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President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 02/20/10

white house gov logoWhiteHouse.govPremiums, Profits, and the Need for Health Reform ~ The President points to outrageous premium hikes from health insurance companies, especially those already making massive profits, as further proof of the need for reform. Looking ahead to the coming bipartisan meeting on reform, the President urges members of Congress to come to the table in good faith to address the issue.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/17/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised the progress that has been made on health insurance reform, and spoke out against those who defend the status quo in order to score political points and protect their profits. With reform the closest it has ever been to becoming law, the insurance companies are rolling out deceptive ads, paying for misleading studies, and flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists. Now, Washington needs to serve the American people, not the special interests.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 17, 2009

Over the better part of the past year, a great debate has taken place in Washington and across America, about how to reform our health care system to provide security for people with insurance, coverage for those without insurance, and lower costs for everyone. From the halls of Congress to the homes of ordinary Americans, this debate has helped us to forge consensus and find common ground. That’s a good thing. That’s what America is all about.

Now, as the debate draws to a close, we can point to a broad and growing coalition of doctors and nurses, workers and businesses, hospitals and even drug companies – folks who represent different parties and perspectives, including leading Democrats and many leading Republicans – who recognize the urgency of action. Just this week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a reform proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support. For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation. As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history.

But this is not the time to pat ourselves on the back. This is not the time to grow complacent. There are still significant details and disagreements to be worked out in the coming weeks. And there are still those who would try to kill reform at any cost. The history is clear: for decades rising health care costs have unleashed havoc on families, businesses, and the economy. And for decades, whenever we have tried to reform the system, the insurance companies have done everything in their considerable power to stop us.

We know that this inaction has carried a terrible toll. In the past decade, premiums have doubled. Over the past few years, total out of pocket costs for people with insurance rose by a third. And we know that if we do not reform the system, this will only be a preview of coming attractions. A new report for the Business Roundtable – a non-partisan group that represents the CEOs of major companies – found that without significant reform, health care costs for these employers and their employees will well more than double again over the next decade. The cost per person for health insurance will rise by almost $18,000. That’s a huge amount of money. That’s going to mean lower salaries and higher unemployment, lower profits and higher rolls of uninsured. It is no exaggeration to say, that unless we act, these costs will devastate the US economy.

This is the unsustainable path we’re on, and it’s the path the insurers want to keep us on. In fact, the insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking open their massive war chest – to marshal their forces for one last fight to save the status quo. They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people.

Of course, like clockwork, we’ve seen folks on cable television who know better, waving these industry-funded studies in the air. We’ve seen industry insiders – and their apologists – citing these studies as proof of claims that just aren’t true. They’ll claim that premiums will go up under reform; but they know that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that reforms will lower premiums in a new insurance exchange while offering consumer protections that will limit out-of-pocket costs and prevent discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. They’ll claim that you’ll have to pay more out of pocket; but they know that this is based on a study that willfully ignores whole sections of the bill, including tax credits and cost savings that will greatly benefit middle class families. Even the authors of one of these studies have now admitted publicly that the insurance companies actually asked them to do an incomplete job.

It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” Well, not this time. The fact is, the insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits, bonuses, and administrative costs that do nothing to make us healthy – that often actually go toward figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.

Now, I welcome a good debate. I welcome the chance to defend our proposals and to test our ideas in the fires of this democracy. But what I will not abide are those who would bend the truth – or break it – to score political points and stop our progress as a country. And what we all must oppose are the same old cynical Washington games that have been played for decades even as our problems have grown and our challenges have mounted.

Last November, the American people went to the polls in historic numbers and demanded change. They wanted a change in our policies; but they also sought a change in our politics: a politics that too often has fallen prey to the lobbyists and the special interests; that has fostered division and sustained the status quo. Passing health insurance reform is a great test of this proposition. Yes, it will make a profound and positive difference in the lives of the American people. But it also now represents something more: whether or not we as a nation are capable of tackling our toughest challenges, if we can serve the national interest despite the unrelenting efforts of the special interests; if we can still do big things in America.

I believe we can. I believe we will. And I urge every member of Congress to stand against the power plays and political ploys – and to stand up on behalf the American people who sent us to Washington to do their business.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/10/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised past and current political leaders from across the spectrum who have come forward to support reform. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and drug companies have already expressed their support. In the past several days Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Bloomberg, former Senate Major Leader Bob Dole, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, among others, have all come forward to say that the status quo is unsustainable and that now is the time to reform the system. They see that this is a not a Democratic or a Republican problem, but an American one in need of a solution.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 10, 2009

The historic movement to bring real, meaningful health insurance reform to the American people gathered momentum this week as we approach the final days of this debate. Having worked on this issue for the better part of a year, the Senate Finance Committee is finishing deliberations on their version of a health insurance reform bill that will soon be merged with other reform bills produced by other Congressional committees.

After evaluating the Finance Committee’s bill, the Congressional Budget Office – an office that provides independent, nonpartisan analysis – concluded that the legislation would make coverage affordable for millions of Americans who don’t have it today. It will bring greater security to Americans who have coverage, with new insurance protections. And, by attacking waste and fraud within the system, it will slow the growth in health care costs, without adding a dime to our deficits.

This is another milestone on what has been a long, hard road toward health insurance reform. In recent months, we’ve heard every side of every argument from both sides of the aisle. And rightly so – health insurance reform is a complex and critical issue that deserves a vigorous national debate, and we’ve had one. The approach that is emerging includes the best ideas from Republicans and Democrats, and people across the political spectrum.

In fact, what’s remarkable is not that we’ve had a spirited debate about health insurance reform, but the unprecedented consensus that has come together behind it. This consensus encompasses everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers.

And earlier this week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in support of reform, joining two former Republican Senate Majority Leaders: Bob Dole and Dr. Bill Frist, himself a cardiac surgeon. Dr. Louis Sullivan, Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush, supports reform. As does Republican Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution.

Still, there are some in Washington today who seem determined to play the same old partisan politics, working to score political points, even if it means burdening this country with an unsustainable status quo. A status quo of rising health care costs that are crushing our families, our businesses, and our government. A status quo of diminishing coverage that is denying millions of hardworking Americans the insurance they need. A status quo that gives big insurance companies the power to make arbitrary decisions about your health care. That is a status quo I reject. And that is a status quo the American people reject.

The distinguished former Congressional leaders who urged us to act on health insurance reform spoke of the historic moment at hand and reminded us that this moment will not soon come again. They called on members of both parties seize this opportunity to finally confront a problem that has plagued us for far too long.

That is what we are called to do at this moment. That is the spirit of national purpose that we must summon right now. Now is the time to rise above the politics of the moment. Now is the time to come together as Americans. Now is the time to meet our responsibilities to ourselves and to our children, and secure a better, healthier future for generations to come. That future is within our grasp. So, let’s go finish the job.

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Weiner And McCaughey Go Head-To-Head In Health Care Debate

 Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Betsy McCaughey

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Betsy McCaughey

TPM/Rachel Slajda—In a heated and sometimes vitriolic debate Monday night, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) repeatedly called out former Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey for lying about health care reform. He said debating her was like “debating a pyromaniac in a straw man factory,” prompting intense and immediate reaction from the audience.

Debate like a man!” hollered one bespectacled, middle-aged man. Another quieted the ensuing shouts with, “This is his speaking time, not yours!

Weiner and McCaughey arguably represent the furthest ends of the health care reform spectrum. Weiner is a progressive Congressman who wants a single-payer, government run health care system. McCaughey, who recently posited that reform may lead to government-mandated euthanasia, helped kill the Clintons’ health care plan in the 90s.

The “Lincoln-Douglas-style debate,” hosted by Democracy Leaders for the 21st Century and held at the NYU Medical Center, lasted nearly two hours. For much of that, the pair seemed engaged in two entirely different debates.

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Betsy McCaughey Gets Pwned by Dylan Ratigan and Rep. Anthony Weiner on Morning Meeting

Posted by Audiegrl

BETSY-AND-DYLAN-largeHuffington Post/Jason Linkins—Betsy McCaughey is a famous liar whom the media keep inviting on their programs to continue to lie about health care, instead of banishing her to some wilderness, where she belongs, to lie to woodland creatures. And so, today she ended up on Dylan Ratigan’s Morning Meeting with Representative Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). There was a brief, mad moment where I thought that this might end well, but it didn’t.

I’m getting used to the tactics McCaughey deploys in situations like this: heavy-duty pretense that she supports health care reform, the Palin-esque answer-a-question-with-an-answer-to-a-question-of-her-liking technique, the ability to quickly provide information and opinion that’s completely beside the point, et cetera. Unfortunately, Ratigan wanted to have a discussion on health care competition and cost containment, and that didn’t dovetail too well with what McCaughey prefers to do in such a debate: set aside all substantive issues so that she can fearmonger about seniors being killed by the government.

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Sorry Betsy, you got pwned.

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Revealed by British Press: Millions Spent by Lobby Firms Fighting Obama Health Efforts

Posted by Audiegrl

A demonstration in Washington against Obama's healthcare reform plan. Photo: Rex Features

A demonstration in Washington against Obama's healthcare reform plan. Photo: Rex Features


I know…you are probably asking yourself why the American press is not writing a story about this. Essentially with this article, the British press is blowing the whistle on corporate interests that are waging a $380 million (so far) crusade against President Obama and progressive Democrats, who want to pass real health care reform. The article explains that there are ‘six lobbyists for every member of Congress as healthcare industry heaps cash on politicians to water down legislation‘.

Just think about that for a second…outnumbered six to one…and that’s just the beginning of the story…

Guardian.co.uk—America’s healthcare industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to block the introduction of public medical insurance and stall other reforms promised by Barack Obama. The campaign against the president has been waged in part through substantial donations to key politicians.

Supporters of radical reform of healthcare say legislation emerging from the US Senate reflects the financial power of vested interests ‑ principally insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms and hospitals ‑ that have worked to stop far-reaching changes threatening their profits.

The industry and interest groups have spent $380m (£238m) in recent months influencing healthcare legislation through lobbying, advertising and in direct political contributions to members of Congress. The largest contribution, totalling close to $1.5m, has gone to the chairman of the senate committee drafting the new law.

A former member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet says fears that the industry could throw its money behind the populist rightwing backlash against public insurance have scared the Obama White House into pulling back from the most significant reforms in return for healthcare companies not trying to scupper the entire legislation.

Drug and insurance companies say they are merely seeking to educate politicians and the public. But with industry lobbyists swarming over Capitol Hill ‑ there are six registered healthcare lobbyists for every member of Congress ‑ a partner in the most powerful lobbying firm in Washington acknowledged that healthcare firms’ money “has had a lot of influence” and that it is “morally suspect”.

Reform groups say vast spending, and the threat of a lot more being poured into advertisements against the administration, has helped drug companies ensure there will be no cap on the prices they charge for medicines ‑ one of the ways the White House had hoped to keep down surging healthcare costs.

Insurance companies have done even better as the new legislation will prove a business bonanza. It is not only likely to kill off the threat of public health insurance, which threatened to siphon off customers by offering lower premiums and better coverage, but will force millions more people to take out private medical policies or face prosecution.

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Health Care is a Right, Not a Privilege…

US-CONGRESS-HEALTH CARE REFORM
a lifelong Republican speaks his mind on health care reform

Editorial by CharlieM (guest contributor) reprinted with permission

This dissertation by the Republican (naturally) Mike Rogers from MI is the biggest bunch of baloney seemily taken from the position papers prepared by the insurance companies. It so distorts the facts in the hope of convincing Joe and Jane Six-pack that the health care as has been offered by insurance companies to the present is perfectly all right. So what if 15% of the U.S. population is uninsured for a variety of reasons such as: unaffordable, denied coverage by the insurance companies, employers refusing to provide coverage, insurance companies overcharging premiums for small business owners, insurance companies denying payment for treatments, inability to benefit from some plans outside your home state, etc., etc., etc. Come on, folks, the insurance companies have had a license to rape and plunder the American public. It’s time to put a heavy bit in the mouths of these uncontrolled horses.

To the best of my knowledge of the House bill, no one is going to lose their coverage or be punished. People will be able to secure coverage if they have currently disqualifying ailments, etc. Try and obtain health insurance right now in River City if you have prostate cancer, breast cancer, etc. My dermatologist tells me he has never known anyone to die from skin cancer (other than melanoma); therefore, I expect a health insurance company might write a policy if you just have skin cancer.

Health Care RallyOne only has to look at Medicare and the military’s health care plans to realize that the federal government CAN and DOES provide excellent health care plans efficiently for about 48 million Americans. How many senior citizens or retired (or even active duty) military are stepping up and demanding that the federal government get out of their lives by eliminating these health care plans? Damned if I know of any – I do know that I surely am not volunteering. That must be because those plans are so inefficient that we are just ignorantly very pleased with these government health care programs. Where does the allegation come from that the House plan “abandons the principles of America?” I always thought Medicare and military medical care plans have been an extremely important part and parcel of “the principles of America” – to provide excellent heath care. I also always thought that the private sector benefits from excellent health care programs because it benefits from a “less sick” work force, i.e., less absenteeism. What am I missing here that the minority party in Congress capitalizes upon to conjure up what appears to me to be inhumane, insensitive, and totally irrational conclusions.

Personal conversations with middle class Canadian and U.K. citizens have provided me first hand information which blatantly refutes the Republican Party’s claims that people are dying from lack of health care in those countries: that people have to wait exceptionally long periods of time for health care; that those people are dissatisfied with their national health care plans, and that they are so dissatisfied they come to the U.S. to secure adequate health care. More hogwash being promulgated by the health care insurance companies in the U.S.A.

health care demoThe Republican Party lately has deserted the American people (other than the very wealthy and corporations) with more and more regularity – be it health care, special interest concerns, or refusal to demand more regulation of providers of services upon which all citizens must depend upon from the stock market to the food industry. Deregulation does not work when American industry thrives on one fundamental – greed. The Republican Party patently labels that as the “free enterprise” engine driven by the “profit motive.” Therefore, there should be no regulation because competition will force the economics to the most proficient state. Hogwash! Teddy Roosevelt (wasn’t he a Republican?) took on the monopolies and busted them. It’s time for the Republicans to once again step forward and bust up the health insurance monopoly. I do not think they have the guts to do that – just listen to their rhetoric – no citizen is ever without health care, they can go to the emergency rooms. Get real. If you haven’t had to use such a facility, be thankful. I waited 8, repeat 8, hours to be seen when I was faced with an emergency condition out of town. Fortunately for the taxpayers in Wichita, Medicare ultimately paid for my emergency room care. For uninsured folks, Wichita’s taxpayers would have paid. This Republican Party idea is more hogwash. It shoves the cost of “emergency room” health care off onto all middle class tax payers – not by choice, either. Somehow that smacks of a “hidden tax” in my book.

Health Care ReformShould “tort reform” be addressed? Absolutely. Just keep in mind, however, that if you are the victim of foreseeable consequence(s) from inept/erroneous medical care, I do believe you should be remunerated. If you are are a young income provider for your family and your income potential is negatively impacted, I do believe you and your family should be made whole for obvious reasons. Everyone deserves to be made whole; however, outrageous monetary awards need to be controlled. Uh oh, how can the deregulatory oriented Republican party suddenly choose to demand regulation of monetary awards made my independent citizens in a jury. My Party’s vacillating policies confuse me. Hasn’t it too often attempted to label such as “flip flopping?” Forgive my very senior citizen memory, I forgot that it only applies to Democrat incumbents/candidates.

As a lifelong Republican, I am disgusted with the irrational, special interest positions taken today by my Party’s incumbents. Unfortunately, money talks in our society, and so do campaign contributions. The health care industry has spent how many millions of dollars to destroy the attempt to revamp our Nation’s existing health care? Please move your heads to one side and get your vision out of the smoke and glare from the mirrors. Our health care program requires immediate restructuring.

Sorry folks, this Republican chooses to support a compulsory national health care plan so all Americans can have adequate health care. Feel free to forward to anyone thinking the House health care bill is a travesty.

Health care is a right, not a privilege!.

The video of Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI) that triggered this editorial is below.

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