liability Update/Health Care Focus - August 26, 2009
by Donna Baver Rovito, Editor, "Liability Update/Health Care Focus"
Author, "Pennsylvania's Disappearing Doctors"
This LIABILITY UPDATE/Health Care Focus "newsletter" is a free service which I provide, as a volunteer, to help supply medical liability reform and other health care news and information, legislative updates, and political insight to physicians, patients, liability reform and quality health care advocates. NO ONE pays me to do this.
I am not employed by any physician or health care reform advocacy or liability reform organization, political party or candidate, although I volunteer for several. I am a quality health care, physician and patient advocate, breast cancer survivor, physician's spouse, journalist, political noisemaker, mom, and freelance writer. I am not, nor will I ever claim to be, unbiased, unlike many in the mainstream media.
Most information in this newsletter is copied and pasted from other sources, and will always be identified with links. Opinions and clarifications are my own, and do not reflect the official position of any physician or patient advocacy organization or tort reform or health care reform group unless stated as such. My opinions are placed in double parentheses ((xxxxxx)), italicized and appear in blue.
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HEALTH CARE REFORM IN GENERAL
The late, great Jimmy Durante is often quoted as saying "Everybody wants to get into the act."
That's what seems to be going on right now, throughout the nation, on health care issues, and it's a VERY good thing.
Through my work with various advocacy organizations and an online newsletter I've provided to health care professionals for many years called "Liability Update," I subscribe to many news services and organizations which advocate for quality health care. Frankly, I've NEVER seen as much activity in my "in" box as I've seen in recent weeks - and I have to say that, even though it takes me several hours a day to just open, much less read and digest everything and pass it along in coherent fashion, I'm thrilled that so many people and so many groups are making the noise our elected officials need to hear to keep them from committing legislative malpractice on the greatest health care system in the world.
Do changes need to be made in the way health care is delivered in America? Of course.
Does our health care system need major surgery to reroute the way EVERYTHING is done? Of course NOT.
Do we need more government involvement in health care to make it work better? A loud "NO WAY," please.
Health care is about patients and doctors and nurses working together to do what's best for every INDIVIDUAL. By definition, government does what it thinks is best for the MAJORITY of people. You can see how that just doesn't translate well to health care. In fact, it's government regulation and interference which is largely responsible for the problems which do exist in the health care system.
If you could buy your insurance policy on your own, and still receive tax benefits for doing so, from any insurance company in the nation (think Geico or Progressive) your rates would be lower, because you could tailor your plan to what you need, not what state mandates require companies to cover. I mean, really, do single young men in New Jersey REALLY need to pay for in vitro fertilization in their insurance premiums?
Yes, some people in America don't have health insurance, and that's a bad thing for them - but it doesn't mean that people are dying in the streets for lack of health CARE. Physicians and hospitals provide free care ALL THE TIME.
Plus, claims of 45 million uninsured are hugely inflated - many of those people are illegal aliens - who, incidentally, STILL get care, in our ERs. Many are already eligible for existing programs, like Medicare or Medicaid or SCHIP, but simply haven't enrolled for one reason or another. Many make more than $75,000 a year, so the argument that they can't "afford" insurance is likely a choice they've made to spend their resources elsewhere - a choice which, as Americans, they should have the right to make. Many are TEMPORARILY uninsured - census figures reflect as "uninsured" anyone who was without coverage even for a little as a month between jobs or policies. Realistically, that leaves somewhere between 10 and 15 million involuntarily uninsured because they really, really can't afford coverage.
There are over 300 million people in America. Do the math. The power brokers in Washington want to remake our entire health care delivery system to ensure that a small percentage (who, admittedly, DO need some help here) also have coverage. There's more going on here, folks, than just wanting to be altruistic.
I believe that those who are writing the legislation HONESTLY BELIEVE that the government can do a better job than the private sector, than the doctors and nurses and hospitals you trust, in providing health care. Are government bureaucrats really more efficient and effective than those in the private sector - including people who actually went to medical school? Can they control costs better? Think the PENTAGON or the postal service....or the fact that Medicare will go broke long before my children get to take advantage of it.....(heck, probably before I get to take advantage of it, and I'm over 50!)
Actually, I think government-run entities like Medicaid and Medicare, as well as third party payers in general, have contributed a LOT to the high cost of care. Do you really know what a night in a hospital costs, or an office visit? No, I don't mean your co-pay, I mean what it actually COSTS? Have you heard (or have you even said) "Do everything you can for my mother/father/grammy/daughter/son and I don't care what it COSTS"?
Americans have no idea what the true cost of health care really is because we're not paying for it - and that makes us uneducated consumers. Former Sen. Phil Gramm, speaking to the AMA in Washington many years ago, told us that if he had "dinner insurance" he and his dog would eat filet mignon every night! Insured Americans WANT filet mignon health care. We've been conditioned to expect everything, while paying little or nothing.
People who work in doctors' offices tell me all the time about the difficulty of getting people to pay their co-pays or deductibles, not because the patients are deadbeats, but because people honestly don't know what their insurance plans cover or what they require of their clients. People honestly believe that if they have insurance, their health care should cost them NOTHING, regardless of what their individual plans do or don't provide. It's completely unrealistic, but it does seem to be the pervading sentiment.
And SPEAKING of health insurance plans, people are also under the mistaken impression that the majority of what they pay in premiums actually goes to reimburse those who PROVIDE health care, assuming that when their premiums go up, their doctors and hospitals get paid MORE. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Medicare has steadily reduced physician reimbursements almost 40% in the past 10-15 years - and commercial insurers, which once paid MORE than Medicare, have followed happily along, assuming that if doctors are willing to accept less from Medicare, they should accept the same from them as well.
Many people think that doctors SET their prices, and that they're paid what they charge. That's not the case - Medicare and private insurance companies decide what they WILL pay, and there's little the doctor can do if the reimbursement doesn't cover the cost of providing the service. That's why fewer and fewer doctors accept Medicare and almost no one accepts Medicaid, which, in most cases, isn't even worth the cost of paying someone to file the claim.
General surgeons in PA who once were paid $1,500 for an appendectomy are now paid about $700 for the same procedure - and I've heard examples of similar reductions in reimbursement levels from doctors in every specialty. Currently, there's a 21% cumulative reduction planned in physician reimbursements through Medicare for 2010 - and the 1999 SHR formula on which provider reimbursements are based provides for an additional reduction each year, for a total reduction of 40%. Although doctors and their advocacy groups have lobbied Congress each year since the proposed reductions were to begin, and have managed to persuade our legislators to stave off the reductions each year, they continue to accumulate, and unless the flawed formula on which those payments are based is repealed BY CONGRESS, they will eventually happen.
DOCTORS AND THE AMA
That's one of the reasons the AMA and some other medical advocacy groups agreed to support the current plans being debated in Congress - both for a promise of fixing that formula and a continuing seat at the table, so they can continue to represent their members - a bad move, to my mind, and I don't agree with the AMA and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and other medical groups which have endorsed the plans. I've been happy to see that many specialty societies and many state medical societies are openly disagreeing with them on this issue.
HOWEVER, I think quitting the organizations with which you disagree on this issue is pointless and ultimately short-sighted, and I'm advising - no, BEGGING - doctors NOT to cancel their memberships to the AMA and other groups because of this disagreement.
The AMA is just like the government - local groups of physicians elect delegates to represent them at the state level, the state group - in our case, the Pennsylvania Medical Society - elects delegates to represent them at the national level, and the delegates at the national level represent the physicians from their own states and specialties in setting policy for the AMA as a national physician advocacy organization. The policy set by the PHYSICIAN members of the House of Delegates and is adhered to by the AMA's Board of Trustees The AMA's staff and lobbyists carry out the policy directives of the PHYSICIAN LEADERSHIP of the group.
Oh, and the AMA isn't a physicians' union, doesn't set medical school admission numbers, and doesn't have the power to control medical licenses or punish bad doctors by taking away their licenses. It's a voluntary "trade group," and has no power to "police doctors." Punishing bad doctors is the job of state medical boards - which are, in turn, NOT run by state medical societies. That information, obviously, is for the non-doctors on this list - I read comments to a news story yesterday, and ignorant readers accused the AMA of doing all three of those things. I suspect, though, that there are a lot of DOCTORS out there who don't have the slightest idea what the AMA does, either.
There's been a lot of talk about how the AMA doesn't represent ALL physicians. Frankly, that's the fault of EVERY PHYSICIAN WHO DOESN"T BOTHER TO BELONG. How the hell can doctors who don't pay dues and don't participate in SETTING policy expect a group to represent their interests? That's almost as stupid as refusing to vote, and then complaining about the policies of the people who win the elections - oh, WAIT, a lot of people do THAT, too.
Want to effect change in AMA policy? JOIN IT. Then, get involved at the county level - it's ridiculously easy, since most doctors don't bother and county medical societies are eager for new leadership. Get elected as a delegate (trust me, there aren't thousands clamoring for the positions) and make your voice heard at the state, and ultimately, the national level. If the AMA only represents 17% of practicing physicians, doctors have no one to blame but themselves for the AMA's waning political and legislative influence. Frankly, I'm sick of hearing doctors complain about what the AMA does or doesn't do, when they have the nerve to tell me first that they've never belonged and never intend to. Duh.
My personal policy toward any organization whose aims and goals I don't agree with has been this - join it, and TAKE OVER. Simple.
So quitting the AMA or the ACS or your state medical society of other advocacy organization because you don't agree with their position on this issue might make you FEEL better for a little while, but in the case of physician groups, it will definitely diminish the influence of physicians in the political process.
The AMA used to be a political powerhouse that legislators both respected and feared for its influence and reach. Today, not so much. And THAT harms medicine, because there's no other voice out there that DOES represent physicians and their patients with anything approaching the past and even the current influence of the AMA.
Little new groups that SAY they can replace the AMA, or that they represent physicians' interests better, are chirping in the wind. No one in Washington CARES, and while they might pay lip service to a 2,000 member physician group, you can be sure those new little voices won't be invited into the rooms where it really counts.
So, like I said - mad at the AMA for trying to represent its members and stay at the table? Fine. Write a nasty letter to the President of the AMA, write a letter to the editor of American Medical News, or find some other way to express your pique.
But the most FOOLISH thing you can do is cancel your AMA membership.
In fact, I have to wonder if the very REASON that the AMA and the ACS were "persuaded" by the administration to publicly endorse the Democratic plans in order to keep their seats at the table (and I will bet ANYTHING that's exactly what happened) is to create the split in the medical profession that it's caused.
If the AMA is further weakened because member doctors are PO'd about its position on HR 3200, then so much the better for the administration and Congress.
If there's no one representing physicians who has enough backing and clout to make a difference, then the government can alter the way doctors practice medicine ANY WAY THEY LIKE, create payment plans that are unsustainable, put non-physician government panels in charge of deciding"best treatment practices", etc..
After all, with the AMA hobbled, who the heck is going to stop them?
Anyone who cancels his or her membership in the ONLY SIGNIFICANT GROUP looking out for America's doctors is contributing to their own demise as a profession, and has no right to complain about what happens as a result.
OK, have at me - I know there are probably a lot rabid AMA-haters out there who just can't wait to tell me everything the AMA has done wrong in the past 150 years (do you know any OTHER organizations that are 150 years old? Anyone? Doesn't that TELL you something?), or that the AMA generates income from sources other than its members. (I think that's pretty smart, really - and would it be better if the government made the money selling the CPT codes to doctors' offices?) Frankly, though, I DON'T CARE about past issues.
I only care that the members of America's hardest working and most dedicated profession are represented by SOMEONE, even if it's someone they don't agree with all the time.
Doctors, and subsequently patients, since doctors are patients' first and BEST advocates, will be irreparably harmed if the AMA isn't "out there" watching out for them. Because if the nay-sayers and AMA-haters get their way, NO ONE will be out there protecting the most caring and noble profession - and the quality of America's health care will suffer for it.
And, no, I'm not a member of the AMA, but my husband is (he considered leaving the AMA over the public endorsement of HR 3200 until I explained the politics to him - he's a REALLY smart guy, but for the most part, he's too busy saving lives to do deep political analyses.)
I am, however, a proud member of the AMA Alliance, and plan to continue to be a member for the rest of my life, because the AMA and its Alliance have always made health care better and will continue to do so in the future.
Unless, of course, the shortsightedness of physicians who want to make themselves feel better by quitting instead of getting involved to make sure AMA policy reflects their views, minimizes the ability of the group to stand up for all physicians and patients.
And if that happens, health care is REALLY in trouble....
EVERYONE needs to be involved as much as possible - because the "other side" is pulling out ALL the stops....keep up the intensity, folks, because YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!
From the Delaware State TEA Party group:
Doctors Rally in DC
Written by Administrator
Tuesday, 25 August 2009 09:18
We are having a physicans rally on September 10th in Washington, DC at 5:30pm at Upper Senate Park which is right outside the Capital Bldg. We need your help in letting your local physicians know about this. We want them to be wearing their white coats and scrubs. We want them to show the nation how upset they are about government ran health care and the jeopardy of the doctor patient relationship! Below is all the information they will need, and I have attached a flyer that is more formal as well. Also, the flyer that is attached gives links for physicians to make reservations and registration.
Please go to your local physicians and tell them about this event. Email your friends and relatives. Let them know that we want to give physicians a voice.
We also need volunteers to help us make this event happen and work. Please let me know in the next few days if you can help us make this work and happen. I know you all are so excited, and we are ready to ROCK DC!! Thanks so much!!
Have a wonderful day!
National Town Hall Coordinator
National Leadership Team
Tea Party Patriots
Development Director for the Northwest GA Parkinson's Disease Association, Inc.
Coordinator of the Parkinson's Walk for Hope
SEPTEMBER 10, 2009
Upper Senate Park
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
PHYSICIANS STAND TOGETHER
Against Government Takeover of Healthcare
Let your voices be heard before it is too late.
DATE: September 10, 2009
TIME: 1:00 - 5:00 P.M. Eastern (
Meet with Senators and Congressmen before the rally)
5:30 - 6:30 P.M. Eastern
WHERE: Washington, D.C., Upper Senate Park
Please forward this information to fellow physicians!
• Let Congress hear your opposition to Government-run healthcare.
• Press conference to follow the rally.
• Meet with your Representatives and/or Senators before the rally.
((Dr. Rowsey, a fine physician and passionate advocate for quality care, whom I had the pleasure of meeting this past April at a political course in Washington, DC, sent this to me personally and asked me to pass it along. It's brilliant and proves that there ARE outstanding alternative plans out there....))
HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT?
PHYSICIANS SHOULD LEAD IN HEALTH CARE REFORM
J. James Rowsey, M.D.
The increasingly acrimonious town hall meetings on health care reform, pending the introduction of socialized medicine to the USA demand an answer for physicians. Our right to practice medicine is slammed in the eye by the fist of proposed government control of patient care.
What are the correctable issues at stake? What policy advances can we support? How do we become active?
I am currently sharing US Senator Tom Coburn MD’s legislative leadership provided in Senate Bill 1099, THE PATIENT CHOICE ACT, which advocates both the patient right to purchase the health care of their choice and the physician right to care for patients without government control. This aspiration of excellence for both patient and doctor responsibility is avoided by those who desire Washington, DC, expansion of medical care supervision.
Senate Bill 1099, companion House bill 2025, specifically provides for the following:
1. Tax Rebates to allow every American to afford health care with an advanceable credit of $2910/individual or $5710/family. The goal is to shift medical decisions and control from corporations and employers to patients. At this time many patients feel their heath care is “free”, paid by their employer. However this employer purchase price of insurance is simply removed from the employee’s pay check. Since the employer negotiates the insurance package, the employee is essentially masked from this expense, and is predisposed to spend the benefit without review of the costs. The Tax Rebate places the supervision of these funds in the patient’s/employee’s bank account. This direct patient control reduces individual spending by a Congressional Budget Office anticipated 30%.
2. Employers must place the aggregate cost of health care insurance on the patient’s W-2. This allows the patient to see what is coming out of their paycheck and educates them as to the pay reduction encumbrance they are already paying.
3. Individual Health Savings Accounts are supported as a tax free method of accruing funds for subsequent medical expenses. These funds may be further endowed by the Tax Rebate, the employer, or the patient.
4. State Based Health Care Exchanges are established, but insurance is not mandated. Private Insurers provide a NO MANDATE minimum plan available to Congressmen. Access points to apply would be increased through Emergency Rooms, and the DMVs of each state. State control of the insurance industry would prevail, eliminating the proposed US government public option of the current House Bill 3200.
5. The problem of the “47 million uninsured” is addressed with the tax credit. Medicaid and uninsured patients have direct control of their funds, which can only be spent on medical care, not a car or other expenses. I emphasize that the uninsured myth of 47 million people uninsured includes 33% of these patients have incomes over $50,000/year, and 16% have incomes over $75,000/year. 33% are currently eligible for government sponsored programs but need to sign up. 8-12 million are illegal immigrants. This leaves only 8.2 million chronically uninsured (2.7% of thee US population) It would appear inauspicious to change the entire US health care delivery system to accommodate this 2.7% unless the entire population benefits also. The tax credit provides this benefit.
6. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, COPD, and cancer are addressed by education and reduction of premiums for those patients engaging in life style changes prescribed and monitored by their physician. Good nutrition, exercise, smoking reduction are all incentivized
7. Medicaid and SCHIP are replaced by a refundable credit and a debit card with a 25% rollover for unexpended funds. In many states Medicaid consumes over 21% of the state budget, where 1 of 6 patients are on Medicaid. Senator Coburn’s bill, 1099, eliminates the fraud and abuse of the current system, which can reach 20% of expenditures in some states.
8. Medical Record IT is facilitated by an Independent Health Record Bank which provides medical record access only to the patient and the doctor. Government and Insurance carrier access is precluded for privacy reasons, thereby eliminating cost control manipulation through medical record access.
9. A Health Care Service Commission is established to provide transparency of price information to both patients and physicians. It would share effectiveness, outcomes, clinical practice, health care technologies, costs, disease prevention, statistics, and medical liability on the internet. This allows the patients, and the physician full access. This information is not used to rate physicians or allow Pay for Performance.
10. Terminates the FEDERAL COORDINATING COUNCIL OF COMPARATIVE EFFECTIVENESS. This current program, established with the stimulus package provides for a 14 man board to determine what procedures should be reimbursed, to which physicians, based on the “cost effectiveness” of the treatment. This controlling program mimics theUK N.I.C.E = National Institute of Clinical Effectiveness board. Unfortunately in England the cost control effort provides only a 78% 5yr early diagnosed breast cancer survival versus the US=98% 98% five year survival. Since mammograms, biopsies, surgery and chemotherapy are all expensive, the US medical system exceeds the socialized system in survival for lung, breast, colon and prostate cancer.
11. Malpractice costs of insurance and defensive medicine to the economy of $126 Billion/year are reduced by establishing state run Administrative Health Care Courts in which 3 experts and 3 attorneys review cases and provide a recommendation for compensation. The state court system may still be utilized if the plaintiff disagrees with the settlement recommendation.
These specific goals of Senate Bill 1099 should be placed before every legislator, Congressman or Senator with a request for your state representatives to cosponsor this legislation. Go to your town hall meetings and request this cosponsorship, for this legislation is written by a physician with the best interest of patients in mind.
I would be pleased to come and address your state medical, Board of Trustees or eye society meeting to motivate your doctors to get into action, and lead in health care reform. Call me at 727-642-7017, or e-mail: email@example.com.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:
5. White House Health Care Campaign Challenges Translate Into To Slipping Polls
[Aug 26, 2009]
Public anxiety about spending and a proposed public health insurance plan, routine distractions like Henry Lewis Gates Jr.'s arrest, and delays in rebutting Republican's attacks are triggering speculation that President Obama may be loosing his groove when it comes to his famous message discipline, the Boston Globe reports. "In recent weeks, Obama has delivered mixed messages that have bogged down the debate and sapped momentum from his top domestic priority. ... Republicans, meanwhile, have stepped into the void.... and, in a page taken directly from Obama's 2008 playbook, are using a combination of online organization and message-of-the-day discipline to frame the legislation as a government takeover."
Polls show the slippage, too, with an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing that 45 percent of people believe the government is likely to decide when to end medical care for the elderly, a believe perpetuated by the false allegation that Obama wants to create "death panels." More -- 55 percent and 54 percent, respectively -- said the plans would cover illegal immigrants and lead to a total government takeover of the health sector, lines critics push, but Obama refutes (Kranish, 8/21).
However, another poll found that Americans hold ambiguous views about what role the government may take in the current health reform proposals, the Denver Post reports. "Nearly 8 in 10 Americans support a federal health insurance plan for those who can't afford or can't get private insurance, but only 37 percent define 'public option' correctly, a new national poll found." The same poll found that 64 percent of people don't want to pay higher taxes to help the uninsured, and 74 percent of those with insurance said they were unwilling to pay higher premiums (Sherry, 8/25).
Republican lawmakers and conservative voters roundly oppose government taking on a further role in the health system, a topic at the heart of the debate. "'I don't want the government handling any more,' [Sen. Richard Burr, R- N.C.] said in agreeing with one caller [to a radio show on which Burr and other lawmakers were guests] who said the federal government had mismanaged too many programs in the past," the Charlotte News & Observer reports.
6. Town Halls Continue Across The Country
[Aug 26, 2009]
Boos and cheers at events across the nation indicate that the often-tense and vitriolic August town halls continue. Sen. John McCain, D.-Ariz., "said Tuesday that President Obama's efforts to reform health care have sparked 'a peaceful revolt in America,'" CNN reports. "'I've seen involvement and engagement on the part of Americans that I have never seen the likes of which before,' McCain said at a town hall in Phoenix, the first of eight such meetings he will hold around the state this week." While the Senator "firmly rejected the idea of a government-run insurance option, saying it would eventually drive private insurers out of business and lead to a full government takeover of health care, he echoed his 2008 campaign platform and said it would be irresponsible to simply 'do nothing' -- especially with the threat of Medicare and Social Security going broke." He called for "constructive, free market incentives" to improve the health care system (8/26).
The Washington Times: "Thirty minutes before Mr. Dean and [Moran] arrived [at the Reston event], hundreds of people on one side of the gym began chanting: 'We can't afford it!' Hundreds more on opposite bleachers began their own chant: 'Yes, we can!' deploying Mr. Obama's campaign slogan. 'No, we can't! No, we can't!' people chanted back from the first side of the bleachers" (Curl, 8/26).
The Hill: However, also in Reston, "Supporters of healthcare reform showed Tuesday night that they can pack a room, too." Organizing for America, Obama's political organization, prompted supporters to attend the event and provided signs. The Hill described opponents as a "vocal minority."
The Kansas City Star: Hundreds of miles away, "Supporters clearly outnumbered skeptics among the 1,300 people who attended a health care town hall continued, "Democrats said the pro-reform turnout was a sign their party was finally mobilizing just as Congress prepares to return from its August recess" (Helling, 8/24).
The Seattle Times: Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., faced a 2,500-person crowd at a town-hall meeting meant to address the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The voters, however, had brought their own topic, as well as signs and rally calls to the meeting. The chants ranged from "Health Care Now!" to simply, "No!" (Federis, 8/26).
Roll Call: At an event last week, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., told voters in a Democratic-leaning district that he did not think Congress would pass a reform bill this year. "We're heading in the direction of doing absolutely nothing, and I think that's unfortunate," he said, according to a the Lakeland Times, a local paper that first reported the comment (Drucker, 8/25).
Politico: Back in Virginia, Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., "was caught in the crossfire" of liberals arguing over whether health reform is "simply a moral imperative" and Constitution-shaking conservatives "warning of a power grab" by the government. Afterwards, Connolly said what many Democrats are thinking: "that their failure to anticipate the ferocious opposition to reform had set back the effort to build support for a bill" (Martin, 8/26).
7. Enzi and Thune Among Major Republican Voices In Health Reform
[Aug 26, 2009]
Newspapers highlight some of the major Republican players in health reform, including Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Enzi, part of the "gang of six" bipartisan Senators from the Finance Committee working to craft health care legislation, "may represent the nation's least populous state, but this is one senator who's enjoying outsized influence on health care negotiations," NPR reports. " Unlike the moderates and the mavericks in the group, Enzi's a free market conservative who represents one of the most reliably Republican states in the union, so even having him at the table with Democrats raised questions in some quarters." Enzi is also a member of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee and voted against the Health bill. Enzi says he works "on an 80 percent rule. I anticipate and from experience have found that usually everybody can agree on 80 percent of the issues. And among the 80 of the issues they agree on, they can agree on 80 percent of any one of those issues. And you never get a perfect bill around here. If you can get 80 percent, you can get a lot done." But so far, "Enzi has only hardened his stance on issues, like fighting Medicare savings to pay for universal coverage, even though every proposal put forward so far relies on that funding mechanism" (Cornish, 8/25).
The Hill adds that Enzi "has taken an increasingly hard line with Democrats in recent weeks, prompting liberals to question whether he is committed to reaching a deal." Last week, the senator "indicated a healthcare bill needs 75 to 80 votes to win his support and said one that includes a public insurance option -- a priority for liberals -- would never pass the Senate." Despite his harsh criticisms, Enzi has a history of bipartisan compromise: "When Kennedy took control of the committee after Democrats reclaimed the majority, the two lawmakers worked together on 14 bills that became law, including reauthorization of the Higher Education Act" (Bolton, 8/25).
Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune "warned Tuesday that GOP distrust of Democratic leaders runs so deep that even if Democrats abandon plans for a comprehensive health care reform bill in favor of smaller fixes, there is no guarantee of Republican support," Roll Call reports. "In a conference call with reporters, Thune argued that an incremental approach to health care reform is 'the only way to end up with a bipartisan bill.' But he warned the greatest hurdle to such a solution could end up being Republicans' unwillingness to trust Democratic leaders to not use the conference process to rewrite a rifle-shot bill into a fully comprehensive bill" (Stanton, 8/25).
The Hill in a second story: "Thune distinguished Medicare Advantage from Medicare, saying that the GOP wouldn't support cuts to the original program but has 'been open to looking [into] whether there are some savings that could be achieved' by way of cuts to the enhanced program, mostly because it is too expensive to spread into rural areas" (Rushing, 8/25).
The Los Angeles Times highlighted several important Democratic lawmakers in the health reform debates and whether or not they support a public option. "Important to watch are Reps. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Arizona) and Keith Ellison (D- Minn.), co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which backs a strong public option. Pelosi's principal deputy, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also backs a public option, but his enthusiasm seems tempered by the political realities in his chamber and in the Senate." In the Senate, "there are those who are wavering, including Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Independent Joe Lieberman (Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats, is among those who are prepared to vote against a strong public option, giving the GOP some leverage if Senate leaders want to avoid a filibuster fight" (Muskal, 8/26).
The Washington Times reports that "Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Tuesday that President Obama will get a strong health care reform bill, but he predicted Republicans would not support the measure regardless of its provisions." In an interview with the Times, Dean said "were going to pass a bill, and the bill is going to have a public option" (Bellantoni, 8/25).
((THIS is an outrage, about which we haven't heard nearly enough. I wonder if NBC will cover it....?))
Townhall Downfall: Astroturf Doctors?
Posted August 13th, 2009 at 12.45pm in Ongoing Priorities.
You may have seen yesterday’s video of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) speaking on her cell phone while a cancer survivor spoke to her about health care reform. Well now comes news that the pro-Obamacare voices in the crowd were not entirely legitimate.
A primary care physician identified as Dr. Roxana Meyer stood up and praised the President’s health care plan for overhauling a broken system. Meyer said: “I don’t know what there is in the bill that creates such panic.” The Congresswoman asked the crowd to give her a round of applause for being a doctor, hugged her and then asked “How long have you been practicing?” to which “Dr.” Meyer answered “Four years,” which was followed by more applause and a gushing grin on the face of “Dr.” Meyer. The problem? Roxana Meyer is not a doctor, but rather an Obama campaign delegate.
In fact, Roxana Meyer was sitting in the audience with a friend who also worked for the Obama campaign and was famously photographed hanging a Che Guevara revolutionary flag above her official Obama campaign office desk. The Houston Chronicle, which reported on the townhall and highlighted the exchange, knew that Ms. Meyer was an Obama delegate but was unaware she was not a doctor. The Chronicle did not report her campaign background, but has since updated their website to reflect she is not a physician.
In responding to inquiries, Roxana Meyer says she possessed “spontaneity” in her deception and she thought it would “help her credibility.”
Yes, she gave all Obamacare supporters loads of credibility today. We hope that the President’s chorus will denounce her actions as loudly as they have protested regular parents, citizens, students who have driven themselves to their representative’s townhalls to ask serious questions about the “reform” of one sixth of the U.S. economy.
I'LL STICK WITH MAIMONIDES
By MARC K SIEGEL.
Last updated: 12:22 am
August 26, 2009
Posted: 12:18 am
August 26, 2009
DID President Obama realize just how offensive it was to pitch his health reforms as "a core ethical and moral obligation"?
I don't take guidance on how to practice medicine from presidential decree, but from the Oath of Maimonides.
The great 12th century rabbi and physician wrote, "The eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of thy creatures . . . May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain."
I was trained to never give up hope in curing a patient until hope is truly lost. That's the moral imperative in my practice of medicine -- and it requires no government oversight.
I'm hardly alone among physicians in being guided by these egalitarian principles. We're taught in medical school and residency to treat all patients the same, regardless of income, VIP status, sex or skin color.
My obese patients get the same level of care as thin ones; the old, the same as the young. I distinguish only in terms of conditions or medical risks, not in terms of demographic entitlements.
My precepts run contrary to the idea of meeting with a 65-year-old to discuss specific ways I may withdraw care, as detailed in the House bill that the president has praised.
Nor do I see it as especially "moral" to push tens of millions of Americans into a new version of Medicaid or Medicare, as these "reforms" would do (some sooner, some later). I'm too familiar with how I and other doctors struggle to treat patients despite their Medicare or Medicaid coverage.
Dr. Zane Pollard, an Atlanta pediatric opthamologist who literally saves children's sight, is upset enough about physicians being wrongly attacked and overlooked that's he's been circulating a letter discussing how he often winds up delivering sight-saving ointments or surgeries for free -- because there's a delay or denial in the arcane Medicaid paperwork he must file to get paid.
"We are being lied to about the uninsured," he writes. "They are getting care. I operate on at least two illegal immigrants a month who pay me nothing, and the children's hospital at which I operate charges them nothing also . . . This [free care] is true of every community in America."
The president has accused those who disagree with him of "bearing false witness," but he should be looking in the mirror. He's accused the entire US medical profession, several times, of performing unneeded amputations in order to make a buck.
He also makes false promises. Last week, he claimed his health reforms are needed to provide care for tuberculosis patients so that they wouldn't go untreated to the playground and play next to our kids. In fact, federal and state laws already mandate such treatment -- and cover the medication for such a patient.
For all Obama's talk of providing health care for all, he and his allies in Congress are the ones who want to drastically cut payments to doctors and hospitals, the workers who actually provide the health care we all receive. Such cuts must compromise the quality of care; it's disingenuous not to say so -- and worse to accuse the critics who point that out of "spreading lies."
Marc K. Siegel is a practicing internist, an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor.
August 06, 2009
ObamaCare and me
By Zane F Pollard, MD
I have been sitting quietly on the sidelines watching all of this national debate on healthcare. It is time for me to bring some clarity to the table by explaining many of the problems from the perspective of a doctor.
First off, the government has involved very few of us physicians in the healthcare debate. While the American Medical Association has come out in favor of the plan, it is vital to remember that the AMA only represents 17% of the American physician workforce.
I have taken care of Medicaid patients for 35 years while representing the only pediatric ophthalmology group left in Atlanta, Georgia that accepts Medicaid. For example, in the past 6 months I have cared for three young children on Medicaid who had corneal ulcers. This is a potentially blinding situation because if the cornea perforates from the infection, almost surely blindness will occur. In all three cases the antibiotic needed for the eradication of the infection was not on the approved Medicaid list.
Each time I was told to fax Medicaid for the approval forms, which I did. Within 48 hours the form came back to me which was sent in immediately via fax, and I was told that I would have my answer in 10 days. Of course by then each child would have been blind in the eye.
Each time the request came back denied. All three times I personally provided the antibiotic for each patient which was not on the Medicaid approved list. Get the point -- rationing of care.
Over the past 35 years I have cared for over 1000 children born with congenital cataracts. In older children and in adults the vision is rehabilitated with an intraocular lens. In newborns we use contact lenses which are very expensive. It takes Medicaid over one year to approve a contact lens post cataract surgery. By that time a successful anatomical operation is wasted as the child will be close to blind from a lack of focusing for so long a period of time.
Again, extreme rationing. Solution: I have a foundation here in Atlanta supported 100% by private funds which supplies all of these contact lenses for my Medicaid and illegal immigrants children for free. Again, waiting for the government would be disastrous.
Last week I had a lady bring her child to me. They are Americans but live in Sweden, as the father has a job with a big corporation. The child had the onset of double vision 3 months ago and has been unable to function normally because of this. They are people of means but are waiting 8 months to see the ophthalmologist in Sweden. Then if the child needed surgery they would be put on a 6 month waiting list. She called me and I saw her that day. It turned out that the child had accommodative esotropia (crossing of the eyes treated with glasses that correct for farsightedness) and responded to glasses within 4 days, so no surgery was needed. Again, rationing of care.
Last month I operated on a 70 year old lady with double vision present for 3 years. She responded quite nicely to her surgery and now is symptom free. I also operated on a 69 year old judge with vertical double vision. His surgery went very well and now he is happy as a lark. I have been told -- but of course there is no healthcare bill that has been passed yet -- that these 2 people because of their age would have been denied surgery and just told to wear a patch over one eye to alleviate the symptoms of double vision. Obviously cheaper than surgery.
I spent two year in the US Navy during the Viet Nam war and was well treated by the military. There was tremendous rationing of care and we were told specifically what things the military personnel and their dependents could have and which things they could not have. While I was in Viet Nam, my wife Nancy got sick and got essentially no care at the Naval Hospital in Oakland, California. She went home and went to her family's private internist in Beverly Hills. While it was expensive, she received an immediate work up. Again rationing of care.
For those of you who are over 65, this bill in its present form might be lethal for you. People in England over 59 cannot receive stents for their coronary arteries. The government wants to mimic the British plan. For those of you younger, it will still mean restriction of the care that you and your children receive.
While 99% of physicians went into medicine because of the love of medicine and the challenge of helping our fellow man, economics are still important. My rent goes up 2% each year and the salaries of my employees go up 2% each year. Twenty years ago, ophthalmologists were paid $1800 for a cataract surgery and today $500. This is a 73% decrease in our fees. I do not know of many jobs in America that have seen this sort of lowering of fees.
But there is more to the story than just the lower fees. When I came to Atlanta, there was a well known ophthalmologist that charged $2500 for a cataract surgery as he felt the was the best. He had a terrific reputation and in fact I had my mother's bilateral cataracts operated on by him with a wonderful result. She is now 94 and has 20/20 vision in both eyes. People would pay his $2500 fee.
However, then the government came in and said that any doctor that does Medicare work cannot accept more than the going rate ( now $500) or he or she would be severely fined. This put an end to his charging $2500. The government said it was illegal to accept more than the government-allowed rate. What I am driving at is that those of you well off will not be able to go to the head of the line under this new healthcare plan, just because you have money, as no physician will be willing to go against the law to treat you.
I am a pediatric ophthalmologist and trained for 10 years post-college to become a pediatric ophthalmologist (add two years of my service in the Navy and that comes to 12 years). A neurosurgeon spends 14 years post -college, and if he or she has to do the military that would be 16 years. I am not entitled to make what a neurosurgeon makes, but the new plan calls for all physicians to make the same amount of payment. I assure you that medical students will not go into neurosurgery and we will have a tremendous shortage of neurosurgeons. Already, the top neurosurgeon at my hospital who is in good health and only 52 years old has just quit because he can't stand working with the government anymore. Forty-nine percent of children under the age of 16 in the state of Georgia are on Medicaid, so he felt he just could not stand working with the bureaucracy anymore.
We are being lied to about the uninsured. They are getting care. I operate at least 2 illegal immigrants each month who pay me nothing, and the children's hospital at which I operate charges them nothing also.This is true not only on Atlanta, but of every community in America.
The bottom line is that I urge all of you to contact your congresswomen and congressmen and senators to defeat this bill. I promise you that you will not like rationing of your own health.
Furthermore, how can you trust a physician that works under these conditions knowing that he is controlled by the state. I certainly could not trust any doctor that would work under these draconian conditions.
One last thing: with this new healthcare plan there will be a tremendous shortage of physicians. It has been estimated that approximately 5% of the current physician work force will quit under this new system. Also it is estimated that another 5% shortage will occur because of the decreased number of men and women wanting to go into medicine. At the present time the US government has mandated gender equity in admissions to medical schools .That means that for the past 15 years that somewhere between 49 and 51% of each entering class are females. This is true of private schools also, because all private schools receive federal funding.
The average career of a woman in medicine now is only 8-10 years and the average work week for a female in medicine is only 3-4 days. I have now trained 35 fellows in pediatric ophthalmology. Hands down the best was a female that I trained 4 years ago -- she was head and heels above all others I have trained. She now practices only 3 days a week.
Background: Dr. Zane F. Pollard
I did my undergraduate work at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I graduated Tulane University medical School Alpha Omega Alpha ( medical school's top 10% of graduating class). Internship at the Univ. of Southern California in Los Angeles, one year of General surgery residency at the U. of California in San Francisco. Two years in the US Navy. Residency in Ophthalmology at the U.of S. California in Los Angeles, fellowship in pediatric Ophthalmology at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. In practice with Eye Consultants of Atlanta for the past 35 years. Published 90 papers in peer reviewed Scientific Ophthalmology Journals. Member of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Ophthalmological Society. Board certified in Ophthalmology.
O Advisors want to ration care
By BETSY MCCAUGHEY
THE health bills coming out of Congress would put the de cisions about your care in the hands of presidential appointees. They'd decide what plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have and what seniors get under Medicare.
Yet at least two of President Obama's top health advisers should never be trusted with that power. Start with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. He has already been appointed to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research.
Emanuel bluntly admits that the cuts will not be pain-free. "Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality are merely 'lipstick' cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change," he wrote last year (Health Affairs Feb. 27, 2008).
Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, "as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others" (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008). Yes, that's what patients want their doctors to do.
But Emanuel wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else. Many doctors are horrified by this notion; they'll tell you that a doctor's job is to achieve social justice one patient at a time.
Emanuel, however, believes that "communitarianism" should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those "who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens . . . An obvious example is not guar anteeing health services to patients with dementia" (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. '96). Translation: Don't give much care to a grandmother with Parkinson's or a child with cerebral palsy. He explicitly defends discrimination against older patients: "Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age.
Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years" (Lancet, Jan. 31). The bills being rushed through Congress will be paid for largely by a $500 billion-plus cut in Medicare over 10 years. Knowing how unpopular the cuts will be, the president's budget director, Peter Orszag, urged Congress this week to delegate its own authority over Medicare to a new, presidentially-appointed bureaucracy that wouldn't be accountable to the public.
Since Medicare was founded in 1965, seniors' lives have been transformed by new medical treatments such as angioplasty, bypass surgery and hip and knee replacements. These innovations allow the elderly to lead active lives. But Emanuel criticizes Americans for being too "enamored with technology" and is determined to reduce access to it.
Dr. David Blumenthal, another key Obama adviser, agrees. He recommends slowing medical innovation to control health spending. Blumenthal has long advocated government health-spending controls, though he concedes they're "associated with longer waits" and "reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices" (New England Journal of Medicine, March 8, 2001). But he calls it "debatable" whether the timely care Americans get is worth the cost. (Ask a cancer patient, and you'll get a different answer. Delay lowers your chances of survival.)
Obama appointed Blumenthal as national coordinator of healt h-information technology, a job that involves making sure doctors obey electronically deivered guidelines about what care the government deems appropriate and cost effective. In the April 9 New England Journal of Medicine, Blumenthal predicted that many doctors would resist "embedded clinical decision support" -- a euphemism for computers telling doctors what to do.
Americans need to know what the president's health advisers have in mind for them. Emanuel sees even basic amenities as luxuries and says Americans expect too much: "Hospital rooms in the United States offer more privacy . . . physicians' offices are typically more conveniently located and have parking nearby and more attractive waiting rooms" (JAMA, June 18, 2008).
No one has leveled with the public about these dangerous views. Nor have most people heard about the arm-twisting, Chicago-style tactics being used to force support.
In a Nov. 16, 2008, Health Care Watch column, Emanuel explained how business should be done: "Every favor to a constituency should be linked to support for the health-care reform agenda. If the automakers want a bailout, then they and their suppliers have to agree to support and lobby for the administration's health-reform effort."
Do we want a "reform" that empowers people like this to decide for us?
Betsy McCaughey is founder of the Committee to Reduce Infec tion Deaths and a former New York lieutenant governor.
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The new war on physicians
By Richard E. Ralston
web posted August 24, 2009
The debate on health care reform is starting to turn ugly. Those who want to increase government power to rule American medicine are adding physicians to their list of "enemies of the people." We hear frequently that insurance companies and drug companies are inefficient and greedy businesses that must be replaced by efficient, enlightened and compassionate government bureaucracies. Now doctors are coming under attack for daring to resist government attempts to tell them how they must practice medicine.
In a recent editorial in The New York Times ("Doctors and the Cost of Care," June 14), readers were told, "Doctors have been complicit in driving up health-care costs." "Complicit" is an ominous term, most often used in a legal or criminal context. Such language is obviously intended to intimidate physicians into submission to the government masters of medicine.
How are doctors "complicit" in rising costs? The Times tells us they are to blame because "doctors largely decide what medical or surgical treatments are needed," which makes many of them "unabashed profiteers."
Such a statement provides two keys to understanding the whole debate on medical reform.
The first and most obvious is that reform advocates in government want the legal power to prevent doctors from deciding "what medical or surgical treatments are needed." They think that is a role that must be reserved for politicians and government officials. Physicians must not be allowed to prescribe a drug if the government decides it helps only some but not all patients, and is thus not "comparatively effective."
Physicians must conform not to their own judgment in providing treatment but to new government "protocols." If they do not, the government will make them more liable to malpractice suits for not doing it the government way. Physicians will be forced to shift from making their own judgments to obeying government instructions. They are now forced to computerize their patients' medical records and turn them over to the government—without the patients' permission—to better help the government supervise their practice of medicine.
The second key revealed by the Times statement is the attempt to disarm doctors morally and politically so they will do what they are told. Any attempt to protect their ability to practice medicine as they think best will just prove that they are greedy profiteers like businessmen. Anyone who makes a living or runs a profitable business that does not need to be bailed out by the government may be condemned. The only indulgence provided by this morality is for those who devote their entire lives to obtaining and holding on to political power. Greed for power is a saintly virtue for those who want to instruct physicians how to run their practices.
From other quarters we hear arguments that doctors should just do what they are told and accept what the government pays them, even if it does not recover their costs, because they owe us all for their medical education. Never mind the huge debts with which most MDs graduate from medical school. Never mind the long years and long hours of medical education and internship. If they went to a government school, never mind the taxes their parents paid to support it. If the government gives you an education, these politicians say that you owe that government your life. Are we now discovering the true purpose of government-controlled education?
Doctors are probably coming under attack now because even the American Medical Association—not known in recent years for its resistance to government incursion in medicine—is showing a bit of backbone in opposing proposals such as a new "public option" for medical insurance. They are to be encouraged. If physicians do not take a stand to defend their rights to their own lives, their careers, and their freedom to practice medicine, and, yes, to decide with their patients "what medical or surgical treatments are needed," who will? Physicians must do this first, then all Americans who want to retain their own rights to make personal choices about their medical care should support them.
We will not preserve our freedoms or our health if we as physicians and patients surrender our rights to politicians in return for their promises to take care of us.
Richard E. Ralston is Executive Director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, Newport Beach, California. Copyright © 2009 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.
July 26, 2009 - 10:02 PM
I Want Doctors To Make Money
by Mike Huckabee, copyright 2009
I want doctors to make money. Frankly, I want them to make a lot of money. They don’t have to make as much as Oprah, who made $275 million last year; or George Lucas, who made $170 million; or Stephen Spielberg, who made $150 million. Heck, both Tiger Woods and Madonna made $110 million last year….
The average doctor pay is less than what members of Congress make, and specialists make less an average that is not too much better, and that’s before you factor in all the free food, travel, and outright graft that some members of Congress will be able to add.
I don’t begrudge Congressional salaries, but I sure as heck don’t think what they do is as hard as brain surgery or doing a heart transplant.
When I was a kid, it was assumed that the valedictorian would probably go to med school. Being a doctor was pretty much for the best and brightest and we assumed they would make the best money because they were smart and would have to be in school about 4 times longer than the rest of us just to become a doctor….then they would be on call 24 hours a day and have to get called out of church and their kids’ ballgames to hurry to the hospital to take care of people who got banged up in a car wreck or had a stroke.
I want my doctor to make good money. I want him or her to be the smartest kid in his class, not the average. I want my doctor to enjoy being a doctor and don’t want the doctor coming into the operating room worrying about paying the rent, but thinking of how to keep me healthy enough so I can pay my own rent.
If we keep talking about limiting doctor salaries, we might get people who really aren’t that good, but they were willing to do the job at a discount.
I don’t care if Oprah made $275 million last year or if Kobe Bryant brought down $45 million. But if a member of my family has a brain tumor, I don’t want Oprah or Kobe doing the operation. I want the best neurosurgeon I can find, and I won’t be looking for the low bidder or seeing if there is a coupon in the paper for 10% off the cost—I want someone who has worked real hard to know what he’s doing and does it well. And if he’s really, really good at it, he’ll still only make about a penny for each dollar that Oprah makes.
If one of the results of the government “fixing” health care is to encourage the smart people to do what Oprah does and the dumb people to become doctors, then thanks, but no thanks….I need a good doctor a lot more than I need Oprah. And I want my doctor to make a lot of money.
That’s my view and I welcome yours….contact me at mikehuckabee.com and click on to the Fox News Feedback section and tell me your thoughts and you can also get contact information for your senators and Congressman at mikehuckabee.com
Comment (63 Comments)
((From several of the national organizations which oppose current health care proposals.....and there are LOT of them! They're part of the reason it takes me so long to go through my emails every day.....))
Consumer Power Report #191
August 20, 2009
In This Issue
What's Going on Out There?
Palin, Part Two
Dancing with the Devil
A new survey by United Benefits Advisors finds that enrollment in consumer driven plans now exceeds that of HMOs. The survey included over 12,000 employers and discovered that 15.4% of all employees are now in CD Plans, compared to 13.6% in HMOs. PPOs remain the Big Daddy with 63.9% market share.
What's Going on Out There?
Last week, I wrote an op-ed defending Sarah Palin's concern about "death panels." Certainly her expression was shocking and designed to get attention. It succeeded extremely well in that regard. The case I tried to make was that, if we follow the British model, we will indeed end up with a federal agency that makes life and death decisions for all of us based on a cost effectiveness standard.
I got some amazing responses to the op-ed. Almost everyone who contacted me agreed and thanked me for saying it, but most interesting was the intense hostility from academics and policy wonks. You would think I had kidnapped their baby or something. I have never seen such a visceral reaction to any issue in health care.
Maybe it was Palin Derangement Syndrome, but I think it is deeper. I think these folks are completely baffled and frustrated by what is happening. It is all slipping away - yet again!
How can this be, they wonder. We have big majorities in the House and Senate. We have a smooth talker in the White House. We have bought off the special interests. We have learned from the Clinton mistakes. We have done everything right. How can we be losing again?
There are two big reasons.
First, they believed their own propaganda. For years, these folks have cherry picked the data and exaggerated the problems to make it seem like there is a BIG CRISIS! They did this to justify changing American health care from top to bottom and gain more power for themselves. That is fine as a tactic. It's a way to stampede less informed people, especially the media, into echoing your talking points. But if these folks actually believed it, they are bigger fools than I realized. People have been talking about a CRISIS in health care since the 1960s.
In a remarkably candid interview in 2001, Brandeis economics professor Stuart Altman said, "When I was 32 years old, I became the chief regulator in this country for health care. At that point, we were spending about 7.5 percent of our GDP on health care. The prevailing wisdom was that we were spending too much, and that if we hit 8 percent, our system would collapse."
Obviously the system did not collapse, even though the share of GDP now exceeds 15 percent, and the fear mongers were proven to be blowing smoke. But that didn't stop the exact same people from pitching the exact same line every year since.
The other reason is that the current advocates completely misread the lessons from the Clinton years. Every generation of new parents swears to not make the same mistakes their own parents made. So they make a bunch of new mistakes instead. So it is here.
The advocates have convinced themselves that Clinton was defeated by a small cabal of Washington special interests who spent a lot of money opposing the plan. They figured if these special interests could be neutralized, it would be clear sailing. Plus they figured Clinton's big mistake was in writing a massive bill in secret with little Congressional participation, so if they let Congress write it, everything would be okay.
They were wrong on both counts. In fact in 1993 - 1994, there was the same kind of grass roots fervor there is today. People in Washington didn't notice it. They only noticed what the special interests were doing, and assumed that any grassroots concerns were orchestrated by these special interests. Not true then, and not true today.
On the second point, the issue isn't who wrote the massive bill in secret. The issue was that it was then, and is today, that a massive bill was written in secret at all. The folks don't care is it is written by a Congressional elite or a White House elite. The simple fact that any elite group is massively changing everything about their personal health care with the sweep of a pen is enough to raise alarms.
Every time over the past 100 years that Washington has tried to enact massive health reforms affecting every man, woman, and child among us, it has been defeated. Not by the insurance companies and not by the doctors, but by the people of America. It is, quite plainly, not how we want change to be done.
Yes, we may want change to happen, but we want it to be gradual, so it can be revised and amended as we go along. Why is that so hard to understand?
Palin, Part Two
In contrast to the push back I got from some academics, Martin Feldstein, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan, wrote in the wall Street Journal that, "ObamaCare is all about rationing."
He says, "The White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report in June explaining the Obama administration's goal of reducing projected health spending by 30% over the next two decades. That reduction would be achieved by eliminating "high cost, low-value treatments," by "implementing a set of performance measures that all providers would adopt," and by "directly targeting individual providers -- (and other) high-end outliers." In other words, using a British-style NICE board to determine what services are cost effective, and disallow those that are not.
Now, you can be for this or against this, but it is disingenuous to argue that Palin was completely wrong in warning about this cost-based rationing. What kind of democratic process is it that asks the American people to accept this approach, while pretending this is not what the administration is trying to do?
Americans may decide that such rationing is worthwhile, but they should not be fooled into thinking it is the only way to control costs. Mr. Feldstein points out one alternative. He writes, "The rising cost of medical treatments would not be such a large burden on future budgets if the government reduced its share in the financing of health services. Raising the existing Medicare and Medicaid deductibles and coinsurance would slow the growth of these programs without resorting to rationing. Physicians and their patients would continue to decide which tests and other services they believe are worth the cost."
If the people were allowed to vote on which approach they would prefer, I wonder which would win?
Wall Street Journal
Writing in Jewish World Review, Nat Hentoff says "I am finally scared of a White House administration." He says he wasn't afraid of tackling J. Edgar Hoover or criticizing Bush/Cheney, but the prospect of government rationing of health care frightens him, as the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive."
He says, "No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama's eventual master health care plan." He cites Obama as saying, "Our government will undertake a 'very difficult democratic conversation' about how 'the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care' costs." He adds, "This end-of-life consultation has been stripped from the Senate Finance Committee bill because of democracy-in-action town-hall outcries but remains in three House bills."
Jewish World Review
Dancing with the Devil
The "leaders" of this country are turning out to be some of the worst extremists we have ever produced. The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (two heart-beats away from the presidency) calls Americans who participate in town hall meetings with their own Congressmen, "UnAmerican," and says that law-abiding insurance companies are "immoral." The Majority Leader of the Unites States Senate thinks these town hall attendees are "evilmongers" because they disagree with him. This is the same Harry Reid who welcomed the new Capitol Visitors Center because it would protect his precious nose from those foul-smelling American tourists who would like to visit their own Capitol, where laws get written.
Now, the Powerful Chairman of the Powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman has written to 52 insurance companies demanding they provide him with information that is none of his business. It is raw intimidation to punish them for not supporting a government-run health care plan.
Newt Gingrich calls it, "Sopranos-style tactics in health care," in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner. He also says it is, "in the spirit of Joe McCarthy." And adds, "Waxman and Stupak are attempting to use raw political power to silence their opponents, plain and simple. If that's not the case, why single out one sector of healthcare and not others, like physician groups, hospitals, and drug companies? Could it be because many of these groups have publicly supported the emerging Democratic legislation?"
Let's see how much more AHIP will give up to keep its "seat at the table."
Red State reports on a segment from Air America, the ultra-liberal radio network. Apparently they aren't too thrilled with "dancing with the devil," either. Only to them, the devil is PhRMA. They accuse Obama of being a fascist for cutting a deal with the drug manufacturers.
The Left is clearly agitated about deal-making between Obama and PhRMA, as reflected in a Huffington Post article. It claims to have a memo outlining the deal, although both PhRMA and the White House say the memo is not authentic. The article by Ryan Grim says, "Obama is walking a tightrope here. He wants to keep PhRMA from opposing the bill, and benefits by having its support, which now includes a $150 million advertising campaign. That's a fortune in politics -- more than Republican presidential candidate John McCain spent on advertising during his entire campaign -- but it's loose change in the pharmaceutical business. Opponents of the deal with PhRMA hope that Obama is playing a multilayered game, making a deal in order to keep the drug makers in his camp for now, but planning to double-cross them in the end if he needs to in order to pass his signature initiative. "
Don't pay heed when the president expresses compete confidence about getting health reform done. If there is one thing politicians pay attention to it is polling numbers, and the results this summer are simply devastating for Obama and Congressional Democrats.
The Washington Post has released a new survey that tracks the answer to "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling health care?" The results make a perfect "X" form 57% approve and 29% disapprove in April to 46% approve and 50% disapprove now. The erosion comes almost entirely from independents. In January 61% said they had confidence in Obama's ability to "make the right decisions for the country's future." That is now down to 41%.
Zogby's interactive poll of 1,500 likely voters finds that Obama's approval rating has reached a new low of 45%, mostly due to the disaffection of Independents, 59% of whom now disapprove of the job he is doing.
Consumers for Health Care Choices at the Heartland Institute | PO Box 4955 | Hagerstown | MD | 21742
(From the American Enterprise Institute)
AEI on the News
Monday, August 17, 2009
It was a busy week for Scott Gottlieb, M.D., last week. Dr. Gottlieb sparred with Dr. Howard Dean on CNBC’s Squawk Box about the Democrats’ health care bills, with Gottlieb arguing that Medicare and government officials, not doctors, would be making critical medical decisions. In the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, he said that the president’s “jaundiced view” of how doctors are influenced by financial incentives explains the administration’s reliance on direct regulation of medical decisions to lower costs. Cost consideration, he says, “must be internalized at the point of care,” not by Washington bureaucrats. Then, in the New York Post, he described what he believes the administration’s end game to be. Noting that the administration had changed its rhetoric from “health care reform” to “health insurance reform,” Gottlieb predicts that Obamacare 2 will supplant state regulation of existing insurance plans with federal regulation, forcing insurers to cover everyone and to charge the same prices. Insurer profits will be limited. The administration will eliminate ERISA provisions that allow large employers to offer uniform plans across states. Both presage a federal takeover of the insurance market, he says, as most insurers will go out of business. Finally, in a column in Politico, Gottlieb explains exactly what Congress is up to by including specific criteria for doctors providing end-of-life counseling, the so-called death panels. It’s about using the power of the purse, he says, to tell doctors how to practice medicine. Dr. Gottlieb saw his patients last week, too.
Related AEI Publications
“Battle of the MDs: AEI’s Scott Gottlieb vs. Howard Dean on Healthcare”
Blog Post on the Enterprise Blog
More Information: blog.american.com/cnbc-mds
“Obama and the Practice of Medicine,” by Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
Article in the Wall Street Journal
Full Text: online.wsj.com/article/gottlieb
“Behind the ‘Bash Insurers’ Strategy,” by Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
Article in the New York Post
Full Text: www.aei.org/article/100886
“Dissecting the Problem with ‘Death Panels,’” by Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
Article on Politico.com
Full Text: www.politico.com/arena/perm/Scott_Gottlieb
American Enterprise Institute
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Washington, DC 20036
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From "Free Our Health Care NOW!"
Thank you for your support of the "Free Our Health Care NOW!" petition. More than 870,000 Americans have joined you in saying "NO!" to the federal government becoming their health care provider. We now have a tremendous opportunity! The probable delay in the vote until September in Congress allows you to use the tools available below in "What can you do about this?" to educate everyone you know.
Your continued support is crucial in the fight against nationalized health care. In the last week, the proponents of nationalized health care have continued to champion legislation which will increase cost, limit choice and decrease quality of your health care. Please continue to tell your network, friends and family that government-run health care is a threat to the quality of their health.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that ObamaCare will cost over $1 trillion. Notwithstanding President Obama's promise to oppose legislation "if that reform adds even one dime to our deficit over the next decade," the CBO estimates that recent House proposals will increase government spending by $1.04 trillion. Additionally, as for the Administration's most recent cost-savings plan - to create an independent advisory council to set Medicare fees - the CBO concluded that "the probability is high that no savings would be realized".
ObamaCare will dramatically reduce the choices you have over the cost and quality of your health insurance plan. Here's how:
ObamaCare will create an artificial market called a Health Insurance Exchange. The mandates the Exchange imposes will reject plans that don't 'measure-up' to the federal government's expectations for health care plans. As a result, millions of Americans will be forced to abandon their current plans and to accept a plan that they do not want or need.
Additionally, ObamaCare will create a board of bureaucrats empowered to define which health benefits are "essential". However, these "essential" benefits may exclude health care which most Americans and their doctors believe are essential - such as MRI scans and blood tests.
The bottom line: Under ObamaCare, Americans will face higher taxes and receive less take-home pay - all for a health insurance plan that forces them to pay for benefits they do not want and refuses to pay for procedures their doctor may recommend.
What can you do about this?
Use the Action Pack http://actionpack.ncpa.org to sign the petition, to print the petition or to access our Learning/Teaching Tools about health care so that you can educate your friends, family and neighbors.
Send NCPA Health Care Solutions to everyone. http://www.ncpa.org/pdfs/Health_Care_Solutions_072909.pdf
Go to The Heartland Institutes site for more health care solutions www.chcchoices.org
Send a copy of the proposed government-run plan to your lists http://docs.house.gov/gopleader/House-Democrats-Health-Plan.pdf
Thank you again for your support of the "Free Our Health Care NOW!" and for fighting against nationalized health care.
National Center for Policy Analysis
From Americans for Prosperity:
With Congress coming back to Washington in a couple of weeks, it's crucial for us to do two things: continue the pressure on them while they are home in their districts AND begin preparing for the decisive battle on the health care takeover and cap-and-trade once they are back in D.C.
At Americans for Prosperity, this week our Hands Off My Health Care buses are making over 50 rally stops in Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri. Since most members of Congress won't do it, our affiliate Americans for Prosperity Foundation is holding town halls with special guest John Stossel across Wisconsin. Next week AFP's Hot Air Tour will be in Montana, the Dakotas and Nebraska as we keep up the pressure against cap-and-trade. On September 12, the Taxpayers March will be occurring in Washington and across the nation.
But once the members of Congress really get down to business in D.C. they'll be surrounded by lobbyists, the Obama Administration, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid. We know the pressure to sell us out on health care and cap-and-trade will be enormous.
That's why I'm asking YOU to come to Washington, D.C. on October 2 and 3 for Americans for Prosperity Foundation's Defending the American Dream™ National Summit where Americans for Prosperity will sponsor our own Town Hall meeting at the Capitol to keep the pressure on members of Congress. Click here for details.
Use the code DEFEND by Friday, August 28th, to receive $10 off registration. Click here to register today!
Newt Gingrich will be our headline speaker along with FOX News contributor Stephen Moore, freedom champions in Congress like Senator Jim DeMint (SC), Congressman Mike Pence (IN), and Michele Bachmann (MN) and many others.
But most importantly, YOU and thousands of fellow freedom fighters will be in Washington during the most crucial moment in the health care and cap-and-trade battle.
Washington's professional politicians and their friends in the national media need to hear from you.
Speaker Pelosi vilified us as "un-American." Majority Leader Reid demonized us as "evil-mongers." The Obama Administration dismissed us as "astroturf" and "Brooks Brothers" activists full of "manufactured anger."
On October 2 and 3 you can show them who we really are -- grassroots Americans willing to take time away from our families and jobs and communities to come to Washington to stand up for our freedom.
PS: Please let me know if you will be joining Newt Gingrich, key members of Congress and thousands of fellow Americans for Americans for Prosperity Foundation's Defending the American Dream Summit in Washington, D.C. on October 2 and 3.
Click here to register and for more details. If you have questions please call us at 202-349-5880 or email us at email@example.com. Remember to use the code DEFEND by Friday, August 28th, to receive $10 off registration.
We're going to win...if we keep fighting. But, that means taking the fight to Washington late this year when it matters most. That's why I'm asking you to join me in D.C. on October 2 and 3.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is the nation's premier grassroots organization committed to advancing every individual's right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and scope of government is the best safeguard to ensuring individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFP educates and engages citizens in support of restraining state and federal government growth, and returning government to its constitutional limits. AFP has more than 700,000 members, including members in all 50 states, and 25 state chapters.
For more information, visit www.americansforprosperity.org
Daily Update on the Dangers of Government-Run Health Care
World Renowned Mayo Clinic Declares Government Health Care Unsustainable
"While we appreciate this recognition, we question whether our political leaders realize that many doctors and hospitals that offer this high-value care are reaching the point where we cannot afford to provide it to patients with government-sponsored insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid. We worry that the same could hold true for patients in a new government-run public insurance plan. Despite the fact that we strive to give patients the right level of care -- everything they need, no more and no less -- we consistently suffer huge financial losses due to the government price-controlled Medicare payment system, which financially punishes providers who offer higher quality care at a lower cost. Last year alone, Mayo Clinic lost hundreds of millions of dollars caring for Medicare beneficiaries -- the very patients with complex, complicated illnesses that we want to see and can serve well. Because of this shortfall, our other patients pay more to make up the difference. Someday soon, neither Mayo Clinic nor those other payers will be able to afford this situation." - OpEd, Dr. Denis Cortese and Jeffrey Korsmo, Chicago Tribune
CMPI-Advance President Exposes the Truth Behind New House Health Plan
"AAHCA really isn't about creating a low-cost plan that promotes quality and access to care. Most of all it's just a way to take care of the interest groups that got the Dems elected. Secondarily it's about establishing a single payer health plan...Now you might be wonder, how the government plan recruits doctors and providers to this exciting new enterprise? Actually, it forces any provider getting paid by Medicare to join the plan...If you want access to affordable health care of reasonable quality, don't go to Congress or President Obama. Go West. There is only one place left where health care will flow like milk and honey. And that is in the new medical Republic of Waxmania. That might be funny if it weren't true." - OpEd, Dr. Robert Goldberg, American Spectator
If Government-run Health Care Doesn't Work Abroad, Why Would it Work Here?
"To wit, tax increases that would take U.S. rates higher even than most of Europe. Yet even those increases aren't nearly enough to finance the $1 trillion in new spending, which itself is surely a low-ball estimate. Meanwhile, the bill would create a new government health entitlement that will kill private insurance and lead to a government-run system...The public insurance "option" doesn't even begin until 2013 and the costs are heavily weighted toward the later years, but the tax hikes start in 2011. So under Congress's 10-year budget window, the House bill is able to pay for seven years of spending with nine years of taxes. Andy Laperriere of the ISI Group estimates the bill would add $95 billion to the deficit in 2019 alone." - Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal
Liberal Democrats Standing Alone
"The Sullivan amendment, though, was insignificant compared with the votes the committee will take this week, including one on the controversial government-run 'public plan' that the Democratic legislation would create to compete with private insurers. Blue Dogs have said they want significant restrictions on that plan, which insurers and business groups oppose. No Republican in Congress has expressed support for Democrats' version of the idea." - CQ Politics
Government WILL Ration Care
"Now first of all, if there are problems with Medicare, the laws and regulations governing Medicare--a government program--can be changed, without a government take-over of the rest of the system...For in reality the government isn't going simply to reward 'good' and penalize 'bad' admissions. It's going to prevent insurance companies from paying for 'unnecessary' admissions and procedures, if those companies want to participate in the government system. In other words, government bureaucrats are going to deem entire categories of treatment inefficient for all or certain categories of patients, and put those treatments out of bounds for doctors and hospitals." - OpEd, William Kristol, Weekly Standard
Listen to the People, Doctors, Not Bureaucrats
"Worst of all from the liberal point of view, let control of the health care system slip from the grasp of the central government and consumers will be confused by competing insurance offers, have to deal with doctors who might not recommend a one-size-fits-all course of treatment, or who just might order that extra life-saving test that bureaucrats relying on statistical averages deem too costly...Development and implementation of a scheme appropriate for America would, of course, be enormously more complicated than any that would work in Britain's highly centralized, single-payer health care system. Which just might be why the president finds the British model so attractive and wants to turn the U.S. health care system over to the tender mercies of the bureaucrats who will tell your doctor just what he may do to cure whatever ails you." - OpEd, Fraser Nelson and Irwin M. Stelzer, Weekly Standard
This email was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by email@example.com.
CMPI Advance | 308 East 38th Street | Suite 201 | New York | NY | 10016
Smart Girl Politics Newsletter Newsletter IV
July 28, 2009
Dear Donna Baver Rovito,
Smart Girls everywhere have been busy fighting against the current health care legislation being proposed. We are now coming down to a critical time in the fight with back door deals being made by more moderate Republicans.
It is critical that we take the fight now to those dealers. Over the next 48 hours, we are asking all members to contact the Senate Finance Committee members listed below. We must reinforce to them that the majority of Americans are against this legislation.
Please email, call, fax, and tweet these six Senators.
Our hope is that both houses of Congress leave for August recess and listen to the will of their constituents. You will find events planned for the month of August below. This one month will be key to the future of our country and preventing another failed government program. One that promises to be the most destructive in our country's history.
in this issue
SGP101: How To Contact Your Representatives
Operation Collar a Blue Dog
Smart Girl Summit '09
Operation Collar a Blue Dog
As you know, we have made fighting the Democrats' health care plan the cornerstone of our activist activities this summer. Well, we're about to turn it up a notch (or two). Today, we are launching "Operation Collar a Blue Dog." On our own, and in concert with other center-right activist groups, we will be putting pressure on the Blue Dog Democrats in Congress to vote no to government-run health care. There are a few key components to this initiaitive:
1. Holding rallies at the district offices of the Blue Dogs during the August recess. Together with American Liberty Alliance (and others), we will be participating in "recess rallies" to be held August 22nd (more information forthcoming at Recess Rally). ALA is targeting House blue dogs at these rallies, but we may want to get groups together to rally at Senate offices too.
2. Our ally in the fight against the Democrat plan, Patients United, is taking their case against socialized health care on the road with bus tours through targeted states; more information at Join Patients First Bus Tour. SGP has been offered space on the buses.
3. In addition to attending the August 22nd rallies, we will be encouraging all of our members to take part in "5 minute activism." This involves making phone calls, sending faxes and emails, and generally bombarding targeted Congressional offices with our opinion. This may launch as early as tomorrow depending on whether or not the House will vote on health care before the scheduled recess. If you can't make it to the rallies on the 22nd, we will be waging a "5 minute activism" campaign to run concurrently to the rallies, the purpose of which is to overload the blue dog offices while rallies take place outside.
A lot of information will be going up on the Ning site in the coming days and weeks. We will start a special "Collar a Blue Dog" group for coordinating our activist efforts. Please check out the information and get involved! It is especially important for those in states where blue dogs reside to take the lead.
Get started, check out our SGP Activist Toolkit
Smart Girl Summit '09
Join us in Nashville for the first ever Smart Girl Summit in Nashville, TN on Sept. 18! We believe that you have the ability to be more than just a name on a ballot. SGS is open to our members, as well as anyone willing to get off their butt and make a difference. This is NOT your mother's leadership conference!
Tickets are going fast - register today!
Get your ticket here
SGP101: How To Contact Your Representatives
How To Contact Your Representatives. Complete details on how to contact your Representative regarding the issues of concern to you.
Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 4:00 P.M. EST
Instructor; Diann Gentile
Smart Girl Politics 101 - a political education program designed just for our members!
You may sign up for as few or as many sessions as you wish depending on your interests. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the subject line, please put the following: NEW MEMBER REGISTRATION.
Please include your name in the body of the email. Once verified, you will be sent information on how to register on our new site.
SGP101 is a part of our commitment to helping our members succeed in the political arena!
To register for SGP101
Join our mailing list!
July 30, 2009
They're Coming For Your Tonsils
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY |
Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2009 4:20 PM PT
Health Costs: Lawyers are responsible for more unneeded procedures than "greedy" doctors. But instead of capping malpractice awards, bureaucrats will soon decide which treatments are OK and whether you're worth it....
...Obama at last week's news conference said that if you bring your child in with a sore throat, "the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, 'You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid's tonsils out.' "
....But there's even more money to be made by lawyers suing that kid's doctor.
CLICK THIS LINK FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE:
Don’t let frivolous lawsuits destroy your career, your practice, and your family. Call Doctor's Advocate today at 888-362-8202 or email email@example.com to learn how you can stay in the exam room and out of the courtroom!
© Copyright 2009 Doctor's Advocate. All rights reserved.
Contact Doctor's Advocate:
DoctorsAdvocate.com | Copyright © 2006-2009 Doctor's Advocate
By Sally C. Pipes
July 29, 2009
"Will Commonwealth care cost taxpayers more? No!" So wrote Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in November 2004, the economy then still in full bloom. "Neither the state nor the taxpayers can afford to pay more."
It's worth pondering ex-Gov. Romney's promises just over three years after he crossed partisan lines to reform health care in the Bay State. The Obama administration and congressional Democrats are modeling reform on the Massachusetts model, promoting bureaucratic health exchanges, increased restrictions on health insurance and vastly expanded taxpayer-subsidized care. Like Romney, they promise more coverage at lower cost, even as the evidence suggests otherwise.
So how's health in Massachusetts? People are not pleased, according to a recent poll. Only one in four considers the reform a success. Just one in five thinks it has made health care more affordable.
Romney marketed the plan as a private solution. Yet it's a massive expansion of taxpayer-subsidized care. Medicaid has increased by 76,000 enrollees and the subsidized plans by 177,000. Forty-six percent pay no premium, and another 12% are highly subsidized. Only 19,000 have signed up for the much-touted non-subsidized private plans offered through the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector.
And it comes at a steep cost. Residents are expected to spend as much as 10% of their income on premiums or face fines.
The big lie in Massachusetts was that costs and taxes would not increase. "Health insurance for all our citizens does not require new taxes," declared Romney on the eve of the bill's passage in 2006.
The government's expansion has cost taxpayers far more than projected. Premium inflation in the state has not been muted by the increase in the number of insured residents, and politicians are scrambling to fund the program. Smokers got hit for $1 a pack in July 2008.
At the federal level, it's a foregone conclusion that new taxes will fund the expansion. The lies are in just how many new taxes will have to be imposed, existing ones increased or trillions of dollars in federal debt issued.
It could be the bait-and-switches that have Massachusetts residents cranky. They were promised affordable coverage. The plans were so expensive that 20% of the uninsured were exempted from having to purchase them.
They were told the plan would provide near universal coverage. But not everyone is insured. Even the most optimistic estimates put the uninsured at nearly 3%. To cut costs, the legislature cut thousands of legal immigrants from the program and will quit automatically enrolling all eligible people.
Bay Staters were told they wouldn't have their current arrangements disrupted. Yet thousands of residents have had to purchase more expensive coverage after the new bureaucracy deemed their existing plans inadequate.
Much was made of the young "invincibles," the free riders on the system who transferred costs to the privately insured and clogged up emergency rooms for non-urgent care. It was money that had been spent on them, so Romney and others claimed, that would fund new, more efficient insurance. Yet three years in, the successor uncompensated care pool is still spending hundreds of millions of dollars. Emergency rooms are more crowded than ever.
This was predictable and predicted, as the largest users of emergency rooms are Medicaid patients. The largest categories of spending from the old uncompensated care pool were for mentally ill substance abusers--not exactly the folks that rush out to purchase insurance on threat of a fine.
Whether Romney believes his hype is unknown. There can be little doubt that his Democratic partners, including Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., viewed the Massachusetts experiment as a "no-lose" proposition. If it somehow worked, great. But if the scheme failed, Democrats understood that they would have moved the state one step closer to government-run health care, with thousands more hooked on subsidized coverage.
Indeed, Jon Kingsdale, the person in charge of the Health Insurance Connector, recently wrote that it is a better strategy to expand access first, let costs run and only then worry about containing spending.
This lesson too is being applied at the national level. Peter Orszag, who spent years fretting about budgetary expansions while at the Congressional Budget Office, is more flexible in his new role as President Obama's budget director. "I think it's important for those of us wearing the green eyeshades to take them off," he told Slate.
In the end, the only way to control costs inside a bureaucratic structure is to cut doctors' pay, transfer patients into managed care, impose government global budgets and introduce price controls.
And that's exactly what Bay State leaders have announced they'll do. Last week, a state commission recommended that the government stop paying health care providers for each procedure and instead compensate provider networks with a flat fee per patient. Of course, such a system of global payments, or "capitation," encourages provider groups to skimp on care, as they get to keep as profit any money not spent treating patients.
If congressional Democrats get their way, every American can look forward to a similar system of capitation in the future. This would upset the care of 85% of Americans who are currently insured and greatly increase government control. Exactly the results Democratic leaders assure can't possibly happen.
Sally C. Pipes is president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is “The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care.”
Contact: For more information, please contact Kelly Gorton at 415-955-6136 or firstname.lastname@example.org
National Center for Policy Analysis
July 31, 2009
AMERICA'S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IS IN BETTER CONDITION THAN YOU MIGHT SUPPOSE
Before we turn to government as the solution, we should consider some unheralded facts about America's health care system, says Scott W. Atlas, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor of radiology and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical School.
Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers:
Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom.
Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom and 457 percent higher in Norway.
The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher.
Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians:
Breast cancer mortality in Canada is 9 percent higher than in the United States,
Prostate cancer is 184 percent higher,
And colon cancer among men is about 10 percent higher.
Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries:
Some 56 percent of Americans who could benefit from statin drugs, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease, are taking them.
By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons, and 17 percent of Italians receive them.
Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians. Take the proportion of the appropriate-age population groups who have received recommended tests for breast, cervical, prostate, and colon cancer:
Nine out of ten middle-aged American women (89 percent) have had a mammogram, compared to fewer than three-fourths of Canadians (72 percent).
Nearly all American women (96 percent) have had a Pap smear, compared to fewer than 90 percent of Canadians.
More than half of American men (54 percent) have had a prostatespecific antigen (PSA) test, compared to fewer than one in six Canadians (16 percent).
Nearly one-third of Americans (30 percent) have had a colonoscopy, compared with fewer than one in twenty Canadians (5 percent).
Source: Scott W. Atlas, "Here's A Second Opinion: Ten Reasons Why America's Health Care System is in Better Condition than You Might Suppose," Hoover Institution, Summer 2009.
For more on Health Issues:
((On the OTHER hand....))
UK cancer survival rate lowest in Europe
By Nicole Martin
Published: 12:01AM BST 21 Aug 2007
Cancer survival rates in Britain are among the lowest in Europe, according to the most comprehensive analysis of the issue yet produced.
England is on a par with Poland despite the NHS spending three times more on health care.
Survival rates are based on the number of patients who are alive five years after diagnosis and researchers found that, for women, England was the fifth worst in a league of 22 countries. Scotland came bottom. Cancer experts blamed late diagnosis and long waiting lists.
In total, 52.7pc of women survived for five years after being diagnosed between 2000 and 2002. Only Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Czech Republic and Poland did worse. Just 44.8pc of men survived, putting England in the bottom seven countries.
The team, writing in The Lancet Oncology, found that Britain's survival rates for the most common cancers - colorectal, lung, breast and prostate - were substantially behind those in Western Europe. In England, the proportion of women with breast cancer who were alive five years after diagnosis was 77.8pc. Scotland (77.3pc) and Ireland (76.2pc) had a lower rate.
Rates for lung cancer in England were poor, with only 8.4pc of patients surviving - half the rate for Iceland (16.8pc). Only Scotland (8.2pc) and Malta (4.6pc) did worse.
Fewer women in England lived for five years after being diagnosed with cervical cancer (58.6pc) despite a national screening programme. This compared to 70.6pc in Iceland. Dr Franco Berrino, who led the study at the National Cancer Institute in Milan, said cancer care was improving in countries that recorded low survival figures. He added: "If all countries attained the mean survival (57pc) of Norway, Sweden and Finland, about 12pc fewer deaths would occur in the five years after diagnosis."
His co-researcher, Prof Ian Kunkler from the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, said waiting lists for radiotherapy were partly to blame.
"Although there has been a substantial investment in radiotherapy facilities, there is still a shortfall," he said.
"We have good evidence that survival for lung cancer has been compromised by long waiting lists for radiotherapy treatment."
A second article, which looked at 2.7 million patients diagnosed between 1995 and 1999, found that countries that spent the most on health per capita per year had better survival rates.
Britain was the exception. Despite spending up to £1,500 on health per person per year, it recorded similar survival rates for Hodgkin's disease and lung cancer as Poland, which spends a third of that amount.
An accompanying editorial said the figures showed that the NHS Cancer Plan, published in 2000, was not working.
"Survival in England has only increased at a similar rate to other European countries and has not caught up with the absolute values seen elsewhere," it said.
Prof Richard Sullivan at Cancer Research UK said: "Cancer is still not being diagnosed early enough in all cases."
Health-Care Reform: A Better Plan
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, August 7, 2009
In 1986, Ronald Reagan and Bill Bradley created a legislative miracle. They fashioned a tax reform that stripped loopholes, political favors, payoffs, patronage and other corruptions out of the tax system. With the resulting savings, they lowered tax rates across the board. Those reductions, combined with the elimination of the enormous inefficiencies and perverse incentives that go into tax sheltering, helped propel a 20-year economic boom.
In overhauling any segment of our economy, the 1986 tax reform should be the model. Yet today's ruling Democrats propose to fix our extremely high-quality (but inefficient and therefore expensive) health-care system with 1,000 pages of additional curlicued complexity -- employer mandates, individual mandates, insurance company mandates, allocation formulas, political payoffs and myriad other conjured regulations and interventions -- with the promise that this massive concoction will lower costs.
This is all quite mad. It creates a Rube Goldberg system that simply multiplies the current inefficiencies and arbitrariness, thus producing staggering deficits with less choice and lower-quality care. That's why the administration can't sell Obamacare.
The administration's defense is to accuse critics of being for the status quo. Nonsense. Candidate John McCain and a host of other Republicans since have offered alternatives. Let me offer mine: Strip away current inefficiencies before remaking one-sixth of the U.S. economy. The plan is so simple it doesn't even have the requisite three parts. Just two: radical tort reform and radically severing the link between health insurance and employment.
(1) Tort reform: As I wrote recently, our crazy system of casino malpractice suits results in massive and random settlements that raise everyone's insurance premiums and creates an epidemic of defensive medicine that does no medical good, yet costs a fortune.
An authoritative Massachusetts Medical Society study found that five out of six doctors admitted they order tests, procedures and referrals -- amounting to about 25 percent of the total -- solely as protection from lawsuits. Defensive medicine, estimates the libertarian/conservative Pacific Research Institute, wastes more than $200 billion a year. Just half that sum could provide a $5,000 health insurance grant -- $20,000 for a family of four -- to the uninsured poor (U.S. citizens ineligible for other government health assistance).
What to do? Abolish the entire medical-malpractice system. Create a new social pool from which people injured in medical errors or accidents can draw. The adjudication would be done by medical experts, not lay juries giving away lottery prizes at the behest of the liquid-tongued John Edwardses who pocket a third of the proceeds.
The pool would be funded by a relatively small tax on all health-insurance premiums. Socialize the risk; cut out the trial lawyers. Would that immunize doctors from carelessness or negligence? No. The penalty would be losing your medical license. There is no more serious deterrent than forfeiting a decade of intensive medical training and the livelihood that comes with it.
(2) Real health-insurance reform: Tax employer-provided health-care benefits and return the money to the employee with a government check to buy his own medical insurance, just as he buys his own car or home insurance.
There is no logical reason to get health insurance through your employer. This entire system is an accident of World War II wage and price controls. It's economically senseless. It makes people stay in jobs they hate, decreasing labor mobility and therefore overall productivity. And it needlessly increases the anxiety of losing your job by raising the additional specter of going bankrupt through illness.
The health-care benefit exemption is the largest tax break in the entire U.S. budget, costing the government a quarter-trillion dollars annually. It hinders health-insurance security and portability as well as personal independence. If we additionally eliminated the prohibition on buying personal health insurance across state lines, that would inject new and powerful competition that would lower costs for everyone.
Repealing the exemption has one fatal flaw, however. It was advocated by candidate John McCain. Obama so demagogued it last year that he cannot bring it up now without being accused of the most extreme hypocrisy and without being mercilessly attacked with his own 2008 ads.
But that's a political problem of Obama's making. As is the Democratic Party's indebtedness to the trial lawyers, which has taken malpractice reform totally off the table. But that doesn't change the logic of my proposal. Go the Reagan-Bradley route. Offer sensible, simple, yet radical reform that strips away inefficiencies from the existing system before adding Obamacare's new ones -- arbitrary, politically driven, structural inventions whose consequence is certain financial ruin.
Commentary: Why primary care doctors are fed up
updated 6:39 a.m. EDT, Tue August 25, 2009
By Vance Harris
Special to CNN
(CNN) -- Health policy experts agree that any reform in our health care system must include a well-educated, caring primary care doctor who is able to manage the health of his or her patients with an eye to using resources optimally to keep costs down.
That's a tall order and it seems that few policy makers realize the value of primary care physicians.
People are making a huge assumption in this reform effort that as we extend coverage to millions who don't have health insurance, there will be doctors there to actually provide the health care. Fewer and fewer medical students are choosing primary care and many primary care doctors are leaving the field.
Let me share with you why we are losing so many primary care doctors. What follows are a few examples I experience each week.
How many dozens of chest pain patients have I seen in the last month for whom I didn't order an EKG, get a consult, set up nuclear imaging or send for a catheterization?
Only I have the advantage of knowing how anxious some are and that they have had similar symptoms over the last 20 years. After a history and exam, I am willing to make the call that this is not heart disease. In doing so, I save the system tens of thousands of dollars.
Most of these patients are worked into a busy day, pushing me even deeper into that mire of tardiness for which I will be chastised by at least six patients before the end of the day. My reward for working these people in and making the call is at most $75.
How many times has an anxious patient come in demanding an endoscopy who I examined and then decided to treat less invasively for three to four weeks first? Few of these patients are happy no matter how many times I explain that it is reasonable to treat their reflux symptoms for several weeks before endoscopy.
This delay in referral has led to many tense moments in the last 20 years. The cost savings to the system is thousands of dollars each and every time I am willing to make the call and go with the treatment. My reward is about $55 from Medicare and private health insurers.
How many low back pain patients have come to the office in agony knowing that there has to be something serious to cause this kind of pain? A good history and exam allows me to reassure the patient that there is nothing we need to operate on and that the risk of missing anything is low.
This takes a lot of time to explain as I teach them why they don't need an MRI. If someone else ordered the MRI, guess who gets to explain the significance of bulging disks to an alarmed patient? Setting realistic expectations on recovery and avoiding needless imaging helps saves the system thousands of dollars. My reward is another $55.
How many diabetics do I struggle with, trying to get them to take better care of themselves? How many hours have I spent with teenage diabetics who will not check their blood sugar and forget half of their insulin doses?
Hundreds of hours seem wasted until one day they open their eyes and want to take care of themselves. My reward for years of struggle is a few hundred dollars at best. The savings to society for my hard work and never-give-up attitude is in the tens of thousands of dollars.
I am in my 22nd year in practice, now caring for 3,600 patients. Having me in the system has resulted in savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every year. My financial incentive to hang in there and work harder is that I now make less than half what I did 20 years ago. This year I will make even less.
These are the reasons so many physicians have left medicine entirely and most of us who are left wonder how long can we continue to work like this? I have always served my fellow man out of a sense of love and compassion. That's why I went into medicine.
I have been richly rewarded by my patients over the decades as they have appreciated my judgment and skills. Isn't it a shame that after all this time and with skills honed by decades of experience, many of us can no longer afford to work as a physician?
No one is talking about this on the national level. If they don't address these issues, then good luck having physician assistants provide the safety net with two years of training. Good luck getting newly trained physicians once they see our salaries. Good luck finding internists in your community with only 1 percent of medical students going into internal medicine.
Good luck recruiting primary care specialists when we are projected to be short 39,000 by 2020, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. And nearly half of all doctors surveyed by the Physicians' Foundation have said that over the next three years they plan to reduce the number of patients they see or stop practicing entirely.
I know this is true because I am struggling to find a primary care doctor to take care of my wife and myself. Now that is ironic. Anyone know who is taking new patients in California?
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Vance Harris.
((And HERE'S what we're up against.....a highly professional campaign which works for the White House....yet average American citizens who show up at meetings and rallies are demeaned and insulted. It's OK for THEM to "organize" but when those who disagree with them do so, we're an "angry mob" or "astroturf.))
Health-Care Reform 2009
Tracking the National Health-Care Debate
Grass-Roots Battle Tests The Obama Movement
His Supporters Play Catch-Up on Reform
By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 23, 2009
RACINE, Wis. -- The last three years had unfolded in an unrelenting series of what Jeremy Bird called Big Moments, and here began the latest on a sweltering afternoon earlier this month. Another rental car, another unfamiliar highway, another string of e-mails sent from his BlackBerry while driving 70 mph. Bird took a sip from his coffee and looked over at Dan Grandone, a co-worker riding in the passenger seat.
"I don't know about you, but I'm running on adrenaline right now," Bird said. "I love this feeling that we're on the verge of something crucial."
Bird had lived at that precipice ever since joining Barack Obama's campaign as a top organizer in 2007, but rarely had he faced a challenge so daunting as the one awaiting in Racine. As deputy director of Organizing for America, a national network of Obama supporters, Bird was scheduled to speak with a group of volunteers who had been threatened at town halls, outshouted at local rallies and weakened by a general sense of post-campaign fatigue. With one 90-minute visit, Bird hoped to leave them confident, empowered and reenergized.
"We want these people to feel like they can control almost anything that happens in government," said Bird, who had traveled from his office at Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington to spend two days visiting volunteers across Wisconsin. "They should feel like there's no barrier between the regular people out in the states and the power players in D.C." ((Unless, of course, people DISAGREE with the power players in Washington....))
The outcome of the health-care debate weighed partially on Bird's success, and on the effectiveness of Organizing for America (OFA) in general. When Bird was named deputy director of OFA last year, he became the vanguard of much more than 13 million e-mail addresses collected from supporters during Obama's campaign. He became one of the people most responsible for validating Obama's campaign ethos: that grass-roots support can power government and shape legislation.
It is a theory that now faces a defining test. Conservatives have waged an angry and effective battle against Obama's health-care legislation, and OFA has responded by asking its volunteers to visit congressional offices and flood town hall meetings in a massive show of support. This month, Obama sent an e-mail to OFA members: "This is the moment our movement was built for," he wrote.
When Bird arrived at a Racine coffee shop called Cup of Hope and sat down with 10 OFA volunteers, he spoke with similar urgency.
"We need to flex our muscles on this, and we need to act fast," he said. "We always said in the campaign that this was not just about one election but about a chance to make some major changes. Well, here's the chance."
Bird had a lifetime of experience thriving against long odds, and he relished the role. The son of conservative Baptists, Bird grew up in a Missouri trailer park before attending Harvard Divinity School. He organized underfunded schools in Boston, worked for Howard Dean's presidential campaign in 2004 and started a company that lobbied Wal-Mart -- his mother's former employer -- to improve its benefits and wages. On behalf of Obama, he had moved to five states, helping the candidate overcome racism in South Carolina and Islamophobia in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
When Bird arrived in Wisconsin last week, he recognized all the familiar hallmarks of an underdog fight. Gone were the 44 field offices across the state where Obama organizers had worked during the campaign; now Bird spent his visit searching for power outlets in Wisconsin coffee shops and conducting conference calls at sidewalk cafes. Gone were the 100 paid staffers who orchestrated an Obama victory in the state; now OFA employed one person in Wisconsin, Grandone, who hoped to hire two or three assistants if the budget allowed.
"Right now," Grandone said, "we are kind of building this thing as we fly it."
Around the table in Racine, Bird listened as the volunteers rattled off evidence of OFA's growing pains. Local membership was relatively stagnant because Racine residents were exhausted after volunteering during the long presidential campaign. Newspapers had focused their coverage of health-care town halls on the most vocal conservatives, even when the crowd contained more Democrats. One OFA member said he was now the target of repeated threats. "I've had a guy say to me, 'Why should I be afraid of a liberal when I have a .357?' " said Ryan Gleason, 32.
"It's starting to feel like we're always on the defensive," Gleason said.
Bird responded by citing data aimed at demonstrating OFA's impact. Since the organization sent an e-mail to its members asking for help on health care in May, more than 1.3 million have visited a phone bank, shared their personal health-care stories on the Internet or attended one of 12,000 local rallies. More than 150,000 people have given an average of $38 to OFA's health-care campaign. This month, Obama spent an hour providing OFA members with "bullet points" for the debate during an Internet video.
"Usually, when a campaign ends, everybody is exhausted and people just go their separate ways," Bird told the volunteers assembled in Racine. "But we knew from the beginning that this could be different."
Bird and other top Obama operatives had decided as much during the first days after the election, when they began conceptualizing OFA at a conference held in Chicago. They polled thousands of Obama volunteers through a sequence of surveys and conference calls and sought advice from David Plouffe, the architect of Obama's campaign. By the time of Obama's inauguration, Bird and OFA Director Mitch Stewart had settled on a basic vision: OFA would get by with limited staff by relying on volunteers who would work as many as 30 hours a week to ensure grass-roots activity in each U.S. voting precinct.
Bird and others decided that OFA would succeed almost entirely based on the enthusiasm of its volunteers. In that spirit, he asked each person at the coffee shop in Racine to share a "how-Obama-inspired-me story." There was the mother of two young children who now works as a lead community organizer for OFA, taking her children with her from one event to the next. There was a registered independent voter who had volunteered for Obama only once, on election night. There was Racine's newly elected mayor, John Dickert, who had been inspired to run for office after volunteering for Obama.
These were now the key operatives in OFA's health-care campaign. Bird's visit coincided with the launch of two OFA initiatives. The group's Web site offered artificial appointment times for volunteers to visit their congressional offices, prompting 15 or 20 OFA volunteers to pile into waiting rooms across the country. Bird also asked the supporters in Racine to attend as many congressional town hall meetings as possible in an attempt to drown out the vocal and disruptive opposition.
"Remember to stay classy, like we did during the campaign," Bird said. "We want an educated debate. We are not going to outshout them."
"Do you really think these things will have a big impact?" volunteer Glenda Alexander asked. "I guess it can't hurt to try, but the chances that this debate will be determined by one person showing up at a congressman's office -- and not even seeing the congressman -- seem pretty tiny. It's like buying a lottery ticket."
"It might seem small when it's just you, but it's big when you add up everybody who is going," Bird said.
"But right now, we're getting outshouted," Gleason said.
"We can't let that stop us," Bird said.
"We are battling these false messages every day now," Gleason continued. "It is getting to the point where some people are so angry that our safety is becoming a concern."
"We can't let that stop us either," Bird repeated. "Look, it's nasty because we are on the brink of a change and people are getting scared. If you stick with this, I'll promise you: We will get health care passed this year."
Some of the volunteers stood up and began to applaud. For a moment, at least, Bird had restored their optimism. He thanked the group, picked up his notebook and walked out. There were more volunteers to meet 45 minutes down the road at a restaurant in Milwaukee, another big moment.
"That went well," Bird said to Grandone as they climbed into the rental car. "Now we just have to do the same thing again, and again."
((Let me see if I have this straight - when people demonstrate or work against a Republican president, it's patriotism.....when they demonstrate or work against the policies of a Democratic president, it's evil....right?))
College kids recruited to join Obama's 'army'
Earn credit for pushing 'change,' working on president's 'agenda'
Posted: August 25, 2009
9:03 pm Eastern
By Chelsea Schilling
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
Organizing for America offers opportunities for college credit
President Obama's army of citizen volunteers is now actively recruiting college students in states across the country to "build support for President Obama's agenda" – and earn college credit while advocating for "change."
Obama for America, Obama's 2008 political campaign, merged with the Democratic National Committee in January and is now known as Organizing for America, or OFA. The movement some call "Obama 2.0" is now recruiting students and offering to provide credits toward degree plans in exchange for their advocacy skills.
A message from OFA national volunteer coordinators announcing the recruitment campaign and internship opportunities has been posted on several websites and on Facebook.
"Students and young people were critical in building the movement that helped elect President Obama last year. By becoming a National Organizing Intern, you'll be part of the grassroots effort to make the change we fought for a reality in 2009 and beyond," it states. "As an Organizing Intern, you'll work side by side with OFA staff and community leaders to help build support for President Obama's agenda. You'll learn core organizing principles that are crucial for any campaign and play an important role in building our organization in your state."
The announcement continues, "President Obama describes his time as a community organizer by saying: 'It was the best education I ever had, because I learned in those neighborhoods that when ordinary people come together, they can achieve extraordinary things.'
"This is your chance to get that same education.
"If you're passionate about making sure every American has quality health care, reviving our economy, and building a clean energy future, don't miss this great opportunity. No previous experience is needed in order to apply."
The group's website declares: "Organizing for America, the successor organization to Obama for America, is empowering students across the country to build on the movement that elected President Obama and help bring about his vision for change."
Volunteers must commit to working at least 12 hours a week from Sept. 1 to Dec. 11 and, according to the OFA website, may receive college credit from their schools for doing so.
The Omaha World-Herald reported that OFA workers have been knocking on doors and making phone calls in Iowa and Nebraska to garner support for Obama's health care initiative.
"It is the first time in recent memory that a presidential candidate has maintained an active, grassroots presence in either state after an election," the newspaper reported. ((Right - THEIR organized efforts are "grassroots." OUR semi-organized efforts are "astroturf. I get it.))
"Iowa has almost nonstop presidential activity," said Norm Sterzenbach, executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party. "But the idea of having a sitting president continuing an organization is fairly unusual."
According to the Washington Post, Obama used the same standing political army earlier this year to gather signatures in support of his economic plan. The president asked his supporters to go "block by block and door by door" in every state.
In March, when volunteers canvassed high-traffic locations in Birmingham, Ala., to support Obama's health care, education and energy policies, one event organizer told the Birmingham News, "We are looking for supporters. We're not looking for a fight. That will come later, when we have an army."
((Uh-huh....would that be the civilian militia that will be a large and well funded as the military that Obama mentioned just ONCE during his campaign? But little old ladies and stay at home moms and veterans attending town hall meetings to express real concern about health care plans are "brownshirts."))
In an Aug. 5 e-mail, Obama once again urged his supporters to help him gain support for his health care plan:
… Organizing for America is putting together thousands of events this month where you can reach out to neighbors, show your support, and make certain your members of Congress know that you're counting on them to act.
But these canvasses, town halls, and gatherings only make a difference if you turn up to knock on doors, share your views, and show your support.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said in July that OFA has hired staff in 38 states and intends to expand to all 50 states. OFA announced that it has organized 1,906 local events in all 50 states – from press conferences to community discussions – since it launched its health care campaign in June.
As WND reported, Obama has been accused of "planting" OFA volunteers and supporters at many of his recent town hall forums so they may ask pre-selected questions. The White House insists that attendees are selected at random, but a closer look reveals many questioners range from Obama campaign donors and Organizing for America volunteers to single-payer health care lobbyists and Service Employees International Union members.
According to New Hampshire's DMUR 9 News, Obama health care supporters, including OFA members, are being driven to town hall meetings by the busload:
One citizen filmed a crowd of activists at a recent town hall meeting. Each attendee held a printed placard promoting health "reform" and addressing numerous "myths" and "facts" about Obama's plan. Asked where she got the sign, a woman said, "Organizing for America. We're a grass-roots organization and proud of it."
((Maybe these people don't really know the meaning of the term "grassroots...))
Other town hall attendees have reported seeing volunteers handing out pre-printed fliers and posters from OFA.
WND also reported that help wanted ads are appearing on Craigslist that offer to pay citizens between $9 and $16 an hour to lobby for the passage of Obama's health care. One Sacramento Craig's List ad declares, "Help pass Obama's health care reform! Earn $325-$550 per week!" ((Yup, that's grassroots, all right!))
Craigslist ads for Sacramento-area workers to "help pass Obama's plans"
Another Craigslist ad in San Francisco invited prospective applicants to "join motivated staff around the country working to make change happen."
The same ad ran in the Craigslist Washington, D.C., section. Similar ads were posted in Minneapolis, Minn., and Columbus, Ohio, sections.
Organizing for America is also calling on Obama supporters to show up at local representatives' offices to show support for health reform.
"As you've probably seen in the news, special interest attack groups are stirring up partisan mobs with lies about health reform, and it's getting ugly," a letter from Organizing for America states. "Across the country, members of Congress who support reform are being shouted down, physically assaulted, hung in effigy, and receiving death threats. We can't let extremists hijack this debate, or confuse Congress about where the people stand."
The group even offers to provide "information to drop off about how the health care crisis affects your state (with the option of adding your personal story)" and "a step-by-step guide" for pushing health "reform" at district offices.
((But here are some tips for "fighting back."))
How to ruin a professional agitation group’s day.
Posted by Moe Lane (Profile)
Sunday, July 26th at 7:32AM EDT
It’s actually not that hard.
Figure out which professional agitation group typically runs faux-populist demonstrations in your area.
Subscribe to their email list and/or website.
DO NOT ENGAGE THEM IN CONVERSATION AND/OR DISCUSSION. You merely want to keep up with what they’re doing.
When they announce a protest, note the time and date.
Contact your local, actual conservative grassroots group.
On the day of the event, swamp them ten to one. (Via Instapundit)
Smile a lot.
Bring cameras. Because they’re going to violate 7, 8, & 9 themselves, and you want that recorded.
These groups use strategic camera shots, a largely disinterested local press looking for local color, and a general lack of counter-protesters to come across as more powerful and effectual than they actually are. Right now they can get away with getting twenty people out to a local event and calling it “grassroots activism.” Make it clear that they’re ridiculously outnumbered, and they’ll have to start spending more and more resources to accomplish their goals, such as they are.
PS: None of this should stop people from having their own protests, of course. But counter-protests are much easier to put together… if you have the people to do it. We do. They don’t.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.
1stRichard Sunday, July 26th at 11:05AM EDT (link)
1 Memorize your talking points, make sure everyone is on the same page
2 Hand out information, a simple one page cover letter or flyer be polite and professional and then add information from different professional organizations
3 Establish communications and dialog with the police if you can, always suspect then of possible hostility so don’t give them a reason. Inform them of the history and possibility of false complaints. This sometimes does not work so be polite when they show and don’t be intimidated.
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