If you care about having a public option for health care in the United States, please sign this petition asking the Massachusetts legislature to allow Governor Deval Patrick to appoint a new Senator in Ted Kennedy's place.
People have asked me a lot of questions about the health care initiative and I am more than happy to answer more. If you are confused or don't understand parts of the proposed program, I will do my best to answer them.
If you are trying to help support health care reform in the US, here are a few key pieces of information that should help you dispel some of the ridiculous bs going around about it.
If you already know these things and are fully informed about what the bill as it stands entails, and simply disagree fundamentally with the idea of public health care, I totally respect that (as long as you do agree that the system as it is needs fixing in some way-- I know there are a bunch of people out there who have extremely different but equally big suggestions on how to fix it-- if not, I will have to take you to task!)
But I also know there is a lot of misinformation flying around and some people may be opposed to it because they've been fed a line of bullshit. When I was in Colorado, I saw an ad that said that the public option would mean breast cancer patients wouldn't get treated. It's sometimes hard to know what to call bullshit on. I think this will also help those of you who are supporting the health care reform to have the right talking points at your fingertips when discussing the issue.
Here are a few major misconceptions:
--The Public Option is the Health Care Reform Bill
No! It is not. There are a ton of other things in the health care reform bill that you should learn about or take a look at. One of the best things about the bill is that it will make it illegal for private insurers to refuse someone based on a pre-existing condition, or to drop someone mid-treatment. These things happen a lot right now and are the biggest reasons why people who can afford private health care don't have it.* The health care bill will keep that from happening-- if you can afford the premiums, you can subscribe to whatever coverage you like. Another thing in the bill that is a big help is the idea of a small business pool. Right now, small businesses pay a lot more to insure their employees than big businesses. The government will create a small business pool where small businesses that want to offer a private plan to their employees will be able to enter the pool and sign up as a group with a lot of other small businesses-- this will decrease the burden on small business owners who can't offer comprehensive benefits with the current prices. So while the public option is a really important (and I believe necessary) facet of the program, it is not the whole thing. Another important part of the bill is a part of the bill to encourage hospitals not to release patients just because their insurance is refusing coverage.
--People will be forced to be on public health care
No! The public health care option is an option. It will work just like private health care: people who want it will pay into it. People who don't want it, will not. There will also be assistance available for people who can't afford any plan. The idea here is not to balloon up the public health care system that already exists in the form of Medicare and Medicaid so it suddenly can't sustain the added patients-- it is to offer another option that would compete in the free market along with the private options. The hope is that it will be possible to use this option as a benchmark: setting a competitive price and set of services that will force private options to compete and level the playing field. So if the public option ends up sucking, people won't stay with it, small employers will end up using that pool I mentioned above to get their employees signed up for private health care instead, and the baseline is still that more people will have health care coverage. But the hope is that it won't suck.
--People on public health care who switch will not be able to keep their doctors
No! The public health care option will not limit doctors. While dental and optical care are not covered under the public option, everything else is and you will be able to see whomever you like.
--I will be paying more to treat illegal immigrants and people who don't work
No, again! You will only be paying for you, assuming that you choose to be on the public option. The public option does not purport to cover anyone who is not a legal US resident. And people who already qualify for medical assistance are...well, already qualifying for medical assistance. They will
--This is going to raise taxes tremendously.
No! While the plan is going to cost about $1 trillion over ten years, that equals about $100 billion per year. They have already figured out how to get about $70 billion of that per year without raising taxes. The income tax rate on the wealthiest Americans that might be rolled back to the rate of tax under Reagan, and that will be used to cushion this. This is that tax rate question that Obama suggested several times in the election, so you should all be familiar with it. There are also some subsidies, fees, etc., that are currently paid by the government to the private health care industry, and this reworking of the program will mean some of that money will come back to the government. So it looks like the plan should be able to pay for itself-- it's been projected to do so.
--Death Panels WTF.
Replace "Death Panels" with "free optional end of life counseling for people with terminal illnesses." Just FYI, the part of the bill that Sarah Palin called death panels was penned by two Republicans. Also, it's since been struck. By the Republicans.
--I will have to pay for someone else's abortions.
While I think it is fiscally more responsible to help women get abortions, I do understand that for people who believe that abortion is morally abhorrent, that this is troubling. I don't agree with you, but I understand why it would make you upset. However, there is already a law on the books that outlaws the use of federal taxpayer funds to cover abortion. The new reform does not change that.
* Right now, if I didn't have employee health care, I would probably be exempt because I have asthma. Asthma that was caused by 9/11 and could probably have been prevented if the government had been honest about the health risks associated with living in downtown Manhattan.
For those of you who want to do something to get active in helping with health care, here are some things you can do.
--Write to your Congresspeople. Write to your rep and your Senators. If they have already pledged support, send them a thank you. If they have not, please ask them to do so. Tell them a personal story about you or someone you know who needs health care or has been adversely affected by the private system.
One of the big things we can do is ask senators to pledge to support the bill. They are at 45 senators now-- it was 46 but now we have to subtract Kennedy and see what the new Senator is like. If your senator has already pledged support, great. If not, ask them to. The senators most likely to be convinced to pledge who have not yet done so are Kent Conrad of North Dakota; Ron Wyden of Oregon; Thomas Carper of Delaware; Jon Tester of Montana; Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas; Bill Nelson of Florida; and Mark Warner of Virginia. If you live in one of those states, it would be extra helpful.
--Be on the lookout for attack ads that are clearly misinformative or lying. Write to TV networks and radio networks to complain. I don't mean ads that disagree but get their information right-- people have a right to disagree. But if an ad is really out there, which some of them are, send a network an email telling them that you are upset that they accepted the ad. Do the same to channels showing pundits who are lying. Again, not disagreeing, but lying or misrepresenting information.
--Stop watching Fox News. Ask everyone you know to stop watching Fox News. Especially if they have a Nielsen box.
--Participate in the "Can't Afford to Wait" photo drive. Take a photo to be sent to Congress expressing your need for health care.
--Find out about rallies and other activities in your area. There is a big rally planned in DC on September 13th (the one against the reform is on the 12th).
--Talk to your family and friends. A lot of people I know are on the fence simply because they don't know very much. Or they have seen attack ads and don't know what is myth and what is reality.
--More things you can do are in the comments.
Okay! If you have any other questions that I can answer, please let me know and I will do my best.