Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Healthcare/Healthscare Nonsense and Changes At “Prosecute Them Now!”

Healthcare/Healthscare Nonsense and Changes At “Prosecute Them Now!”

Ed. --

After nearly 1,000 submissions, 20 amazing finalists, and more than 3 million views, we have the winner of the Organizing for America Health Reform Video Challenge.

The winning video shows that our supporters' creativity and passion is more than a match for the slick ads and partisan spin doctors on the other side. In the next few days, we'll be using this video as the basis for a new television ad that will air across the country -- and you can help, by ensuring we have the resources to make the biggest impact.

Check out the winning video now.

With Congress wrapping up its last round of negotiations and closely gauging the public's mood in these crucial final weeks, now is the exact time to get this grassroots message out far and wide.

Your passion has brought our country closer to health reform than we've ever been before -- and it's what will keep our momentum strong so that we finish the job before the end of the year.

So please watch the winning video, pass it on to everyone you know, and give what you can to spread the message on national television:



David Plouffe

AP Poll: Americans Fret Over Health Overhaul Costs

WASHINGTON – It's the cost, Mr. President. Americans are worried about hidden costs in the fine print of health care overhaul legislation, an Associated Press poll says. That's creating new challenges forPresident Barack Obama as he tries to close the deal with a handful of Democratic doubters in the Senate.

Although Americans share a conviction that major health care changesare needed, Democratic bills that extend coverage to the uninsured and try to hold down medical costs get no better than a lukewarm reception.

The poll found that 43 percent oppose the health care plans being discussed in Congress, while 41 percent are in support. An additional 15 percent remain neutral or undecided.

"Well, for one, I know nobody wants to pay taxes for anybody else to go to the doctor — I don't," said Kate Kuhn, 20, of Acworth, Ga. "I don't want to pay for somebody to use my money that I could be using for myself."

There's been little change in broad public sentiment about the overhaul plan from a 40-40 split in an AP poll last month, but not everyone's opinion is at the same intensity. Opponents have stronger feelings than do supporters. Seniors remain more skeptical than younger generations.

The latest survey was conducted by Stanford University with the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

When poll questions were framed broadly, the answers seemed to indicate ample support for Obama's goals. When required trade-offs were brought into the equation, opinions shifted — sometimes dramatically.

In one striking finding, the poll indicated that public support for banning insurance practices that discriminate against those in poor health may not be as solid as it seems.

A ban on denial of coverage because of pre-existing medical problems has been one of the most popular consumer protections in the health care debate. Some 82 percent said they favored the ban, according to aPew Research Center poll in October.

In the AP poll, when told that such a ban would probably cause most people to pay more for health insurance, 43 percent said they would still support doing away with pre-existing condition denials, but 31 percent said they would oppose it.

Costs for those with coverage could go up because people in poor health who'd been shut out of the insurance pool would now be included, and they would get medical care they could not access before.

"I'm thinking we'd probably pay more because we would probably be paying for those that are not paying. So they got to get the money from somewhere. Basically I see our taxes going up," said Antoinette Gates, 57, of Atlanta.

The health care debate is full of such trade-offs. For example, limiting the premiums that insurance companies can charge 50-year-olds means that 20-year-olds have to pay more for coverage.

"These trade-offs really matter," says Robert Blendon, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who follows opinion trends. "The legislation contains a number of features that polls have shown to be popular, but support for the overall legislation is less than might be expected because people are worried there are details about these bills that could raise their families' costs."

If the added costs — spread over tens of millions of people — turn out to be small, it may not make much difference, Blendon said. But if they're significant, Obama could be on shaky ground in the final stretch of his drive to deliver access to health insurance to most Americans.

More than 4 in 5 Americans now have health insurance, and their perceptions about costs are key as Obama tries to rally his party's congressional majority. In the House, Democrats came together to pass their bill. In the Senate, Democratic liberals and a smaller group of moderates disagree on core questions even asMajority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., prepares to take legislation to the floor.

The poll suggests the public is becoming more attuned to the fact that in health care, details can make all the difference.

For example, asked if everyone should be required to have at least some health insurance, 67 percent agreed and 27 percent said no.

The responses flipped when people were asked about requiring everybody to carry insurance or face a federal penalty: 64 percent said they would be opposed, while 28 percent favored that.

Both the House and Senate bills would require all Americans to get health insurance, either through an employer, a government program or by buying their own coverage. Subsidies would be provided for low-income people, as well as many middle-class households.

And there would also be a stick — a tax penalty to enforce the coverage mandate.

"I think it's crazy. I think it infringes on our rights as a citizen, forcing us to do these things," said Eli Fuchs, 26, of Marietta, Ga.

Among Democrats, only 12 percent oppose the broad goal of requiring insurance. But 50 percent oppose fines to enforce it.

The poll found a similar opinion shift on employer requirements: 73 percent agreed that all companies should be required to give their employees at least some health insurance.

Yet when asked if fines should be used to enforce such a requirement on medium and large companies, support dropped to 52 percent. Uninsured workers are concentrated in small companies.

The poll was based on land line and cell phone interviews with 1,502 adults from Oct. 29 to Nov. 8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The interviews were conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media. Stanford University's participation was made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonpartisan organization that conducts research on the health care system.

Stupak: I Have Votes To Defeat Health Bill

By Eric Zimmermann - 11/17/09 10:00 AM ET

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) pledged on Tuesday morning to defeat healthcare reform legislation if his abortion amendment is taken out, saying 10 to 20 anti-abortion-rights Democrats would vote against a bill with weaker language.

"They’re not going to take it out," Stupak said on "Fox and Friends," referring to Senate Democrats. "If they do, healthcare will not move forward."

Stupak's amendment prohibits any insurance plan on a potential healthcare exchange from accepting federal subsidies if it covers abortion. Pro-abortion-rights lawmakers say that language is too broad and would drastically reduce access to abortion.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod said over the weekend that he expected Stupak's language to be "adjusted."

Stupak disagreed.

"We won fair and square," Stupak said of the House vote. "[T]hat is why Mr. Axelrod is not a legislator — he doesn’t really know what he is talking about."

The Michigan Democrat said he has enough votes to take down the whole bill if his amendment is replaced with a weaker version.

"If they strip our language … they keep the Capps amendment. At least 10 to 15 to 20 of us will not vote for it," he said, referring to an amendment offered by pro-choice Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.).

The healthcare bill passed the House by five votes. Stupak's 10 to 20 votes would be enough to defeat the bill, unless some Democrats who originally voted "no" changed position.

Carper: Conservative Democrats Not Likely To Support Senate Public Option

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) cast serious doubt tonight on whether conservative Democrats will ultimately vote for cloture on the Senate health care bill if it retains a public option with an opt-out clause, and gave new details on yet another compromise that he says might work for them.

Carper, who voted for a public option amendment during the Senate Finance Committee proceedings, first floated his idea last week as a potential alternative, in the event that Reid's public option proposal failed to muster enough Democratic support to overcome a filibuster. Now he says he doubts the support is there.

"We're concerned that a number of centrists aren't prepared to vote for a national public plan, even with an opt-out," Carper told TPMDC. "We're trying to find something that addresses their concern about government run, government-funded, but still addresses the need for the affordability needs and the need for more competition in states that don't have it."

"What we're asking centrists is, What concerns do you need to have addressed so that you can vote for cloture, either to bring the bill to the floor, or to take the bill off the floor and to go to conference? And the two concerns we keep hearing over and over again: government-run, government funded."

(The opt-out plan Reid has proposed would not be government funded, though it's not clear whether it would be run directly by the government, or outsourced to a non-governmental body accountable to Congress.)

The Delaware senator cautions that comes to the Senate floor in the next several days will almost certainly include the broader public option Reid announced weeks ago, and that his alternative will simply exist as a possible fallback in the event that the opt-out plan can't get 60 votes.

Carper's proposal would be share some features with the public option Reid has proposed--it would be a single federal entity that negotiated rates with providers--i.e. built on a "level playing field"--but unlike the Reid plan, it would not blanket all states as a default, and then allow certain state governments to opt out.

Instead, Carper's plan would erect an affordability standard (the details of which have yet to be determined) and establish this non-profit entity by fiat in states that don't meet the standard. This is similar in principle to the "trigger" option proposed by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), but unlike Snowe's trigger plan, there would be no delay. States that failed to meet the affordability standard would be forced to offer the plan immediately, when the insurance exchanges open in 2013.

"At the end of the day we may need something along the lines of what I suggested," Carper said. "The idea is to figure out what states don't meet an affordability standard, those states that don't meet an affordability standard [will] have another option to list on their state's exchanges, it would be negotiated probably by a non-profit board, perhaps appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate, with some involvement, at least initially, by HHS...the Secretary could even be an ex-officio member of the board."

"The day we stand up the exchange, in the states that don't meet an affordability standard, this option would go up as an option on their exchange," Carper added.

Asked about Carper's plan, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)--a strong public option supporter, and chairman of the Senate HELP Committee--told reporters he'd heard of it, and joked "I'm sure if there's some way of making this bill even more convoluted, I'm sure that someone will probably come up with it at some time or another." But he did say everyone's keeping their options open.

There Is Still Time to Save Health Care Reform From the Catholic Bishops

By: Rev. Barry W. Lynn


You asked me:

"Would you have criticized the Catholic Church if it had OPPOSED the Stupak/Pitts Amendment and it failed to clear the House?"

Here's my answer: Of course not. I think everyone should support the Constitution. In this case, the Catholic bishops have stripped more than half of all Americans of their constitutional rights. If the bishops had upheld the rights of all Americans, I'd be applauding their actions.

Instead, they decided to push their narrow religious viewpoint on the rest of us. That's why I spent yesterday morning on a panel of religious leaders who, like me, opposed the bishops' amendment. This press conference at the National Press Club brought together Catholic, Protestant and Jewish organizations to call on the U.S. Senate not to include the Stupak-Pitts amendment in the Senate version of the bill.

Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, made an interesting point. He said, "[T]here are only 200 bishops in decision-making positions in the U.S. church. Sadly, these 200 are often referred to as the 'Catholic church.' This is far from the case. The Catholic church in the United States is made up of all 68 million Catholics and all of the Catholic institutions.

"A majority of American Catholics," he continued, "think that reproductive health care services should be covered in any eventual reform of the U.S. health care system -- including pre- and postnatal care for women, contraception, condom provision as part of HIV/AIDS prevention, and yes, even abortion.

"A small minority of Catholics, fewer than 15 percent, are in line with the bishops in believing that all abortion should be banned," he concluded. "The rest can see circumstances in which legal abortion is an acceptable, even essential, aspect of health care."

Other speakers at the press conference included leaders from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society, Catholics for Choice, National Council of Jewish Women and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.

All of us came together because we agree on one thing: there is a lot at stake here. This amendment threatens not only the rights of women, but also hinders the religious freedom of all Americans who do not want to see the theological views of any group imposed on every one of us.

I said it last week on this blog, I said it yesterday at the press conference, and I'll say it again now: it would be better to dump the entire bill than to allow it to become law with these noxious provisions intact. It saddens me to say this, and that is why I hope it never has to reach that point. There is still time for the Senate to do the right thing, and I urge them to keep this amendment out of their version of the bill.

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