HCAN! New York

If you want real health care reform, you need to join the campaign ASAP.

Posted on March 31st, 2009 by David Vigoda

Ask people if they want health care reform and you get an overwhelming yes vote. Ask them about specific features and consensus breaks down. People get confused by the complexities of our current system and they also can be confused by how reforms are worded. Wording can be ‘loaded’ with subtle and not so subtle innuendo.

And doesn’t the medical insurance lobby know it. That’s why it’s so important for everyone who wants real health care reform to help achieve it.

I’m confident we’re going to win big this year, I really am. But I also know it’s going to be a tough fight. Two recent articles in the Wall Street Journal highlight what I’m talking about.

A straw poll (not ‘scientifically’ designed) [ http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2009/03/24/should-congress-create-a-government-run-health-plan/ ] that drew 5,550 responses produced this result: 27% “definitely” want a government plan to compete with private health insurance, while 64% say “no way.” Sounds bad for reform, since a public health insurance plan is a key feature. But take a closer look.

The question was this: “Should Congress create a GOVERNMENT-RUN health plan to compete with private insurance?” To most people, “government run” conjures images of the government getting in the way of your health care, restricting your choices, denying you treatment. Yet practically no one thinks of Medicare this way.

Had they used the phrase “public health insurance plan,” the results, as indicated by other polls, would have been the reverse.

NOW HERE’S MY POINT: The insurance lobby knows this. That’s why they will try to paint any government plan as “government run.” Because we already know for certain that the industry is dead set against any public health insurance plan.

A second Wall Street Journal piece, this one by Laura Meckler (March 27) [ http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2009/03/27/what-docs-insurers-pharma-and-businesses-agree-on/ ] reports on a recent “health care dialogue” between 18 medical and business associations that more or less comprise the opponents of real reform. The purpose of the meeting was to reach consensus, that is, present a common front against us.

“But the group sidestepped the thorniest issues,” writes Meckler, “such as whether individuals or employers should be required to buy or offer coverage, and whether a government-run health plan should be available to compete with private companies.” In other words, they side-stepped two of the most important features of any real reform: universal coverage and a choice between private insurance and a public health insurance plan.

On the one hand, their unity should put us on alert that this campaign is not going to be easy. On the other hand, their division should give us hope that we can win.

But notice what they’re doing. They’re bringing together all the major players onto one team. We have to do the same. We need to stand together in this campaign. See how important it is for you to join us?

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