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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Elders For Health Care Reform

category_bug_politics.gif Today's post is long. It may be the longest post I've written in five years, but at least half of it is easy-to-read lists. I hope you will read it all.

If you have watched any of the video of disruptions at congress members' town hall meetings in their home states over the past week or two, you know that elders make up a large number of the crude, rude protesters who are preventing reasoned discussion. Although the guy who shouted, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare” is good for a laugh, he is also emblematic of the ignorance of many of the people opposing health care reform.

That so many if these benighted louts who have no interest in real debate are old enough for Medicare is deeply embarrassing to me. Not that getting old imparts wisdom necessarily; anyone who wasn't too bright in their youth is unlikely to improve with age. But I haven't spent the past five years trying to knock down prejudicial stereotypes of elders to be proved wrong on CNN, MSNBC and YouTube every day those videos are broadcast.

I am not sure a Fox News poll can be trusted, but they report that although 93 percent of seniors rate their health coverage (i.e. Medicare) as good or excellent, 56 percent “say they oppose the creation of a government-run option for all Americans.” Additionally,

"'We get letters every single day from people that are very upset about this bill and about the AARP supporting it,' said Stuart Barton, president of the American Seniors Association. 'So I don't blame them for coming back and saying they are going to tear up their AARP cards.'"
foxnews.com, 10 August 2009

Ignoring for the moment that AARP's support is tepid, is the point those 56 percent are making that government-run health care they like should be reserved only for them and not their children and grandchildren? I don't want to believe that and I don't want to believe that a majority of elders are that stupid.

Even though it is always easier to rage against an idea – particularly when your argument is fact-free – than to intelligently debate the pros and cons; even though I suspect the kind of people who shout down speakers at town halls and are becoming increasingly violent cannot be reasoned with, that is what I am asking every elderblogger who reads Time Goes By to do – to explain reasonably why you support health care reform.

Here is what I propose:

  • That next week, on Thursday 20 August, elderbloggers rise up on their blogs in support of health care reform including a public option

  • That we denounce the say-no-to-everything Republicans and their handmaidens, the Blue Dog Democrats

  • That we call out the health industry and their lobbyists who are bribing Congress with campaign donations to maintain the health care status quo and preserve their staggering profits

  • That we fact check the lies, half-truths and exaggerations of the scare-mongering media nitwits who dare to compare the health care bill to Nazi Germany and who shout fascism, socialism and Communism without a gram of understanding of those terms

  • That we reinforce the the fact of the backbreaking cost of health care that will skyrocket so high in the next decade, without health care reform there can be no economic recovery.

And so on.

Post your stories in support of health care reform on Thursday 20 August. Then email me the link and I will keep a running list of those links on my post throughout the day. If there are enough, we can make an impact elsewhere on the web and maybe in other media. If there are enough to be impressive, I will do my best to see that word gets around.

And if before then, you post a notice about the 20 August campaign, your readers, who have never heard of Time Goes By, may join in too.

Your 20 August post does not need to be long or cover everything; you could choose a single aspect of health care reform. Here are a few talking points to consider:

  • Refute the euthanasia rumor

  • Expose the amount of health industry lobby money your congressional representatives and others have received

  • Post the statistics showing why the current American health care system is inferior to that of most industrialized countries

  • Denounce the scare-mongering of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sarah Palin, Lou Dobbs and others

  • Show how health care corporations and/or their lobbyists are behind the town hall protests

  • Explain why you, who have Medicare, support health care reform

  • Talk about why a public plan is better than the co-ops some legislators are pushing for

  • Make clear that health care reform will not cut Medicare

  • Refute the rationed care claim

  • Report on the high number of personal bankruptcies our health care system causes

  • Tell a personal story about our current private health care system (this can be powerful)

  • Canadian, British, French, German and other nationals who read this blog can also join in with stories of how your system works

  • Et cetera - there are many more topics you could choose

And in all your posts, be sure to link to your sources to back up your facts.

Below are links to some of the better websites and stories with facts, information and commentary to help get you started.

• Here is a New York Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner speaking in Congress on the 44th anniversary of President Johnson's signing of the Medicare bill. Weiner is one of the best friends of health care reform we have. You can see more of his videos here.

• A good explanation of health care industry lobbying efforts with a chart showing dollars figures of specific corporations and organizations

• A good group of links about the myths and facts of health care reform at Campaign For America's Future

• The Senate Committee on Aging's Fact v. Fiction list [pdf]

• From Alternet: How the Republicans and health care industry work with the anti-government wackos

• Long-time health care industry reporter, Robert Pear's excellent primer on the details of the health care reform bills

• Here's another video filled with the lies from the Patient First bus tour comparing health care reform to Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler and telling his listeners to “put the fear of God” into Congress members. He says the reform bill calls for “an end of life order...death.” Don't miss this. [5:01 minutes]

Bill Moyers on the “dangerous alliance" of the health industry and right wingers.

Gallup Poll on demographics of uninsured Americans

• A lot of solid information on health care reform from FactCheck.org

Media Matters for America keeps tabs on what the media are saying and keeps them honest.

• A good piece from Dean Baker explains how and why some legislators and media get away with lies and crazed rants.

• Good information from Bill Sher on how to contact Congress and what to say.

• Keith Olbermann can be as overwrought in his own way as some of the objectionable protesters, but this “Special Comment” on how specific congress people are bought by the medical establishment is worth the 13:26 minutes. Pay attention; there are a lot of other solid facts to be gleaned.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Too many elders, who all have their own single-payer system that works quite well, are being selfish in opposing reform for everyone else – I've got mine and screw you.

But unless meaningful health care happens, Medicare will need to be cut way back and then elders will be among the underinsured – or even uninsured – too. (That's another good topic for a post.)

Health care reform is the most crucial element to economic recovery. If it does not happen, or if it is watered down too much to serve the corporate health care industries' interests over people's, only the rich will be able to afford health care. If that happens, I don't want to have to say I sat back silently and watched it happen.

But no one can do it alone.

Maybe I'm just a foolish old woman who is being grandiose in overestimating the impact her little blog on aging might be able to have. But among RSS, email and direct visits, thousands read it each week. Many do not keep blogs, but there are about 400 on the elderblog list and if only a quarter of you do post a story about health care reform on 20 August, it will be impressive.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Meow


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:35 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

I'm on for this and will put up a post announcing the project later today.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants it, you can grab an ELDERBLOGGER for Health Care Reform badge at the link.

Hope that works.

Great idea Ronni. I'm a Canadian watching this play out and hoping for the best. I've twittered this post to my tweeps (some of whom are progressives) in the hopes a few will pass the word along.
If you have a dKos account a cross post there would really help make this idea go viral.

The only thing we can do to keep good health care reform going is to continually, persistently and reasonably keep pushing and contacting people and our representatives and Senators. No hyusterics, just solid facts and reasonable opinions. Thanks for doing this.

Ronni, I would love to put a link to this post on my local forum, but I am afraid that you would be swamped by nasty emails from some of the posters (some of whom have recently appeared). I'll just have to write a post on my blog on August 20th.

Susan G and others...

Post this anywhere and everywhere you want. The more elders we can get posting on 20 August, the better.

And don't worry - I can handle the louts.

Good idea! I hope lots of American elders take you up on it!

Back in the days of the Cold War we used to lament that people in Communist countries had no access to real information from the outside world, but now it seems that Americans suffer from that sad state too. The US is the only major industrialized nation without universal health care, and the scare tactics being used to keep it so are just abominable.

I'm in Canada, we have healthcare, it's not perfect but it's a darn sight better than what many Americans have.

AMEN! Finally we are organizing to make a difference and make a difference we will, Recently RNC technos disrupted Facebook and Twitter accounts related to the discussion of healthcare reform..who knew they had any such capacity????

I am so thankful to you Ronni for mustering the forces to do this. I AM IN!!!

In Towson Md the other night, Senator Ben Cardin of MD hosted a health reform meeting that had been met with some protestors organized by the local RNC. We cannot allow the conservative right wing Republicans to take away our right to health care coverage for all!!

ONE MORE THING: I signed up for the public action pledge and am urging you to do the same. See http://www.democracyforamerica.com/activities/179-public-option-action-pledge

Great idea, Ronni. I feel so embarrassed by what's going on. What an awful impression the screamers make on the rest of the world, just when foreigners were beginning to trust America again! Sven and I will join your campaign and announce it already today.

I took part in the Organizing for America phone conference last night. It felt good to be doing something positive.

Perfect, Ronni! It's puzzled me that there are Medicare recipients who will give their grandchildren presents they do not need but want to withhold sharing health care.

Ronnie,
I'm with ya'
Healthcare Reform is Common Good Sense and 60 years behind schedule,

Am spreading your Word as postscript
http://alleypatron.blogspot.com/2009/08/q.html

Peter Lott Heppner
Chicago

I have been doing this for the last week and also have gone to other blogs, those that have readers who might not be health care supporters, and putting up comments. I also don't know if it will do any good to convince people who prefer ignorance to facts, but it's important to try. Unfortunately many of those who choose to be ignorant, also avoid anywhere they might hear contradicting facts-- like from Keith Olbermann who has been hitting on this hard. It's extremely frustrating to pay attention to any of this but I strongly believe we have to do what we can.

I am excited about your notion to conjure a mass movement of elder bloggers re positive health care reform. I am hoping lots of bloggers participate and it makes a big wave.

There is so much that needs to happen to make our current system of medicine effective and affordable.

Medicare doesn't cover eye, ear or dental care for elders--does this make any kind of sense? No, it doesn't. It's an onerous burden for many elders.

And that's just one area in the big health care reform debate.

I really appreciate your efforts, Ronni. It is time for elders to form political and social change alliances and to make change happen in positive directions, rather than leaving the field to rude, confused rabble rousers.

As soon as I realized that there was serious trouble brewing for the Health Care Reform bill, I sent an e-mail out to my fellow activists who traveled from Austin to Cincinnati to walk the precincts for Obama in the pre-election period. At the time the 60 or so group were highly motivated supporters who knew how important it was to have someone in the White House who cared enough to make things happen and had the political skills to do it.
However, there has been no response to my e-mail now almost two weeks since it went out.
Maybe it's apathy, laziness, frustration, impatience, burnout or "all of the above" whatever it is, I can't count on my activist buddies but Ronni, you've got a great idea and I'll be posting as instructed, on August 20. In the meantime I'm getting all my facts together as per your suggestions.

Sounds good to me.

What a marvelous job you have done! I will study it more before posting a blog August 20th, but as a European I have a different perspective than a lot of Americans.

Dear Ronni,

I will be unable to post a letter re ObamaCare on my blog on Aug.20th, because I will be in the bottom of Haleakala caldera on Maui. I will be listening for, and hoping I don’t hear, the heartbeat of that volcano.

However, I would like to make some comments re the health care reform bills. I write “bills” because I understand there are several under consideration.

I live in a remote location and do not have access to much information regarding those bills, but I want to state that government run anything frightens me no end. Social Security and Medicare, both mandatory and government run, are a mess. When I turned 65, I had no choice but to sign up for Medicare, as my previous insurer required that Medicare be my primary insurer if I wanted their supplemental care insurance.

Now it is almost impossible to find a primary care physician in my area—near Anchorage, Alaska—who will accept a Medicare patient. My long-time family physician has opted out of Medicare, and I am required to pay him directly $140 ( 75% of regular cost) for an office visit. I cannot submit this to my secondary insurer.

In addition, many specialists now refuse new Medicare patients here. As a result, many elders go to hospital emergency rooms, resulting in phenomenal charges to Medicare and secondary insurers, which serve only to further undermine Medicare.

If the government, which wants to reduce Medicare payments to providers even more, can’t currently satisfy physicians, how can health care reform—run by the federal government—be any better? One only needs look at Medicare to see that the government has failed. Perhaps that is one reason behind elders being so upset at those town hall meetings.

Second, what really frightens me is what I have been led to understand happens if an ObamaCare bill is passed, and that is that many committees then write the regulations under which health care will be managed, and the specifics of that program.

All of the rumors we have been subjected to may very well be exaggerated and untrue now, but once a committee gets through with them, who knows what will happen? If that isn’t leaving the chicken coop door open for a fox, I don’t know what is.

Third, why are they rushing this? A well-considered, researched, and planned health care program cannot be put together and rammed through a partisan Congress in just a few months, and be anything but a disaster.

My suggestion would be for the president to appoint a number of committees to research, examine, write, and hold public (and Internet) hearings on various aspects of health care reform. Nothing good ever comes from hasty planning, and health care reform is far too important to ram through Congress. Perhaps the party in power thinks this is necessary to cement the president’s image, but what kind of image will he have if ObamaCare is a disaster? Will those Congressional leaders share in the blame? Or will they distance themselves from him prior to their being voted out of office by an enraged public?

Cost is another thing to consider. Congress has been on a spending spree the likes of which we’ve never see before, and it appears it isn’t over. Really, where is the money going to come from to pay the astronomical costs of health care?

And last, any health care reform that does not require the mandatory participation of the president and his family, members of Congress and their families, and all federal employees will never have the trust of the public. Especially me.

Or, as George Orwell intimated, are some are more equal than others?

Jeanne Follett

http://gullible-gulliblestravels.blogspot.com/

I have had health insurance for most of my adult life, and Medicare is by far the best insurance I ever had. I think there is a problem in Alaska, but in the rest of the country most people I know are quite happy with Medicare. In Washington state I have no trouble going to any doctor I want. I will blog on this on the 20th, and I have already posted on the subject.

Hi Anne,

Let me clarify: the majority of primary care physicians in Anchorage have opted out of Medicare. That's primary care--the family practitioner. It is next to impossible for new Medicare members to find a primary care physician.

On the other hand, most specialists and (as far as I know) hospitals and other providers such as labs, etc., will take Medicare patients. I have had only one specialist grouse mightily about seeing me, and the only reason he did is that I was referred to him by a hospital doctor with whom the specialist had consulted.

Other than the primary care physician problem, I have no complaints about Medicare. I do, however, understand completely why physicians opt out. They receive a small fraction of their normal charge.

Apparently some people think ObabaCare will reduce the availability of care to Medicare patients. My understanding is that the government proposes to further reduce medicare payments to physicians and hospitals to help fund ObamaCare, and therein I see nothing but trouble.

Incidentally, why doesn't Congress just allow us all to join THEIR health care plan? Such a massive group would have plenty of clout insofar as reducing costs, etc.

Further, I have a problem with any government bureaucracy being involved with anyone's private health care information.

Some day, I hope, national health care insurance will evolve. Right now, considering all the spending the government has undertaken in the past months, and with the economy still staggering, the last thing this country needs if for employers--the people who offer much-needed jobs--to have to assume more taxes for health care.

This is such an important direction for our country to take that I wish it could be done more slowly, with much more consideration given as to the specifics, and with more public information disseminated.

When we hear about the pharmaceutical companies contributing millions to support ObamaCare, about elders called angry mobs, unAmerican, Astroturf, and their concerns not listened to (and no, I don't think boors should be afforded much patience), about "planted" cute little girls asking questions at Obama's town hall meeting, well, who can we believe?

All the more reason to slow down and approach this carefully and with much more deliberation. Americans are anxious enough about the economy and their future. Why must we also take on this burden of health care that is so divisive? Let's go more slowly on that.

Jean, health care is something that's been shoved aside for 50 years or more - it's time to get going on it. That you can't find a primary care physician speaks to changes that need to be made, but that most people don't have that problem also speaks to the value of Medicare. Most people, when they say they can't get someone to cover them under Medicare, are in the private Medicare plans. Providers don't like them. General practitioners, right now, are not reimbursed as much as they probably should be - better that Alaskans push Congress to address that problem rather than brand what works for most as unworkable because of Alaska.

Regarding the August 20th posts: I have noticed that when I research something about the health care reform bills I get FIRST all the spam-emails and erroneous posts. Is there any way we can move our posts up? Some keyword?

In fact, a question for the TGB Eldergeek: how do the search engines decide who goes first (aside from the ones that pay for the privilege)? Except for using something like "whois" on each domain, is there any way to judge the answers from the searches?

Just a "quick tip" If you're posting on "Blogger", (the Google Blog site- try it you'll like it)
You can "post date" your blogs for a future date (like Aug. 20) Just click on "options" after you've finished your entry and enter a date when you want it to appear and "Shazam" on August 20th it will appear.
That way I can do one topic a day and have everything appear on 8/20. Is that cool or what?

I have to say that Jeanne brings up a very good point and I can assure you that it is not something unique to Alaska. I am actually a bit shocked that this situation regarding primary care physicians in particular is not common knowledge among seniors. It exists in every state – not just Alaska.

I have a great primary care physician, have had him for years and am quite pleased with him. However, being quite aware of the situation highlighted by Jeanne’s comments, which has been getting worse over recent years, three years ago just before going on Medicare I called the doctor offices of four other primary care physicians who I considered some of the best in my area. In all four cases I was told that if I was not a patient on their doctor’s rolls before I went on Medicare, they would not be able to accept me as a patient. I was told by one doctor’s office that I should call one of the health networks such and Baptist or St. Vincent and they kept a list of doctors still accepting Medicare patients.

Medicare as it stands now may not dictate which doctor you may use, but their reimbursement criteria forces the doctor’s themselves to restrict their services to anyone and everyone. If you are on Medicare you certainly can choose which ever doctor you want – problem is the doctor’s may not want you because of Medicare’s reimbursement criteria and that is pure FACT!

Other research I did on that issue such as the State of Illinois forecasting by 2007 that 45% of their primary care physicians would either be limiting or eliminating Medicare patients from their roles. In Colorado the same concerns were being aired and predicted.

AARP is hiding under the covers as usual doing little or nothing with regard to this issue. And I would venture to say that most seniors have had their doctors before going on Medicare and are consequently not even aware this situation exists. Well….it does. Rumors are rampant even now that certain Medicare reimbursements are going to decrease by 21% in 2010. The Obama proposed changes tout an exerted effort directed toward increasing incentives for the primary care physicians. That’s pretty much a day late and a dollar short in my opinion but at least someone has recognized there is a serious problem within Medicare as relates to primary care physicians.

If anyone has any doubts as to Jeanne’s concerns or my comments, just simply go on Google and do a search on “Medicare reimbursement to doctors” and read some of the information and articles addressing the issue. Just Alaska? I think not!

Medicare, along with AARP Supplemental, is the by far the best health insurance I've ever had as well. The worst was an HMO I once had through an employer. Everything had to pre-approved, and the insurance company required one of their nurses to be present in the OR during my hysterectomy to make sure the doctor didn't do something that hadn't been pre-approved. Once, when I was single, unemployed, and trying to find affordable coverage my broker said it would be virtually impossible because I had once been prescribed an antidepressant - preexiting condition. I don't presume to know what the answer is but SOMETHING needs to be done. I like the idea of Congress's insurance for everybody.

Hi Nan,

Hope you've read Alan's response also. Actually, the government had authorized yet another round of cuts to Medicare within the last year. The Alaskan Congressional delegation was able to exempt Alaska from the cut, so work is being done in that area.

I agree that, for me also, Medicare is a fine plan. Frankly I was not aware that there were private Medicare programs. If there are, I'm not in one.

However it is well aired that both Social Security and Medicare are going broke, and that the government's response to this problem is to make more cuts to the providers--not to the insured. Thus, many seniors are not aware of the growing dissatisfaction on the part of providers, as they are not confronted with it.

Any senior should become very concerned when the government proposes more cuts to Medicare providers, as has been touted as a way to help pay for universal health care. Even though it may not immediately affect you, you can bet that down the road it will. For instance, in order for me to have a colonoscopy and an endoscopy, the physician's nurse said I had to have appointments on three separate days (one being an office visit), rather than doing everything at once. This was because Medicare paid more than if they were all done on the same day, she said. Therefore, because it required a two-hundred mile round during which I was not allowed to drive, as well as fasting and/or no solid food for three days, I made arrangements to stay with a friend in Anchorage for four days. This is only one of the ways physicians work their way around Medicare rules, and while I understood, I was greatly inconvenienced. For various reasons, I am particularly concerned about anesthetics and sedatives, as I have peculiar reactions to medications and such. I was facing having sedatives for the tests two days in a row. As it turned out, I reacted to the first test, and wound up in the ER. I refused the second test.

As for me and the opting-out of primary care physicians, I prefer to stick with my long time physician, and I just pay the bill.

As for AARP, the president was wrong when he stated that AARP was "on board" with the health care bills. They have not yet endorsed any of the bills now being considered. And, one must keep in mind that AARP profits greatly from selling health insurance to seniors. Do you think they might take this into consideration when deciding whether to endorse or not endorse a particular health care bill?

I have been to public meetings where because of misinformation, and/or lack of information, and/or pre-existing ill will, has caused uncivil and discourteous conduct on the part of the attendees. I walked out of one such meeting involving the Forest Service, even though I was strongly opposed to FS's proposed plan that was the subject of the meeting. I do not abide boors well, and think that civil, courteous discussion of differing opinions goes a long, long way to reaching compromises and solutions.

On the other hand, I do not appreciate staged town hall meetings, where the anti group is prevented from speaking, where young girls are set up with phony questions, and where the speaker states things that are not true.

What it all boils down to is that we should take time to do health care reform right the first time, not shove it through Congress before all citizens who are interested have time to learn the particulars and decide for themselves. I simply think it is a case of too much, too soon, especially when one considers the state of our economy right now.

Plus, I am particularly concerned about provisions that may or may not provide coverage to illegal aliens.

Well, I suppose there are many opinions about health care as there are citizens of this country. I am merely stating my own, and I thank you for reading and commenting.

I am a British citizen living in England. I am horrified and outraged by the lies and distortions of the truth spread by opponents to the health care proposal.

I would be dead by now if it wasn't for the UK's National Health Service as would many people I know. We are ordinary working people who couldn't afford expensive medical care. At my age (60) I could not get insurance because I already have health problems.

I won't be euthanized by the NHS, in fact many fatally ill people are campaigning for it to be allowed but so far without success. It's only when people want brand new meds or cutting edge surgical procedures here that they may not get them. Having said that, the UK does pioneer many medical advances.

My mother remembers life before the NHS and how her family had to scrimp and save to pay for medical treatment for her mother. My mother is a big supporter of the NHS in spite of being a lifelong conservative voter. In fact, the Conservative Party have said many times that the NHS will be safe in their hands.

The NHS isn't perfect but it's a lot better than health insurance and having a profit making company decide what is going to happen in your health care or having to sell your home to pay for treatment.

I am Irish. Born in the south where it was necessary to pay up front for all things medical.
I moved to Northern Ireland (UK) when I married 32 years ago. I came under the umbrella of the National Health Service (NHS). At 62 I have been considered a senior citizen for the past two years. 65 is the age for men, though the gap will be closed over the next few years where the ladies need to wait until 65. A glance at the past two years in my life will give a picture of how I found things with the NHS.
I have an on-going heart condition and on constant medication, none of which I pay for. I am called annually for review.
At present I am on the list for hip replacement. The Orthopaedic surgeon requested a full Cardiac report so I had all the tests including Angiography. Earlier this week I went for the Pre-op assessment (3 hours) where I met six members of the team all with different responsibilities in the care of an in-patient. Hopefully in the next ten weeks the new 'shock absorber' will be fitted. All this is free gratis and paid for by the taxes of all the workforce. Over the years waiting times were sometimes very long, but that seems to be under revision at the moment. A large number of people join BUPA for private health insurance and use it to upgrade & jump the queue. We live in a 'NOW' world where nobody is prepared to wait their turn... I sometimes wonder what they do with the time saved!
I hear scare stories of people on trolleys for days on end before they are found a bed... mixed wards with men and women in the same ward/room, but I personally have never had to deal with that sort of thing. I have heard people rant and roar at staff in a busy A&E dept, but that is pure ignorance, abusive and disrespectful for fellow human beings. People who are really sick don't have the energy to waste on being rude.
I nursed my husband through Cancer over six years; all but nine weeks were at home. The services came to us. I had no bills.
With modern medicine we are all living longer and the way the health service works will have to change. Illnesses such as cancer, once considered fatal, are now becoming chronic. Joints, limbs and internal organs can be replaced, but there is no such thing as a free lunch... the price is often with (like me) constant reviews and extra medication all costing the state and our pockets to stretch a very long way. We seem to have forgotten that we must die at some stage.

You should know that at least one of the British people interviewed and presented pm American TV as being opponents of the NHS, says she was lied to about the purpose of the interview and that her views have been distorted. She is actually a campaigner for improvements to the NHS, not an opponent of it.

The Conservative Party nonentity who appeared on American TV both misrepresented the position we face here and has been repudiated by his own party leader.

In other TV coverage I have seen the most outrageous lies about the way the British system works put forward by both US politicians and demonstrators. One claimed it took 6 months to get a dentist appointment. Garbage.

Another said that we have the worst death rate and the lowest recovery rate in Europe. Perhaps - but the variation across 'Old Europe' ie excluding the former Soviet Bloc countries is minimal. Even so, life expectancy and neo-natal death rates in the UK - and most of Europe - are actually better than in the US.

We spend around 8% of GDP for universal cover, in the US you spend twice that and you still have 45m Americans not covered.

I was born before our NHS started. I was born with a crippling condition known as talipes - otherwise known as club foot. I had to wait until the NHS came into being before it could be treated, and that delay was critical in causing many of the health proiblems I face some 60 years later. Without the NHS, I probably would be dead by now, because of the stresses of the crippled life I would have faced.

Without the NHS I wouldn't have a wife - she has MS and would probably again have died without the health and social care we take for granted here.

Without the NHS I wouldn't have a daughter - my wife had several miscarriages and without NHS treatment she would never have carried a pregnancy to term.

Not for the first time America is meddling in other countries. The Republican Party and the health insurance lobby are now lying about OUR health service to defend their own financial positions. They certainly are not interested in the health of the average American.

I'm very upset about the direction of health care reform at the moment. I think it's time for a March on Washington. Here's what I wrote on my blog a couple days ago:

I saw in the news today that it looks like Obama is backing away from a public provider option for health care reform. I find this very distressing! For many reasons, meaningful health care reform is not possible without a public option (sorry – health care cooperatives just don’t cut it!)

It’s time for a March on Washington by anyone who has ever been denied coverage (either health or disability), been denied service by an insurer or anyone with a pre-existing condition. (Well, that makes about 100% of the American public, doesn’t it?) If those Democratic outliers in Congress won't do the right thing and support a public option for fear of political fallout, then it's time to give them political cover by visibly demonstrating that MEANINGFUL reform is what most Americans want! Obama's election made that mandate clear.

I’m sick of the wingnuts dictating the terms of the health care debate. It’s time for a March on Washington in favor of REAL reform. Push your friends, neighbors and any activists you know to support a March on Washington in favor of MEANINGFUL health care reform! The time for universal, cost-effective health care is now!

American health care today is an international embarrassment and a disgrace.

I don't have a blog page so I wish to place my comments in support of the need for Health Care Reform here on to your site.

I would also encourage everyone to contact their congressmen and let them know how you feel about Health Care Reform.

Here are websites for easy access to your congressmen's websites. Their individual websites will give you their contact information including addresses, phone numbers and most of their sites also have direct e-mail access to their offices.

House.gov and Senate.gov

The congressional offices keep a tally of "for ör against calls, e-mails etc for issues. Ask them to back Health care reform and any other part of the health care reform proposal that you think is important.

Let's flood their offices. It can be as effective as any poll.

RM

Democracy in Action

The past week has been filled with media coverage on the now infamous town hall meetings going on throughout the country. We’ve seen fear, anger, and hate rear their ugly heads. Yet, we have also seen Democracy in Action.

No matter what is said, the bill that was presented included comments that caused fear for the elderly and disabled. Did media play up the fears and promote the anger and hatred? I don’t believe so. They presented to information to us and I happen to believe we are intelligent people who can read, listen and understand what is happening. I give credit to the people who asked intelligent questions. I give credit to the people who spoke up and expressed their fear and anger. That is what democracy is all about. Do you really think that in the days of our patriots, they issued polite comments and worried about being politically correct? I doubt it. They were in a fight to build a country, our country, and they had to raise their voices to be heard. They did not have cable television where every word is put out as it leaves the mouth of an objector. Did their raising their voices have an effect on the crowds? Of course it did, and they did it in town squares and town hall meetings, not on cable television.

We, the people……yes, the people have spoken out. They are concerned about healthcare AND health insurance. They are concerned about taxes and the tremendous amount of money being spent by our leaders. They are concerned about freedom. They are concerned about our great United States. Let them be heard! If you disagree with what they say, you have that right to disagree, and to speak as loudly as they speak.

I, for one, am proud to be an American and I am especially proud of the people who stepped to the microphone and asked intelligent questions and sent an intelligent message to Washington. We, the people……we have spoken.

No one should apologize for being afraid. No one should keep quiet because they disagree. We, the people……Americans….have the right to speak out and the right to be heard by our elected officials, who have an obligation to listen.

Many have said that we should not speak out against the elected officials. They say that the American people voted them in last year and we should let them do their job. Listen folks, their job is to do as we want them to do. It is not written in the constitution that we keep quiet for four years and let them run things the way they want.

Speak out America! Young or old, your opinion is part of our great United States!

By the way, Medicare Advantage Plans are inexpensive, have low deductibles, have a good record on paying and include wellness benefits, eyecare and dental plans. Medicare also affords some of these benefits. Who's listening to the people spreading scare tactics????

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