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POLICY: Health care astroturf gets me all grumpy

I wrote a scathing piece about an astroturf lobbying organziation that is pretending to be something it’s clearly not. My Spot-on editor Chris Nolan didn’t want me to be sued for libel, so the resulting slightly less caustic article is up there called Action and Reaction. My version was subtitled "Taking the piss."As ever come back here  to comment.

Back in the day when there was some vague interest from Democrats in fixing our health care system, a kindly millionaire gave a pile of money
to a lobbying pressure group that had quite some influence behind the
ill-fated Clinton Health Plan. Not too much has been heard since from
Families USA and its leader Ron Pollack. Sadly, those of us of a
certain age felt that its day in the sun had come and gone.
But what was interesting about Families USA was that, unlike
other Capitol Hill groups with "friendly" names, it actually lobbied
for things that might make pretty good sense to families, especially
poor ones. Namely national health insurance coverage that couldn’t be
taken away if the breadwinner got sick. Continue

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John FembupO. NeimonPeterjdgadfly Recent comment authors
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Peter
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Peter

My final comment Eric (not to get too far off topic)is that Iraq IS an issue and a symptom, of focus. We focus on war and fueling the “military/industral complex” because slimy politicians trolling for dollars and power is the accepted way in DC, while not trying to solve real problems like healthcare. Look what we could have done in four years if all the wasted attention and money had been poured into healthcare problems. But reducing healtcare spending stubbs the toes of the healthcare industry that somehow thinks we can change while keeping everything the same. If borrowing didn’t… Read more »

Eric Novack
Guest

Peter- I am sorry I am not explaining myself well enough… that our system is unsustainable in its current form is a fact— this is true for healthcare and social security. It goes way beyond partisanship— and I hope you realize this. A democrat majority in the house from ’65-’94, a democrat president from 65-68 and 76-80 and 92-2000 did not solve it either. Equally responsible are the republicans, who frittered away a real majority to spend and spend (since the 98 midterms). But Iraq is not the issue— it has nothing to do with obesity, technology costs, end of… Read more »

jd
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jd

Eric,
I’ve read a few articles on this. It looks like the Germans stuck it to physicians a little too hard. They can afford to give them raises in line with cost of living increases from here on (with a small extra boost now to make them happy) and still have a much lower total cost than the US, and a lower cost trend.

Peter
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Peter

My point Eric is you seem to think and trumpet those evil Canadian and Europeon systems as being unsustainable when the continued borrowing to prop up the American economic system is somehow, “sustainable” or at least honest economics. Anyone can cut taxes (for the rich) increase spending and size of government and run a war, when all you need to do is borrow, borrow, borrow. Reagan did it for 8 years and “conservatives” called him a genious. I thought the last link to the discussion, on global research.ca (hope it works), was a good examination of the U.S. situation, if… Read more »

Eric Novack
Guest

Peter- not sure I get your post… though we disagree greatly on solutions, I think, from your links, you believe the country’s financial obligations are a real concern. The premise that only conservatives use creative group names is patently false– I would hope you can agree with me on this much. Mr. O.N. — THCB generally prefers debate with information- thanks. So if you could define the upper limit of poor, and what exactly someone who is ‘poor’ should and should not be able to pay for (food, housing?), and once they exceed ‘poor’, or nearly exceed poor, how much… Read more »

John Fembup
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John Fembup

I think we should have a national health insurance system and live happily ever after.

O. Neimon
Guest
O. Neimon

And let’s not forget that “those liberals” who are (stereotypically, loudly, and Fox-Newsedly) sooo bent on destroying life as we know it have pretty much given up convincing “those conservatives” who believe that poor people are a liberal myth. Let’s be clear: Poor, working people don’t have money to put into an HSA. They don’t have it. Not they don’t want to pay. They simply don’t have “a few hundred dollars.” They don’t have $10. They have nothing. So I guess, by “those conservatives'” definition, they deserve to die.
Get it? Got it? Good.

Peter
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Peter

Matthew, you might as well delete the previous post as the links did not come out. I’ll try again.
Yea right Eric, we have a sustainable system;
http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/
jul2004/nf20040729_9971_db045.htm
http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/
indicators_intlpict_20060918
http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/
indicators_intlpict_20060918
http://money.cnn.com/2006/09/25/news/economy/
foreign_debt/index.htm?section=money_topstories
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=ENG20061014&articleId=3482

jd
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jd

Eric, I wish you would try looking at the world without doing so with the goal of “proving” once again that free markets are always best. Your claim that other (“socialized”) health systems are failing is hyperbole. Or if they are failing, then our system is catastrophically failing. It costs more than twice as much per person and delivers nothing like that much added benefit. The US government pays as much per person on healthcare as other developed nations do. We already pay as much in taxes for healthcare as the French! And for that they insure everyone, whereas we… Read more »

gadfly
Guest

I’ve got one word for you, Matt: wikiturfing. This is more insidious than other sorts of astroturfing because the sheer size of Wikipedia gives it a commanding position in search engine rankings. A couple of PR interns and a few geekily-inclined doctors, and any criticism of your health care business will never see the light of day.
Also, I just dropped you a “tip” note. How can you be missing the uproar over http://www.fixkp.org/ ?

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

What I find most interesting is why it took 13 years for the astroturf gang(s) to “discover” and exploit the link between families and healthcare. Let’s hope they can put the “fun” in dysfunctional families, too.

Steve Beller, PhD
Guest

“up to half of care is not helpful, yet liberals demand people have more access to get more of it” Here’s a radical idea: Give patients access only to care that is proven helpful and refer them to providers who demonstrate that they deliver such care safely, effectively and efficiently. Oh, we often don’t know what care is likely to be helpful and what providers are most competent and cost-effective. OK, fair enough. Then shouldn’t we be focusing more of our efforts and resources in gaining, disseminating, and using that knowledge, and in enabling providers to deliver the best care… Read more »

Rick
Guest
Rick

I think, Eric, that the days when the dreaded “S-word” (socialized) doesn’t scare people anymore the way it did before the Berlin wall fell. I don’t know anyone, lefty or righty, who’s worried that some new program might make us more like Sweden.
And I sure don’t view the Trib as any paragon of centrist sensibility.

Eric Novack
Guest

Matthew– the conservatives have hardly cornered the market on group names that belie its supporters. So your argument there is more than a little hollow. For example– ‘the center for justice and democracy’= trial attorny organization. I could go on and on with the different names that union organizations use to ‘front’ their propositions and causes. You want to get angry? The reality is that socialized, national healthcare systems- real socialized national systems, are failing, as is the social fabric of the countries of Europe. From this article in today’s Chicago Tribune I take issue with some of the points… Read more »