The other day, a former neighbor came by to visit. At one point she complained that, having just signed up for Medicare, she feared the Medicare changes in health care reform plans.  Well, the reform does not threaten Medicare. Medicare changes are not the thrust of these reforms.  Medicare's funding problems have to be addressed separate from current reform plans.

Putting aside drummed up fears like "death panels". what's not to like about health care reform? Certainly, there is the cost of insuring the uninsured, but most Americans are in favor of righting this wrong. (and we're paying a lot for their health care as it is).  President Obama  wants to eliminate pre-existing conditions limitations, prevent denials when illness occurs, help preserve insurance when jobs are lost, and reduce costs for the benefit of businesses and individuals.  It's all good stuff.

Then there is the public option. This is not government take over or socialism; it is a public insurance option, to operate like Medicare.  At the outset, this option is necessary because we will have to subsidize some of the currently uninsured; and so we want a lower cost alternative. Longer term this government insurance operation will help keep private insurers competitive and can better negotiate with providers to reduce the overall cost of health care.

Everyone agrees that our health care system is broken and presents an unsustainable burden on our society. Now is the time for President Obama and the Democrats to bring the change  voted for last November.


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New DNC Ad - The GOP Is No Friend of Seniors

The Democratic National Committee is firing back with a new ad aiming to dispel some of the misconceptions and flat out lies that various Republican politicians are peddling in this current debate over healthcare reform. The ad, entitled Republicans Want to End Medicare, will air on cable nationwide as well as on commercial television in the Washington DC market. The ad has actually been tailored to target various GOP members of Congress who in the past voted against Medicare including House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, Representative Don Young of Alaska, Representative Jean Schmidt of Ohio, Representative Mary Bono Mack of California and Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota among others. Each ad is a 30 second spot.

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The generational battle over health care reform

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

The debate over comprehensive health care has made pollsters and others view health care politics in the larger context of generational change and the desire to use government to help people.  A look at generational attitudes suggests America is in a transitional phase in its approach to government.

Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center, in an analysis on the Pew website, recently argued that if Medicare was proposed for the first time this year, it would probably not pass the Congress because of public opposition to such a large government program.

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Weekly Pulse: Healthcare Reform After Kennedy

By Lindsay Beyerstein, TPM MediaWire Blogger

One of healthcare reform's greatest champions died last night. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 77. During his 46-year career in the senate, Kennedy's name appeared on virtually every major piece of progressive legislation from civil rights to economic justice, to healthcare. Kennedy called healthcare reform "the cause of my life."

Jack Newfield of The Nation remembers Kennedy as the senate's fighting liberal, the "best and most effective senator of the past hundred years."

James Ridgeway of Mother Joneslaments:

We are left with weak, squabbling, visionless Democratic puppets and a President whose domestic reform policies are adrift--sliding towards the horizon with each passing day.

The loss is a blow to healthcare reform. Alex Koppelman of Salon notes that with Kennedy's passing, the Democrats have lost one of their most effective bipartisan deal-makers. Democrats will also be down a vote in the senate for the foreseeable future because Massachusetts state law doesn't allow for the appointment of an immediate replacement.

Naturally, with congress on vacation, wackos are rushing in to fill the media vacuum. Eric Boehlert asks in AlterNet why Republicans the only ones allowed to get angry about healthcare reform, or anything else. He notes that in 2003, the media decided that Howard Dean was too angry for prime time. During the Republican National Convention in 2008, SWAT teams were sent to raid the homes of suspected anarchist protesters. And yet, conservative demonstrators in Arizona are allowed to tote rifles just outside the security perimeter of a presidential event.

RNC Chair Michael Steele raised eyebrows by championing single-payer healthcare in an op/ed in the Washington Post framing the GOP as defenders of Medicare.

Odd that Steele has so much love for Medicare, but none for the nation's other leading source of government-run healthcare, the Veterans Administration (VA). This week, Steele accused America's other leading public insurance provider of encouraging veterans to commit suicide, based on a booklet published by the VA which explains living wills, advanced directives and other key concepts in end-of-life care, Rachel Slajda reports for TPM DC.

Progressives have been doing a great job debunking the death panel and death book myths, like this creative photo essay from TPM.  But we're scarcely addressing  the misconception that underlies them: The idea government-administered health insurance is inherently more prone to rationing than private health insurance.

Newt Gingrich and other prominent opponents of reform claim that a public option will restrict choices and deny care. What they don't say is that for-profit insurance is rationing. When your insurance company covers an old drug for your condition, but not a new one with fewer side effects, that's rationing. The company is restricting your treatment choices to improve its bottom line. When an employer or an insurer decides not to cover mental health care, that's rationing. The entire business model is predicated on charging people more and giving them less care so there's more money left over for the stockholders.

No health insurance can cover every treatment, no matter who runs it. But public insurance has two major advantages: 1) Public insurance tends to be cheaper to administer; 2) The tough choices about what to cover are ultimately in the hands of the voters, not health insurance bureaucrats with an eye on the bottom line.

The whole town hall concept is turning out to be a strategic blunder for the White House. The format makes legislators and the media sitting ducks for extremists and astroturfers who want to paint themselves as typical citizens. As Sandy Heierbacher of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation writes in YES Magazine:

[T]he town hall design sets the stage for activist groups and special interest groups to try to 'game' the system and sideline other concerned citizens in the process. As Martin Carcasson, director of Colorado State University's Center for Public Deliberation, recently pointed out, "the loudest voices are the ones that get heard, and typically the majority voices in the middle don't even show up because it becomes a shouting match."

How much more clear can the Republicans be? They are not interested in bipartisanship. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), supposedly the Senate's leading reasonable Republican on healthcare, couldn't even be bothered to rebuke a town hall participant who hinted about assassinating the president, as Raw Story reports.

If the Democrats want healthcare reform, they are going to have to go it alone. Let's hope they pass a bill that would make Sen. Kennedy proud.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about healthcare and is free to reprint. Visit for a complete list of articles on healthcare affordability, healthcare laws, and healthcare controversy. For the best progressive reporting on the Economy, and Immigration, check out and

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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Casey/Obama at the bat: Swing for Medicare Plus

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

After two weeks in New York City as a health care consumer (spine surgery) - rather than an observer of public opinion on health care - I have returned home to Washington, D.C. thinking of Casey Stengel when he managed the interesting New York Mets in 1962. On a particularly exasperating day, Stengel slid his baseball cap back, scratched his head and bellowed: "Doesn't anybody here know how to play this game?"

If Casey was a political consultant in Washington today, he might look at what is going on regarding health care and ask four questions:

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