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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.

Organizing for America’s Idea of “Change”

Real change in health care comes from changes in the law, not a patchwork of temporary fixes.

The Obama campaign changed its name after the election… from Obama for America to “Organizing for America.” Its intent was to continue the momentum of the campaign by getting Americans involved, but Organizing for America does not, in fact, state a specific agenda that we should be involved in.

Organizing for America is a project of the Democratic National Committee. OFA is promoting National Health Care Day of Service, and I recently attended two health care reform meetings promoted through OFA. One was hosted by Dianne Zeller, who named her group Organizing for America, Hollywood Chapter. That meeting was held on June 13th, a week after OFA had suggested that meetings be held to discuss health care reform across the country. The first such meeting I attended had been the week prior on June 6th, which was when health care reform meetings were suggested by OFA. That meeting was hosted by Sandy Davies, a chapter head in North Miami for Progressive Democrats of America. The two health care reform meetings discussed the same agenda, but both took different approaches to reforming health care.

OFA has provided an agenda for those meetings in order to plan for National Health Care Day of Service on June 27th. It suggested community service efforts like contributing to a food bank, organizing a blood drive or starting a “victory garden.” Such efforts were discussed at the Hollywood meeting, and it was suggested that a food drive could be organized in Hollywood that could also promote what the North Miami meeting had proposed: a march and rally to support single payer health care and House Bill 676- enhancing Medicare for all Americans.

Since that meeting, however, Dianne Zeller has communicated her intent to either hold her own rally on the 27th, which she then said was not feasible, or hold food and blood drives before and after the 27th. While the North Miami meeting has planned on a National Health Care Day of Service effort that specifically promotes legislation that will reform health care and is supported by Progressive Democrats of America, the Hollywood meeting’s plan is specifically along the lines of what is suggested by Organizing for America in regards to a local charity effort.

I also attended an Organizing for America Listening Tour event in Plantation last night. The agenda there was very non-specific, and did not target any specific legislation that has been proposed in Congress. Their intent was to ensure that members of the community “support the President.” While the dialogue from the two employees of OFA was akin to corporate-speak, the dialogue from much of the audience in attendance was unsurprisingly angry and more determined to see legislative change that would benefit individual Americans rather than just huge corporations. Not only was that dichotomy evident, but the OFA representatives voiced their belief that food and blood drives and similar community efforts across the country on the 27th would get huge national attention for health care reform.

Patching the immediate problems in regards to lack of food or the need for stockpiles of blood, let alone feel-good efforts like starting a garden are vital ways of building a sense of community and helping others, but they are continuous efforts that Americans can always get involved in every day. Targeting specific legislation that is on the table in Congress right now is what really leads to reforming health care for all Americans. Progressive Democrats of America’s intent to promote legislation rather than do something like a local food drive is evidenced by the North Miami’s choice to march and rally for single payer health care.

Some of us who attended the Hollywood meeting had expected that we would hold a food drive during the day on the 27th in Hollywood that could promote the march and rally for single payer health care that evening in North Miami, but Dianne Zeller is apparently resistant to that effort. I think that Dianne’s approach is emblematic of what Organizing for America is lacking in really effecting change in America.

Change doesn’t come from promoting the continuation of a patchwork of community efforts to feed the hungry and bank pints of blood and start neighborhood gardens. Change comes from legislation that involves the heft and financing of the government to solve social problems, not a patchwork of community volunteers constantly trying to fix small and immediate problems that never end.

I was extremely disappointed in last night’s OFA Listening Tour meeting. OFA has thus far organized volunteers to ask other Americans to “sign a pledge” to support the President. Pledging support does not achieve what the last Presidential campaign was able to accomplish: getting needed votes.

Until the next election, we need votes not of “support” from Americans for an ethereal agenda of “affordable insurance premiums” and “quality health care” and “expanding coverage” as promised by OFA employees last night, but votes for legislation from our Congressional representatives. Small neighborhood food and blood drives will not promote specific legislation in Congress, and real change in health care comes from changes in the law, not a patchwork of temporary fixes.

Like many people I spoke to at the Listening Tour meeting last night, Organizing for American completely failed to inspire me to do anything that will effect change in America. I’ll stick with the very specific agenda of Progressive Democrats of America. On National Health Care Day of Service, I’ll be marching and rallying with members of North Miami’s Progressive Democrats of America to show my support and encourage the support of other Americans in the community for HR-676 or similar legislation that will effect real and tangible health care reform in the United States of America.

I expect that as time goes on, we’ll have a nearby PDA chapter in Broward County, too, and members will be coordinating efforts with PDA across the country to effect real, tangible legislative change and get more progressives elected in Washington and throughout the country. Right now, in these next few weeks and on National Health Care Day of Service, we need health care reform across America, not just temporary patches in our neighborhoods.

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/.

New Meeting / Events Editor, RSVP Function

I have just updated the form for posting events to the BlueBroward Calendar to feature a more user friendly “rich text editor,” which means it should be easier for folks to add links, as well as bold and italic text and other effects to their calendar entries. Like anything technical that’s new, it may have some bugs to be worked out, so just yell if you run into problems. (I did test it first, honest, but it may turn out I’ve missed something).

The main thing that’s new is this rich text editor, which is courtesy of a user interface library developed by Yahoo. The button you use to add a link looks like a link in a chain, and most of the other buttons should be fairly self-explanatory.

The new editor provides rich text editing options
The new editor provides rich text editing options

If you are going to be posting meetings regularly for a Democratic Club or campaign, I ask you to set up an event template for that organization and associate all events for that club or campaign with that template. For a club, the template is the boilerplate information about your club, where it meets, and what its regular schedule is. When you post a new event, that information will be filled in by default. You can add other details, and you can always post an event for a different date or location, but associating all events with the record for your organization in the database helps keep things organized. Your organization can also designate multiple people with rights to post and edit events, so that you can back each other up.

The function for editing the club/organization template used to be down at the bottom of the screen. Now, you click on the button on the right hand sign of the screen that says “Switch to Template Editor” and the options will change from asking you to pick a specific date to picking a schedule such as “First Tuesday” (can also be “Varies Month to Month” if you don’t have a regular schedule).

For campaigns, the campaign profile functions as the event template. Again, multiple people can be designated with rights to edit the campaign profile and post / edit events on behalf of the campaign.

If you want to collect RSVPs through BlueBroward, you can now do so. Note that this is an option: if you use some other service such as Meetup to help you organize events, I’m not going to force you to use my RSVP setup. Instead, you can just link to the page for your event on Meetup.

On the other hand, I know some of you have gotten away from using Meetup because of the fees they charge, and for some of you it may be simpler to handle RSVPs for a Democratic event through BlueBroward. To turn on that feature, you must supply an email address where notifications can be sent as RSVPs come in.

You can also add some instructions for how you want the form filled out by attendees. By default, the RSVP form asks for name, phone number, and email address, but there’s also a space for people to provide other information. For example, you might want to ask people to tell you what they will be bringing for a pot luck dinner. Or you might have specific information you have to supply for the security detail at a presidential visit.

Along with the instructions, you can add a confirmation message to be displayed after the RSVP is entered. This information will also be included in an email confirmation that goes to the attendee. For example, if there is a charge for event, you might want to include reminders about the pricing and where checks should be mailed.

The RSVP fields aren’t displayed when you first open the web page that includes the form. They will appear when you click the link “Click to Set RSVP options”

How to display the RSVP options
How to display the RSVP options

I wouldn’t suggest asking for RSVPs for every monthly meeting of a Democratic Club, but rather for special events for which it would be helpful to get a good headcount.

When you set a request for RSVPs, a link to the RSVP page for your event will be displayed as part of your event listing on the BlueBroward Calendar. Users who click on that link will be taken to a page like the one below.

Entering an RSVP
Entering an RSVP

When someone completes the form, an email will be sent to the email address you supplied (by default, the one associated with your account, although you can provide a different email if you prefer). A list of the people who have responded will also be displayed on your MyPage Menu page.

None of this is carved in stone, so let me know if you run into something that doesn’t work the way it ought to.

March & Rally for Single Payer Healthcare in North Miami June 27th

Organizing for America asked Americans to gather together on June 6th to discuss health care reform.

Progressive Democrats of North Miami Dade had a productive meeting that evening in North Miami Beach, which included attendees from Broward because there is not yet a PDA chapter here.

A march and rally supporting single payer health care was planned for a couple of weeks from now. Here is the summary of the meeting and that plan:

We had a great meeting with a lot of personal stories about the inequities, absurdities and tragedies of the U.S. for-profit medical industry, and some good analysis of the underlying political and economic culture of exploitation, corruption and inhumanity that has produced this terrible mess.

More importantly, we developed a plan of action to build support in our local community for a national, not-for profit, publicly-funded healthcare system.

Our work will climax in a March and Rally for Single Payer Healthcare on Saturday June 27th in North Miami. Here is the tentative plan. Please let me know asap if you have suggestions for changes to this plan:

– We will gather in Griffing Park in North Miami at 5 p.m. (West Dixie and NE 122nd Street).
– We will march up West Dixie Highway to NE 125th Street, and then along NE 125th Street to MOCA Plaza (before NE 8th Avenue).
– At the major intersection at NE 6th Avenue, we can pause for a honk-and-wave and to distribute flyers.
– We will hold a rally in MOCA Plaza at 6 p.m. with several speakers.

Between now and then:

* We will each write to and call our elected representatives in Congress to tell them that we support HR676 and S703. We will ask Representative Meek, who has co-sponsored HR676, to take a real leadership role on this issue. We will ask Representative Wasserman Schultz and Senator Nelson to reject plans to expand the corporate for-profit medical industry and instead sign on to HR676 and S703.

* We will each spread the word through our own contact networks, by phone, e-mail and text-messaging. Our goal is to activate others to join the single payer movement and do all the things20that we are doing. We recognize that this is a “viral” movement that is taking over the country via word-of-mouth and the internet, so we will maximize these strategies.

* And we will stay in touch with each other to organize door-to-door canvassing, leafleting in public places20and other activities. If you want to do some canvassing or leafletting at a particular place and time, let the rest of us know and hopefully you won’t be out there alone – this sort of work is easier and more fun that way. We will work as a democratic group and share initiatives and ideas with each other.

Here are some online resources that should be helpful:

PDA web site: www.pdamerica.org

To order FREE Healthcare not Warfare flyers (you only pay for the postage):
www.pdamerica.org/pdastore/index.php?act=viewProd&product Id=139

Physicians for a National Health Program web site (lots of good resources and info): www.pnhp.org

The Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Healthcare (National Nurses Organizing Committee and California Nurses Association): www.guaranteedhealthcare.org

PDA board member David Swanson sends out concise and informative action alerts on healthcare and warfare issues. You can sign up at: www.afterdowningstreet.org

David’s web site currently has a link to the House Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee hearing on Single Payer Healthcare at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, hopefully with a video feed when the time comes.

For further information about the Progressive Democrats of America North Miami-Dade Chapter and the July 27th March & Rally, contact:

Sandy Davies
Progressive Democrats of North Miami Dade
peacetopower@aol.com

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.