Monday, June 22, 2009

Take this form from diagnostics over to the bakesale

This morning, I noticed a message on facebook from a friend of mine:

Nacho Mama's own Ms. S- has recently been diagnosed with cancer and needs our help. And you can help too by drinking wonderful adult beverages at Nacho Mama's Uptown tomorrow @ 9pm, $20 gets 4 drinks (house margaritas, draft beer, or well drinks). DJ Slice will be spinnin' away, plus snacks and prizes!

As if fighting cancer isn't tough enough... What a drag. (Not that I don't love DJ Slice)

What breaks my heart about this is that we all know how commonplace this stuff is. We all know people from our lives that bust their butts at work but don't have insurance or sufficient insurance. We all know people from our lives that have gotten sick and have been forced into fundraising for the life-saving care they need. It's called bullsh*t and someone as sweet as Ms S shouldn't have to go through any more of it than she already does. She's worked her whole life and she shouldn't now have to fight for funding for her treatment. She's got enough of a fight on her hands as it is.

I wrote about it yesterday but over the weekend a poll was released confirming that a truly overwhelming majority of Americans now supports substantive healthcare reform and increasing the availability of affordable healthcare. People don't just support the principle, they support the specific policy cure - a government administered public option plan that would compete to lower costs with the existing private insurance industry.

This isn't just Democrats and Independents. Even a majority of Republicans now believe that a public option is the only way to substantially reduce the cost of health insurance. It's not a partisan issue. We're all heartbroken when we have to donate toward someone's life-saving surgery or critical prescription drugs. We want to take care of each other.

In short, we have a national consensus for a public option plan.

Yet, for some reason, the US Senate appears poised to seriously dilute the healthcare reform we need. Our own Senators, David Vitter and Mary Landrieu, have voiced opposition to the public option. This, even though 1 out of 5 Louisianians lack basic health insurance.

In the case of Mary Landrieu, her stated opposition to the public option is an especially tough pill to swallow. She campaigned on a platform favoring healthcare reform. She even specifically pledged to support public option, a promise she has now admitted she's planning to break.

Given the truly staggering bipartisan consensus for the public option, critics - including this one - have questioned whether Senator Landrieu's broken promise can be traced to the $1.6 million she's taken from private healthcare interests and the ties between some of her former staffers and the private insurance lobby.

Landrieu's office has responded that the good Senator doesn't make policy decisions based on campaign donations.

To that I say put your money where your mouth is.

Give back the money you've taken from the private healthcare industry over the years so that the voters of Louisiana can be sure that your stand against working families and the astounding national bipartisan consensus for the public option is derived from a pure conscience.

See also the Daily Kingfish:

NEW ORLEANS, LA.- June 22, 2009 - Today, Louisianans for Real Healthcare Reform called on Louisiana's two senators to return the millions of dollars in campaign donations they have received from the healthcare industry.

Senators Vitter and Landrieu have come under intense criticism for an alleged conflict of interest in their acceptance of millions of dollars in contributions from the health insurance lobby, while at the same time opposing the inclusion of a public option to compete with private health insurance companies as a part of President Obama's plan for healthcare reform.

To remedy this, the group has asked Senator Vitter and Senator Landrieu to return the millions of dollars they have received from the insurance lobby. Zach Hudson, a spokesperson for the group, said that it is the only way for them to maintain credibility if they continue to oppose a public plan.

"Senator Vitter and Senator Landrieu have disappointed the working men and women of Louisiana in their opposition to a public plan that would dramatically lower the cost and increase choice for their constituents' healthcare," he said.

"If it is true what they say, that contributions are not effecting how they vote on healthcare reform, then as an article of faith they should return the money they received from these companies. Only then can they vote with a clear conscience and without any personal or political motivations."

Hudson went on to add that there is still time for the two Senators to change their minds on healthcare reform. "While we obviously have low expectations of Senator Vitter, given his history, Senator Landrieu has a proven track record of fighting and winning for Louisiana's working families. We still have hope that she will continue to stand with them and not with the insurance lobby."

Louisianans for Real Healthcare Reform is a grassroots coalition of activists, bloggers, students, and concerned citizens dedicated to pressuring Louisiana's congressional delegation to support a comprehensive healthcare reform plan that will lower cost and increase choice for the citizens of Louisiana.

We're looking to you, Senator Landrieu, to fight for us and to fight for the passage of real reform including the public option.

Once again, here is how you can get involved:

1. Call Mary Landrieu's offices. Identify yourself as a constituent and tell her you feel betrayed.

Washington D.C.: (202) 224-5824
New Orleans: (504) 589-2427
Baton Rouge: (225) 389-0395
Shreveport: (318) 676-3085
Lake Charles: (337) 436-6650

2. Write a letter to Senators Landrieu and Vitter through the system set up by Dr. Governor Chairman Howard Dean.

3. Sign on to the petition that Change Congress and Karen Gadbois have started.

4. Multiply!!!!! Tell your friends and family to get on board. Hand them your phone and dial up Mary Landrieu for them. Tell them what's going on. Tell them how close we are. We have fallen short too many times on healthcare over the last sixty 60! years to sit idly by and fall short once more. Not when there is such broad-based agreement on what needs to be done. Phone, fax, email, beeper, postal service, telegraph, carrier pigeon, hologram - however you like to send the message - just do it!


MAD said...

Sen. Landrieu's position may be subject to criticism due to these contributions, but that does not delegitimize her opinion on the merits. In other words, she may be right for the wrong reasons. While I do not pretend to yet fully understand healthcare issues, one thing should be clear-that we should not rush into another expensive restructuring of American society without an open and informed dialogue regarding the problems with current healthcare delivery and the options to "solve" the problems, including the no action option. That does not appear to be what we are getting now.

E said...

I'm no policy wonk either but skeptical reading makes this as simple as the difference between night and day.

The 'centrist' reforms being pushed by the likes of Landrieu and Conrad spend a lot of money without reducing costs in the long term and without covering the uninsured. It's costly window dressing under the guise of 'moderate' reform - all political positioning and optics with no real change.

The public option model will create the competition that will provide an affordable option for the uninsured while also reducing the overall drag healthcare represents on the GDP.

If we're going to do healthcare reform, if we're going to invest money in this, let's do it right.