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Posted By: agnes levine on December 19, 2009

And it seems like we are nerve-wreckingly close! It also seems like the Lord is on our side with record-breaking snowstorm on the East Coast this weekend.....

First, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has stolen the day by standing up to Senator Lieberman on true healthcare reform! Congresswoman DeLauro has gone on record supporting true healthcare reform and public option in the most courageous, last-minute effort. In her own words:

"No individual should hold health care hostage, including Joe Lieberman, and I'll say it flat out, I think he ought to be recalled," Rosa said. ""we don't have the luxury to hold up a bill that could make a difference in [million's of] people's lives."

Having said that, Congresswoman DeLauro supported healthcare reform which took a lot, lot of sting out of Joe Lieberman's watered-down version.

What does all this mean?

Well, I have to tell you that in the next few days we will be faced with a real tight fight on real healthcare reform as it is voted on by the Senate. In part Two of this report, you will have a good understanding why it is still, still important to contact YOUR Senators ( and Representatives ( and urge them to vote for healthcare reform with a public option. IT IS ALSO ALRIGHT TO PRAY FOR THE PASSAGE OF HEALTHCARE REFORM! This is a mighty monster that needs to be conquered and this giant is blocking the way for over 45 Million people like you and me from having access to affordable healthcare!

LADIES: Please visit: and say "Thank you." to Congresswoman DeLauro who is a committed and dedicated Congresswoman preserving the Pro-Choice Rights of every US female regardless of color, creed, religion, and race.

Second) If you live on the east Coast and are snowed-in, this is a great weekend to visit the and websites and enter your ZIP Code and locate your Congresspersons. You can send him or her an e-mail from the website and just enter a subject topic such as; VOTE FOR HEALTHCARE REFORM/PUBLIC OPTION! This is about all the time it takes to call your Congressperson as well. Of course, you can tell your story in the body of the e-mail if you wish or if you make phone contact next week, you can certainly tell your story - BRIEFLY - and urge your Congressperson to vote for a healthcare Reform Bill with a Public Option!

Third) YOU have been doing a wonderful job staying connected to what is going on with healthcare reform. I hear how numbers have actually increased from BIA readers. Thank you!!!!!

Passing the peace,

If you enjoyed this article, Join HBCU CONNECT today for similar content and opportunities via email!
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agnes levine
Part-Time Teacher at Baltimore County Public Schools
AND WE WILL ... Now pull yourself away from C-Span long enough to call the White House this week - LOL!
Sunday, December 20th 2009 at 12:53PM

Business/Systems Analyst at MITC
Here’s the problem’s with the bill that need to be addressed:
1. Put the public option back in the bill. Its in the House version but not the Senate, so there is still the possibility that it will be in the final version. We need the public option if for no other reason than to provide competition that will keep health care premiums down. (I don’t get those that say they want to control costs but are against the public option, IF they are sincere about producing a bill to make insurance more affordable to more people.)
2. Remove the anti-trust exemption from the insurance companies. This also would bring about more competition and keep costs down. This was in the bill but it was taken out.
3. Remove caps on insurance payouts. If someone has insurance and has a catastrophic illness like cancer, they should not be limited to a certain amount the insurance company will spend on care. This was in the senate bill and was supposed to be taken out.
4. Put in tough regulations to prevent recission, the practice of denying care to health insurance policy holders when they get sick, just to save money. They tried to do this in CA, but industry lobbyists through enough money around to beat this back.

In my opinion these are the four things we should be asking about, and demanding support on from our reps in congress.

Sunday, December 20th 2009 at 5:44PM

will do
Sunday, December 20th 2009 at 6:40PM
agnes levine
Part-Time Teacher at Baltimore County Public Schools
Bro. Clark - I just know you will be the very first caller to the White House. You have such a powerful insight and exact resolution that I sure hope one day I will be reading about your race for office here on BIA.

I'm only half joking. WE need to call the White House and TELL President Obama just this. You need to be ahead of the class on Advocacy 101...Smile.

Gee, I can't wait until Monday. I can't wait to call the White House ...
Sunday, December 20th 2009 at 6:53PM

Business/Systems Analyst at MITC
Thanks Agnes, but they already know where I stand on this. I didn't do anything special but take the time to read what was being proposed, and analyze it. Each and every one of us should do that before we call or write anybody. Too many of us won't do that and instead rely on the media talking heads to tell us what to think. There are details available about EVERY bill that is put before congress; we tend to be behind the curve because we don't take the time to read.

When you call or write and say "pass health care reform," that means nothing. But when you can call and say "I won't the removal of the anti-trust exemption for insurance companies put back into the bill,” it lets them know you are doing more than waiting to be told what to think. It let's them know that we are getting into the details. A lot of what goes on there is with the hope that we won't do that, and that's why the system is the way it is now.

Things would be different if more of us did this.

Sunday, December 20th 2009 at 9:37PM
Siebra Muhammad
A Registration Clerk/Specialist at New Orleans Public Schools
How the American Healthcare System Got That Way

by Tim Costello, Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith

As Americans respond to President-elect Obama call for town hall meetings on reform the American health care system, an understanding of how that system came to be the way it is can be crucial for figuring out how to fix it.

The American health care system is unique because for most of us it is tied to our jobs rather than to our government. For many Americans the system seems natural, but few know that it originated, not as a well thought out plan to provide for Americans' health, but as a way to circumvent a quirk in wartime wage regulations that had nothing to do with health.

As far back as the 1920s, a few big employers had offered health insurance plans to some of their workers. But only a few: By 1935, only about two million people were covered by private health insurance, and on the eve of World War II there were only 48 job-based health plans in the entire country.

The rise of unions in the 1930s and 1940s led to the first great expansion of health care for Americans. But ironically, it did not produce a national plan providing health care to all like those in virtually all other developed countries. Instead, the special conditions of World War II produced the system of job-based health benefits we know today.

In 1942 the U.S. set up a National War Labor Board. It had the power to set a cap on all wage increases. But it let employers circumvent the cap by offering "fringe benefits" -- notably health insurance. The fringe benefits received a huge tax subsidy; they were treated as tax deductible expenses for corporations but not as taxable income for workers.

The result was revolutionary. Companies and unions quickly negotiated new health insurance plans. Some were run by Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and private insurance companies. Others were "Taft-Hartley funds" run jointly by management and unions. By 1950, half of all companies with less than 250 workers and two-thirds of all companies with more than 250 workers offered health insurance of one kind or another. By 1965, nearly three-quarters of the population were covered by some kind of private health insurance.

This private, job-based insurance covered millions of workers who had never had health care insurance before. But this victory also set patterns that are responsible for many of the problems the health care system faces today.

Because this private system was tied to employment, it did not provide health insurance for all. Millions of people outside the workforce were without coverage. Those most likely to be covered were salaried or unionized white men in northern industrial states. Two-thirds of those with incomes under $2,000 a year were not covered; so were nearly half of nonwhites and those over 65.

Employer-based plans tied workers to their jobs - something that benefited employers, but not workers or the economy as a whole. The quality of the coverage was spotty - some plans were excellent, others completely inadequate. Doctors accepted this revolution because it didn't challenge their power; but as a result the system provided no public control over medical costs.

This revolution had a subtle political effect as well. By giving much of the workforce health benefits, it reduced the incentive for them to pursue a system of universal care. And it gave unions a stake in the private, employer-based health care system. As one opponent of publicly financed health care put it, "the greatest bulwark" against "the socialization of medicine" was "furthering the progress already made by voluntary health insurance plans."

Since then, many layers have been laid on top of employer-based health care. Medicare and Medicaid provided government-funded health insurance for the elderly and impoverished. The "managed care revolution" led to the takeover of 90 percent of employer-based health care by HMOs, most of them driven by profit rather than health concerns. But most people continue to get their health care through their employer.

Many of the problems of American health care grow out of this history. The system is so complex that even experts - let alone ordinary people trying to find care for themselves and their loved ones -- are unable to fully understand it. The system spends one-third of its cost on paperwork, waste, and profit over and above the cost of actually providing health care. Yet nearly one-third of Americans are without health insurance over the course of a year. In all other developed countries, more than 85% of citizens have health coverage under public programs. The American health care system is full of inequalities: People who work for one company may have high quality insurance while those who work for a similar company have none.

All of these problems are due at least in part to an employer-based system whose original intent was not to provide quality health care to all, but to circumvent wartime wage regulations. As we begin to debate how to reform health care, we should keep in mind that the American health care system was not created to express American values or to meet Americans' health care needs. And knowing that, we should not be afraid to change the system if we can come up with a better one.

This piece is excerpted from DOCTOR WALL STREET: HOW THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM GOT SO SICK, from a popular pamphlet on the history of the American healthcare system available for free download at
Sunday, December 20th 2009 at 10:06PM

Business/Systems Analyst at MITC
What’s even more of a mess is our system of government that we rely on to make changes in industries like health insurance responsible for how health care is paid for. It is not about “one man, one vote” right now; it’s more about money and the power that money buys. This is what I meant in the previous post when I said this is why the system is the way it is today; not the health care system but the system of government that is supposedly our means to address problems like this. It is not conducive to producing the kinds of change needed to address a health care system that is fundamentally messed up. The problem is systemic, and what we are doing with “health care reform” is trying to strap band-aids on a patient with cancer, and expecting that to produce results.

For example, has anyone here ever thought about why is it that, in a debate about health care, the entire debate has revolved around insurance? In so doing we have limited the scope of any solution to “health insurance” and not health care. Private health insurance is the current scheme that’s been organized to pay for health care, and as the previous article points out, one third of all the money it takes in does not go to health care, but to overhead and profits that add no value whatsoever to the delivery of health care.

What is health care? It’s the ability to see a doctor for a checkup, get emergency treatment, and long term care in the event of catastrophic illness. This is what the debate should be around; how to deliver this at an affordable cost, rather than how to patch the current broken system to keep insurance companies profitable, first and foremost, while satisfying a political need to sign a bill that pretends to provide health care.

What this debate has been about is health insurance reform, and not health care reform. And the two are mutually exclusive in any normal context. As Irma says, “only in America” is it otherwise.

Sunday, December 20th 2009 at 11:39PM

Business/Systems Analyst at MITC
Sis Agnes thanks for that. I’m an info junkie too; the more I can learn about something that impacts us, the more comfortable I feel speaking on it. I also like your idea about giving personal stories.

Thanks to you and Siebra providing information on the dynamics and history, I have a better understanding as to why this system is not going to be easy to change. This is going to be a very tough nut to crack. We got here for a lot of reasons, most of which had really little to do with care delivery, and more to do with politics, profit and greed. If you reduce this problem to its base, what you have is a system that cannot do what it is intended to do. Insurance companies are for profit businesses and make money on the ability to deny care, which runs counter to care delivery. As long as we depend on private companies for this, costs will always be artificially higher because a lot of the dollars spent on care don’t go to care, but go to profits and “administrative costs,” which is essentially to pay the salaries of the people whose sole job it is to deny care.

I recently read a despicable story about how these workers in BCBS were cheering each other on when they found ways to deny care to policy holders. Never mind the likelihood that, when this was done it caused serious harm and even death in some cases to those policy holders. A lot of our health care dollars have gone to pay the salaries (and bonuses for the very successful) of these people, and it is known that almost 30% of health care dollars goes to overhead like this.

I am more frustrated with the fact that the processes by which we do have to change this have been corrupted, and unless people pour out en masse, there will be no pressure on “the creatures” to do the right thing.

What gets me is this: we are the ONLY industrialized nation that does not provide health care to its citizens but for money. We spend almost twice as much per capita as the next highest nation on health care, almost $7,000 per person, and their costs cover everyone while ours still leaves upwards of 50 million uncovered.

Here’s a personal story I’ve told: I went out to dinner with some friends a few years ago. One of us had a condition where his blood pressure dropped and he passed out cold. Not knowing what happened, the ambulance was called. During the ride to the hospital he came to and said he was fine. They kept him there for a few hours and “monitored” him. He didn’t have insurance and when all was said and done got several bills from the hospital, attending physician, x-ray tech, and ambulance service, totaling almost $12,000. He didn’t have insurance and set up a payment plan. The hospital put all of this on his credit report and his credit suffered. He was working a temp job, and when that ended and he couldn’t pay, they went after him. In the end his credit was ruined.

Meanwhile, I know of another friend who took a trip to Italy. Her husband broke his leg while he was there. They took him to the hospital, treated him, set his leg, everything. Even gave him meds for pain. Guess what the bill was $00.00.

Its not that health care reform is too expensive. Its just that we don’t have the will to tell these insurance company vultures the party is over. They add no value whatsoever to care delivery, and exist only to make a profit off illness. That in itself is despicable enough.

Tuesday, December 22nd 2009 at 2:24PM
agnes levine
Part-Time Teacher at Baltimore County Public Schools
Oh, how Ijust love y'all...

Sistah Siebra thanks for learning us and you took me all the way back to 1995 when I first started paying attention to healthcare in America and its delivery system.

I won't echo here because I am just Praising God for coming through! Both you and Bro. Clark (of course) are correct here and there. There are mountains of data I have read over the pass years and the delay during the Bush Administration gave the baton firmly to the health insurance industry. I believe that is why much of the focus has been on their end of the health catastrophe with the delivery of healthcare being second.

IMMHO, this is because the two are too closely connected. When you have greed (profits) being the primary focus of the insurance, you are going to have poor delivery because patients have to deliver profits and not quality health to the employers. Stay with me on this, if you have a plentiful source of workers, you simply replace a worker, y'all feel me?

If you can easily replace workers, you can easily pick and choose who you want to insure. You can get the maximum mileage out of a loyal worker until he gets sick. Then you drop him, pick up somebody younger and groom them...yadda, yadda, yadda.

This is going to hurt, but people have become mere "dollars" as in monopoly. There are only two wealthiest places on the board and you can only put up but so many hotels on those two spots. Who cares about the green houses....?

Now, most of my focus has been on the vulnerable population and I am always willing to learn. I thirst for knowledge like an addict...teehee. My friends tease that my head will explode one day...bring it on!:)- When you can narrow your focus on the way vulnerable people such as those with special needs be it brain disorders or developmental delays such as mental retardation, they aren't seen as employable,,,yadda, yadda, yadda. So healthcare is very minimum if it exists at all. It certainly is not affordable when these people receive fixed incomes, etc. The insurance industry is not going to 'waste' paid services on this group of people so the quality of delivery is very poor because who is willing/caring about treating patients for free continusously. The rural brothers and sisters are so very harshoy hit by this health industry and especially since they are typically remote and little education, internet capability, etc. If you get sugar diabetes, you lose a limb and then you can't afford quality health of the wound and you eventually die...a needlessly short lifespan is my point.

Also, IMMHO, and I'm being many, soo, so many scientific research dollars is tied to healthcare as well. Folks are not going to let those dollars slip through their grips easily. Healthcare Reform demands "health resolutions" and not just treating symptoms forever and billing because of it.

In 1935 when healthcare first began to rise in America, we had good and strong quality healthcare. The emphasis was on keeping people alive, working, taking care of their families. That was a good thrust of the Wagner Act that was a major trump for unions. If you follow the parallel timeline, as unions weakened, so did healthcare delivery. Especially for the middle class worker. During this same timeline, health insurance companies increased with profits right on through the baby boom. Maybe part of the greed pandemic was the fear of another stock market crash and being suddenly "poor." As in poor people horde canned goods and rich people horde money - millions of it...idunno...

Ok, so in the 21st century fastforward, we have a situation where 50 percent of all patients do NOT receive the right type of healthcare (quality). Getting doctors in a room to agree on what works and what does not work for a certain illness is almost impossible because they are driven by drug companies and insurance companies...the insurance company will pay for a certain treatment under the cloak of this particular treatment works, this one is "experimental," this one is subject to predisposition (20 years ago when your grandfather lived near high wires and now it is linked to your string of cancer....gee whiz) and that equals pre-existing condition and we don't cover those anymore....and it goes on and on and on.

There was NO end in sight. In a nutshell, there is real health reform happening that will affect all areas not really thought of which affect price and quality of healthcare delivery. If the government sat by, it would be broke and passing the hat around to bury somebody would not work anymore either...we would have to dig up our back yards...

Ok, that was burning on my chest. Healthcare Reform is a reality that will be successful. It won't happen overnight and there will be a lot of folks unhappy about it because it will alter their lucrative lifestyle. But millions more will be grateful at last. Most people did not even know healthcare was a critical issue until President Obama came along. These are typically the people that scream, there is nothing wrong, why are you messing with it? These are the people who never noticed how health insurance premiums was slowly, but surely swallowing their paychecks and their visits to the doctor was limited to 15 mins.tops whether he hit it on the nose about what was really ailing you or not. Doctors don'tgohomeanymoreand research your caselike they used to. It is not worth their time.

OK -- just one last comment about the specific issues when contacting your Congressperson, etc. on any issue and especially a hot topic like healthcare. You really, really make a stronger impact when you tell your personal story. Congresspersons sit and hear all the scientific testimonies all day on Capital Hill. Our job is to give those warm and fuzzy testimonies that personable touch for the sake of impact on appealing to that level of humanity. If you are confident you can do both successfully, go for it! But don't risk losing the interest of your representative who has listened to scientists/lobbyists/status quo all day and then they have to read it again. It will more than likely make your rep agree scientifically, but it will also keep them from knowing just how is all this affecting my constituents who work every day and they are not scientist/lobbyist, etc. Even the insurance industry "hired" every-day folks to go into those townhall meetings because personal stories sensationalize, change minds, change laws. That is why most laws are introduced and passed as "Amber's Law" which becomes Amber Alert or Ryan's Law....these were real life people who got their story told and swayed the vote. Y'all feel me? (Hmm, maybe it's time for Aggy's Law in which case no business could open on Sundays again...teehee):)-.

Ok, if you are treading new ground as an advocate...go on and tell your Congressperson how the death of your loved one impacted your family because his/her health insurance was dropped in the middle of chemo...

Ok, I do love you all and there were times this work got weary and your comments encouraged me another day. I love this site because it is so full of good info and friends .....thank you guys and MOM for keeping me up to date with what those creatures are doing on C-SPAN......LOL

Passing the Peace,
Tuesday, December 22nd 2009 at 2:35PM
agnes levine
Part-Time Teacher at Baltimore County Public Schools
Amen, Bro. Clark. Amen!
Tuesday, December 22nd 2009 at 2:36PM
UC, Davis class of 1992
I must leave the site and go spend some time with C-spanCsmile)

C-span is a far it seems that the right-wing has so helped this health care reform bill become more and more pleasing to my ears each time they hold u this bill...I do hope they continue to dig this endless pit they are in already...

Please keep the info coming my sister in spirit...YES WE CAN...
Thursday, April 10th 2014 at 6:47PM
UC, Davis class of 1992
Lov, something I do about once or twice a week now along with contacting those who represent the part of Northern Ca. where I live.(smile)

And, my sister please keep these coming...WE NEED THIS...
Thursday, April 10th 2014 at 6:47PM
UC, Davis class of 1992
Hello all it isnow 9:30 my pt. time and I am listening to the second senator to speak on the floor, Mccain saying the same things that they have saying all along...ths first to speak was on the dame blab blab, now Mccain is talking about the repubicals' fight against this health care reform bill has just begun!!!Oh, he did accuse C-span of bing against his party because there has never been a cloture vote on TV...

Actually what I am trying to get more clear is isn't it the cloture voting that does not have to have all 60 votes to pass????
Thursday, April 10th 2014 at 6:47PM
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