HCAN! New York

Archive for May, 2009

My Health Care Story

Posted on May 26th, 2009 by David Vigoda in Uncategorized

I am among the fortunate: My family can afford its health insurance premiums and none of us has been seriously sick or injured. So I have not personally shared the agony of those who cannot afford to pay for the health care they need or have been cruelly denied coverage by the insurance policies they pay for. My commitment to quality affordable health care for all is on behalf of all of us.

When Senator Obama received the nomination for president, I looked in the mirror and asked myself how I would feel if he lost the election and I hadn’t done my part to elect him. So I started working in his campaign. After he was elected, I looked in the mirror again and asked myself how I would feel if I didn’t help bring about the change for which he was elected. I picked the issue about which I felt most strongly and started working on health care reform.

As a result, I have talked to lots of people, and many of them have spoken to me of their struggles to get proper health care for themselves, for their children, for their parents. Many of them are not well off financially, but plenty of them are. Yet, even with so-called good policies, they are denied coverage. Or they lost their coverage when they lost their job. Or, with premiums rising so much faster than their income, they worry some day soon they won’t be able to find the money.

I know any of those stories could become mine. Some day I could look in the mirror and see a haggard face. If that day comes, I don’t want to have to admit that, when I had the chance to help cure our sick health care system, I passed it up.

Our Secret Allies

Posted on May 19th, 2009 by David Vigoda in Uncategorized

I’ve been wondering why the campaign for health care reform has found so much support in Congress for a public health insurance plan and much better private insurance. I don’t know about you, but I’m not used to that.

I certainly don’t want to take anything away from Health Care for America Now (HCAN), which is proving to be a very well thought out and executed national grassroots campaign. It’s just that I have trouble believing that any grassroots campaign that takes on the powerful interests working against it could win so much support in so short a time.

I think I found the answer. It’s on page 23 of the May 18 issue of Business Week magazine. “‘CEOs overwhelmingly want out of this business [of offering health insurance benefits],’ says Benjamin Sasse, an Assistant Secretary of Health & Human Services under President George W. Bush…” In other words, not all the powerful interests are working against us. Some are secretly on our side.

Is this really true? Is big business really one of our strongest allies, albeit a silent partner? That’s what Catherine Arnst argues in Business Week. “Health reform experts say many CEOs would secretly love the federal government to take on the burden—and some don’t bother to hide it.” We could be forgiven for not noticing. If you go to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce web site, for example, you’ll find plenty of reform-friendly talk, all right, but not real reform. I guess that’s what makes it secret. It’s also possible the Chamber of Commerce is as out of touch with its constituents as the Republican Party.

That’s the claim of former Assistant Secretary Sasse. He says “many CEOs he has talked with would even pay a new tax if it got them out of the insurance business.” And according to Business Week, “although insurance companies hate the idea (of a new, federally funded insurer), opposition from other businesses has been muted.” Why? Len Nichols, director of health policy at the New America Foundation, a think tank, says it’s because “CEOs know high health care costs put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage.”

I think this explains why so many members of Congress are throwing their arms around HCAN’s proposals that preserve choice of coverage while turning a cold shoulder to the ‘single payer’ folks, who have been working diligently for a single government health plan that would eliminate private insurance: ‘Single payer’ is too big a pill for business to swallow.

So this begs the question, “How happy are we to have big business for an ally?” Are our interests completely aligned, or are we likely to find important differences as the details of reform are worked out in Congress?

How concerned is business that employees lose coverage when they leave the company? Or that people who don’t work for the company are uninsured? Or that their employees are paying more and more for less and less?

The ‘bottom line’ (as business has taught us to say) is that the grassroots campaign for reform can’t let up for a moment. We have to do everything we can to reach out to more and more people, to make sure no one in Congress ‘forgets’ what we want: quality affordable health care for all. That includes a strong public health insurance plan.

If you’re reading this and you haven’t signed up yet—top right of your screen—to let Congress know what you want, don’t be surprised if you don’t get it.

Help wanted. No experience necessary.

Posted on May 13th, 2009 by David Vigoda in Uncategorized

If you want quality affordable health care for all, we need your help now.

I’ve been saying the campaign is heating up. Well, it’s hot now. The insurance lobby is all over Congress, trying to water down reform (they know they can’t kill it, not this time) and the first TV ads have started appearing, the ones that spread lies and say, “We’re for reform, just not this reform.”

If we’re going to win this fight, we have to be in it. Our counter-ads have also started appearing, but that’s not enough: We need to match their people talking to Congress with our people talking to Congress. Guess who ‘our people’ are?

This is a grassroots campaign. We don’t have hotshot lobbyists or a massive PR staff. We depend on the millions of people like you who want to win, but haven’t yet joined the fight.

Now is the time, because we’re at the stage when hearings are ending and bill-writing begins. What goes in the bill decides what kind of reform we get. How affordable? How comprehensive? A strong public plan for all, or a dumping ground for the poor and the sick the insurance companies don’t want to cover?

When hired guns take aim at Senator Schumer or one of the many other Congress members who have come out in favor of a public health insurance plan, we need people to tell them, “You did the right thing.” If we see our Congress member buckle under industry pressure, we need to get in there and stiffen their backs.

We need people—lots of people—who will commit to a rapid response team. So when the word goes out for phone calls or emails or letters to members of Congress, thousands of people will respond… before it’s too late.

Please join the rapid response team now. If you’re in New York, I need to hear from you. If you’re from another state, you can still contact me and I’ll forward your information.

You can send email to dvigoda@citizenactionny.org or leave a message for me anytime at (518) 453-0890. We need your name, phone number, email address, and P.O. address.

I know that most Americans want quality affordable health care for all this year. And I know lots of them are joining the campaign. But I also know lots of people want it, but haven’t yet done anything to get it.

The president cannot do this on his own. Congress cannot withstand the corporations unless we apply our own pressure. You know how much you care about this. You know how much better you’ll feel when you do your part. Please don’t put this off. Contact me now.

You can send email to dvigoda@citizenactionny.org or leave a message for me anytime at (518) 453-0890.  We need your name, phone number, email address, and P.O. address.

Who’s against quality affordable health care?

Posted on May 12th, 2009 by David Vigoda in Uncategorized

At the Albany (NY) Tulip Festival, 182 people in 3 hours signed a Health Care for America Now (HCAN) card to support quality affordable health care for all in 2009. That’s impressive, because, with so many activities, people are distracted—and no one’s there to think about health care.

Almost half of them volunteered to contact members of Congress or take some other action. That’s even more impressive. Clearly, a lot of people, maybe most, are concerned about health care and support the reforms we’re working for.

The card-signers supported four goals: (1) Coverage you can afford. (2) Comprehensive benefits you can count on. (3) Choice of private or public health insurance plan. (4) Equal access to quality care. What’s not to like?

Well, some people were opposed to any government involvement in health care. Others wanted to eliminate private insurance so only the government would be involved. HCAN offers a compromise. To the first group we say, “You want to keep private insurance? Go and be well. We’ll just make sure you won’t lose coverage if you have a pre-existing condition, change jobs, lose your job, or can’t afford it.” To the second group we say, “You want a strong public health insurance plan, here it is.”

The amazing response we got at the Tulip Festival proves that this is a plan America wants. But what everyone needs to realize is that the big decisions are shaping up in Congress right now. If you want your voice to be heard, you need to talk to your members of Congress now.

HCAN makes that easy. They tell you what’s happening and why you need to respond. They give you phone numbers, email addresses, talking points… All you need to do is join the campaign. Upper right of your screen.

Unbelievable! We’re winning.

Posted on May 7th, 2009 by David Vigoda in Uncategorized

“The battle for health care reform has intensified, with an actual plan beginning to materialize and key interest and political groups gearing up for a once-in-a-generation legislative fight.” That’s how the Huffington Post (May 6) starts a pretty bland article about the current developments in the health care reform campaign, which are actually pretty dramatic. Consider:

Senator Schumer, whose position on health care reform has been uncertain, appears to be emerging as a proponent of a strong public health insurance plan—which he is calling “Plan USA.” That’s lucky, because Senator Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which is taking the lead in the Senate on developing health care reform legislation, has reportedly charged Schumer with developing a public plan.

And that’s important, because Schumer is, what, the third ranking Democrat in the Senate?

He had some juicy comments to make on the subject. You can read them in Ezra Klein’s blog on The American Prospect. http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=05&year=2009&base_name=schumer_defends_the_public_pla Go, Chuck!

But here’s the deal: You can’t afford to sit on your you know what and use your favorite hand-held, lap-top, desk-top, or in-front-of-the-couch device to watch the Chuck Schumer show. Because, if that’s all you do, you may be bitterly disappointed to see how the series develops.

You—yeah, you—and me too, and all the rest of us who want real health care reform this year, we need to let Congress know that we want quality affordable health care for all. It’s so easy to do. Once you sign up for the campaign, the brilliant staffers at Health Care for America Now will walk you through the whole thing. Quick and easy.

Why not do it now? I’ll wait here till you return. Upper right of the screen.

Okay, now that you’ve joined the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are involved in the campaign, check out this other dramatic development: The medical insurance industry is begging to be more heavily regulated. Don’t believe me? Check it out: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/06/us/politics/06insure.html?_r=1&ref=us

Once again, though, we can’t afford to be complacent. The anti-reformers are doing everything they can think of to defeat—or at least gut—Plan USA, and one thing they can do is offer to give up some ground. An offer they can later withdraw.

So here’s your second choice to join the campaign. (Did you really think you’d fooled me?) Go ahead, upper right of your screen. You know you’ll feel better when you do.

Because you know what’s best about this campaign? We’re winning. When was the last time that happened? Oh, right, when Obama was elected. Before that, I mean.

Binghamton Thanks Senators for Supporting Public Option

Posted on May 6th, 2009 by Charlie Albanetti in Uncategorized

Yesterday Citizen Action of the Southern Tier and Health Care for America Now coalition members rallied in Binghamton to thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their support of a public health care option.

Click here to see the original story.