Category Archives: health care debate

Rush Holt: New Evidence Could Shape The Health Care Debate

By Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ 12)

I’ve always believed that the health care debate should be based on evidence, not ideology or demagoguery. Last week, the debate gained important new evidence thanks to an unprecedented study from Oregon.

In 2008, Oregon policymakers wanted to expand the state’s Medicaid program, but they lacked the funding needed to cover all 90,000 applicants. They decided that the fairest way to distribute their limited funds was through a lottery.

When researchers compared the 10,000 individuals who “won” the health care lottery to those who lost, they found dramatic differences in outcomes between these well-matched populations. Individuals covered by Medicaid were 35 percent more likely to see a doctor. They also felt better: they were more likely to rate their health as good or excellent and less likely to say that their health had deteriorated over the previous year.

Would you be surprised to learn that insurance coverage improved not only people’s physical health but also their financial well-being? People covered by Medicaid were 25 percent less likely to have an unpaid bill go to collection, and they were 40 percent less likely to borrow money or skip a bill payment because of medical expenses.

Although Oregon’s method of handling its budget limitations was novel, it dramatized an everyday phenomenon: a health care “lottery” in which some people gain health coverage while others are left to fend for themselves. Two similar Americans who work equally hard and are equally deserving of good health may experience very different outcomes, based only on chance factors: whether they live in a city with a strong job market, whether their employer provides health insurance, or whether their state supports its low-income workers through Medicaid.

Right now, 50 million Americans – including 8 million children – are losing the health care lottery. They are suffering all of the ills that the Oregon study revealed: poorer health, poorer access to doctors, and poorer financial security.

That situation is improving as the new Affordable Care law takes effect and helps 33 million Americans gain access to health insurance. Policymakers now have hard evidence to support what many of us argued when we enacted that law: insured Americans live healthier, happier, and more secure lives.

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Filed under Congressman Rush Holt, health care debate, Medicaid, Medicare, Newsletter, Oregon study, The Affordable Care Act

Public Opinion Snapshot: Public Holding Steady on Key Elements of Health Care Reform

By Ruy Teixeira, The Center for American Progress

In the last month, the public’s view of Congress’ health care reform efforts has certainly darkened. But it’s striking how little change there has been in the public’s view of the basic elements of health care reform as articulated by President Barack Obama and progressives. These essentials of health care reform remain not just popular, but very popular. Consider these data from the just-released August edition of the Kaiser Health Care Tracking poll.

In the poll, 68 percent favor “requiring all Americans to have health insurance, either from their employer or from another source, with financial help for those who can’t afford it.” One month ago, the figure in the Kaiser tracking poll was an identical 68 percent. Similarly, 70 percent favor “offering tax credits to help people buy private health insurance,” which is actually up a point from July’s 69 percent. And 68 percent favor “requiring employers to offer health insurance to their workers or pay money into a government fund that will pay to cover those without insurance,” up 4 points from July’s 64 percent.

Finally, what about the public health insurance option that conservatives have attacked mercilessly and about which there has been so much controversy? Surely here the public has been scared away from their previous level of support. Nope. In the Kaiser poll, 59 percent favor “creating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans,” exactly the same as July’s 59 percent.

It’s also worth noting that the public remains hopeful about the health care reform efforts in Washington (63 to 36 percent in the Kaiser poll). Perhaps that’s because the public knows that somewhere in that legislative logjam in Congress, the basic elements of health care reform as outlined above are still alive. Let’s hope Congress keeps health care reform on track and doesn’t disappoint them.

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Filed under Congress, health care debate, health care reform, Kaiser Health Care Tracking Poll, Medicare, President Obama, The Center for American Progress

Jewish Groups Assail Nazi Comparisons Made by Conservatives in Health Care Debate

From ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper –

“Regardless of the political differences and the substantive differences in the debate over health care, the use of Nazi symbolism is outrageous, offensive and inappropriate,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. “Americans should be able to disagree on the issues without coloring it with Nazi imagery and comparisons to Hitler. This is not where the debate should be at all.”

In this week’s protests at town hall forums, some conservatives have used Nazi imagery to compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler and congressional Democrats to Nazis.

In an interview this week House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said of the town hall protestors loudly assailing President Obama’s health care reform push, “I think they are AstroTurf — you be the judge, carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care. This initiative is funded by the high end. We call it ‘Astroturf,’ it’s not really a grass roots movement. It’s AstroTurf by some of the wealthiest people of America.”

That some of the protestors are comparing President Obama and congressional Democrats to Adolph Hitler and Nazis is unquestionably true.

That they’re “carrying swastikas and symbols like that” because the protestors themselves are supportive of Hitler and the Nazis, does not seem to be true at all.

Pelosi’s office says she meant the former, not the latter.

Conservatives seized upon the latter.

Read More >>> Here

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Filed under ABC News, health care debate, Hitler, Jake Tapper, Jewish Groups, Nazis, President Obama

A new level of viciousness enters America’s political dialogue

Excellent commentary today by Joel Connelly of the SeatlePI.Com discussing how political dissent in this country has turned vicious over the past few years. It is a sad commentary when you think about it, because there seem to be no “middle ground” anymore.

It’s Liberal vs. Conservative, Good Vs. Evil, Yes Vs. No and your either with Us or Against us.

The Us Vs. Them mentality really has to end in this country, pitting brother against brother or neighbor against neighbor with a divide and conquer attitude just leads to ruin and not much else:

In an ageless magazine cover, entitled “Freedom of Speech,” artist Norman Rockwell drew a guy in workman’s clothes standing up to speak his mind at a New England town meeting.

The fellow would get shouted down today, at some House members’ town meetings, if he tried to argue for a public option health care plan. He would have to pass an effigy in a noose if he tried to visit the office of Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Maryland.

In Austin, Texas, last week, he would have seen a drawing of Rep. Lloyd Doggett with horns sticking out of his head, and passed a sign calling Doggett “a traitor to Texas.”

Up in Connecticut, he might have witnessed teabaggers urging Sen. Chris Dodd — recently diagnosed with prostate cancer — to commit suicide by taking painkillers “a handful at a time.”

Heckling a political big shot is as American as apple pie. It can tickle the funny bone and shatter the self-importance.

“Why do I talk about the Navy today?” then-Sen. Charles Robb, D-Va., once asked himself at the start of a speech.

“Because you’re in Newport News,” came a shout from the crowd.

In these parts, vocal dissent has usually come in clumsy form from tone-deaf loony lefties.

Anti-Iraq War shouters briefly interrupted Sens. Barack Obama and Maria Cantwell when Obama boosted Cantwell’s reelection with a 2006 appearance at Garfield High School.

Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., was getting ready to vote against the Iraq War resolution when he spoke at a 2002 candidates’ forum in Bellingham. Larsen outlined his reasoning, but took issue with provocative remarks made from Baghdad by colleague Rep. Jim McDermott.

Bellingham liberals hissed like a gaggle of geese, even though they would get Larsen’s vote less than 48 hours later.

The health care protests are different. They are organized, manipulated by national conservative groups, and reveal a new level of viciousness in America’s political dialogue. As well, there are inciters.

“Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate,” Rush Limbaugh told listeners Thursday. A few moments later, he intoned: “(The) Obama health care logo is damn close to a swastika logo.”

On the Fox News Channel, meanwhile, Glenn Beck was doing a skit with a joke about “put(ting) poison in Nancy Pelosi’s wine.” Beck recently called our 44th president a “racist” and charged that Obama has a “deep seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”

House Republicans seem to be taking delight at watching Democratic colleagues’ town meetings being turned replicas of 1933 sessions of the Reichstag.

House Republican leader John Boehner has chortled that House Democrats are “likely to have a very, very hot summer.”

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Missouri, made light of pictures of Kratovil being hung in effigy.

“This particular meeting, in a way, is a bit unique,” he told a gathering. “Different people from Washington, D.C., have come back to their districts and have town hall meetings and they almost get lynched.”

The audience reportedly laughed and then broke into applause. Akin went on to say that he disapproves of lynching, but with the light touch of drawing a finger across his throat.

“Norm Dicks Insults Then Shuts Constituents Out of Health Care Debate,” read a National Republican Congressional Committee broadside, issued Thursday after Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., indicated he hasn’t scheduled town hall meetings.

At the same time, however, Eastside resident Collin Jergens tried without success to access a “telephone town hall” put on Thursday by Republican Rep. Dave Reichert.

“The line was busy the whole time,” Jergens said. “I called his office later and I was told that there would be another call next week, but the congressman is not planning to hold any public town hall meetings in the district during August.”

The right wing may fall victim to a famous Winston Churchill adage: He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind.

The Obama administration is counterattacking, and can deploy a 10-million-name mailing list. Democrats and allied groups have fielded tough TV ads, showing “Birthers” harassing moderate Republican Rep. Mike Castle.

Health care reform is closer than at any time in recent American history.

Legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions and encourage new energy sources has cleared the House of Representatives. For foes, it’s desperation time.

A Washington, D.C., firm specializing in “Astroturf” grassroots lobbying, has been “outed” as sending 12 forged letters opposing the climate-change legislation.

The letters purportedly came from the Charlottesville (Va.) NAACP and a Latino social-services group.

The contractor, Bonner and Associates, blamed a “temporary employee” since fired.After the August recess, one Washington lawmaker may be tempted to play the old Judy Collins hit “Both Sides Now.”

Three years ago, the left turned out in force for a Sea-Tac town meeting, and gave Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., a noisy bad time for refusing to support a Bush impeachment inquiry.

Smith may get an earful from the other side when he holds a health care town hall in Lakewood on Aug. 25.

Joel Connelly can be reached at 206-448-8160 or

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Filed under health care debate, health care reform, Joe Connelly,, town hall meeting, visious dissent