Friday, May 29, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Neal still waffling on health care

A hundred people showed up yesterday for a rally at Congressman Richard E. Neal's Springfield office on State St. We were there to see if we could win Neal's support for HR 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act.

Many groups have met with Cong. Neal to ask him to support HR676. He just keeps putting off a real answer. Yesterday he released the following statement:

“Since President Obama’s election, I have pledged to work with him to reform America’s health care system. I share his goals that comprehensive health care reform must be affordable, provide coverage options for every American and guarantee quality care. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, one of three committees in the U.S. House that has jurisdiction over health care, I am committed to passing real health care reform legislation this year. On numerous occasions, I have spoken with the White House and officials in the Obama administration about the importance of passing health care reform during the 111th session of Congress. I know they share my view that the American people cannot afford to wait any longer. As the debate in Congress resumes, I look forward to continuing my work with President Obama and the leadership in Congress to make health care affordable and accessible for every American.”

Well, blah, blah, blah.

Two days before the rally, a member of the Western Mass. Single Payer Network had a conversation with Neal's legislative aide Bill Powers about HR 676. The gist of it went like this:

  • Rep. Neal has already met with 2-3 groups regarding his stance on healthcare, and can't keep spending time meeting with groups over this single issue.
  • Neal's position on health care is not clearly articulated in any public place and cannot be articulated without a "longer conversation" but unfortunatelty Neal is not available to meet on this topic for at least a month-and-a-half or two months in the future.
  • When asked whether Neal supports HR 676 or not, Powers stated that Neal takes issue with how HR 676 is written, but does not necessarily object to HR676. Again, his position on HR676 requires a "more lengthy discussion".

Could Neal's lack of support for HR 676 be linked to the fact that his top contributer category is insurance companies? That's not the case for any of the other 13 U.S. Senators and Representatives in Massachusetts.

Unfortunately it seems as if President Obama has yet to come around to supporting a true single payer plan. His current proposal gives too much power to insurance companies. A good fact check on his plan can be found at PolitiFact. A real problem is that his plan mimics the Massachusetts model. Yesterday's Boston Globe sees the state's health care costs spiraling out of control, waits for doctors increasing, and costs keeping patients from accessing prescription drugs and doctors.

It's not too late to win HR676, but we have our work cut out for us.

Photos: President of Arise Don James, Shirley McCready and John Bennett from Mass. Senior Action, Liz Bewsee from Arise and Ashley from OutNow, Arky Markham from Western Mass. Single Payer Network, Sadie Centeno and Vanessa Rivera from Arise, State rep. Ben Swan, City Council candidate Norm Oliver.

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Friday, May 15, 2009


Pubdate: Mon, 11 May 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

President Obama has called for repealing the ban on federal funding
for anti-AIDS programs that supply clean needles to drug users. His
drug policy director supported such a program when he was Seattle's
police chief. And last week, Obama's nominee to head the Food and
Drug Administration won praise in a Senate committee for her
leadership on needle exchange.

So advocates of the programs in the Bay Area and elsewhere were
surprised and dismayed when Obama's budget for 2009-10 proposed to
continue the funding prohibition that dates from the 1980s.

"We hoped that the president would seize the first opportunity for
lifting federal restrictions on this life-saving prevention
strategy," said Paola Barahona of Physicians for Human Rights.
"Denying people at risk for HIV a proven prevention intervention is
a denial of their basic human rights."

"Without the federal funding, we're missing people that we could
reach," said Laura Thomas, who heads the Drug Policy Alliance office
in San Francisco and volunteers at a local needle-exchange program.
"It's ridiculous that at this point in the epidemic, we're not
looking to science in determining what we're funding."

A similar view could be found on the White House Web site soon after
Obama took office in January: "The president also supports lifting
the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce
rates of infection among drug users."

That comment was erased from the site recently.


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Open Letter to President Barak Obama

An Open Letter to President Barak Obama

April, 6, 2009

Dear President Obama,

In approaching the task of addressing you directly about a personal issue, I feel daunted by the abyss that separates the two of us in status and power. I am a retired public health physician, attempting to maintain a hold on his sanity and physical health by puttering around his garden in a Palestinian village in Galilee. You are the president of the nation most of humanity envies and desires to join, burdened with the task of saving the world from economic and political chaos and now from nuclear war.....


The link for this blog was sent by a friend. here is the link to the rest of the blog.

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