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Virtual house party topics and PR---fellow groundlings, it's time to start the party

[We're having the first virtual House Party tonight at 8PM -- Because it's festivus!]

Suggestions for virtual house party healthcare topics? We can take some of the questions from the list we developed---see below.

Lambert, do you have times that work best for people all over the country? And even some of our foreign friends (hiya, Mandos) to join in? Also, is there anyway to let people who aren't registered to take that survey you created? Or do you want it limited to registrants?

As soon as we have date, time, and topic, we can start blasting out the info---vastleft and pie, would you lead spreading the word? I will make each of you a special hat to wear as you invite the rest of the unwashed to join the effort. (And by hat, I mean cocktail, which I will then drink on your behalf strictly in the spirit of the season.)

DCBlogger, do you have guests we can invite? If you posted about this, I'm sorry I missed it. This special hat is very strong---uh, I mean, this special hat is very heavy on my head and it makes me forget things.

hipp, ready with the facts and figures? Yes. Why do I bother to ask?

Since so many here are on board with single payer as the solution to our healthcare crisis, should we have the first half focused on specific health insurance and financial issues, answering questions about single payer and responding to objections and questions, and dedicate the second half to tactics?

Your input required. If you can volunteer to spread the word or have some creative or technical skill, we can use them. If you want to host a house party, do it. Hell, sign up to host one tomorrow at 6am and then report back that you, your cats and the dying ficus tree want to know why single payer isn't on the agenda. I mean, if a ficus, a dying one no less, knows single payer is the answer, why doesn't the president-elect?

And for the virtual house parties, I'm going to ask as a favor that we skip what each and everyone of us already knows: there's no way Team Obama is going to listen to a scruffy lot like us. Take it as a given---better yet, take it as an advantage, because we don't have to worry about playing nice. Our task is to rouse the rest of the scruffy groundlings.

Here are the questions we came up with:

1. Have you or anyone in your family ever failed to seek medical attention because you couldn’t afford it? (h/t a little night…)

2. Have you or anyone in your family ever failed to seek medical attention because you couldn’t afford treatment though you had health insurance? (h/t a little night…)

3. Have you ever lost your health insurance? If so, why?

4. Have you ever been refused health insurance? If so, why?

5. Have you ever had to change doctors, delay treatment, or pay higher deductibles because of a pre-existing condition or long-term illness? Are you delaying treatment now? (h/t a little night…)

6. Do you have health insurance now? If not, why not? If so, how do you pay for it?

7. Have you ever asked your parents or children to help you financially because of overwhelming medical bills?

8. Have you ever given up a job or assets to qualify for health insurance programs designed to help people living in poverty?

9. Have you ever lost your job because of a medical condition you put off seeking treatment for until it became so serious, you had to miss work a lot?

10. Have you ever foregone treatment because of the paperwork required by insurance companies?

11. Does what you've heard about or your experience of insurance companies stop or delay you from seeking medical help when you need it?

12. Have you ever gone without necessary medication because you can't afford it or it is not covered by your health insurance? (h/t Iphie)

13. Has your insurance company ever refused to pay for your prescriptions, and instead substituted their option over the judgment of your doctor? (h/t Iphie)

14. Have you ever avoided getting a diagnosis because you lacked health insurance, or didn't want to risk going on record with a pre-existing condition? (h/t

15. Has anyone you know ever contemplated either suicide or refusing to get treatment for a life threatening and/or chronic condition because he or she didn't want to bankrupt his or her loved ones? Have you known anyone that died because of such a choice? (h/t tnjen)

16. Have you, or someone you know filed for bankruptcy because of medical costs? (h/t gqm)

17. Have you ever decided to accept or turn down a job because of health insurance benefits? (h/t VL)

18. Have you ever stayed in a marriage or relationship because you had health insurance coverage you would otherwise not be able to get?

19. Have you ever skipped out on activities (skiing, running a marathon, etc.) because you might not be able to afford an injury? (h/t gqm)

No votes yet


Submitted by ohio on

Revised even further:

"Have you ever decided to accept or turn down a job because of health insurance benefits?"

Related to,

"Have you ever stayed in a marriage or relationship because you had health insurance coverage you would otherwise not be able to get?"

Both of these struck me as questions that bring things to a specific point, when the question is asked and answered. There may be regrets, and while they may cause distress at the time, they are not, for the most part, chronic.

I was trying to keep the list short, though that hasn't worked out so good, so I was trying to remain focused on the chronic. I may have missed, though.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

But loss of employer health coverage hangs like a sword of Damocles over a lot of people these days, so it may be an issue that resonates with a lot of people, as it forces them to take an otherwise crappier job or stay at a crappy job, etc. Perhaps it's different outside the Commonwealth.

Submitted by ohio on

Aliza Marcus

She wrote the article with which you responded, "fuck consensus." Maybe we can grab some of these email addresses and shoot some of these reporters email pressers about what we're doing WRT single payer?

We'll need some snappy headlines. There's a story here on the pushback by the biggest stakeholders in the healthcare solutions: the citizens. You know---the little people. Us. Perhaps scoop up some of the disucssion during the virtual house aprties and shape a one- or two-pager?

Either way, can we start gathering email addresses of reporters interested (or assigned) the subject?

Just an idea. I'm full of them tonight. (And I did not get the car epically stuck in the two feet of snow and ice. It was beautifully stuck, though. My neighbor Manny winched it out after my neighbor JT (aka the Arm Lopper) and I came back from the grocery store.)

Submitted by lambert on

I could make a content type for that. Then people could just put up a post with the relevant data. Hmm... The real problem would be avoiding dupes.

Submitted by ohio on

Suggest a written procedure that calls for the person adding a contact to search for the email address first before posting? Unless the list scrolls as you type.

Could it have First name, Last name, Organization, email address, topic/issue (maybe the same dropdown box you see when you post a blog?) info? Or just the email address?

admin's picture
Submitted by admin on

I was hoping to make a few fields to add to the top of any post. But that doesn't work, because there's no way to associate a reporters name with a reporter's email address, for example.

Maybe the way to do it is to have two ideas:

1. A separate content type, so a post can be created with the fields as you say, and

2. Add a field (derived from that content type) to posts that allows the poster to type in a suggested contact (derived from #1).

The problem with that idea is that it's cumbersome. What's really wanted is a form that works in situ on a blog post.

Submitted by ohio on

Ooo, guess what? We despise insurance companies.

VIENNA, Va. — When a dozen consumers gathered over the weekend to discuss health care at the behest of President-elect Barack Obama, they quickly agreed on one point: they despise health insurance companies.

They also agreed that health care was a right; that insurance should cover “everything,” not just some services; and that coverage should be readily available from the government, as well as from employers.

Submitted by hipparchia on

he of the montana newspapers, truthteller on single payer? would be pretty cool if he accepted an invitation.

Submitted by hipparchia on

but just so i can have some at my fingertips, tell me now which ones you think you'd most like to have.

edited to add -- ur hat, i has it

Submitted by ohio on

Like Abe Lincoln did his important papers?

I'm thinking the ones that feel like a punch to the belly---

-Number of deaths because of failure to treat because of no payment and similar numbers

-Cost of failure to treat conditions that later become more serious

-Chances of filing for bankruptcy because of overwhelming healthcare costs (and similar)

And then the business arguments---

-savings because of less waste (31% of health insurance costs go to admin, not treatment) and economies of scale; also comparisons with other gov't health-related efforts to knock down the idea that gov't is bloated and horrid

-per capita health insurance spending vs. projected estimates for single payer (We're already paying for single payer why don't we get it?)

-Projected tax hikes (3.3% or something?) vs savings by not having to offer private health insurance as benefits package

Stuff like that.

And whatever you feel is solid. If you have any contrary data, that could be interesting to see, too, though I trust your judgment utterly on all of this stuff.

Submitted by hipparchia on

but for linky goodness, i need a few hours lead time. if i could just hook up a usb cable to my head and bypass this typing entirely that's be sooooo cool.

i'll work on those and some tangential things that those bring to mind. when do i need to have this?

Submitted by ohio on

I don't want to jam you up. And if DCB has some guests she's like to bring along, we can schedule around them.

lambert said he wanted a virtual house party every evening until the 31st. I don't know if I can make every evening, though you all can certainly carry on. But do we have enough momentum for that many? Or do we want to limit to three---Tues. 23rd, Fri. 26th, and Sun. 28th.

Paul L and I will certainly report back after our RL house parties (27th and 29th) and I expect that there will be discussion after those. That would give us five discussions specific to the house party concept and we can generate materials for Sen. Daschle and the rest of Team Obama.

Regardless of number of virtual house parties, how about starting at 7pm EST and going until whenever?

Submitted by hipparchia on

especially for 12/23, gives me time to eat and take the dog out in between getting home from work and starting blogging, but i can be flexible.

Submitted by ohio on

Paul's shindig is on the 29, so I thought we'd rev up discussion after he reports in, probably on the 30th. We could double up, though for a total of four.

Tuesdya, 23
Friday, 26
Saturday 27 (we'll report back probably that afternoon or evening)
Tuesday 30 (day after Paul's get-together)

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

Hey all, I just realized I will miss most of the health care fest nights because of holiday-related family stuff. That's not any big problem because while I have plenty of opinions I don't have nearly the grasp of facts and figures that hipparchia or DCB have. But I hope it will go some way to explain my next, not really fully-thought-out comment:

I woke up this morning thinking about our questions and Obama's list of questions, and it occurs to me that while specific and personal examples are key to this fight, this whole exercise is just another one of Obama et al's massive marketing exercises, to gather data on what people's fears are, not to shape policy that addresses the problems, but to be confined to shaping the message that accompanies whatever weak tea policy Daschle comes up with. Eg, everyone hates insurance companies? Well then Obama's policy will be mean to insurance companies! (while handing them money bags out the back door).

I'm thinking of the Big Giveaway debacle -- the first time it went to the House and got trounced, one of the biggest criticisms was the lack of oversight, so they stuck a clause in "limiting" Sec. Treasury to the 'abuse of discretion' standard, i.e., a mere scintilla more oversight than none at all. Which was pushed as, and widely reported as, Congress adding 'strict' (I believe the NYT used that word) controls to the money. We all know how well that worked. (though in fairness, I'm not sure many of the non-Village actually bought it).

I'm not saying we shouldn't ask our questions, we should, I'm just afraid of giving the Daschle-Obama gang more marketing data fodder for another Big Deception.

Not sure what to do about it, exactly, but I was thinking that during the discussions we need to try to answer the most obvious baloney/indoctrination of the various entrenched interests. I was thinking of taking on the view of a sort of 'foil' persona -- playing the average person who has been ingesting the main themes of pro-insurer groups for years -- so we could answer statements like "Won't SP mean I have to wait months for a routine appointment?" and "Won't I have to pay thousands more in health insurance under SP while all those slackers who don't have jobs get care I'm paying for" (or the variations from what I think of as the resentful libertarian-tinged healthy -- "why should I pay higher premiums just to cover all those losers who don't visit the gym 27 times a day, who don't eat only organic non-gluten soy rice cakes and who carelessly get sick or injured and not even bother to cure themselves through hard work and my shining example of life discipline?").

In other words, I have a bit of fear that in discussing the policy implications of SP we are all too much in agreement, so we need someone to play the role of an insurance co. shill/Villager to ask the kind of stupid, loaded questions they ask, so we can answer them directly. But I can't volunteer exactly, unless at least one discussion is on the 30th, so maybe someone else can play that role.

Ugh, sorry this is so disjointed, I'm just going to throw myself at the mercy of you all smarties and hope 1) I'm saying something worthwhile; and 2) you will be able to see what it is. Otherwise, I'm off to mess around with holiday prep (ugh, I'd much rather be talking about Single Payer!).

Submitted by ohio on

I think this is why there is some confusion about the questions---we're talking about perception, how you feel about your quality of life because of our healthcare system. This encompasses a lot of things---personal and family experiences, world view and philosophy---but mostly, this effort allows a groundling to share what she is an expert about, her own life.

Forgive me if I sound callous in the following but I'm trying to share a little bit of how I see this effort moving forward. I've worked in marketing, the fab GF works in marketing, and though neither of us is strictly a marketer, we've seen a lot of stuff, stuff that works and stuff that doesn't. I am not saying my opinion is the final one, but it is informed. and my view is that I see this as first and foremost a marketing effort, not a research or data gathering effort.

Marketing is not in and of itself evil. It's a tool to understand what it is people really need and how to speak to these needs honestly and offer solutions that will work. One reason I am offended by Team Obama's approach and solution is that it is dishonest---this plan is not the best effort and it doesn't solve the problem of waste: waste of money, time, and effort, that plagues our healthcare system. That they're pitching it as if it is is unethical and simply wrong.

The first question I ask here is what is it that people areally need? A lot of people will just answer: single payer. To which I say, wrong answer.

Single payer national health insurance is the solution. It isn't the answer to the question, "What do people really need?"

They need to know there is hope for pain---physical, mental, emotional. They need to feel safe.

With regard to healthcare, they need to feel that their quality of life isn't compromised by the unnecessary and disastrous problems of our healthcare system. To know that if they are diagnosed with a terrible disease or get a terrible injury, they won't look at their financial situations and think it would have been better to die because living is bankrupting their families and their futures. They need to know that should someone they love need major medical help, they won't be turned away because they can't pay.

And they, hell, we, need to know that people are paying attention to their needs---that someone is listening.

The survey helps all of us sharpen understanding about what each of us needs and to share that need. The results of this completely unscientific survey may also help us sharpen our focus on where we can be most effective in our groundling efforts to cause politicians pain regarding this issue. Along with our survey results we gather our stories, ideas, questions, anger, and everything else to create the book we send to Sec.-designate Daschle---with a very clear message that we are paying attention, we do not agree, and we are willing to fight.

Whether he fears us or not is immaterial---he is not the target.

We are the target. (You know, you're not supposed to tell people that you're tyring to persuade them to buy what you're selling because they'll feel manipulated, hate you, and won't buy regardless of the benefit to themselves. But I'm going to go with my gut here and my gut says that I have to be honest about my own motives. I want us to take the next step in our commitment to act. And I want to embarass Team Obama by making their dishonesty public.)

I am hoping that through this shared experience, each of us moves a little further along in the buying cycle. For the most part, we're not buying into single payer---we've already done that. We need to buy into actively pushing harder against Team Obama. It isn't enough to just be for single payer. We each have to do something or single payer will die another unnecessary death.

I'm going to say this again: It isn't enough just to be for single payer. Being for it will not get it for us, as has been documented repeatedly by hipparchia, DCBlogger, and others. Our good intentions, our noble efforts, our good ideas, our sense of fun, isn't enough.

I don't know any other way to cajole, convince, and otherwise support someone into buying into a larger commitment to single payer other than for us to remember that we are all in this together. So I figure we can each know this by using technology to show it is so.

I also have a fundamental disagreement with some about how to spread the gospel on this. I don't think appealing to people's better angels will achieve what we need to achieve. If being right or doing right is all that it took, we'd have single payer. Those damn Harry & Louise ads worked because they appealed to the emotions. That they were an effective emotional appeal isn't what makes them evil---that they were dishonest makes them evil. Exploiting one fear by another through deception for political or personal gain is just wrong.

But listening to people and honestly answering their fundamental needs isn't wrong. It can be very beneficial (though not always) and downright turn you into a do-gooder if you're not careful. Now, I'm not saying that everyone shares my goals---in fact, I'd say most people don't because I am devious and perverted. And I'm okay with that.

I know I sound awfully sure of myself regarding what it is people need and such. But I've read the research. And French Doc (I miss French Doc) reminded me of Maslow's hierarchy and I thought about how healthcare fits into that hierarchy, and about the need to be safe from personal disaster. That personal disater isn't just sickness, but the fear so many have about what happens if they or their loved ones get sick or hurt.

Because I've read the research and a lot of materials based on that research, I wonder if we need to duplicate that material. PNHP has an FAQ that asks and answers the questions you bring up. Other site do, too. So what do we gain by that duplication? I'd say, not much.

I think facing the counterarguments is a good idea and I think GQM raises some good questions regarding expanding the discussion to include ideas about handling administrative waste in the healthcare system and other stuff. This is all good---very good. (I think there will be some people who will ask the basic questions about single payer you mention and I'm sure hipparchia will whip the facts out of her hat because she knows them, has them, and loves to share them. She is generous with the knowledge.)

I think asking why people would resist single payer is also a great question, one I'd like to raise for fuller discussion. Based on what I've read, I think the resistance to single payer is ground in fears of giving up privacy and autonomy, as well as money. But I'd like to explore that a bit more to counterpunch Harry and Louise-style fear marketing. Actually, I'd like to throw the first marketing punch on this. I have some ideas about that, too, but those are for another day.

If you can make the discussion, that would be great. remember that we can always pick it up if you can't make the shindig. I am hoping we do. This effort isn't a snowball to be made and set down. Let's throw the damn thing.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

My fear was helping Obama's bad marketing by feeding them data (esp. for free, good data is very expensive) they can use to make more bad marketing. I'm all aboard with rolling up the good marketing snowball and throwing it at whomever.

Ugh, RL is just crazy rigth now but I will try to jump in.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Have you, or someone you know filed for bankruptcy because of medical costs?

I know someone who has. If your loved one has a heart attack, the last thing you are thinking about as they are riding in an ambulance is whether or not they should go to the hospital because you may not be able to afford it.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Have you ever skipped out on activities (skiing, running a marathon, etc.) because you might not be able to afford an injury?

Not life and death, but definitely a quality of life question and I know a number of people who do worry about that.