Monthly Archives: August 2009

Asbury Park Press Editorial: Don’t Settle For Triage

If you haven’t read the following editorial from yesterday’s Asbury Park Press you should and can read it below.
In the editorial titled “Don’t settle for triage”, the editor states that our health care system is broken and that proposals on the table now in congress do not go far enough to fix the problems with the system.
With the US ranked 37th out of 191 countries by the World Health Organization on most measures of performance,quality of care and access to it, there is plenty of room for improvement.
The editor states that our system should be built on what we do well and borrow from what others do better. It shouldn’t matter if the ideas come from Canada, Great Britain or France.
I happen to agree :
The acrimony and passion on display at three health care town hall meetings last week demonstrated several things: It’s an issue people care about deeply. It’s an issue fraught with conflicting information and attitudes. And it’s an issue that requires far more analysis and discussion before Congress proceeds to vote on any reforms.
While the forums failed to bring out the best in some people, they succeeded in making it clear that it won’t be easy to arrive at a consensus — at least not one that will produce anything in the way of substantial improvement to our health care system.

If the two area congressmen who held town hall meetings last week — Democrats Frank Pallone and Rush Holt — came away with anything, it was that the current versions of the House bills have left many people with grave doubts about whether they will make things better rather than worse.

One’s attitude toward reform depends in large measure on one’s perception of whether it is needed. Many of those who turned out at the forums — the majority appeared to oppose the House bills — insist the United States offers the best health care in the world. Given how fundamental that question is to the whole health care debate, it’s essential that it be explored in far greater depth in public discussions.

Few would argue that the United States doesn’t have some of the best hospitals, specialists and technology in the world. Most people like their doctors. Most people who have never had to battle their health insurers or hospitals over bills or coverages find little fault with them.

But a 2000 World Health Organization study of health care in 191 countries ranked the United States 37th, behind most advanced Western democracies. A 2007 Commonwealth Fund study comparing health care in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Great Britain ranked us last or next to last on most measures of performance, including quality of care and access to it.

A 2008 mortality study in the journal Health Affairs found the U.S. had the highest rate of deaths among 19 countries from conditions that could have been prevented or treated successfully. The Urban Institute released a study this month that found the U.S. performed better than other advanced nations in some areas and worse than in others. The study noted that only 45 percent of Americans thought the U.S. had the world’s best health care.

The American system does some things well, and others not so well. We are the only advanced nation in the world without universal coverage. Access to care and the quality of care are far more uneven than in western Europe and some Asian nations. We have high rates of infant mortality, rank near the bottom of industrialized nations in healthy life expectancy at age 60, fare poorly in coordinating the care of the chronically ill and have a higher incidence of fatal surgical and medical mistakes.

At the very least, the American health care system has considerable room for improvement. And that’s before we begin to talk about access to care, cost of care — the U.S. spends twice more per-capita on health care than any other nation — and the mind-numbing bureaucratic waste.

The debate needs to get beyond the fear-mongering and the belief that to look to European models for answers moves us toward socialized medicine. That is patent nonsense. There are nearly as many different models in Europe as there are countries, and many of those nations — Germany, France, Italy, to name a few — have features worth emulating. And almost all of them are built around private insurers.

Our health care system is broken. The reforms on the table today don’t go far enough to repair the damage. And given the tenor in Washington and the belief that more compromises to what’s on the table now will be needed to get any bill passed, it’s likely any reforms will be weak medicine at best.

Citizens need to do their homework. They need to take a hard look at our system, compare it with others and insist our politicians come up with a patient-centered model rooted in improved access and care, reduced bureaucracy and transparency in billing and health outcomes. The system should build on what we do well and borrow from what others do better.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Congressman Frank Pallone, Congressman Rush Holt, health care reform, lth, World Health Organization

Saturday Morning Cartoons: School House Rock – I’m Just A Bill

It’s Saturday Morning, time for a cartoon.

This week Congressmen Frank Pallone and Rush Holt held town hall meetings in Monmouth County to discuss health care reform with there constituents. Like many such meeting held throughout the country, the town halls here were rowdy affairs.

Many of the attendees really didn’t have a clue about how a bill is written, introduced, voted on, then presented to the president to sign into law. They only chose to show their ignorance by shouting down others who did not agree with their point of view.

Working their way through congress right now are 5 separate bills (2 in the Senate, 3 in the House) that deal with health care reform. All 5 need to be voted on the reconciled and merged into 1 comprehensive bill to be signed by President Obama.

Much of the behavior going on at many of these town hall meetings, are counter-productive and add nothing to the debate other than angry, uninformed rhetoric that should be curtailed in exchange for real honest and open answers.

Now that my bowl of “Life” cereal is sufficiently soggy, it’s time to sit back and watch.

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, Congressman Rush Holt, health care reform, I'm just a bill, Saturday morning cartoons, School House Rock, town hall meeting

President Obama’s Weekly Address: 8/29/09 Lessons and Renewal Out of the Gulf Coast

The President discusses the steps being taken to finish the job of recovery from Hurricane Katrina as the fourth anniversary approaches. He points to local citizens working hard alongside responsible government to make real progress in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and pledges that the lessons of Katrina will not be forgotten.

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Filed under FEMA, Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, President Obama, weekly address

Video and Pictures Of "Health Care" From Outsdie Holt Town Hall in Middletown

I put together my last few pieces of video from the Rush Holt Town Hall Meeting on Health Care that was held in Middletown Wednesday night and included some pictures that were taken outside while the meeting was progressing inside.

This first video is mine, the last minute of which may be interesting to some because it shows how tense people were while waiting for Congressman Holt to arrive. A shouting match errupted and had to be broken up by Middletown police.

This second video was shot by a friend who did not make it into the procceedings, so hung around outside to see what Fair Haven mayor, Mike Halfacre had to say.

And here are a few pictures that I call “Faces of health care”, from outside and around the Middletown Arts Cultrural Center before the events took place.

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Filed under 12th congressional district, health care reform, Mike Halfacre, Rush Holt, town hall meeting

Video: Jon Corzine: Creating Green Jobs for New Jersey

Last week, Governor Corzine announced that New Jersey created 13,000 private sector jobs in July — more proof that his economic recovery package is working.

But that’s only part of the story. Governor Corzine isn’t just working to create jobs, he’s working to create the green jobs that are going to drive our economy for years to come.

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Filed under Gov. Jon Corzine, Green Jobs, New Jersey

Video: Rush Holt Town Hall Meeting in Middletown Parts 5 & 6

As promised, here are the last 20 minutes of video that I was able to record at the Rush Holt Town Hall meeting to discuss health care reform at the Middletown Cultural Arts Center.

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Filed under health care reform, Middletown Cultural Arts Center, Middletown NJ, Rush Holt, town hall meeting

Holt: What’s In And Not In Heath Insurance Reform

Note: I should have posted this email from Rush Holt before posting videos from last night’s town hall meeting. Congressman Holt talked about all of these issues last night but because of the jeers and heckles I don’t think that much of what he had to say sank in (The final two parts of last nights town hall meeting that I was able to capture before running out of memory space will be posted shortly).

The health insurance reform legislation, as it is taking shape and which I have supported in the House Committee on Education and Labor, would benefit Central New Jersey residents with and without insurance in three primary ways by:

Establishing important consumer protections for all those Americans now with health insurance. For instance, insurers would be prohibited from excluding coverage or charging more based on pre-existing conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or pregnancy. Insurers also would be prohibited from dropping your coverage if you become sick and would be prohibited from setting annual or lifetime limits beyond which the insurer refuses to pay, leaving your family faced with bankruptcy. Insurance companies would have to spend more (at least 80 percent) of each premium dollar on actually providing healthcare.

Creating an insurance store for those not well served by the system now. Those between jobs, employees of small businesses, or those who do not get coverage through their work would be able to purchase health insurance at group rates. All companies offering plans in the store would need to cover a comprehensive set of necessary services and abide by all the consumer protection standards. Among the plans from which a person could choose would be at least one offered on a not-for-profit basis, probably run by the government. Through competition and choice, coverage would be more affordable and accountable and would provide care better aligned with the best medical standards.

Strengthening health care for seniors. The proposal would strengthen Medicare in a number of important ways, including emphasizing more primary and preventive care, eliminating the doughnut hole in the Medicare prescription drug benefit, reducing redundant tests or unnecessary procedures, and eliminating wasteful subsidies to insurance companies.

These are the principal parts of the health insurance reform. The proposal also would increase the number of primary care doctors and expand the number of nurses and expand preventive and wellness care. Additionally, the proposal would provide tax credits to small businesses to help them provide coverage to their employees.

This is what the reform proposal would mean for you. What reform would NOT mean – despite the claims of vocal opponents of reform – is rationing, government takeover of health care, health insurance for illegal immigrants, or government “death panels.” Read more about the myths perpetuated about health insurance reform.

This is an important debate that we are having. Our health insurance system is broken. Americans are living sicker, dying younger, and paying more than we should or than residents of other major countries do. We already are spending more than enough. In 2009, overall health care spending throughout the U.S. is projected to reach $8,160 per person. This should be more than sufficient to provide affordable and excellent care for everyone, yet 16 percent of New Jerseyans lacked insurance in 2007 and family insurance premiums are projected to rise from $14,000 in 2009 to $24,000 in 2019. Feedback from you is important to me as I work in Congress to fix this broken system.

Town Hall Meeting in Middletown

I will be holding my next town hall meeting tomorrow, August 26 at 7 p.m. in Middletown. Wednesday’s meeting will be held at the Middletown Arts Center, which is located at 36 Church Street.

I frequently convene town hall meetings throughout the five counties and forty-four towns of the 12th Congressional District. The purpose of these town hall meetings is for you to tell me about issues that are affecting you, your family, and our community, and for me to update you on some of the work that I have been doing in Washington D.C. and in New Jersey. I look forward to talking with you about health insurance reform or any other issues on your mind.

If you are unable to attend this town hall, I will be hosting other town meetings regularly, I announce the meetings in the eGenda and on And of course, you can always write, call, or fax me. If you have any questions about the town meeting, please call me free at 1-87-RUSH-HOLT. Thank you, and I hope to see you in Middletown.



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Filed under health care reform, Insurance store, Medicare, Middletown NJ, Rush Holt, Seniors, town hall meeting

Video: Rush Holt Town Hall Meeting in Middletown Parts 3 & 4

During video parts 3 & 4 of Rush Holt’s town hall meeting to discuss health reform in Middletown on 8/26/09, Congressman Holt answers questions about tort reform and medicare.

The crowd becomes a little more vocal out of frustration because they feel that Holt is not answering questions. The truth of the matter however, is that Rush Holt is answering questions but the hecklers and boo-birds don’t want to listen to what he has to say.

The nay-sayers in the crowd continue to point to the only bill to come out of committee, HR3200, as reason for the frustration even though Congressman Holt mentioned that there are 4 other bills making their way through the Congress and Senate.

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Filed under health care reform, Medicare, Middletown Cultural Arts Center, Middletown NJ, Rush Holt, tort reform, town hall meeting

Video: Rush Holt Town Hall Meeting in Middletown Parts 1 & 2

As mentioned earlier, I was inside at Rush Holt’s town hall meeting to discuss health care reform last night in Middletown.

I was looking forward to an enjoyable evening of theatrics from the crowd and considering that it could have been much worse, I was only slightly disappointed.

Rush attempted to control the crowd by having attendees write questions on an index card instead of having people come forward to speak from a microphone. This worked well but it did not deter hecklers from shouting out opposition.

I was able able to record the first 57 minutes of the meeting before I ran out of space on my media card, the meeting went on for another 35 to 40 minutes before letting out at 8:40 pm.

Here our the first two parts of video that encompasses the first 20 minutes from last night. The video is raw and a little grainy due to the fact that I was sitting a little far away and only had a 3X zoom on my small video camera, I did not edit anything out of video the events happened as shown and you may or may not hear me arguing with an elderly woman behind me, who was more interested in yapping instead of listening.

I am currently working on 4 more video clips to post later:

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Filed under health care reform, Middletown Cultural Arts Center, Middletown NJ, Rush Holt, town hall meeting

Rush Holt Town Hall Meeting In Middletown Last Night.

I attended Rush Holt’s town hall meeting last night at the Middletown Cultural Arts Center. I arrived shortly after 5 pm to make sure I would be able to get into the building.

It was a lively but respectful crowd outside the building that grew in numbers as the time for the meeting approached.
Shortly after settling down inside an argument broke out between a few attendees and needed to broken up by police, to the credit of Middletown police, they calmed down the situation and allowed the people to stay for the meeting.
My overall impression of the night was that it went rather well, it wasn’t as loud or disrespectful as other town hall events throughout the country have been portrayed, hecklers and boo-birds had plenty of chances to express themselves however.
I am currently working on posting video of the event and hope to have it by the end of the day, I have over an hours worth of video and it takes a while to post. I’ll add additional comments about last nights events after the video is ready.

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Filed under health care reform, Middletown Cultural Arts Center, Rush Holt, town hall meeting