Sunday, August 16, 2009

Is the White House giving up on the public option?

Today, the Associated Press published a story claiming that the White House appears ready to abandon the public option. Without a public option, there is no real health care reform.

Adam thinks the AP story is a hit piece, and the White House is saying what it's always said about this issue. Whether or not that is the case, let's send a strong, clear message to our President that we want a public option! Below is the letter that I just sent him, for your inspiration:

Dear Mr. President,

The Associated Press has just published an article titled, "White House Appears Ready To Drop 'Public Option'." Please tell me that this article is wrong, and that you will continue to fight for a public option.

If you give up on the public option, you will be sending the message to American citizens that lies, intimidation, and temper tantrums work. Opponents of health care reform should not be rewarded for resorting to bullying and other childish tactics.

More important, the public option is an essential element of health care reform. It is necessary to compete with private insurance companies and ensure that all Americans have access to affordable, quality health care.

As a person with a disability who receives SSDI, I am lucky enough to have health coverage under Medicare and Medicaid. A number of my friends -- both working and unemployed -- have not been so lucky.

One of my friends, who is deeply in debt due to educational loans and medical bills, is postponing crucial medical care because she has no health insurance. Another friend was hospitalized with a high fever from a severe mouth infection because she could not afford dental care. Still another is applying for SSDI not because he doesn't want to attempt to stay in the workforce despite his disability, but because he badly needs the health coverage that comes with government disability payments.

These are extreme examples, but let me assure you, almost everyone I know is affected one way or another by our broken health care system, and almost everyone I know could benefit significantly from a public option.

I thank you for everything you have done to clean up the mess left by the previous administration. I thank you for being a caring, compassionate, and thoughtful President. And I thank you in advance for continuing to stand strong for Americans' health care rights.


Luella B.


  1. No problem, Sean. I think the public option is worth fighting for.

  2. It is worth noting the the AP story is hinging on the rather vague phrase that a public health option is "not the essential element." It still could very well be an element of reform package being sought, among other, arguably just as essential, elements like negotiating fairer prices for prescription drugs.

    Indeed, the recent "deal" (aka big $$$ concessions) made with Pharma companies, and which is being touted as a success, is likely being spun by opponents to reform as proof the reform package is too expensive to implement.

    The organized opposition to health care reform is riddled with legions of disingenuous astroturfers, and they are doing whatever they can to disrupt and skew public discourse.

    Please send your letters to Obama to help mitigate these tactics.

  3. Here is what someone I know says about the current debate:

    "Where to begin? There is so much wrong in the so-called "debate" on health care reform. Start with six health-care-industry lobbyists for every member of Congress on Capitol Hill. Add to that the many, many political operatives who believe it is in their political interest for President Obama to fail, even if it means sacrificing America's short-term future. (Yes, there were Democrats during the Bush Administration who were also guilty of such treason, though I have never seen anything like the current crop of venomous Republicans and conservatives - and no, I don't paint all Republicans or conservatives with that brush.)

    Three weeks ago, my health insurance company canceled my insurance. They said, in writing, it was due to my heart attack. They canceled me on the first anniversary of that attack, for which E.R., hospital, and rehab bills totaled over $110,000. I have since applied for, and been rejected for, other private insurance. I now am one of those millions of uninsured people you read about. I am one of the lucky ones; I can afford to pay my doctor. I can even afford, barely, another major illness, assuming I don't need any really expensive care, such as cancer treatment or an operation. Of course, if I do need those things, seeing as how I am not old enough for Medicare, my treatment will have to be paid for by taxpayers (at a state-funded hospital) or I will do what so many uninsured people do: die for lack of care.

    So, please don't talk to me about keeping the government out of the picture. Private health insurance companies exist to make money for their shareholders. Actually providing health care is the LOWEST priority they have. They actively seek ways to avoid paying for health care, because every dollar they pay out is a dollar less in profit. That's the American way. I founded and owned a for-profit company, so I am not against capitalism. However, capitalism and health care are mutually exclusive ideas. They should never be lumped together. The only way Americans will ever be given the opportunity for decent health care for all is to establish a not-for-profit single-payer system. If Americans don't want such a system, fine, but they should not be fooled into believing that for-profit companies want to give them the very thing that hurts their profits.

    When you say you are afraid, Andy, of what the government would do with your personal health history, just remember what private industry did when they had my personal health history: they said I was too great a risk (to their bottom line), and that I am thus expendable. Perhaps you will appreciate that I do not take kindly to receiving a big F**K YOU from a company to which I paid $1000 in premiums every month for catastrophic insurance (I had to pay annually the first $15,000 of my health care, meaning that they never paid a cent until my heart attack). I have told my wife that if I have another heart attack, just let me go. I would rather die than leave her bankrupt (and probably die anyway, since the for-profit hospital nearby will have no financial incentive to keep me alive once my money is gone).

    You see no advantage to Obama's proposal? I must disagree 100%. I see no advantage to the status quo. People are DYING, Andy, because health care in this country is only for the wealthy. It is a national shame. I would say that people like Sarah Palin make me sick, except right now, I can't afford to be."

    He had also paid $1000 a year for catastrophic coverage. As he said, the private sectors response to that was F#Xk you.