PETITION: 73,000 Cracking Blue Dog Heads on Healthcare! ACTION!

Wednesday night Rachel Maddow revealed that:

"Two major powerbrokers on the left...are encouraging a Senate strategy in which the leadership would revoke chairmanships and other leadership positions from any Democrat who sides with a Republican filibuster to block a vote on health reform."

"This is cracking heads time in the Democratic Party right now. This is arm-twisting, vote-counting, "are you a real Dem" time for the proponents of health reform." go&feature=player_embedded

Since then, thousands of progressives have signed the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's newpetition to Senate Leader Harry Reid saying:

"Any Democratic senators who support a Republican attempt to block a vote on health care reform should be stripped of their leadership titles. Americans deserve a clean up-or-down vote on health care."

Sign here: 

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Reform won't end cherry-picking by private insurers

All of the health care reform bills under consideration in Congress would prohibit insurance companies from refusing to cover people because of prior health problems. "Guaranteed issue" is the wonky name for this ban on discrimination because of pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, various economists and health care experts told David Hilzenrath of the Washington Post that "simply banning medical discrimination would not necessarily remove it from the equation [...]."

If insurers are prohibited from openly rejecting people with preexisting conditions, they could try to cherry-pick through more subtle means. For example, offering free health club memberships tends to attract people who can use the equipment, says Paul Precht, director of policy at the Medicare Rights Center.

Being uncooperative on insurance claims can chase away the chronically ill. For people who have few medical bills, it is less of a factor, said Karen Pollitz, research professor at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.

And to avoid patients with costly, complicated medical conditions, health plans could include in their networks relatively few doctors who specialize in treating those conditions, said Mark V. Pauly, professor of health-care management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. [...]

America's Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying group for health insurers, has endorsed the idea of guaranteeing individuals access to coverage regardless of their medical history -- if that guarantee is part of a larger plan to help the uninsured pay for coverage and bring everyone into the insurance market.

At a more nuts-and-bolts level, AHIP has been trying to shape the legislation in ways that could help insurers attract the healthy and avoid the sick, though it has given other reasons for advancing those positions. In a recent letter to Baucus, AHIP President Karen Ignagni said benefit packages "should give consumers flexible options to meet diverse needs."

If the final health care reform bill has no public health insurance option, many chronically ill Americans are likely to be left outside the system as insurers find new ways of denying coverage or dropping policy-holders.

Even if the final bill includes a limited public option, cherry-picking by private insurers could set up the public plan for failure. President Obama has endorsed the idea of making the public option available only to people who are currently uninsured, meaning it will serve a disproportionate number of chronically ill people. That will drive up costs of operating the public plan.

I don't have an answer for this problem, beyond feeling depressed that corporate groups like AHIP have so much sway with Congress. If Americans with prior health issues are still facing discrimination after Obama signs what he claims to be sweeping "health insurance reform," the political backlash against Democrats could be severe.

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Reward Grayson for truth, Rep insurance plan = "Die"

Rep. Alan Grayson has been a key figure in fighting for financial transparency defending civil liberties. He recently made a statement on the floor of the House saying that the GOP health care plan is "don't get sick."

Reward Rep. Grayson for telling the truth. Donate here: on

The Republicans are now likening it to Joe Wilson's outburst in which he called the President a "liar." The difference being, of course, that Wilson was heckling the President during the State of the Union speech, and Grayson was not saying anything nearly as bad as what Republicans have said about the Democratic health care bill in the past.

Rep. Tom Price is introducing a resolution to censure Grayson in the House. It is important that progressives not cower in the face of this blatant hypocrisy and watch him be sacrificed to a right-wing hissy fit like Van Jones, Yosi Sargent and MoveOn have been before him.

Please send a powerful message to those seeking to silence progressives by donating Alan Grayson. Donate here: on

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Ten Progressive Senators are Enough

Crossposted from Congress Matters

The White House has said it will do anything to "get a win".

Clearly, there are several Democratic Senators who will vote no, even if they vote for cloture.

Which means that with 50+ Congressmen willing to stand firm for the Public Option, it only requires 10 Senators willing to stand firm for the public option to force the President to go all in for the Public Option.

My Senator Sherrod Brown sounds like he's close.

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3/4 of Americans Back Choice of a Public Option

NBC News (.pdf) and The Wall Street Journal decided to drop the question from their August polling, so SurveyUSA went ahead and polled Americans on their sentiments towards a public option using the very question NBC and The Journal had previously used in June. The numbers are quite remarkable:

In any healthcare proposal, how important do you feel it is to give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance--extremely important, quite important, not that important, or not at all important?

Extremely important: 58 percent (41 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Quite important: 19 percent (35 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Not that important: 7 percent (12 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Not at all important: 15 percent (8 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)

Total important: 77 percent (76 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Total unimportant: 22 percent (20 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)

It's not clear why the pollsters behind the NBC/WSJ poll omitted this question this time around, but it certainly appears that public support for the option of a government-run plan has not at all diminished in the past two months despite the onslaught from the right and an unfavorable media climate.

Indeed, what's particularly interesting about the latest numbers from SurveyUSA is the breadth of the support for a public option as part of health insurance reform. Looking at the partisan breakdown of the question, even 71 percent of Republicans believe a public option to be important -- including a whopping 58 percent who believe it to be extremely important. Even two-thirds of conservatives in the country back a public option, per this polling.

So why, then, are some in Congress so skittish about giving the public a choice -- one that they seemingly want -- between private insurance and a program administered by the federal government?

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