Health Care Campaign Says:Don’t Confuse Obama’s Open Door with His Being a Doormat

Health Care Campaign Summit Attendees to Deliver More Than 300,000 Signatures to Congress Demanding Real Health Care Reform in 2009

Washington, DC – Health Care for America Now (HCAN) – the nation’s largest health care campaign –held a pre-summit press call today to emphasize its stance that health insurance companies, drug companies, and high-paid lobbyists should not be allowed to steer or derail health care reform.

“We shouldn’t confuse President Obama’s having an open door with his being a doormat,” said Richard Kirsch, National Campaign Manager for Health Care for America Now. Kirsch and 12 other representatives from the Health Care for America Now campaign will be participating in today’s White House Health Care Policy Summit.

Exemplifying just one component of the wide range of stakeholders invested in fixing the system, Bill Raabe, Director of Collective Bargaining & Member Advocacy for the National Education Association explained why educators are so invested in the fight. “When school nurses become primary care doctors, it is past the time for reform,” Raabe said. “We need to make sure kids can come to school healthy and ready to learn.”

Judy Feder, Senior Fellow for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, drew reporters’ attention to the fact that health insurance companies are playing the same game now that they played in 1993/94 right before they launched the infamous “Harry and Louise” ad campaign that helped sink President Clinton’s health care reform initiative.

“We don’t need actors on TV telling us there’s a better way. We know it from our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our coworkers who are dealing with an inefficient, in adequate health care system every day. People know now it’s the status quo that’s scary,” Feder said. The Center for American Progress Action Fund has released the following compilation of “then and now” statements by traditional opponents of reform that are eerily similar:

The Past is Prologue:

Making sure the people’s voice speaks louder than special interest money, has collected 301,012 signatures and comments on a petition that reads: “Don’t let the insurance lobbyists delay health care any longer. In this economic crisis, we can’t afford NOT to pass quality, affordable health care for all this year.” Richard Kirsch and Roger Hickey, Co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, will hand-deliver copies of the petition to Members of Congress in attendance today.

Noah T. Winer, Health Care Campaign Director for Political Action, read the following comment from Brian in Independence, Kansas:  

“I started my business a year ago.  We are hanging on, but I can’t afford health insurance.  I broke my arm last fall, and now have around $70,000 in medical bills.  I am facing bankruptcy and may have to go out of business.  That means my partner, my employee, and I will have to find jobs somewhere, and there will be another empty storefront in our downtown. It is already starting to look like a ghost town."

While the Administration has invited insurance and drug company representatives to participate in today’s summit, Health Care for America Now applauds President Obama’s firm commitment to choosing what’s right for the American people instead of what’s profitable for the special interest groups.  The following are two recent statements the President has made blaming insurance and drug companies for past failures in health care reform:

3/2/09 – Washington, DC (Announcement of Gov. Sebelius as HHS Secretary-designate & appointment of Nancy-Ann DeParle as Director of the White House Office of Health Reform) – “I realize that there are those who simply don’t believe Washington can bring about this change, and the odds are long. It’s failed too many times. There are too many special interests and entrenched lobbyists invested in the status quo. That’s the conventional wisdom, and I understand those doubts.

2/28/09 – Washington, DC (Weekly Presidential Radio Address) – “I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families…  In other words, I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak.  My message to them is this:  So am I.  

10/4/08 – Newport News, VA
– “And we are tired of watching as year after year, candidates offer up detailed health care plans with great fanfare and promise, only to see them crushed under the weight of Washington politics and drug and insurance lobbying once the campaign is over.”  

Health Care for America Now and its principles for reform are supported by President Obama and more than 185 Members of Congress. We are doctors, nurses, community organizations, small business owners, faith-based groups, people of color, seniors, children’s and women’s rights groups, and labor unions. Our Steering Committee includes:




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United for Change
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America’s Future
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for Community Change
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for American Progress Action Fund
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Defense Fund Action Council
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Workers of America
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Council of La Raza
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USAction, and Working America