It's been a busy day in health care, and health insurance, reform today
Obama, in the Rose Garden, speaking to a gathering of physicians today:
Every one of you here today took an oath when you entered the medical profession. It was not an oath that you would spend a lot of time on the phone with insurance companies. (Laughter.) It was not an oath that you would have to turn away patients who you know could use your help. You did not devote your lives to be bean counters or paper pushers. You took an oath so that you could heal people. You did it so you could save lives.
Truer words were never spoken. Unfortunately, the rest of the speech is petty much about reforming insurance.
Among the groups represented: the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the Doctors for America, American College of Pediatrics, and American College of Cardiology. Do you see PNHP mentioned in there? How about the Mad As Hell Doctors? Nope.
At the last minute, Mad As Hell Dr Paul Hochfeld was admitted [sound familiar?] His remarks afterward:
Upon emerging from the gathering in the Rose Garden, which consisted mainly of a speech by the president to the assembly, he said: “Unfortunately, the current bills in Congress and the similar measures supported by the president will not fix the health care crisis - they will only perpetuate the miserable situation we presently have. These incremental reforms will leave the for-profit, private insurance industry in the driver’s seat. The insurance companies will continue to deny claims and raise premiums. Tens of millions will remain uninsured and underinsured. There will be no cost control.
“Today, instead of a health care system, we have a for-profit private-insurance-based sick-care non-system,” he said. “The president should use the current Medicare system and quickly improve and expand it to all people in our nation. In addition, only those who are knowledgeable in public health, health policy and health economics and who do not have ties to the health industry should write the health legislation. Those who themselves or whose families have directly suffered because of the deficiencies of the current non-system should also be involved in the drafting of the bill. The health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, on the other hand, have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are only interested in corporate profits. They should be kept out of the room.”
Hochfeld said that many physicians whom he spoke with at the gathering share his opinion that the health care reform process has been corrupted by corporate money from the health industry, but feel some kind of action is needed.
Meanwhile, outside the hallowed Garden, David Swanson and some 50-100 anti-war, pro-single-payer protesters were arrested.
The president was holding a press conference inside the White House fence with a bunch of doctors who oppose serious healthcare reform. Donna Smith, star of Michael Moore's "Sicko", was standing next to me and telling me that every patient who had appeared in that movie had determined that the healthcare bills now under consideration in Washington would not have done anything to help them and won't now.
Hundreds of peace activists made their way to the White House sidewalk. We joined with some doctors and nurses who were not permitted to take part in the events inside because they support single-payer healthcare. We shouted "Healthcare Not Warfare." We shouted "Troops Home Now. End Warfare." We shouted "Single Payer Now. End Warfare." We made a lot of noise, but we were in the street rather than on the forbidden sidewalk. And there was an incredibly noisy truck behind us that had chosen this moment to clean Pennsylvania Avenue with pressurized hoses.
We moved down the street and the truck came too. But we made a lot more noise. Prisoners in orange from Witness Against Torture chained themselves to the White House fence. So did Cindy Sheehan whose son died in Iraq. Veterans for Peace displayed US, Afghan, and Iraqi coffins and read the names of the dead and shouted: "Mourn the dead! Heal the wounded! End the wars!" The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, the World Can't Wait, and lots of other groups joined in. Many of us donned black shirts, white placards with the names of dead troops or civilians, and white masks: the March of the Dead. We marched on the sidewalk in front of the White House in silence.
Then the police horses came at us. The police tried to drive us into the street with their horses, but we lay down on the sidewalk, and they didn't trample us. Instead they put police tape around a huge area, moved everyone else out of it, gave three warnings, and began arresting people. We lay on the sidewalk for approximately two hours, rode with lights and sirens blaring in an escorted caravan of vans and buses to the jail, and were out within an hour with tickets to pay $100 fines or challenge in court.
Oh, almost forgot... Apple, barraged by single payer advocates, relented and the iSinglePayer iPhone App has been approved.
Update: Whatever did we do before phones/faxes/email/Twitter? Anthony Weiner debated Betsy 'Death Panels' McCaughey today. I like this Weiner quote:
"Get the idea out of your head," he said, "that this is a free market." If your appendix ruptures, you don't have the option of treating a different, cheaper organ."
but the kossacks seem to be quite taken with this:
She said, "funding the uninsured by slashing Medicare, that's like snatching purses from little old ladies."
Weiner's response, on taking the floor again, was that this was like "debating a pyromaniac in a strawman factory." "What did she just say? We're going to steal senior citizens' purses?"