Posts Tagged 'health care reform'

Quote of the Week (Maybe the Month)

“It’s like debating the difference between aspirin
and Tylenol for a cancer patient.”

— Dr. David Himmelstein, when asked about the health care reform bills in Congress

Dr. Himmelstein is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who he helped write major studies finding that medical bills were a leading contributor to personal bankruptcies in the United States.

Read the whole article in the New York Times here.

And for more on health care, visit my client Dr. Gregory Jackson’s blog, “Reality Check: How to Live Better Longer.”

Real Voices for Change: Health Care Reform Rally

I started the day watching the funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy, the third of the brothers I witnessed being laid to rest. In honor of the Lion of the Senate, I decided to attend today’s Real Voices for Change Forum with Congressman Lloyd Doggett here in Austin.

On my way to meet my friends Nancy and Debi, I spotted a hulking black SUV loaded with bumper stickers, so many that the only ones I caught were “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” and “Where’s the Fence?” Go figure.

I thought it was a real possibility that we’d get yelled at by some angry teabaggers, so I briefly considered packing a few used teabags, just in case. (NOTE: THAT WAS A JOKE!) I also wondered if those who embrace the “teabagger” moniker so wholeheartedly even know of the salacious meaning of that particular term. But I suppose they don’t.

Anyway, around 2:15 p.m., Nancy, Debi, and I headed over to the First United Methodist Church, site of the forum. An orderly line snaked around the church with pro-reform signs. A small group of the opposition was camped out on the island on 12th Street, again orderly and relatively quiet. Instead of standing in line, we opted to go to the overflow room at the AFL-CIO building. We claimed chairs and were handed official signs. One thoughtful woman even handed out some snacks! By the time the event started, the room was full, probably around 200-250 people. The only squawking I heard was a baby out in the hall. Definitely a pro-reform crowd.

One woman who sat next to us said she’d been at the Capitol earlier for the rally and hung around afterward, watching the TV crews glom onto the teabaggers, even though they were hugely outnumbered. (Of course, the secessionists had a rally earlier in the day in which they claimed that Sam Houston supported secession — fact check, PUH-LEASE!). But our roomful of people was quite cheerful and supportive and quite enthusiastic when the show started.


  • Pastor Jim Rigby of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church: “If you talk about helping the poor, you’re called a Christian. If you actually try to help the poor, you’re called a socialist” and “Some people think your right to life ends when you’re born.” I’m going to go check out St. Andrew’s — love the Social Justice bent of that church!
  • Geoff Tudor: A former health-care industry attorney told his poignant personal story about losing his health care coverage after having a heart ailment and moving back to the Texas to take care of his family. The bottom line is he needs a procedure to replace the battery of his pacemaker in eight months and has no coverage and doesn’t know if he’ll be able to have the surgery. I wish I could find a transcript of that speech — it was stunning.
  • Lloyd Doggett arrived to a standing ovation:
    • “Doing nothing in a country as prosperous as ours is unconscionable.”
    • “If you try to listen to what these fears are expressing so strongly, it uncovers some truths. These claimed describe what’s wrong with health care today that we want to fix.”
    • “What the opponents are describing are not the dangers of reform but about doing nothing.”
    • He also pushed for the public option! Yippee!

At one point, one speaker asked all of the veterans to stand, and one of the men in our room stood, revealing a red “Faux News” T-shirt.

We decided to head back over to the church to check out the action. DPS troopers were patrolling 12th Street. The island had maybe 50 people on it, hollering and waving signs. I saw the Obama as Hitler poster at the LaRouche table  and the creepy Obama as the Joker T-shirts. That bugged me. Although they were standing out in the sun and heat, so… What surprised me the most was that they seemed to be mostly middle-aged and young white people. Very few older people.

Pro-reformers lined the north side of the street, offering good-natured back and forth. I found a shady spot and watched for a while, but aside from the occasional shouting, nothing much seemed to be happening.

Nancy announced, “I’m going over there,” and walked over to the island where she stood unaccosted. Then Debi and I walked across the street to get a picture of Nancy with the Baggers, and one woman accosted Debi, telling her that she was stupid for supporting reform! Debi just walked away.

Overall, it was quiet and relatively civil. And the numbers tell the story: The headcount  at the church and the overflow venues was estimated at 1,500 to 2,000 while I counted around  50 protesters. But of course that’s where the TV cameras were!

How to Take Back the Health Care Debate

Finally, a voice of reason emerges, but no one seems to be listening: George Lakoff has this short take on what Dems need to do to take back the “debate.” His points:

  • Name the villain: insurance companies that are doing exactly what the screamers are saying “reform” will do.
  • What has failed is insurance company health care.
  • Ask: Who’s had to wait for an authorization for care? Who’s been denied authorization by insurance companies? Who has lost their insurance?
  • Change “public option” to the “American plan” (Are you for the American plan or not?)
  • Insurance companies spend 20-30% of premiums to deny you care.

Hmmm, no talk of killing Grandma or my personal favorite: promoting “gender confusion” by pushing sex change operations!

Lakoff also had a interview on Minnesota Public Radio. The sad thing is that the truth does not seem to be an option.

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