Sen. Wyden Joins Effort to Stop Health Care Reform

Jo Ann Hardesty

Today Senator Wyden signed onto a letter asking the white house and senate leadership to slow down the process. We know that this is the number one strategy of the right to kill health care reform. We need to flood his office with calls this weekend. THIS SHOULD NOT WAIT UNTIL MONDAY! We know that they may not get to speak to a real person this weekend, but if we wait three days, the "Am I going to get away with this?" time will have passed. We are sending out a press release in response.

Its bad enough that Sen. Wyden wants to mandate that we all buy insurance from the private market but now he is joining forces with them to try to scuttle health care reform. Join us in sending a strong message to Sen. Wyden that we are watching and that he is out of touch with Oregonians. 

The Message:  The time is NOW! We have waited long enough for  real health care reform! 

His office numbers are listed below. 

DC - (202) 224-5244

Portland - (503) 326-7525

Eugene - (541) 431-0229

Salem - (503) 589-4555

Medford - (541) 858-5122

Bend - (541) 330-9142

La Grande - (541) 962-7691

What has happened?

House

The draft came out on Tuesday. Ways & Means and Education & Labor passed it out of committee last night. We are expecting Energy & Commerce to vote it out by early next week.

There is concern about the five year bar for documented immigrants, and there is still concern over Medicare reimbursement rates. Both of which are being negotiated behind the scenes and we will continue to push the big picture.

The house bill is the high water mark as far as we are concerned. A one page list of components  of the house bill are attached. You can see the various bills at the following links:

http://waysandmeans.house.gov/

http://edworkforce.house.gov/

http://energycommerce.house.gov/

Senate

The HELP committee passed their bill out of committee early this week as well. It looks very good. The press release and summary of the bill can be found at http://help.senate.gov

Comments

  • Joe Hill (unverified)
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    Thank you for doing this. I've made my calls and mailed my letters.

    As far as Wyden is concerned . . . this has been the last straw. There is now no more pretending.

  • (Show?)

    Thank you for taking action!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "As far as Wyden is concerned . . . this has been the last straw. There is now no more pretending."

    Now is the time to work on finding a replacement for Wyden and get rid of him as we got rid of his buddy, Gordon Smith.

  • Tyrannocaster (unverified)
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    I called but the office is closed. I left a message, including my address (means I'm a local) and my phone number (don't expect a return call) and a statement in no uncertain terms that the last thing we need right now is a repeat of the "slow it all down" routine that the Republicans pulled last time.

  • (Show?)

    This is bullshit. Read the letter. The letter states that it needs to be done this year. That's the same position taken by Pres. Obama.

  • (Show?)

    This is mostly nonsense, IMHO. Wyden is a solid senator for health care reform. If he thinks more time is needed to get a good bill, why not? If anyone needs calling, it is organized labor, asking them to permit the taxation of health care benefits. Then a great bill would soon fall into place.

    As, I see it, we have only 90% of a good health care reform bill. But the last 10% will make a big difference. And I can’t tell from Oregon if more time will improve the bill or not.

    The bills, as I now understand them, are not financially sound. Using Medicare savings to pay for health care for others is a shell game. Those funds are needed to keep Medicare viable. That’s why the revenue from taxing some or all of the value of health care benefits is important.

  • Mike (unverified)
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    Jo Ann, I think you are way out of line. We progressives have no better friend in Washington than Senator Wyden. While you may not agree with his favored approach to tackling health care reform, his record makes it abundantly clear that he will reach out to fellow Democrats and enlightened Republicans and help forge legislation that will result in meaningful reform.

    Yesterday's critical report from the Congressional Budget Office is sobering and you would be irresponsible not to step back and and look at the big picture. The bottom line in that report, if I understand it, is that the two legislative initiatives coming out of the Senate and House do not go far enough in furthering the goal of meaningful health care reform. The report notes that the proposed pieces of legislation would be hugely expensive to fund and, because they do not go far enough in reforming the current health care infrastructure (which sees costs spriraling out of control), long term savings to counterbalance the initial and ongoing funding outlays will not be realized.

    Wyden is right on this one. Congress would be foolish to forge ahead without pausing to carefully scrutinize the CBO's report. Pushing through a crappy piece of legislation that exasperates the existing situation would be the worst thing that could happen, making the Democrats look foolish, ineffective, sophomoric, and fiscally irresponsible. I don't want to be like the Republicans, who let their ideology lead them into blind alleys time and time again.

    I'm a fan of the single-payer option, which I think Wyden and Obama will ultimately support.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    Funny, why are we worried about how to pay for health care reform? We don't worry about how we're going to pay for Star Wars (yes, we're still squandering billions on Ronnie Raygun's realization of Edward Teller's fantasy). We don't worry about how we're going to pay for Little Boy Georgie's Vicious Adventure in Iraq. We don't worry about how we're going to pay for the hundreds of billions we've poured into the hands of Hank Paulson Sr. and his cronies.

    Nope, the only thing we're supposed to worry about paying for is the one thing that we know will actually have a positive benefit, both morally and economically.

    The time to strike is now. Delay merely gives Faux News and the Villagers time to figure out how to defeat the American people yet again in the name of "fiscal responsibility," a responsibility that we don't seem to demand of any program that oppresses people, only those that might actually help them.

    For the math challenged out there, which seems to include Senator Wyden, here's the bottom line: Of the $2.5 Trillion we're spending to get a mediocre health care result that immorally rations care by wealth (and that freezes out some 50 million people), nearly a third goes only to the parasites and leeches known as health insurance companies, who profit by denying health care coverage and killing people by letting clerks override doctors whenever there is profit to be made.

    Eliminate the insurance companies and you've removed a gigantic parasite that is bleeding the system and leads only to fabulous wealth for a few at the cost of suffering for many.

    Or, if you won't do the obvious thing (single-payer) then, as Howard Dean said today on Democracy Now!, regulate health insurance companies like public utilities as Switzerland and the Netherlands do -- in other words, you will still have these parasites, but they will have a capped return on equity and they will only be allowed to recover costs approved by a regulatory board. So no more $20million dollar CEOs, etc.

    How typical of Democrats like Wyden to do everything possible to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory -- to let the enemy gather strength and weaken us rather than finishing them off.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Thanks, Joann. Ron Wyden needs to take some heat for this betrayal. He's deliberately stringing this thing out so he can be a player.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    The United States has been dragging its feet on health care for 60 years. If there is finally momentum going now for a humane and civilized plan that has a chance to become a reality, politicians should either get on board or get out of the way.

    Paying for this plan is not the big deal that people make it out to be. For openers, start with the war (defense?) budget and shut down the waste there and in the military-industrial complex. Tell Admiral Mullen to forget about getting a four percent increase in the Pentagon budget every year. We have the most expensive war machine budget in the world and a bunch of Taliban and Pushtun tribesmen have thousands of NATO forces struggling in AfPak. And what are the locals using for weapons? AK-47s and improved explosive devices that probably cost less than what the air force pays for a screwdriver.

    I understand the average health plan in the United States costs over $12,000 per policy holder. That is close to twice the average European per capita cost for better health care. Steer that $12,000 into the single-payer plan and there will be little left to worry about. Cut the insurance companies out of the picture. There's a lot of waste there.

  • jman (unverified)
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    you stupid, idiotice spendocrats... Persecuting your own senator for only wanting to take a closer look at the bill. I suppose you morons support your normal approach of voting on bills you don't even read...

    F$#$# unbelievable..

  • Mike (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden wrote: Now is the time to work on finding a replacement for Wyden and get rid of him as we got rid of his buddy, Gordon Smith.

    That's pure idiocy. Run Wyden out of office, and you will see a "Nope" in that position and suddenly we Demos are out in the political wilderness again.

    Bill, you sound like a left wing version of Newt Gingrich.

    Keep this in mind: when you build a big tent, as we Democrats have done, there are going to be a range of views on any given issue and ultimately compromises will be made to muster the needed votes. That's the way of the world. If I were a senator or congressman, I wouldn't vote for a poorly vetted piece of legislation just because my party wanted to rush it through before the summer break.

    Have you read any of the legislation that has made its way out of committee or heard any details about it? Do you question the impartiality of the CBO? Do you wonder why Big Pharm is supportive of the legislative effort, while the health insurance industry is generally opposed?

    The ugliness of this legislative process goes to the very heart of our republican form of government. It ain't pretty, but it is our particular form of democracy.

  • Ralph (unverified)
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    JoAnn, Just exactly what is your hurry? Have you read ALL of the bills (1000+ pages)? Good for Wyden to show some common sense and patience which is what a rabble-rouser lacks.

  • Brian C. (unverified)
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    Yeah, it's like KPOJ radio at the moment. All single payer all of the time. If you doubt for a second the template of Western European socialized medicine you're some right wing nut job and there's no room for rational discussion. Throw Ron Wyden under the bus. Jesus, the far left is now more worthy of expungement than the hardcore right wing. What has the world come to? Morons!

  • LT (unverified)
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    Mike and Ralph, good for you!

    Joe and Bill, if that is the way you feel, spend your time finding a primary candidate rather than blogging.

    By what actions is Wyden trying to scuttle health care reform--being more thoughtful than "we must have public option, nothing else matters!"? Not signing on to the "approved" version because he thinks for himself?

    What about cost control (some are talking about the same sorts of things Dr. Kitzhaber has been talking about for years), or how to pay for it? Whether or not there is a public option, how does an unemployed or underemployed person afford health insurance, even with a public option?

    In case of an accident, will the public option currently written (is there one final version or multiple versions?) give a part time worker from a fast food restaurant the same level of care as Sen. Atkinson got when he had a severe accidental injury, and without impoverishing the injured person? Questions like that seem to be buried in the furor of "if you don't support our solution, you don't support health care reform!".

    How does the "public option" provide for prevention measures? Who will decide the benefits package of the public option? I heard tonight on TV that such questions are still up in the air. But if Wyden said "I support the public option. Period. End of discussion. " would those questions be magically answered?

    The idea that because our Senior Senator will not do the bidding of activists (how much of the bill have they read?) he deserves a primary challenge is a way to potentially get a Republican Senator.

    Too many of us have lived through that scenario before, most famously those unhappy with Al Ullman, then chair of Ways and Means. He was a powerful Oregon Democrat, but Wayne Morse he wasn't. So he was challenged in the primary, the primary challenger got 45%, the Republicans saw an opening, and Ullman lost a close election (1980 not a good year to be running as a Democrat in a district outside of Portland). It took us 10 years to get rid of Denny Smith.

    Anyone who really thinks Wyden has outlived his usefulness should turn off the computer and convene a group to decide who should run against him. But make sure that person fits your ideological purity, and can win statewide. What if those 2 goals turn out to be incompatible? Would your candidate promise to do a town hall meeting in every county every year? Or is that less important than agreeing with you on this issue?

    There have been complaints here and elsewhere about Wyden and about Darlene Hooley not being pure enough for some people. But they did replace Republicans when first elected (Wyden for Senate, Hooley for House). Is it better to have a diverse group and have a large majority, or have ideological purity and have a minority? You decide.

    I come down on making my own decisions, and have not yet found proof that Wyden is a worse impediment to health care reform than the "take it slow" Republicans. But then, I understand the concerns of the House Blue Dogs who represent Republican districts.

    And where is DFA on this issue?

    This is the list from DFA's "Vote on who's next" email about voting on who to pressure first with TV ads in their home state. The names were listed next to the amount of money they raised from the health care insurance companies. Top vote getters on the results page were Baucus, Kerry and Feinstein.

    Notice Wyden's name is not on the list.

    Senator Ben Nelson Senator Joe Lieberman Senator Mary Landrieu Senator John Kerry Senator Dianne Feinstein Senator Kent Conrad Senator Evan Bayh Senator Max Baucus

  • PeteJacobsen (unverified)
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    @Bryan: Single Payer isn't "far left", its what is working in the rest of the industrialized world at half our cost and with better outcomes. I'd hope both right and left can be willing to take a good look at something that's proven to work!

    As for Wyden, I don't like the delay. I don't think he's trying to kill this, but a delay - a loss of inertia - may well have that effect. I see nothing wrong with telling him to keep the pressure on!

  • Peter Ray (unverified)
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    Joanne, can you please explain how Ron Wyden has joined an effort to stop health reform? What exactly did you see in this letter that gives you the right to make that claim?

    I think this is really about a couple of the co-signors of the letter, Lieberman and Nelson. They make me nervous on health care and a variety of other issues, but I read the letter and can find nothing to support your conclusion. It actually sounds pretty reasonable.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Good for Wyden, for a change.

    By the way, before you reflect on the 40th anniv of the Apollo 11 landings, first reflect on something that happened two days prior to that -- take a look

  • (Show?)

    The letter said to get it done this year, but to be sure to get it done right. Given the squandering of resources in the "emergency" stimulus bills, taking time to get it right seems prudent to me.

  • (Show?)

    Mike- Are you kidding me? Best progressive? Since when? Sen. Wyden is out of touch with Oregonians as he demonstrates every time he conducts a town hall meeting in the state. Oregonians are no longer fooled!

    This is just the latest action that will not benefit people of Oregon. First he refuses to support the public plan that provides choice and instead says his "Healthy American Act" is the answer to the health care problem. Even the CBO said it would not cost the federal government because YOU & I would give insurance companies billions of more dollars and get nothing back in return, not the reform promised by the President.

    I'm disappointed in Sen. Wyden and hope there is a challenger to him next year. Since Sen. Smith is gone, Sen. Wyden votes are looked at much closer and sadly he does not pass muster.

    To everyone else: I tend to follow the money with politicians so if you want to see where Sen. Wyden is getting his support go to www.opensecrets.org. Sen. Wyden use to be a champion for people without a voice. It's disappointing he no longer wants to have that role

    I believe this is the real reason he will not stand up for Oregonians and the country to ensure that we have health care reform now, now after the insurance & health care lobbyist have watered it down so that it doesn't serve anyone.

    Thanks to all of you who have called his office. Please keep the calls up even though no one will be there this weekend your calls are critical! Please do it now!

    Sen Wyden needs to know we are watching his actions and he will be held accountable! We expect him to lead not obstruct!

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Paul Krugman names them, "the hypocritical Six" http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/17/the-six-deadly-hypocrites/

    <hr/>

    "The six deadly hypocrites

    Will the destructive center kill health care reform? It looks all too possible.

    What’s especially galling is the hypocrisy of their claimed reason for delaying progress — concern about the fiscal burden. After all, in the past most of them have shown no concern at all for the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook.

    Case in point: the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which denied Medicare the right to bargain for lower drug prices, locked in overpayments to private insurance companies, and did nothing, nothing at all, to pay for its proposed outlays. How many of these six self-proclaimed defenders of solvency voted no on the crucial procedural vote? One. (Joe Lieberman, to my surprise.)

    And let’s not forget that Ben Nelson, who appears to be the ringleader, has fought tooth and nail against competition from a public option — which would almost certainly save a significant amount of money, as well as providing much-needed competition.

    If the Gang of Six really does kill reform, remember their names; they will bear the responsibility for vast, unnecessary suffering over the years to come."

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    The CBO has just scored the House Healthcare plan. It is better than deficit neutral, it scores a six billion surplus. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/7/18/754836/-YES!:-CBO-Final-House-Bill-Score-in-It-Will-YIELD-SURPLUS!

    July 17, 2009

    CBO Scores Confirms Deficit Neutrality of Health Reform Bill

    Washington, D.C. -- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released estimates this evening confirming for the first time that H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, is deficit neutral over the 10-year budget window – and even produces a $6 billion surplus. CBO estimated more than $550 billion in gross Medicare and Medicaid savings. More importantly, the bill includes a comprehensive array of delivery reforms to set the stage for lowering the future growth in health care costs.

    Net Medicare and Medicaid savings of $465 billion, coupled with the $583 billion revenue package reported today by the House Committee on Ways and Means, fully finance the previously estimated $1.042 trillion cost of reform, which will provide affordable health care coverage for 97% of Americans.

    "This fulfills the strong commitment of the President and House leadership to enact health reform on a deficit-neutral basis," said Chairman Henry A. Waxman, Chairman Charles B. Rangel, and Chairman George Miller. "The reforms included in this legislation will help control health care costs and expand access to quality, affordable coverage to all Americans in a fiscally-responsible manner."

  • Peter Ray (unverified)
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    Jo Ann,

    You offer no evidence. Did you read the letter?

    Please explain what, precisely, in the letter is objectionable. Please quote from the letter.

  • Joe Hill (unverified)
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    With respect, here, in my opinion, lies the crux of the problem.

    Senator Wyden's career top campaign contributions by industry, according to opensecrets.org

    Lawyers/Law Firms $950,780 Pro-Israel $733,776 Health Professionals $612,906 Securities & Investment $608,130 Real Estate $576,193 Retired $470,657 Hospitals/Nursing Homes $328,232 Misc Manufacturing & Distributing $307,150 TV/Movies/Music $301,319 Transportation Unions $300,400 Misc Finance $275,175 Public Sector Unions $264,250 Computers/Internet $260,523 Forestry & Forest Products $257,809 Lobbyists $252,928 Accountants $239,788 Business Services $230,174 Insurance $223,173 Telecom Services & Equipment$191,160 Automotive $186,770

    1989-2010 total receipts = $18,292,246

    Senator Wyden is intellectually and intellectually incapable of imagining a health care system in which PROFIT and CORPORATIONS are not the vital beating heart at the center of the entire apparatus. This is true because he has suckled at their teat so long that he knows nothing else. He literally cannot imagine an America where, like the entire rest of the civilized planet, people go into their doctor's office, are treated with a minimum of fuss, and go on their way without receiving a bill. If no stockholders are making a buck, then who's paying Ron?

    Look at those numbers in that column up above. They are ranked in descending order. The top few items especially are angry, jealous gods to be appeased. They will have no other gods before them.

    This is the universe that Senator Ron Wyden stands for and believes in. He votes for NCLB (corporate schools) and NAFTA (outsource your jobs). As far as health care, his plan is really to give you a tax credit and then, you're on your own, it's you and the market. Ron believes in the market . . . like NCLB for schools and NAFTA for trade and apparently for doctors and patients.

    In the end, in Ron's neoliberal world, you are not a citizen, much less a person, so much as you're a commodity, a measurable sum of your market choices.

    BUT . . . if you believe that health care is a human right, not a market choice . . . then you should be calling Wyden's office and screaming bloody murder. You should be figuring out who we're going to get to primary this guy.

    Ron Wyden does not represent my vision of America. Senator Wyden, dutiful acolyte at the corporate trough, represents the nightmare from which we're trying to awake.

  • chris #12 (unverified)
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    While folks are demanding explanations from Jo Ann, I'd like to demand an explanation from Mike for this: "We progressives have no better friend in Washington than Senator Wyden." How so? On the issues that I care deeply about (foreign policy/war, trade and jobs, health care) Wyden mostly sucks.

    And for those keeping score, at the sold-out Death Cab for Cutie concert tonight, the band talked some shit about our dear Senator, and encouraged folks to call and complain about his health care position.

  • (Show?)

    Joanne,

    I am also not happy with Wyden and his healthcare proposal. Tonight I called his office for the second time this month from South Korea where I live and work. While this may not directly affect me (I get my healthcare from the Korean National Health Insurance plan), I feel it is worth fighting for as so many don't have health insurance.

    Note: The mailbox of Wyden's DC office is full. Don't bother calling that number this weekend.

  • Ralph (unverified)
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    JoAnn, If you're so upset with Wyden I have a suggestion. Enter the D primary against him. IOW, put up or.... BTW, you haven't answered the question, have you read the bills? Didn't think so. I haven't, yet, so why not be patient?

  • Ralph (unverified)
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    Almost forgot Bill R @ 11:29pm RE: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/7/18/754836/-YES!:-CBO-Final-House-Bill-Score-in-It-Will-YIELD-SURPLUS! Daily Kos Sorry. I can't seem to find that story.

    Billy boy read more: CBO deals another blow to House health plan

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/25104.html#ixzz0LcWamA2e

  • JohnK (unverified)
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    Since Jo ann and Noble prize winning columnist, Paul Krugmann, share many of the same criticisms of Senator Wyden’s attempt to obstruct health care reform, it’s seems only fair to ask her critics if they’ve also contacted Mr. Krugman to ask if he’s read and understands the bill.

  • dartagnan (unverified)
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    "Paying for this plan is not the big deal that people make it out to be."

    Hear, hear! People keep wringing their hands and agonizing over how we can pay for health care reform, but nobody seemed to worry for one moment about how to pay for George W. Bush's totally bogus trillion-dollar war based on lies.

    America never has trouble finding money to kill people with, but finding money to help people with -- that's another story.

  • (Show?)

    For those who wonder:

    I have read several analysis of the bill this week as well as a comparison of who benefits and who doesn't. What are the facts folks are looking for? I gave you several websites where you can check out the bill yourself. Have you done your own research? Or are you waiting for me to provide you with a detail analysis?

    I can agree or disagree on different policy proposals. I can't however support blanket statements about how good someone is just because they are a "D". I look at their voting record not what they say. If they don't match up, that's a problem!

  • Peter Ray (unverified)
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    Jo Ann,

    You base your post on the letter from the "Gang of Six." What, precisely, in the letter do you disagree with? Are you being intentionally evasive?

  • Richard (unverified)
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    The idea that the federal goverment is going to "fix, make better, save money, run effectively" or any other thing about health care is completely disconneted from reality. What's real and real clear is the certainty that any effort to do so will result in making health care delivery a far worse problem that cannot not be funded adequately. That's what goverment does now days. They attempt to address a severe problemn and make it much worse. Unfortunately the left can't get beyond their visions and actually assess merit and effectiveness.

    I caan't think of a sinlge example here in Oregon where blues either advocated or require any authentic measure of any policy or program. You're too busy advocating to keep them all while dreaming up new ones that sound good.

    A recipe for perpetual failure and fiscal madness.

  • Richard (unverified)
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    The idea that the federal goverment is going to "fix, make better, save money, run effectively" or any other thing about health care is completely disconneted from reality. What's real and real clear is the certainty that any effort to do so will result in making health care delivery a far worse problem that cannot not be funded adequately. That's what goverment does now days. They attempt to address a severe problemn and make it much worse. Unfortunately the left can't get beyond their visions and actually assess merit and effectiveness.

    I caan't think of a sinlge example here in Oregon where blues either advocated or require any authentic measure of any policy or program. You're too busy advocating to keep them all while dreaming up new ones that sound good.

    A recipe for perpetual failure and fiscal madness.

  • Fireslayer (unverified)
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    Won't someone run against this corporativist, cryto-Republican creep? Than You JAB for another insightful post.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    I am the father of a child with a chronic illness (read expensive) from birth. There is no 'cure' however medical science has developed prescription medications that make his life better. I've also been involved in several benefits discussions at employers when it comes to designing health benefits (read insurance) plans that try to be equitable with costs to the employer and to the employees.

    I have a vested interest in a winnable solution to the health care delivery crisis our country is in. I have interest in all cedible discussions and would welcome a public option as would many others. After reading the letter, I fail to understand how this is Wyden joining an effort to stop health care reform. After all it really isn't about health care per see; it is about health care delivery.

  • Tom Vail (unverified)
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    I'm trying to imagine what your reaction would have been if someone on the right had been rushing to pass an incomplete bill that was not understood, let alone read, by the majority of the Congress.
    In my opinion, your rant is proof that you want the government to run our medical establishment and that it makes no difference whether it is done well or poorly, you just don't want all those rich people running your life. My post at ttoes.wordpress.com discusses this issue. You seem panicked that if people have time to consider and debate the issue your views might be exposed for what they are, a power grab. This time Senator Wyden did the right thing.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden:

    The United States has been dragging its feet on health care for 60 years.

    Bob T:

    Well, not really. They've been making a mess of it for 60 years, and this will eventually lead to a European-style system which is what they want in the end. Just don't say that a free enterprise system has been tried. Show me where you can get a health care insurance policy without the tons of mandated coverage. You can't - not because of the insurance companies, but because the government, in its misguided wisdom to "protect" the consumer, mandates such coverage. And the government shouldn't have aided the growth of the employer-based insurance system which they more or less created by banning companies from offerring more pay to lure workers away from their existing jobs during WWII.

    And by keeping Medicare and Medicaid payments down (which doesn't mean the cost is lowered), the providers (doctors, hospitals etc) make up for this by charging more to others. If you had auto insurance in an identical system, you'd be paying for every little repair needed and the annual cost for a policy would probably be about $5000. Most of you guys wouldn't recognize a free enterprise system if it had a sign on its head and jumped up and bit you on the ass. But you want to hate the present system (which could be a lot better), so you just label is "free enterprise" and that's that. It's easy to label things.

    But don't worry about it for in the end the Repubs will defend the new system and even enlarge it because it will become part of the incumbency protection racket. Heck, they couldn't even get rid of the National Endowment For the Arts when the had the votes.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    @ Ralph

    The Politico story on the CBO report only shows their preliminary findings, and not the income or Medicare savings. Rep. Dingell was on MSNBC this morning and referenced the CBO updated report.

    and this on Daily Kos this morning:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/7/18/754723/-Healthcare-Reform:-The-Week-that-Was

    " According to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation would cost $1 trillion over 10 years and cover 94 percent of Americans (97% if you don’t count the undocumented).

    As Jonathan Cohn reports, "between savings and a new surtax on the wealthy, the bill pays for itself. In other words, it won’t inflate the deficit." Five hundred billion comes from savings in Medicare and Medicaid and "the rest comes from a surtax on the richest 1.5 percent."
    
    Most importantly, the CBO coverage tables undermine the conservative claim that a public option would eliminate private insurance and erode employer-sponsored coverage. The House bill actually increases the number of people who receive coverage through their employer by 2 million and shifts most of the uninsured into private coverage."
    
  • Peter Ray (unverified)
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    Jo Ann has made a charge based on a Wyden letter and refuses to back it up. I read the letter and while it's a lot of nice-sounding mumbo-jumbo, I find no evidence of Bowman's allegation. But to post on BO and then refuse to explain yourself is pretty weak. What kind of cheap shot politics is that?

    The challenge still stands - cite what, exactly, in the letter is so outrageous.

    I didn't know much about you in the legislature, Ms. Bowman, but I think they are well rid of you. Smart, thoughtful liberals will win the day, not hysterical attacks.

  • Jim (unverified)
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    "Smart, thoughtful liberals will win the day, not hysterical attacks."--Peter Ray

    Yes, we have had many incredible victories on the healthcare and Iraq fronts, just to name a few.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    I just read Wyden's "Free Choice Proposal." It is entirely insurance-corporation oriented and directed at people with jobs or are self-employed. Nothing about people who are unemployed.

    As for choice that sounds like a great idea. The problem is if we just get to choose which insurance corporation we arrange to direct employer and employee money to then we get to choose from a panoply of plans that are stacked for corporate profits at the expense of policy holders. Did you watch Bill Moyers Journal (pbs.org) last week when his guest, Wendell Potter, a former insurance corporation executive, explained how these entities worked to reduce payments to policy holders to increase corporate profits? Do you recall, or were you ever aware of, the doctor who testified before Congress that her job at an insurance corporation was to create arguments for her company to deny payments for treatment that essentially meant denying treatment? (And those right-wingers have the unmitigated gall to talk about "government bureaucrats" getting between you and your doctor.)

    Federal employees and retirees already have a choice of plans - the same plan that people in Congress have. If they don't like their current plan they can switch to another at the end of the year. Here are elements of what is considered one of the better plans:

    Government contributes over $4,000 a year to the insurance company for an individual plan. The employee/retiree contributes over $1,800 for a total of over $5,800 a year. This approximates European health care costs on a per capita basis(1), but Europeans don't get stuck with these extras: Co-pays: $20 for each visit to a doctor; $100 if you need an ambulance. Then there is a $300 annual deductible before the insurance corporation starts to pony up. Then there are caps on several procedures. If you need a hearing aid, the plan has a limit of $1,000 per 36-month period. Good hearing aids can cost $3,000 to $5,000 each and may or may not last three years. Dental: The plan pays only a small portion for cleaning. Zilch for things like crowns that can cost hundreds of dollars. A common feature of this plan requires the employee/retiree to pay 15% or 30% of the plan's allowance for some medical services, but every bill I have seen indicates the health plan's allowance is always less than what the doctors bill. That means the policy holder has to pay the preceding percentage amount plus what the doctor bills over the plan allowance. In some cases, but not in all, doctors will write off part of this excess.

    If members of Congress feel obligated to set up plans to steer business to their corporate donors, that is okay, but give the people a public option, too. Make that part of the Free Choice Proposal.

    (1)According to a chart cited by Dennis Kucinich the per capita expenditures in 2007 for Americans was $7,290 while the average for OECD countries was 42,964 - less than half.

    This is from Talking Points Memo: "Six key Senate Centrists--Ben Nelson (D-NE), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Ron Wyden (D-OR)--are asking Democratic and Republican leaders to slow down the pace of health care reform efforts." The letter they wrote is vague, but it says a lot about Wyden when he is linked with these other senators.

  • JJ (unverified)
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    LOL - good one! Though to be fair to Wyden, he voted against Iraq and was pretty critical of it.

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    Hi Bill Boden, Thanks for taking the time to provide a detailed explanation of the proposal. I've not had the chance to respond to people demanding I prove my case since I spent the morning at a friends funeral.

    Even if I had the time though I probably wouldn't because I don't believe they are really interested in the facts.

    Unlike Peter Ray who refuses to take the time to educate himself on Sen. Wyden's actions to derail health care reform, I am happy that many people are taking a detailed look. Why is Sen. Wyden convinced the only plan that will work is the one that mandates we all buy insurance from companies who don't cover everybody & cherry pick who they will? Insurance companies don't treat people, health care providers do!

    I'm not interested in health insurance, I'm very interested in quality health care. If the insurance companies are put out of business (which all the evidence says won't happen) then I will not lose sleep about that.

    Peter, do your own home work. Why do you insist I spoon feed you the answers? Do you demand that everyone who post on Blue Oregon spoon feed you the answers to your questions or do you only try to intimidate some? I'm not impressed!

  • Hard Honesty (unverified)
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    Sen. Ron Wyden raised $1,414,911 from the health and insurance sectors over the course of his career. His first day in office, as a senator, was February 6, 1996. In total, he has served 4,911 days as a United States Senator. This works out to $288 every day from the health and insurance sectors. Seventy more days would yield $20,160. Huffington Post, yesterday

    or go to www.opensecrets.org

    For the period of one-party rule, Democrats will need to develop a score-card to assign them the special interest groups their party shills for. Some will be labeled banking democrats, union democrates, and military supplier democrats as money - usuually reserved for Republicans - begins flowing into their pockets.

    Wyden is not responding to the need for the delivery of health care. He is responding to investors who have paid him to mandate we buy insurance.

    What categories of paid off Democrats would you think need campaign finance labels?

  • Wrench Monkey (unverified)
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    Glen Greenwald's response from 12/08 to the "pragmatic" brave new DP world, as represented by Wyden and Feinstein:

    UPDATE: I received an email from Sen. Wyden's Director of Communications, Jennifer Hoelzer, claiming that I "misunderstood" the Senator's position and requesting to speak with me about it. I spoke with her for roughly 15 minutes and, rather than concluding that I misunderstood his position, I became even more convinced that my principal point is completely accurate: namely, Sen. Wyden spent all year advocating that the CIA be compelled to comply with the Army Field Manual, but now -- due to a change in administrations -- is quite open to authorizing interrogation techniques beyond that.

    Wyden is emblematic of the DP and its radical rightward movement on foreign policy, health policy, and torture policy. You Democrats need to do more than run better candidates - you need a "change" in your party affiliation.

  • (Show?)
    Notice Wyden's name is not on the list. Senator Ben Nelson Senator Joe Lieberman Senator Mary Landrieu Senator John Kerry Senator Dianne Feinstein Senator Kent Conrad Senator Evan Bayh Senator Max Baucus

    Wyden's name's not on the list but Nelson, Lieberman, and Landrieu are some of the only Democratic co-sponsors of his Healthy Americans Act.

    You know what I don't get? People touting the "Free Choice Proposal" that Wyden pulled out of the hat at the last minute and complaining about the length of the public plan legislation that's been cobbled together out of a variety of things that have been in the works for months or years. If the Free Choice Proposal is such a damn good idea, why wasn't Wyden touting it before last week?

  • Peter Ray (unverified)
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    Jo Ann, if a defendant is accused of a crime, does the prosecutor have to lay out the basis for the case if they want to prevail in court? Yes, the prosecutor has the burden of proof, and in this case, you are the prosecutor. Shame on you for making a charge and refusing to back it up.

    Anyone objective still reading these comments, and that would total in the high single digits at this point, will now properly conclude that you are unable to cite a single shred of proof from Wyden's letter to back up your charge that "Sen. Wyden Joins Effort to Stop Health Care Reform."

    Your lack of intellectual rigor is alarming.

    I could not agree less with Lieberman, Nelson, and others on many, many things, so I can see why people got their radar up. I sure did, initially. But if anyone bothers to read the actual letter, there is absolutely nothing offensive about the actual letter.

    I'm still waiting for someone, anyone, to prove me wrong.

  • Bub (unverified)
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    mike wrote:

    The ugliness of this legislative process goes to the very heart of our republican form of government. It ain't pretty, but it is our particular form of democracy.

    When corporate interests hijack the public interest due to their campaign donations drowning out constituents' voices, our "republican form of government" has been compromised beyond repair. The 2008 election was supposed to be the "Change We Could Believe In." Yeah, well count me in as one of the idiots who worked very hard (and donated money I couldn't afford) to get more Democrats elected, only to see them (and Wyden) stab us all in the back in favor of their big donors. They're even refusing to hold accountable the criminal banksters who have looted our treasury to the tune of THIRTEEN TRILLION DOLLARS (so far). People are whining about the $1 trillion cost (over 10 years) of health care reform, while our Democratic "representatives" in collusion with the Fed have thrown THIRTEEN TIMES that much down Wall Street's gaping maw SINCE SEPTEMBER... never mind the insane amounts of scarce dollars our Democratic "representatives" are continuing to piss away in Afghanistan and Iraq. Wyden's refusal to stand up with Senator Sanders for a sane & affordable single-payer system (the only real way to keep costs down and cover everyone) like the rest of the civilized world has, shows him to be in the pocket of the lobbyists and special interests who infest DC like so many cockroaches.

    P.S. Those who wonder where the $13 trillion figure comes from, check out http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=armOzfkwtCA4&refer=worldwide

  • nice blinders, Bub (unverified)
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    There is not a single other senator in the US Capitol who is insisting on single payer. Not one member of our allegedly Democratic Oregon delegation is a supporter of single payer. So if Wyden is in the pocket of roach-like lobbyists, you are tarring every other Republicrat in Oregon with the same brush. DeFazio, Blumie, Wu, Shrader, Merkley - none of them will step up for single payer. In fact, other than Kucinich and a few members of the House Progressive Caucus, they would all fit that description by your standard, Bub. Which is fine by me.

    Noticing a pattern here, Democrats?

  • nice blinders, Bub (unverified)
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    According to Opensecrets, President Obama took 15 MILLION from health care interests in one race! Makes Wyden's $1.4 million over the course of his entire career look pretty paltry.

    Wonder why Obama calls single payer too radical? I don't.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Bill Bodden wrote: Now is the time to work on finding a replacement for Wyden and get rid of him as we got rid of his buddy, Gordon Smith.

    That's pure idiocy. Run Wyden out of office, and you will see a "Nope" in that position and suddenly we Demos are out in the political wilderness again.

    Bill, you sound like a left wing version of Newt Gingrich."

    Wrong. I'm a progressive and small-r republican. Not a Democrat or (big-r) Republican who goes along with the corporate corruption of Congress.

    Wyden's promotion of a health insurance plan on behalf of the insurance corporations is the lesser of two primary reasons I'm hostile towards him. I contacted him regarding the recent Israeli war machine massacre in Gaza and received an utterly contemptible reply, presumably expecting me to be dumb enough to buy into his once-sided argument that totally ignored the fact that the Palestinians are people and had been living in an Israeli dominated concentration camp, criticized for years by human rights organizations. Lately, there was a report of accusations by Israeli soldiers who were involved in that atrocity supporting charges of war crimes and racism committed by the Israeli military. And Wyden didn't so much as give a [email protected]#t that hundreds of innocent women and children were slaughtered. Some progressive there.

    As for Wyden voting against the war on Iraq, he gave a strong indication he was for it before he got an earful from constituents in Central Oregon and, presumably, other parts of Oregon and then reversed himself.

    Now, to get back to the issue of health care. Wyden and others are talking about a national health plan that is based on purchasing health insurance from insurance corporations. Has anyone of them offered so much as a draft of what those insurance plans might be? It could be like going to a used car lot and having a salesman say, "Give me $1,000 and you can have any car on the lot." You fork over the money then find the only cars on the lot are all lemons.

    There have been many people with what they believed were good health insurance policies only to find out that when they got the wrong illness their policies weren't enough to keep them from going bankrupt.

    For a description of one of the alleged better plans available to Congress and federal employees see my earlier comment on this thread.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "There is not a single other senator in the US Capitol who is insisting on single payer."

    Bernie Sanders has been a prominent member of Congress pushing for single-payer health care.

    This is from Russ Feingold's web site: "The best way to ensure every American is guaranteed good, affordable health care coverage is not to rely only on private insurers. While Americans should be able to retain their current coverage if they choose, providing a strong public option will keep health care costs down for all Americans, even those who retain their private care."

  • Joe Hill (unverified)
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    I simply do not believe that Ron Wyden is as good as we can do in Oregon. Steve Novick would be a huge improvement, for one.

  • muhabbet (unverified)
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    thank admin.

  • muhabbet (unverified)
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    thank you admin. :(

  • Wrench Monkey (unverified)
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    Re: "Wyden's refusal to stand up with Senator Sanders for a sane & affordable single-payer system (the only real way to keep costs down and cover everyone) like the rest of the civilized world has, shows him to be in the pocket of the lobbyists and special interests who infest DC like so many cockroaches."

    Although money is a major factor, ideology is a more important one. You can outspend the insurance companies in your future contributions to Wyden, Obama, Blumenauer, et al, and they will still betray you because they believe in the system of privatized profits for the rich and socialized costs and risks for the rest of us.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Although money is a major factor, ideology is a more important one."

    I essentially agree with you, Wrench Monkey, but I'm more inclined to believe that their ideology is the lust and pursuit of power and money.

    The only hope, albeit a slim hope, is that the Internet makes it possible for ordinary people to compete against the moneybags and their whores in politics and the media. The odds are still stacked in favor of wealth but not as much as in the past.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
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    Some common sense from the Economist, to counter Jo Ann Bowman's hysteria.

    Despite the denial of fundamental economics by some of the more lefty Democrats, there is a capitalist golden goose out there that it would be best not to slaughter. And relieving employers of the duty of providing coverage, even if it hurts a few unions and raises taxes generally, would actually make the golden goose produce a few more eggs than it does now.

  • Mike (unverified)
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    Jo Ann and others here seem hell-bent on rushing forward with a health care reform bill, but they don't have a clue what that reform bill might look like. Many here are convinced that a single payer system is the only answer, but the current bills don't reflect that solution. Many are determined to oppose with tooth and nail and down-and-dirty language any attempt by anyone to slow the process down and attempt to get this legislation right.

    Jo Ann wants Wyden's scalp because he has the temerity to ask for more time. Jo Ann's childish reaction to Wyden's rational request for more time is to find someone to run against him, because he is just a shill for the insurance industry, etc. etc. Jo Ann needs to be reminded of how our system of government works. She needs to ask herself who might be out there who would reflect her political views, be able to beat Wyden in a primary and then be able to beat the Republican candidate.

    As I wrote before, Wyden is an excellent senator with a strong progressive record. I'm not willing to trade him in for a retread Republican and I'm sure he would trounce any Democratic rival.

    Has anybody seen this artical on Slate?

    http://www.slate.com/id/2223037/
    

    It is a short discussion of the health care debate and mentions Wyden as the leading Democratic policy wonk on the health care issue.

    The worst thing we Democrats could do is ram through a bad piece of legislation that mimics the utter incompetence of the previous administration. If you "reform" health care by mandating universal coverage but don't examine and fix the underlying problems with our system, you end up with a system that is further out of control and we look incompetent to boot.

    The bottom line here is that health care for Americans is way out of control. The cost of health care for the average American is staggeringly high and is hurting all of us. As Obama has said many times, we have to address this if we are going to see the economy recover. Forget the games the Republicans are playing. Now is the time to focus on reforming the health care delivery system in a meaningful way. That takes work, patience, expertise, and compromise. If we do it right, we can remain the majority party for decades to come. If we fail, this next congressional election could be a bloodbath.

    Mike

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Many here are convinced that a single payer system is the only answer,..."

    Not so, Mike. Many people may want a single-payer system but not necessarily that as the only system. What they don't want is a health care system that is monopolized by insurance corporations. Give people a real choice - a public option and a corporate option - and let them decide.

  • Mike (unverified)
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    Bill, when you use the term "single payer" what do you mean?

    Almost everything I have read on this forum shows widespread support for a public option among progressives -- including me. But a "single-payer" system is something different, is it not? I'm not dissing the idea, just trying to understand it and what you mean when you use the term. There are many references on this thread to single payer and how important it is for us to get that in the bill. The issue of how a public option might co-exist with competing private insurance options is a much different one, is it not, than how to make a single payer system work with private options?

    Mike

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Mike: I should have said "single payer" and/or "public option."

  • Tim (unverified)
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    I think its a joke that they call it healthcare reform.

  • rich (unverified)
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    Thank you Senator Wyden. There is no need to rush this process. The consequences could bankrupt this nation. Let's slow down, be methodical and create a fact driven plan. Please call Senator Wyden's office and thank him today.

  • (Show?)

    If Wyden had a better plan then find. But he doesn't. I'm not willing to allow him to sell us out so that insurance companies make more profit. Yes call Wyden! But to demand he gets on board with the president.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Let's slow down,..."

    If you slow down something that has been crawling for 60 years you bring it to a dead stop.

  • health care is a right (unverified)
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    I read something to the effect that the Wyden delay was because the House bill creates a public option (but not 'til 2013, FCOL), but doesn't allow people to join it if they have another option. In other words, the public option would be only for people none of the other plans would take. If true, that should certainly be a poison pill in this thing.

    Single payer, everybody in, nobody out, end of story.

  • joe (unverified)
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    I beg everyone reading this blog to be objective and just listen and think about this. I have been exposed to the health industry for many years and just returned from a meeting in my state run by the Department of Health and the discussion centered on the Obama Health Care plan and a potential swine flu outbreak. Instead of having a heated discussion with me, I suggest that after reading this you call your Congress Person and ask them to explain Mr. Obama’s Health Care Plan. The bottom line is this, Mr. Obama will call for a rationing of care and the meeting was basically instruction on who lives and who dies. For example, let’s say you are a rather healthy 65 year old male who needs to use a ventilator and you go to the hospital for back pain. They will take your ventilator away from you because they need to ration it to someone worth saving under his plan – REGARDLESS of your insurance plan! This is not about rich versus poor, black versus white; it is about the Government playing God. Let’s say you have been diagnosed with a cancer recurrence. Under his plan you will immediately be asked to sign a DNR order (Do Not Resuscitate) because you are deemed less important to save or for the Government to waste recourses on. Call your congress person and ask about this. Mr. Obama has NO EXPERIENCE in crafting legislation, why is the American Public allowing him to tinker with one of the most important benefits of being American? Now that Mr. Obama has not been able to shove the bill down people’s throats, it is finally getting read and all the dirt is coming out. This President asked the House and Senate to pass a multi-hundred page document in record time without reading it! By not fighting against this bill you are dooming people to death and suffering. Call your congress person and ask them to explain the whole bill to you – you will be shocked. That said, this President is able to rule with an iron fist because of the Super Majority that exists. Take back some of the power by changing the balance of power in the next election. One Party’s view and policy is not what this country should be run by – that is not a democracy!

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