Phone Bank for Healthcare Reform

Our local Organizing for America folks are looking for phone banking volunteers and locations in support of President Obama’s healthcare reform initiative.

Sounds like they particularly could use a few additional locations around the county where they could set up shop for phone banking campaigns. If you have contacts with the businesses or other organizations such as unions that opened up their offices for phone banking during the campaign, please ask them to do it again for this cause.

If you’re wondering why it’s important to phone bank now now, rather than in the heat of a campaign, I did ask that question. Part of it is just about making sure voters are clear about what is being proposed, are on board with it, and are not being distracted by disinformation. You might also have to defend against those in the single payer crowd who are grumbling that Obama’s presentation doesn’t go far enough. (Personally, I’d rather see some kind of positive change rather than holding out for someone’s idea of a more ideologically pure alternative).

Here’s the note I got from OFA organizer Briana O’Sullivan

   Anyone who can host or volunteer for a phone bank here in Broward
would be much appreciated. Right now I am scheduling one for Wednesday
night from 6-8, but any other nights in the week would be fine. I am
also looking at having a phone bank Thursday night around a similar
time. I am open to suggestions, and any locations or resources that
people could offer would be great. We really need to get the word out
on health care reform and bring attention to such an important issue.
All those interested can contact me at 954-821-7592 or e-mail me at
bosullivanOFA@gmail.com.

   Thank you so much,

Briana O'Sullivan

Can OFA Reach Across Party Lines?

I had posted a comment about Organizing for America’s National Health Care Day of Service, and how such service ideas like food and blood drives and victory gardens could help to bring about health care reform in America…. I had my doubts.

I wrote here that I have chosen to participate in a march and rally in North Miami for single payer health care instead of the kind of community service activities suggested by Organizing for America.

I attended not one- but two health care meetings to plan for National Health Care Day of Service- one in North Miami and then another that I had signed up for in Hollywood previously but was held a week later. Since I had already attended one I thought until the last minute that I would skip the Hollywood meeting. Then I and others who had attended the North Miami meeting decided to promote the single payer march and rally to the Hollywood group, ’cause if you’re gonna have a rally, it’s best to have a good turnout!

The Hollywood group thought that some of us could go to the evening rally in North Miami, but we’d have a food drive during the day in Hollywood beforehand. That group has since pretty much fallen apart, however, because the purpose of National Health Care Day of Service was unclear to me and apparently to those who showed up to the meeting.

The host of the Hollywood meeting had emailed her decision that our group would also do a blood drive the week before- and a separate rally in Hollywood- and then a food drive- and then continuing meetings as a “Hollywood Chapter” of OFA- and on and on and on. Those complications led me to make some assumptions about Organizing for America and what it can accomplish.

I then attended a special OFA meeting with just a few other people, however, and was able to meet Craig Borkon and other DNC/OFA staffers one on one. I was very impressed at how personable they all were and willing to listen. They talked about something mentioned at the Listening Tour meeting: reaching across party lines. I realized that reaching those who hold other or even opposing political views as well as those who may be politically apathetic is just as important as it was during the last presidential campaign, and rallying for specific legislation may not always accomplish that.

I decided to give OFA another shot and volunteered at a phone bank yesterday with just a couple of other participants. One of the volunteers also had doubts about how food and blood drives and such were going to make any difference to health care reform, and that volunteer was really frustrated. I had also gotten emails from people agreeing with my doubts, so I could see that I was not alone in my opinion.

But we started calling people, and I could see that just like during the campaign, it’s so important to reach out to people who are more often than not political novices and just remind them that the issue is out there, and that they can pay attention just by getting involved through the website or participating in a local event on the 27th.

Many people do not need to be inundated with the specifics of health care legislation as much as they just need to be made aware that there are still people coming together in their community and welcoming everyone to the cause of bettering things.

So, perhaps if people who are just out shopping or even willingly participating in an event can see community actions such as food and blood drives and other health-related outreaches on the 27th, it might just let them know that the spirit of the Obama for President campaign is still present in their community. Perhaps that will let them know that there are issues out there that we can continuously come together over.

I feel more open-minded about what Organizing for America intends now, and I suspect that they may be open-minded about what participants like me want to see happen.

I recommend that we all remember that effecting change doesn’t just mean sticking to our core values and organizing with the like-minded, but also reaching out carefully and considerately to any and all Americans who just might respond and find a way to participate in effecting change in America.

That’s a slower and more delicate process, but perhaps it has its place.

Perhaps… I don’t know. It’s just a thought.

What do you think?

Terrific Letter to Editor Writing Tool!

Just in case anyone needs to find the tool that gives you access to every online paper ANYWHERE to submit letters to the editor here it is:
Click on the name of the paper and another window opens. Scroll down to “web sites” and click on the paper’s home page. Another window opens and there you are. Just click around until you find where to submit. Sometimes the op/ed submit is obvious and sometimes you have to go to the site map or contact us link of the paper to find it.
You can set it to sort each state by highest circulation or just for dailies or weeklies, etc. Remember that sometimes smaller papers get fewer submissions (and therefore, possibly, a better chance of being chosen) but they still have readership. Just cut & paste your pre-written letter to as many publications as you wish.
Happy writing! Let’s hit as many of them as we can. Maybe a few of us will get published. At the very least the papers will see a number of letters coming in from our side.

Insurance Giant Stats & Other Useful Things

Hi everyone,
I was just reading The Hightower Lowdown Report and ran across some interesting stats. We all know that just a handful of corporate insurance giants control the market (Aetna & United control a third of it) but these numbers are sick (pun intended)!
The American Medical Association’s 2008 study of health-insurance markets in 314 American cities found that 94% are “highly concentrated”.
  • In 56% of our cities, one insurer controls more than half of the group healthcare market
  • In 19% of our cities, one insurer controls 70% of the market
  • In 11 cities, one insurer controls more than 90% of the market
And yet the nit-wits against a public option scream that they want “choice” and they don’t want to have their “healthcare controlled by a bureaucracy”!!! HAAA!!!
On a local level, June 14th’s Miami Herald published, “A study for the Milliman Medical Cost Index found that a Miami area family of four with an employer-based prefered provider organization plan averaged $20,282 in healthcare costs in 2008. That’s 21% higher than the national average. Miami is the first city exceeding the $20,000 mark, the first city to climb so high.”

Then let’s address the uninsured numbers which do not include recipients of Medicaid and the underinsured. Also from the same issue of the Miami Herald, We are #1 in uninsured. Nearly 33% in Dade county and 25% in Broward.

Just thought I pass out that little tid-bit for anyone doing a letter writing campaign or in need of even MORE talking points!

ALSO…..Here’s a list of contact info for some of the national groups fighting for our public healthcare rights:
  • Democracy for America—www.democracyforamerica.com 802-651-3200
  • Health Care for America Now—www.healthcareforamericanow.com 202-654-6200
  • Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care—http://guaranteedhealthcare4all.org
  • Physicians for a National Health Program—www.pnhp.org 312-782-6006
  • Progressive Democrats of America—www.pdamerica.org 877-239-2093
  • Progressive States Network—www.progressivestates.org 212-680-3116
  • Single Payer Action—www.singlepayeraction.org
Tracie

ALSO…..Here’s a list of contact info for some of the national groups fighting for our public healthcare rights:
  • Democracy for America—www.democracyforamerica.com 802-651-3200
  • Health Care for America Now—www.healthcareforamericanow.com 202-654-6200
  • Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care—http://guaranteedhealthcare4all.org
  • Physicians for a National Health Program—www.pnhp.org 312-782-6006
  • Progressive Democrats of America—www.pdamerica.org 877-239-2093
  • Progressive States Network—www.progressivestates.org 212-680-3116
  • Single Payer Action—www.singlepayeraction.org
Tracie

Crist’s “Cover Florida Plan” foreshadow of Co-Op

Below is copied an article from the DailyKos. It foreshadows the useless co-op option Nelson is supporting. In April Blue Cross publicly announced that it would be fighting the public option tooth & nail. No wonder!

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/6/23/172150/659

Florida Blue Cross “Reform?” Sunshine On Crist’s Plan

Tue Jun 23, 2009 at 02:37:28 PM PDT

Today, the Blue Cross Association stated that a Government Plan Option was not required to meet the objectives of reform;

“A government plan option — in any form — is unnecessary to achieve comprehensive reform and would have devastating consequences on the health insurance coverage that employers and individuals currently have, the federal budget deficit and existing provider systems,” the groups said.

Last year, Blue Cross partnered with Governor Charlie Crist of Florida in order in order to provide “comprehensive reform” for individuals and employers in the Sunshine State.

What kind of comprehensive reform did the Republican Governor work out with Blue Cross?

The Sunshine on that plan is below the fold-

Governor Crist is so proud of his Blue Cross plan and reform measures that he is prominently taking credit for it in his new campaign for the Florida Senate Seat. From www.charliecrist.com;

I signed into law a nationally recognized, market-based health care program to provide low cost health insurance for nearly four million uninsured Floridians.

Remember, those words because here is the Republican Governor’s Prescription;

During the 2008 legislative session, my administration worked with legislators of both parties to secure unanimous approval of the Cover Florida Health Care Access Program. This legislation makes affordable health coverage available to 3.8 million uninsured Floridians through a comprehensive market-based strategy.

Just how is that “comprehensive market based strategy” in statewide partnership with Blue Cross working for the average Floridian?

When Richard Browne checked into the plan, he found it too expensive. For men ages 50 to 59, the monthly catastrophic coverage costs $363 to $463.

“I’m not sure who it’s supposed to be affordable for, but it’s not affordable for me,” he said.

But you may be thinking Richard Browne could end up using a lot of benefits, right? Well the Blue Cross plan has an annual maximum of $25,000 in benefits with a lifetime maximum of $50,000. So the above Floridian will pay $5,556 a year for a possible single year benefit of $25,000.

Please, go to the Cover Florida website and check out the Republican Blue Cross solution, it is an eye opener. (You can use zip code 32803 in Orange County, FL to get quotes)

Charlie Crists prescription was to provide health coverage for “3.8 million uninsured Floridians.”

Someone needs to ask Charlie why only 1,716 uninsured Floridians have signed up for his “nationally recognized, market-based health care program.”

Blue Cross should be ashamed what it did to Floridians in the guise of reform. That is why a Government Option is needed to keep everybody honest.

Florida is called the Sunshine State, it is time for Daily Kos to bring sunshine to Charlie Crist’s Blue Cross option and show it to the rest of America.

Tags: health care blue cross (all tags

Went in to Sen. Nelson’s office Tues.

Hey everyone,
I ended up going to the West Palm office today instead of Broward’s. Michelle McGovern, Senator Nelson’s Regional Director (7 counties) was there taking time to talk individually to each of us as we came in. I just thought I would let everyone know that didn’t either make it in or have a chance to talk with her that currently Nelson is off of the “insurance exchange” theory of insuring the public and is now supporting the equally pointless theory of “co-ops”. Specifically, each state individually setting up and funding it’s own little co-op to “compete” with Big Insurance. This is direct from Michelle McGovern today in his office.
Here is a link to a piece from CBS News on Senator Conrad’s co-op option. I must stress that while reading how ineffectual co-ops are and the author’s more positive opinion on a national co-op, that Senator Nelson is not supporting a national co-op, but the theory of each state setting up and funding their own with some “start-up” money from the federal government and then being funded in perpetuity by the residents/participants in each individual state on their own. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/06/15/opinion/main5089662.shtml
This idiotic notion is gaining serious traction with conservative and blue dog democrats trying to claim that this would be the “uniquely American” solution to the nation’s need for public insurance. This is NOT a solution of any sort but another way to try and shut us up while making sure Big Insurance continues on it’s merry way. This is absolutely NOT what people (81% of the population as of yesterday) mean when they say we need a real public option. 50 little baby state insurance companies trying to “compete” with Big Insurance in 50 different states. That’ll for sure teach Big Insurance to play fair! BRILLIANT!! Sounds Republican to me in it’s level of brilliance!
So, in light of this here’s some contact info, do with it as you will…..
Gene Schlesinger, Nelson’s chief in DC: gene_schlesinger@billnelson.senate.gov 202-224-5274
Michelle McGovern, Regional Director: michelle_mcgovern@billnelson.senate.gov 561-514-0189
Also, Senator Nelson’s on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SenBillNelson
Also, I think Michelle will be in the Broward office tomorrow (6-24).
Have a great evening,
Tracie

Barack the Superhero

I do have a little bit of a point in posting this, aside from the fact that it’s fun to watch (my kids like the wiggly ears).

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Obama is a good guy, and we did something right by getting him elected. But his superpowers do not necessarily include making all opposition and and selfish interests go away. Support him, and push for the policies you think are important by all means. But don’t be surprised to see evidence of some human limits.

Release the photos – all of them.

Why the torture photos must be released.

One thing that President Obama campaigned on was a commitment to transparency. He was unequivocal about that; his performance in office has not been. He has adopted the Bush usage of the state secrets privilege to squelch court cases around and thus to protect illegal wiretapping. He has maintained the Bush position to the British government that if a court there does release information about a tortured detainee, then we would not share intelligence as freely with them as in the past. And now he is pushing Senators Graham and Lieberman and other legislators to make illegal the release of photos of prisoners who were tortured by the Bush administration, photos whose release the ACLU has already won in court.

Today there was a vote in the House instructing the conferees on the War Supplemental to reinstate the Graham-Lieberman amendment, the House version of which was stripped out a few days ago. Sure, “instructing” is non-binding. Nevertheless I was disappointed to learn that Representative Wexler was one of 95 Democrats who voted in favor and that the measure passed. The following is the letter I wrote him this evening:

I just learned that you voted to instruct conferees on the Iraq War Supplemental to restore the amendment that would prohibit disclosure of photos of the torture of detainees by the Bush administration. That was the wrong thing to do.

We the American people need those materials to come out, all of them, if we are to have a chance to prevent that kind of thing from happening again. We need to make it impossible for people to think that they can do those things and have them never see the light of day. I, for one, do not want to be “protected” by people who think they have a right or obligation to torture. They are not protecting me; they are endangering me.

I do not for a second believe that the goal of the Graham-Lieberman amendment is to prevent Muslims from having access to the photos. Not by a long shot. Muslims know what we did to them. Certainly those we tortured and everyone within at least three or four degrees of separation knows what we did to them. That is already a great many people. No, they already know, and if they were going to be radicalized, they already are, and not by photos but by what we did to them.

No, the goal is not to prevent Muslims from seeing those photos. The goal is to prevent Americans from seeing them in order to preserve the government’s option to torture. Let me say that again: the goal of that amendment is to preserve a space for torture. Keeping Americans as ignorant as possible about what we did is essential to that objective.

Suppressing those photos and any other such materials is wrong, against Geneva, and unAmerican. We must have full disclosure now in order to establish the credible threat of full disclosure going forward. Why? Because the force and fear of public knowledge of such inhumanity is the only thing that stands a chance of preventing the repetition of that heinous part of our history. The mere illegality of torture, specious made-to-order legal rationalizations aside, did not prevent it. No, we must have full disclosure now and in the future. It is the only way to ensure that such actions are not repeated. If they are then repeated in the certain knowledge that they will see the light of day, at least we will know what we have become, and it will not be Americans.

==================================

Subsequent to my post I learned that the Court of Appeals had granted the Obama administration’s petition to block the release of the photos pending review by the Supreme Court. Thereafter Obama released a letter separating himself from the amendment. I’m not persuaded that the letter signals much difference from my characterization above.

For the letter, see http://campaignsilo.firedoglake.com/2009/06/11/obama-writes-letter-opposing-graham-lieberman/.

Democrats for State Offices

Thanks to Phil Busey for this summary:

State Senator Dave Aronberg has filed to run for Florida Attorney General (web site link below). This appears to be the first time since at least 1970 (ignoring 1988 which was unusual because only Secretary of State and Treasurer appear to have been elected) in which all cabinet races have been free of incumbents:

U.S. Senate:
Tyrone K. Brown, Sr. (DEM), Pastor, Cathedral of Faith Ministries in Daytona Beach
Kevin Burns
(DEM), Mayor, City of North Miami Beach
Kendrick B. Meek
(DEM), Congressman, 17th Congressional District of Florida

Governor:
Joe Allen
Michael E. Arth (DEM)
Mark Shepard (DEM)
Alex Sink (DEM), Chief Financial Officer, State of Florida

Attorney General:
Dave Aronberg (DEM)

Chief Financial Officer:
(no Democrats yet)

Commissioner of Agriculture:
Eric Draper (DEM)
Randy Hatch (DEM)
O. R. (Rick) Minton, Jr. (DEM)

Webmaster’s note: None of these folks has so far posted a campaign listing on BlueBroward. All are welcome to. All it costs is a blurb and maybe a local campaign contact. Free publicity. Doesn’t anybody like free?

As the Bare Naked Ladies sing it, “Can’t even give this suff away, why would I sell it?”

Disorganizing for America?

According to the Organizing for America website (the post-campaign incarnation of my.barackobama.com), there are supposed to be two “Listening Tour” events tonight in Broward County, one in Tamarac and another in Pembroke Pines. They’re supposed to be happening just five hours from when I’m writing this, but both are listed as location TBD. One of these events had already been scheduled and then canceled (at the very last minute) for Tamarac a couple of weeks ago. I suspect both of tonight’s events tonight are going to be canceled as well, even though 212 people are shown as having signed up for one of these and 119 for the other. (Update: The appointed time came and went, and still no revision to the event listings or communication from OforO).

I’ve been trying to find out what was going on so I could share that information. On Monday, a staffer wrote back apologizing, saying that the two events were going to be combined, and that the location for the combined event would be announced soon.

Then, nothing.

This is sad because superior organization was supposed to be what made the Obama campaign special, and Organizing for America was supposed to have inherited some of that special sauce. I’m sure there’s some excuse, and no I’m not perfect either.

But it does annoy me to see organizations that really need help from volunteers treating them shabbily by failing to show respect for their time.