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Health Care Reform Protesters Gather In Danville Friday Night

Original post made by Mark Curtis, Danville, on Aug 14, 2009

(Danville, California)

The health care reform debate has finally come to my town. Tonight Senator Barbara Boxer, (D-CA), held a book discussion and signing at Rakestraw Books in downtown Danville. It was not supposed to be about health care.

But, a crowd I would estimate at 200, gathered outside and around back of the book store. Most were chanting loudly against the current health care reform legislation before Congress, which is being backed by President Obama. There was a smattering of supporters, who also carried signs. Some of them engaged in heated, but civil debate with some of the protesters.

I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, since so many people know me here. I also left my video camera at home, because I think some of the ugliness on both sides of this debate has come from people grandstading to the TV cameras present. I also decided not to interview anyone, but just to mingle in the crowd and write down what was on some of the protest signs. I was trying to be the "fly on the wall" if you can at such an event.

Here is what some of the signs FOR health care reform said:

"We Support Boxer and We Live Here!"

"60% of bankruptcies in the U.S. are Due to Medical Costs."

"14,000 Americans Lose Their Health Insurance Every Day: Shame on You if That's Acceptable"

Here is what some of the signs AGAINST health care reform said:

"Read the Bill!"

"Let Me Be Clear: No Obama Care"

"I am an 'Authentic Grass Roots' Protester Against Government Health Care"

Protesters outnumbered supporters by about 3-to-1. Plenty of Danville Police were on hand to keep things orderly.

I was glad to see this. For all the criticism against the protesters nationwide, at least they are out there exercising their rights and are engaged in the process. Too often, apathy is the attitude towards most political issues, and why we see voter turnout rates of forty percent, or much less.

Mind you, I don't favor some of the protesters who have completely shouted down and shut down some of the Congressional health care town hall meetings, as that is just rude. You can't on one hand insist on a Member of Congress reading the entire bill (and I fully agree they should read it cover to cover), and then react by shouting him down, while he tries to explain it. We can't have an educated discussion, unless we actually have a discussion!

As I said, I think the First Amendment is the big winner here. People are assembling and speaking out and making their voices heard on all side of this debate. Yes, it's ugly at times, but who said democracy was a pretty process. We are, after all, a nation founded by protest!

(This article reprinted with permission from www.MarkCurtisMedia.com)

Comments (50)

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Posted by member
a resident of Danville
on Aug 14, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Good report.

200 sounds like a good estimate. Your estimate of the split is completely off, though, and anyone who was there would agree. There were only about 10-20 supporting healthcare on the "for" side (that is, supporting the Democrats plan) across the street from Rakestraw. There were another 4-5 on the "against" side (that is, opposing the Democrat plan) with them. There were nearly 200 in front of the bookstore -- with only 4-5 on the "for" side and the rest on the "against" side.

My math says it's more like 10-to-1 or 20-to-1 on the "against" side. Any objective person who was there would agree.


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Posted by Mark Curtis
a resident of Danville
on Aug 14, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Well I was there, and believe it or not, I counted the crowd (as best as one can in a situation like that). I did count some of people who were in the line to get inside-- as being part of the HCR supporters, since some were holding signs-- so I stand by my overall objective estimate. And it is an estimate...perhaps it was 4 to 1, or 5 to 1...but I tried to be as accurate as I could. Many of the pro-HRC folks were not very vocal and just waved their signs, but there were a good many more than a mere handful, and I was surprised. Regardless of the numbers, I thought it was a good,vocal demonstration, without a lot of the rancor we've seen on national TV. As a former Congressional staffer, it does me good to see people out making their views known. So often, the public is just silent, and politicians just pass their agendas at will and unfettered! That's not how it's supposed to work! Thanks for your comments! M.C.


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Posted by member
a resident of Danville
on Aug 14, 2009 at 11:18 pm

If you counted everyone who got their book signed as being a pro-healthcare protester, then your nummbers are probably correct. Not sure it's fair to count them, though, since they were in line, and left after their signing. If they bought a book and wanted Sen Boxer to sign it, it's a good guess that they support her and HRC -- but they were not protesting. I'd count them as innocent bystanders.

Don't think I characterized the pro-HCR as "mere handful". Did say there were about 20 across the street (I counted them, too)and about 200 in front of the bookstore (big crowd, I did not count them, I'll trust your count). There were about 5 anti-HRC folks across the street and about 5 pro-HRC with the anti-HRC crowd (brave lot, them). I was specifically looking for them, and talking to one of them, so I'm confident in that number. That's about 20 pro-HRC folks. If there were 200 anti-HRC folks, then it's 10-to-1.


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Posted by Mark Curtis
a resident of Danville
on Aug 15, 2009 at 9:53 am

There were also some around the side and back of the building I counted, in addition to those were were in line to get in. I counted all those carrying the small blue Obama signs. Anyway, I think our count differs because of those I counted in line. Either way, the anti-side far out numbered the pro HCR.


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Posted by Californian
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 15, 2009 at 10:05 am

Good call, Mark, on the estimate - I would have said 75, maybe 100, HCR protesters outside and none inside....at least none that were vocal. You'd have to ask Michael, but 90 on the inside would be a fair assessment. I was inside and despite the occasional roar of the crowd outside, I very much enjoyed the reading, bought the book, and had it signed. Those of us inside sent up a roar or two of our own. Indeed, it was democracy in action...but there were at least a couple of women who weren't particularly accommodating when I attempted to get into the registered guest line.

As for the messages the protesters offered up...one in particular irritated me. The sign said "Health care is not a federal issue" - it's NOT an issue if you have it and can afford it. I would guess every protester in attendance had health care coverage, be it private or Medicare (is that not a federal program?). I wondered if any of the 65+ yr olds in the crowd would be offering to give up their medicare benefit anytime soon...


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Posted by Danville Dan
a resident of Danville
on Aug 15, 2009 at 4:20 pm

I walked through this last night and thought most of the anti-Health Care protesters were well behaved. There were, however, some really inconsiderate individuals who helped perpetuate the idea that the tea parties/town hall protests are "angry mobs".

1. Several anti-health protesters heckled the Danville police, telling them they they should not be receiving any overtime for their presence at the event and that they should go do something else since they get paid by taxpayers. Absolutely uncalled for.

2. There were frequent chants of "Boycott Rakestraw Books" and "Close Rakestraw Books." I was just disgusted by that. Rakestraw Books has been a part of our community since the 1980s and the owner works very hard to bring authors and literary events to our town. Clearly the Boxer event was packed, so it was a success as far as book sales. The idea that we should boycott this wonderful independent book store because they hosted Boxer's book tour is absurd, and anyone who chanted "Close Rakestraw Books" should be ashamed.


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Posted by member
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Aug 15, 2009 at 6:50 pm

member is a registered user.

There were, unfortunately, some rude folks who did their cause more harm than good. When people exited the bookstore protesters booed. I asked some of the booers why they were booing our neighbors and they claimed they were booing Boxer. Good intention -- bad impression -- bad outcome.

The calls to boycott Rakestraw were also uncalled for. Rakestraw is a great bookstore and we're happy to have them. I support the protesters' cause and I understand their anger -- but the protesters should realize that the goal is to communicate frustration with our legislators and distrust in their ability to run our healthcare system. The goal is not to villify our neighbors and merchants.


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Posted by Hal Bailey
a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Dear Dolores,

Without the restrictions of neighborhoods' NDAs, there is opportunity to point to the reality that neoconservative activism, exampled by the various signs in your front page picture, simply are not part of a very broad, very savvy majority of moderates from all parties. Certainly, the <100 neoconservatives marching and booing have adopted strategies from the most liberal union tactics in our inner-bay communities. Here that strategy and tactic is lost on the very savvy majority of readers.

Like all factions of hundreds within our region, no message becomes real until it becomes the consideration of the majority of residents in neighborhoods throughout our region. Noise is not majority and many times it is just a community embarrassment.

Deserves more in-depth considerations and support of Mark's clarification of the event and its impact.

(Here I am, folks)

Hal Bailey
halbailey@yahoo.com


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Aug 15, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Labeling all those who protest the health care bill as neo-cons is just inaccurate. I myself happen to be a conservative who doesn't think the bill is necessarily bad. I'm completely on the fence about it. That being said, I can understand why some feel it's just another tax-and-spend liberal program. Dennis Miller said it best concerning peoples' concerns. "People are willing to help those who need a leg up. But, they don't want to waste their money on screw-ups. And when they think their money's going to people who don't even belong here they're like 'what's up?!"

The reason I'm on the fence about the bill, as opposed to being opposed, is because I think it might actually result in illegal immigrants and welfare-abusers being forced to put more into the pot they take from. Already we kind of have a form of universal healthcare. People without insurance just go to the emergency room, where we can not refuse them and which costs five times that of normal. In a strange way, this healthcare bill might have more of a conservative agenda underlying it. However, Obama can't come out and say that for fear of losing his minority base, who would be mad to think that it's not just another entitlement paid for by whitey. Obama doesn't bother trying to win over white conservatives because he feels he has no chance no matter what. This is what conservatives need to consider. The one thing I haven't liked about the recent tea party movement, and I myself am a big tea-partyer, is that it's too attached to being anti-Obama. Remember, Bush is the one who wasted half a trillion dollars in Iraq, for some liberal agenda to save an "oppressed people." It is not conservative to waste our money and our childrens' lives on some war to save others. Bush also was gung-ho for the Paulsen Plan, which would've given nearly a trillion dollars, no questions asked, no oversight provided, to the rat banks and Federal Reserve. He eventually got a more watched over form of that bailout, which Obama has provided even further oversight over. That bailout of the banks has resulted in the American government paying somewhere around 4 trillion dollars. Next to that, the stimulus bill pales in comparison. So, we gotta get real. This is not an anti-Obama thing. This is an anti-government thing, and those who think Obama's the only problem are kidding themselves. I actually believe that Obama's more conservative than he portrays, in many ways more than Bailout Bush and Amnesty McCain.

I am very glad to see conservatives venting their voice in mass demonstrations, just like liberals have done for so long. This is where the power to change government lies. We're taking back the streets people! Next step is demonstrating against illegal immigration


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Posted by member
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Aug 16, 2009 at 3:18 pm

member is a registered user.

Labeling all those who protest the health care bill as a neo-con is not only inaccurate, but labeling ANYONE there with such a label is unproductive. I am of the opinion that once you have to resort to calling those who disagree with you names you have lost the argument and admitted that your beliefs have no real substance.

If you ciruculated the crowd then you know that there were several substantive - and polite - conversations between some of the folks on both sides.

I spoke with the man who had the "14,000 Americans Lose Their Healthcare..." sign. Based on this discussion and others that he brought up that night I might have labeled him as a wild-eyed lefty. I would have been the lesser for that, though, because he had some valid points. In the end I did not agree with him and I doubt he agreed with me -- but he gave me some food for thought.

This is our Republic in action. Boxer got more votes than her opponent last time. We are making our voices known to her and those in power.

We need to go further than just demonstrating against another issue. If they don't hear us then we need to take this same level of activism and committment and make sure that they don't represent us anymore.


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Posted by Teresa
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 17, 2009 at 5:37 am

My friends, Beth and John are in their 50's. John was diagnosed with blood cancer and laid off from his job a month later. They tried a stem cell transfer that was painful, difficult and did not work. John has a year or so to live. To make it that far, he needs a chemotherapy drug costing $10K a month. His COBRA ends in December. Beth was self employed and has a pre-existing condition (Hepatitis C from a 1980's car accident). Insurance will cost $100K a year, on top of the drug. So what should they do? Arizona offers nothing like Medical, their house is not worth what they paid. John is debating not taking the drug so as to not leave Beth impoverished. Beth is talking of suicide when John dies. Great system we have. I guess they should just go to the emergency room when they feel sick. This is a true, sad story. Only in America.


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Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 8:14 am

Can someone reading these posts, who opposes Health Care Reform please address Teresa's story about Beth and John (above post). I have yet to hear a convincing argument why the status quo is acceptable. Or the current set of Health Reform Bills are unacceptable, what is the alternative solution? I really am open to hearing an intelligent, compelling argument.

Why should Beth and John be in this position? Especially, when every other rich nation takes care of its citizens with universal or affordable health care.

I too believe in the right to protest, and question our representatives, but what solution is being offered to offset the immense pain and financial difficulties families across the country?

Please convince me, or better yet, convince Beth and John why Health Care Reform is wrong.


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Posted by Ralph Hoffmann
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Aug 17, 2009 at 8:21 am

Health Care Reform should be done by the people, not government!
Each of us should use proper diet and portion control in eating. Point out to the obese you meet that they raise your health premium.
Exercise can be gotten cheaply through walking, biking, jogging, weight lifting, and doesn't require gym membership, just avoid sun.
Massage therapy can be done by intimate relationships, not spas.
These reduce incidence of Diabetes, High Cholesterol, HBP and stress.
Ignore drug ads in the media. They don't quote price. Meds should be recommended by a physician, not requested by patients.


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Posted by Californian
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 17, 2009 at 8:42 am

This thread is certainly more constructive than the discourse (very little discourse) that occured at the event. Please , would someone opposed to healthcare reform respond the the writer re: Beth and John's plight?


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Posted by Farmer Dave
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 9:11 am

Sorry Ralph, while you raise some valid points about individual responsibility for one's health, there's nothing Beth or John (see Teresa's post) could personally do to prevent their health issues.

Can no one in opposition to healthcare reform address those very real issues?


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 9:29 am

Oh my God, what a bunch of wrong-thinking. Like I said before, I'm on the fence about health care reform, but those who try to pull on our heartstrings in such an overdramatic way have gotta look outside the situation for a moment. Listen, we can not always sell our core ideals downriver everytime someone scares us with notions of death. For instance, when the Bush administration and many Republicans argued for torture, their argument often focused on "what if we don't torture and some innocent Americans, even children, are murderered in a terrorist attack? Isn't it okay to give up some fundamental freedoms and change our core system to save the lives of children?"

The answer is - NO!

Our country was founded by people who said "give me liberty or give me death!" Those people understood that some ideals are worth risking one's life for.

Concerning torture, we as a whole felt that selling out one of our core ideals was not worth saving American lives. We'll find another way, hopefully and probably. But, even if we don't, we still can't use torture. And not just because waterboarding's so horrible to use against hardened mass murderers, but because of the precedent it sets and what it could lead to. If they waterboard Muslim terrorists now, what's to stop them from one day loosening the guidelines of what is a terrorist. Is any person who hates the government a terrorist? And, if waterboarding's okay, how come punching them a few times isn't? If punching them is then okay, can't we pull out a few fingernails? After all, it's all for the greater good, to stop the murders of innocent people.

Thus, we must remember that sob stories suck, but they don't automatically change our views. The problem with Teresa's story is that it just focuses on the sob story, and not the overall ramifications. This country has fought a war against communism since the beginning of the last century for a reason. Not because we don't like the warm and fuzzy ideals of communism, such as everyone being happy and having stuff, but because the ideals of communism have never and will never be implemented in reality. Communism has always resulted in government dictatorships, not the will of the people. Communism results in a lack of competition, for there is little incentive. Why work hard when you can work poorly and still have the same quality of life? And so you get lazy societies on the whole, who live off the backs of those who choose to keep working hard and contributing, even without incentive. Those people are worked like slaves while the irresponsible and decadent overbreed and fritter away their government-provided funds. How's that fair?

The thing is, if we pay for everyone's healthcare, because of the sob stories, why don't we pay for all their food. After all, food is just as necessary for survival, if not more so. And why doesn't the government pay for everyone to have a car? After all, there are many sob stories about parents who don't have cars and don't feel they have good enough access to their jobs, which effects their ability to feed their children. And their children have to ride the bus in dangerous areas, walking home in the dark and possibly getting raped or killed. You see, there's a story to make us cry about anything. But, we actually just don't have the money to pay for everyone to have everything. This nation was never founded on the principle "Come to America! We'll give you everything!" It was "Come to America, and the government ain't gonna stand in any of your way of trying to make it for yourself."

John's case is particularly indicative. His drugs cost $10,000 a month! That's $120,000 a year! Where do you think the money to pay for his treatment is gonna come from?! I don't know if you've been made aware, but money doesn't grow on trees. Really, it doesn't. There are countless people who don't have enough money on their own who supposedly "need" such medical help. Try to think about how much that must cost on the whole. What if less than one percent of America "requires" such healthcare and can't pay for it? This is not implausible considering the ramifications of illegal immigration. It would take just ten million people a year, out of this country of more than 300 million, to have similar issues and all of a sudden we're all forking out a trillion dollars a year. That's almost a tenth of our GDP. And it could be far, far more. Who pays for it? It's called OPM - Other Peoples' Money. And those people are not often rich. They're average, hardworking folks who can't now spend all their money on their children, on their families, on whatever they feel to be important to their well-being.

Here's the thing. I actually like some parts of the European healthcare system, which directly contradict your way of looking at things Teresa. Part of most universal healthcare systems is to be more preventative and holistic, rather than thinking everything must be fixed with exorbidantly expensive pharmaceuticals. Does your friend really need $10,000 worth of meds a month? A European doctor might have a vitamin supplement that could do the same thing for a fraction of the price. The one thing we Americans are extremely naive on is the concept of holistic medicine. We turn up our noses at vitamins, thinking it often to be "hooey," while thinking these petroleum-based pharmaceuticals are mana from God. Most diseases are caused by one of two things. One: some sort of poison, such as radiation, or arsenic, or whatever. Two: malnutrition. We scoff at vitamins and the like, but what the hell do we think our bodies are made of?! Pharmaceuticals?! We are made of protein, calcium, iron and all the minerals and vitamins! If you don't get enough of said nutrients, you will get ill! Countless major illnesses have been shown to have been cured by vitamin supplements, but these vitamins are not patentable like pharmaceuticals, so Big Pharma fights hard to keep such research from coming to light. They can only make a fortune off of their patents after all. I should say, they can only make a killing. I bet most people would be surprised to find out that most research doctors rely on comes from the pharmaceutical companies. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse! Most people are sick because of nutrtitional deficiency, and we do not have petroleum-byproduct deficiencies! Our fruits and vegetables are often sallow, sucked dry of their natural goodness by overproduction, articifical fertilizers and the like. We scoff at organic and are not willing to pay a few cents extra, when organic food is infinitely healthier and ABSOLUTELY MAKES YOU HEALTHIER, resulting in less medical care. Anyway, I could go on, but I believe I've gotten the core points across. If anyone would like more info, just ask.


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 9:34 am

And Ralph, you are absolutely on the right track! You hit the nail on the head. People go to doctors and the medical world for what things they can find possibly in their own family or friends. The massage point is dead on. Massage is incredibly beneficial to the body and does not need to be provided at a hundred bucks an hour by some therapist or spa.


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Posted by Frannie
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 10:15 am

I also attended the protest last Friday night, and witnessed the Obama "plants" arrive in a couple car loads of "out of towners". I watched as one man distributed a handful of "pro healthcare" signs to the people in the other cars....this disturbed me. Who pays these people? I did notice, none of them ever carry American flags (none of them do) and certainly, these people are not patriots! They come to our protests, with their own agenda, to intimidate citizens and reduce their impact on government decisions. American citizens have a right, under our constitution (if we still have one) to voice our opinions, without "hired thugs" sent to interrupt the voice of the taxpaying citizen!


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Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 10:33 am

Rick,

I want to really thank you for the effort you put into your post. I can see your passion and respect your commitment to express your views.

The sob stories you refer to, while sob stories indeed, are nonetheless real. While I'm trying not to put words in your mouth, I think you're essentially asking John to accept that he should be put out to pasture due to lack of funds since we as a society should not pay for him to live; or you're suggesting he take some vitamins or seek alternative medicine to be cured.

Look, I think most people would agree that we are an over medicated and over prescribed society. However, putting my common sense hat on, unless John has access to a homeopathic doctor, with a silver-bullet cure, he's going to have to gamble his life in order to go down that path rather than take the medications his doctor have prescribed so that he can continue living.

I own a small business here in the Bay Area. Every year I pay more to insure my employees and they get less and less converage. It's shameful how aweful the healthcare options are for lower salaried employees - they pay for coverage that barely insures their children - and if they need special medications they will hit their pathetic coverage limits. Why can other countries cover their citizens and yet in ours, families continue to be one illness away from bankruptcy...even with insurance.

Please remember, none of these other countries are communist, and while I recognize, universal healthcare may not work in the USA, I feel we can definitely do better than what we currently have. Sure, maybe we need tort reform in addition to what's proposed, but we do need something, and urgently.

In the meantime, sure, we can eat better, excercise and hopefully avoid the doctor. But for many americans that's not enough - they need care and they need it to be affordable, without the discrimination of pre-existing conditions and maximum limits on their coverage. Afterall, isn't a max coverage on a healthplan the same as knowing someone can pull the plug on you once you hit the limit?


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Posted by Californian
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 17, 2009 at 10:34 am

On the contrary, Rick, you've done little but interject topics into this discussion that have nothing to do with healthcare reform...this discussion is not about torture, it is not about Communism; no one is talking about giving people cars or paying for their food. Less than half of your last diatribe was about health care...that only serves to distort and distract.

To your credit, you came back around at the end with the preventative aspect. The problem with the current insurance model is that preventative medicine is not NEARLY as profitable (for insurance companies, hospitals and Big Pharma) as the surgical and pharmaceutical and procedural medicine that is required when there is no emphasis on preventative medicine. The current model is the status quo and it should not acceptable to any of us, regardless of our political bent. Let's stick to healthcare, please.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 10:53 am

Anyone there who was against reform and is over 64 is really stupid.
Most of them are probably using our Tax dollars to pay for their care.

Obama knows that reform is needed if the seniors are to continue with care.

Sounds like the dog who is biting the hand that feeds it.

And all the rest who are under 65 will get there eventually (???) THINK ahead are you really AGAINST the government helping people pay for health insurance ???


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 11:10 am

Californian, if you're too dense to connect the dots when I so readily connected them for you, then maybe you require mental healthcare. This is not just a debate about healthcare. Like all political debates it's about core ideologies. I addressed the core ideologies first. Those who argue we must turn to a communist model of economics because some people are hurting are no different than those who argued for torture to "protect lives." I am so sick of people telling me to stay on point just because their critical thinking skills are so poor that they can't see connections. But, I do agree with you on the preventative care versus expensive surgery issue.

And Bob, don't refer to seniors as "biting the hand that feeds them," when they busted their butts their whole lives to give their hard-earned tax dollars to the government. We feed the government, not the other way around. Don't forget that and have a little respect for the people who built this country in the generation before most of us.


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Concerned resident, thank you for returning with a reasonable counter to my debate. I will reply first with a question. You're question about John being put out to pasture begs the question concerning torture that is "highminded notions against violence are sweet, but are we really asking that people just die in a terrorist attack for such ideals?" The answer unfortunately is yes. But such terrible choices need not be made. 99% of the time there is another way. And so there is possibly another way besides having people die or an overtaxed citizenry


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Posted by Bob K
a resident of Diablo
on Aug 17, 2009 at 12:47 pm

I believe health care reform is needed. I just don't want the government running it. I want a Dr. I chose deciding what I need or don't need. I believe most people at Rakestraws Friday night would agree with that. The current bill, would put John out to pasture, he would be considered a bad investment and would be sent for mandatory councling on how to end his life. This isn't health care, its planned obsolescence.


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Posted by Bob K
a resident of Diablo
on Aug 17, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I want to comment on the boycott Rakestraw books post. I was there and people were frustrated by the employees of the book store hanging blankets in the windows. Our President promised transparency in his administration, we've seen anything but that. I didn't hear many people booing the people leaving afterrwards, I think that was isolated to a few people. I thought everyone was well behaved including Danvilles finest, they respected our right to protest, even allowing some of the protestors to go to the back of the store with police escort to greet the senator.


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Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Bob K.

I really want to understand why you believe that the current bill would put John out to pasture. Where in the bill does it say that he would be a "bad investment"? The end of life counciling is Optional and that benefit was included at a COST of $2.7 billion in the bill. Due to the misunderstanding by the public, it's being taken out - probably a good thing seeing as it is making us take our eye of the ball.

Educate yourself, look at what other industrialized nations are doing - no one is trying to end a life prematurely. In fact, in the current system, your life will be ended prematurely if your insurance runs out.

Rick, I understand your stance is based on ideals - not necessarily the particulars of what's being proposed for Healthcare. While I disagree with you, I won't question your values - I think everyone reading your post knows where you are coming from.

However, I don't believe the comparisons to toture are valid. I think you're presenting a false choice when you bring it up. As a society, we provide medicare, we provide welfare, foodstamps - we show immense compassion as a nation. When our gov't proposes extending healthcare to everyone, ensuring no one goes bankrupt because they are sick, I think is an extension of America being a caring nation.

I must say, I appreciate this civil debate. I think when you can articulate your position with either your ideals or FACTS you are contributing positively to the debate.


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Posted by Bob K
a resident of Diablo
on Aug 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm

concerned resident who doesn't use their name

I am educated and have read parts of the bill. The ONLY reason they are removing the counseling portion is due to people like us that are asking questions and not sitting on our butts doing nothing. My religious beliefs include protecting the sanctity of life, I hope they have removed that language.

I don't know about you but I like my freedom. I don't want to be like "the rest of the industrialized nations in the world". What is your example of an industrialized nation that you would like to see us be. I always thought that the US was the country most people in the world would like to live in, maybe I'm naive.


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Posted by member
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Aug 17, 2009 at 1:51 pm

member is a registered user.

"Can someone reading these posts, who opposes Health Care Reform please address Teresa's story about Beth and John (above post). I have yet to hear a convincing argument why the status quo is acceptable. Or the current set of Health Reform Bills are unacceptable, what is the alternative solution? I really am open to hearing an intelligent, compelling argument."

The answer is that the proposed healthcare reform WOULD NOT HELP Beth and John. The President (May 3, New York Times Magazine) has said that we will have to ask "hard questions" about providing care to the chronically ill. These questions, he says in his interview, will be answered by doctors, scientists, and ethicists.

Health care reform works great for healthy people -- it's only when you're sick that it falls apart.

Every single country that has resorted to a type of health care reform that we are proposing has imposed rationing. I work in this field. I've worked in healthcare in Canada and Europe, I know how their systems work.

At best we would follow the example of Canada, which relies primarily on passive rationing. Critical care is delayed until it is no longer necessary (you've got stage I cancer? wait 6 mos for the treatment. In 6 mos if you got Stage II cancer because the earlier treatment was delayed -- it's a different treatment so wait another 6 mos. Sooner or later you will do your patriotic duty and die before you burdeon the system too much).

More likely we will follow the program laid out by the President (in his public statements) and his advisors (like Rom Emanuel's brother). Bob and Beth's situation would be examined in terms of the cost of their care (the burdeon on society) what the odds of the outcome would be (is it worth the money?) and how productive they would be after the treatment takes place (are they too old to be able to pay society back?). If their expected longevity is less than 5 years (because it's a serious cancer, or because they are old) and the treatment is hundres of thousands of dollars -- forget about it.

If they are TRULY broke, then every single pharmaceutical company has a program to make sure that they get the treatment they need. These programs are not set up so that people can keep their 40" LCD TV, $500,000 home, and two cars while others pay extra for their drugs to fund this charitable health. But they will help people who are broke make sure that they are not denied care because they can't pay.

It is sad that they may be bankrupted and I think it's inappropriate to label this as a sob story. Thank God, however, that they have the opportunity to be bankrupted in order to save their lives rather than a society -- like Great Britain -- where you can't go bankrupt -- you just have to die.


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Posted by Jesse
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 1:59 pm

I was there Friday night, and also think you got the numbers wrong. There were far more anti the proposed healthcare legislation than pro. Most of the anti's I talked to believe in reform, but not the reform that is being proposed and do not support the status quo. I also talked with one of the pros, who admitted he was being paid to carry their uniformly printed signs. Those of us who were objecting were there out of honest concern and frustration, and were not being compensated. I also believe this was democracy in action.


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Posted by sharon
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Frannie, I am not an "out of towner" and I feel our health care system is completely broken. To assume that those that counter your opinion do not belong in your community is wrong. I didn't know about the demonstration at Rakestraw, but I probably wouldn't have gone anyway. You had the right to demonstrate your views. I just hope people who came for the book signing also got what they came for.

Theresa, I'm so sorry about your friends. I am a social worker, working with families who deal with a particular fatal disease, and I see this story time and time again. People who must quit their jobs and wait 2 years before they can receive Medicare benefits because they are under age, and once they do, so much of their treatment is not covered that they often go without so as not to impoverish further the loved ones they leave behind.

In my own life, I took on an additional part time job in order to pay for my sister's cobra when she was diagnosed with cancer and was laid off from her job. Even if she could qualify for Medi-Cal, her oncologist didn't take it and we didn't want her to have to switch when she was responding to treatment. She still has kids to raise. We paid for her to have counseling for her advanced directives (which helped her identify what she did/didn't want in terms of measures to take if her treatment wasn't effective). This is the same document that people seem to think is akin to putting people out to pasture. It gave her peace of mind. My sister is now in remission, and I thank God every day.

I work and live in this broken health care system and see people who die too soon due to lack of access, who use our emergency rooms for treatment for chronic illness because they don't have insurance, and I watch on television as audience members who want to hear what their representatives have to say are not given the opportunity to hear because they are shouted down.

I hope this demonstration wasn't like that, and it sounds like people were respectful for the most part. What I will say is that I want an opportunity to hear from my elected representatives about what they think - if it is rhetoric and will leave us worse off, I promise you I have the experience and intelligence to figure that out. To make the assumption that people who oppose your viewpoint just aren't smart enough to "get it" is erroneous. My concern over the current system comes from my experience in my career as well as my own family.


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Posted by member
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Aug 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm

member is a registered user.

"I work and live in this broken health care system and see people who die too soon due to lack of access, who use our emergency rooms for treatment for chronic illness because they don't have insurance, and I watch on television as audience members who want to hear what their representatives have to say are not given the opportunity to hear because they are shouted down."

This is a different point of view than many of the people attending town halls have. They are there to have their representatives liste to them -- their bosses. Many of the Democrats believe -- as you imply -- that they are the bosses and it's the people's job to listen to their pronouncements.

People are frustrated - and it sometimes comes across as rude - because they believe that the Democrats are not listening and that they are being dishonest. Example: In his town hall meeting in Montana President Obama claimed that the system provided incentives to surgeons to perform surgery rather than promote wellness. He then claimed that a surgeon could get $50,000 for amputating the leg of a diabetic and was motivated to do so, rather than motivated to encourage the patient to live a healthy lifestyle.

Surgeons actually get $750 to $1200 for an amputation. The President was off by 40% to 60%. The President (rather, the President's advisors) either knew better, and lied to us, or they didn't know better, and were ignorant. Do we want the ignorant or dishonest changing our whole health care system?


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Posted by Bob K
a resident of Diablo
on Aug 17, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Sharon, I agree with you that we deserve the oppurtunity to hear what our representatives think. Unfortunately Sen Boxer has taken the road of hiding behind and under blankets (at Corte Madera booksigning), instead of meeting with her constituents. How could any representative of ours find it more important to profit off book signings and sales than explaining to their constituents why we should support HR3200??? Time for CHANGE.


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Posted by member
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Aug 17, 2009 at 3:18 pm

member is a registered user.

"Surgeons actually get $750 to $1200 for an amputation. The President was off by 40% to 60%. The President (rather, the President's advisors) either knew better, and lied to us, or they didn't know better, and were ignorant. Do we want the ignorant or dishonest changing our whole health care system?"

Correction on my post -- the President was off 40 to 60 TIMES -- not 40% to 60%.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Member (no disrespect intended by referring to you informally - it looks like no name is on your posts), I didn't hear the particular comment you are quoting re: Obama's speech. It would make sense to me that the charge for an amputation would be much greater than $1200, and that perhaps the surgeon would receive the $1200. Not being a surgeon though, I am not sure. Also - have you seen the media coverage of people getting up to ask questions at a town hall meeting only to be told to shut up and sit down by others who are shouting down the statements they don't agree with? This is what I refer to in my post. I hope we are seeing a version of these events enhanced by the media, and that this is not considered acceptable by most.

Bob K - I'm not a Boxer fan, though if I were invited to a book signing I would likely spend time signing books for the people who came for that purpose rather than attend to a crowd of 200 given how the media is (mis?)representing the people who are shouting down representatives at town hall meetings. And I agree, time for a change. In many areas of our government, as well as health care.


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Posted by member
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Aug 17, 2009 at 4:08 pm

member is a registered user.

"It would make sense to me that the charge for an amputation would be much greater than $1200, and that perhaps the surgeon would receive the $1200. Not being a surgeon though, I am not sure."

Understand. Please see the following press release from the American College of Surgeons:

---------

STATEMENT FROM THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SURGEONS
REGARDING RECENT COMMENTS FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA


CHICAGO: The American College of Surgeons is deeply disturbed over the uninformed public comments President Obama continues to make about the high-quality care provided by surgeons in the United States. When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform. We want to set the record straight.

• Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.

• Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon's decision to remove a child's tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what's right for the patient.

We agree with the President that the best thing for patients with diabetes is to manage the disease proactively to avoid the bad consequences that can occur, including blindness, stroke, and amputation. But as is the case for a person who has been treated for cancer and still needs to have a tumor removed, or a person who is in a terrible car crash and needs access to a trauma surgeon, there are times when even a perfectly managed diabetic patient needs a surgeon. The President's remarks are truly alarming and run the risk of damaging the all-important trust between surgeons and their patients.

We assume that the President made these mistakes unintentionally, but we would urge him to have his facts correct before making another inflammatory and incorrect statement about surgeons and surgical care.

About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 74,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

Web site: www.facs.org

----------------


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Posted by member
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Aug 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm

member is a registered user.

"Also - have you seen the media coverage of people getting up to ask questions at a town hall meeting only to be told to shut up and sit down by others who are shouting down the statements they don't agree with?"

Have seen them shout down the representatives when they thought the representatives were BSing them.

Also, saw an Obama supporter try to physically push back an anti-healthcare protester at Arlin Spector's meeting.

I did see SEIU members assault an anti-healthcare protester in Florida.

I did see Specter bus in a bunch of out-of-town ACORN and SEIU members to a healthcare forum and give them seats in the front.

People think that the Democrats -- not the Republicans are the ones who are staging these meetings. At the aforementioned Presidential townhall meeting in Montana a man identified himself as an NRA member -- 4 people applauded. Have you been to Montana? Do you think that the demographic profile of Montana is that, in a crowd of several hundred people, only a handful would support the NRA? In a crowd of several hundred liberal democrats that might be the case.

McNerney's tele townhall was a similar staging. It is estimated that several thousand people were on line -- yet he is devoting only 1 hour to discuss this matter with his constituents. Most of the comments (vast majority) were concerns that government-run healthcare would be too expensive and would reduce care. He told people on the line that the bill did not do these things (he was mistaken, or misleading us). I doubt he'll address the issue again. He needs to go.

PS - I choose to keep my ID anonymous because. Never discuss politics or religion with your friends. If you are going to discuss politics or religion (as this post is) don't risk bringing your friends (knowingly) into it. As you can see, some of these posts have resorted to name calling. I choose not to. This forum is to discuss the issues civilly . No sense tempting my less sensible neighbors into personalizing this. I could lose some good friends.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Hi Member, We are definitely neighbors if you are in the Baldwin community - I'm not less sensible than you I assure you, but respect your decision to not include your name. I don't include my last name for the same reason (though I have included enough identifying info that those who know me will know I am the person posting).

I wouldn't be moved by anything written by the American College of Surgeons, same as nothing backed by the health care insurance industry would affect change in my thinking around revamping health care. Both have too much invested in the status quo.

I will also concede that Democrats as well as Republicans have done their share of damage to their own cause through actions that are uncalled for. I don't mean to imply that either party is filled with only those who tell the truth, in a respectable manner.

I do feel, and strongly, that the current system is not working for many people - I realize that I see more than my share of these families given what I do for a living.

To answer your question - yes, I have been to Montana. I don't know enough about the residents to answer your question about how many NRA members are there per capita. I'm not sure why you have the theory that Democrats are staging the shouting matches, but I find it unusual. Still, you have a right to think what you will.

I hope we can get past the rhetoric and bickering on both sides, and come to an agreement that will finally allow for health care for all - something that is sorely lacking in the current system.


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Posted by member
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Aug 17, 2009 at 5:45 pm

member is a registered user.

"I wouldn't be moved by anything written by the American College of Surgeons, same as nothing backed by the health care insurance industry would affect change in my thinking around revamping health care. Both have too much invested in the status quo."

Understand,

The point is that facts are facts, and you can miss out if you discount someone because you don't agree with the source.

Medicare reimburses according to a system call "Common Procedural Terminology Codes", or CPT codes. Medicare publishes what they will pay for each code. I work in the business, I have access to the book and have looked up the codes. I work in early detection of breast cancer and know the codes for mammography, etc, but all the codes are listed.

The code for amputation of the lower leg is 27881. The reimbursement for each state is different, but for Oklahoma in 2008 was $1,518.94 (I did a search and this is the first state that showed up.)

I agree with you that the current system has problems. I'm not sure anyone is saying that the current system is perfect. What I, and others, are saying is that having the government run it can only make it worse. Many agree with Ronald Reagan when he said that "Government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem." When government runs healthcare passive or active rationing has been the result in every single instance.


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Posted by sharon
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Member, many people work in health care. Those who work as advocates have been some of the strongest supporters for systemic change in this system - my guess is this is not your area and you have perhaps not seen patients who are denied access to treatment (even preventative treatment like mammograms) because they are underinsured or uninsured completely.

You and I may both work "in the system" but the view I have with the families I struggle to help access medications and other effective treatment when they reach the cap on their insurance or have none at all, is clearly miles away from yours.


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Posted by member
a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Aug 17, 2009 at 11:27 pm

member is a registered user.

"Member, many people work in health care. Those who work as advocates have been some of the strongest supporters for systemic change in this system - my guess is this is not your area and you have perhaps not seen patients who are denied access to treatment (even preventative treatment like mammograms) because they are underinsured or uninsured completely."

Again, it's the difference with whether the government should take over, or the private sector. No breast center I know of will turn away a woman who has a DEMONSTRATED financial need. They will work with her to make sure that funds can be secured from one of the many charities that help these women. These are private groups funded by our neighbors -- not mandated by the federal government. The primary purpose of many charities -- particularly the Susan G Komen foundation -- make funds available so that a truly indigent women can get a mammogram.



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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Danville
on Aug 18, 2009 at 10:52 am

Can you think outside of the "mammogram" box and see that other types of screening and treatment are not available to all with "DEMONSTRATED need" (and, unless you have access to the information that your mammogram might be covered by foundation funds, you would not know to get one)? You seem to be applying your limited experience around billing for mammograms to the whole of potential screening and treatment issues.

Member, I will take what I can from your impassioned posts and integrate it into my awareness around this issue. I wonder if you are capable of doing the same.


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Posted by Bob K
a resident of Diablo
on Aug 18, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Sharon, I might be deemed a right wing radical by some of the people on the other side of Danville Blvd last Friday night, but like most people that don't want govt controlled healthcare we are compassionate towards the uninsured. I am a founding board member of free medical clinic in Oakland, its located at Christ the Light Cahtedral in Oakland at the corner of 21st and Harrison. We accept people of any race and religion with only one qualification, they are uninsured, for whatever reason. This is supported with donations from foundations and corporations that most of the liberals are condemning. If someone needs a mammogram we refer them somewhere where they can get one for free. We have arrangements for surgery services thru some DR angels from Kaiser who donate one Sat a month for outpatient service. I guarantee that the medical care we give patients is better than anything one would get from the govt. All our Docs are volunteer and are leaders in their feilds of expertise.
There are things we do not do, it is a catholic organization so you can figure out what those services are. We do treat chronic hypertension, diabetes, etc.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Danville
on Aug 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Bob K, what you are doing is wonderful. It is clear that you feel very proud of your accomplishment, though I wonder what government funded health care program you are comparing your clinic to. MediCare? The Veteran's Administration?

I work for a non-profit and we have found that providing services has gotten incredibly difficult as people are less able to contribute given their own financial woes - we have no government $. Relying on the kindness of people to contibute in order for important medical services to be offered is hazardous. We're lucky that we have outlasted many other non-profits that have already dissolved in this economy.

Many of our luckier families have insurance, some through MediCal, MediCare or the V.A., all which are government programs. These families fare far better with their disease trajectory than those without insurance, whether they find a free clinic or not. Sadly, all of our clients will die from their illness as it is not cureable and barely treatable. Luckily, MediCare, MediCal and the V.A. all include hospice as a covered service.

I'm finished here - I am off on Mondays and Tuesdays and have spent enough time trying to offer an alternative view based on over 30 years of experience in health care as well as with my own family members. I spoke to our physicial on staff today who had harsh words for the future of our country given the opposition to health care reform. He has been in practice for 43 years.

Such a shame - chances are the opposition to reform will "win" if that is what you call it. The ridiculous accusations around "death panels" etc. have taken hold on those who follow blindly - congratulations. I guarantee, we will all ultimately lose.


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Posted by Bob K
a resident of Diablo
on Aug 18, 2009 at 6:15 pm

As "member" said, the debate is between a government controlled healthcare system or a health care system run by the private sector.
I have never talked to anyone that doesn't think we need health care reform. It would be nice if the backers of Obamacare would understand that and start working towards a bipartisan compromise that might offer some alternatives. Unfortunately our government representatives haven't been listening and are trying to push it down our throats. Thats why we are fighting back.

Heres the math 84% of insured americans are happy with there insurance. 46 million are uninsured, approx 8 million of those are children. There are 304 million people in US, so 85% of population is insured, and 84% of those are happy with it the way it is. That means 217 million are happy and the other 87 million are either uninsured or unhappy with there current insurance. I don't think these numbers require trashing a system that 2/3's of america is happy with. Lets urge our congressmen and women to find a way to satisfy the other third without taking away the current system.


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Posted by Randy
a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 18, 2009 at 9:49 pm

One of the posters here said the first thing we should do is lecture obese people whenever we see them eating something unhealthy. Let's not put that guy in charge of fixing the broken health care system. But maybe he can go talk to Rush Limbaugh!


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Aug 19, 2009 at 6:16 am

For one thing, Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and the like have been tyrading against what they call the food police, or fat police. They've been talking about how Obama's healthcare reform is gonna result in people getting on the case of fat people to lose weight. I somewhat agree with this. I don't agree with the government telling us what to do, but I do agree that obese people should realize that their lifestyle choice is incredibly detrimental. It's worse than smoking. Obesity shortens the lifespan more than anything. Plus, a significant amount of poor people are obese and are using Medicaid or some other form of health welfare to use the taxpayers' money to pay for their diabetes or whatever. There's a strange movement on the right to be defensive about eating crap and preaching a sort of "fatty-pride." Especially real corporate types like Beck. I like Beck on some things, but unfortunately he's too corporatist. The reason why the corporations are so worried about us eating healthier is because they know the number one cause of major and chronic disease is what we eat. If we eat better, we'll especially use less pharmaceuticals. Pharma is the most profitable industry on the planet, making the big bucks off people's naïveté
and lack of good nutrition, which produces endless maladies, from depression to insomnia to colon cancer.


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Posted by Bea
a resident of Danville
on Aug 19, 2009 at 10:36 am

Me thinks someone doesn't like fat people =) I like the "fatty-pride" comment though.. hmm wonder if I can get a parade organized!


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Posted by carioca
a resident of Danville
on Aug 20, 2009 at 8:07 am

Danville is a surprisingly exciting place. For not hearing of it until a year ago, we've been in the national news twice since I moved here- Sully's homecoming after his crew's landing on the Hudson River and with Senator Boxer's booksigning at Rakestraw. Not a sleepy town at all!

Seriously, though, the debate on health coverage has brought many things to mind. Most importantly, representation, in its purest form, needs to come to the forefront of our demands upon our elected officials. We seem to have awakened to that notion.

We also need to demand better journalism. This story is a good piece. It does not attempt to persuade, it simply states the facts as the author observed them. The net-net is more people protested against Senator Boxer than supported her.

The comments are indicative of the quality of public discourse right now and it concerns me. It can be remedied with a little bit of self-control but, if that is not to happen, it can be done with a little old-fashioned teaching.

First, this is a good lesson to kids on how not to act. It is unnecessary to be rude just because one holds an oppositional viewpoint. This refers to not only the Danville protest, but the town halls, etc. Everyone should be able to state their opinion and if a response is warranted, it should be offered calmly and thoughtfully. All parties have the constitutional right to speak and etiquette dictates they have the right to be heard. Our forefathers would never have imagined the necessity of stating you have the right to be heard; they were gentlemen.

Secondly, the legislative process is complicated and voting needs to be viewed as a responsibility. Senators, congressmen and congresswomen are not elected for their entertainment value; they contend with serious business that affects their constituents' lives in every aspect of health, wealth, and happiness. Studying the issues and a candidate's position is vital to establishing representation of your viewpoint. This takes more effort than watching Fox, the national news, or Hardball with Chris Matthews. I was taught that with rights come responsibilities... it's a good lesson. We should pass it along.

Beyond this, I wish we could attract thoughtful people in greater numbers to public office. Few aspire to serving as representatives at any level today because the atmosphere is so poisoned. In permitting this, we have sacrificed rational policy-making.

Really, the quality of debate mirrors the quality of our representation. Both need some elevation.


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Posted by Bob K
a resident of Diablo
on Aug 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Boxer booksigning in Danville made the Bill O'Reilly show on Wed night.


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Posted by Marie
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 25, 2009 at 11:39 pm

I worked in a hospital at the time Medicare was instituted as part of the "Great Society". Many people had medical care after their retirement through their employer at that time. Instead of taking care of those that had no such benefit, Medicare covered those persons with insurance. Result: insurance disappeared. The estimate then was that in 30 years, Medicare would cost One Billion Dollars a year. We are approaching 100 Billion Dollars and and it is one of the largest entitlements in the federal budget. Congress passed it and President Johnson signed it and seniors and society are stuck with it along with complaints of its cost. Look to Congress for the responsibility, not the citizens. The consequences of passing the proposed health reforms will be the same only larger due to the larger population covered.

Obviously, reform is needed but in this case, the baby isn't being thrown out with the bath water, it is being drowned in the bath water. I would like the answer to so many questions:

What is the rationale for not being able to purchase insurance across state lines? I believe this would open competition among insurance companies.

Why can't people, when they have been laid off, continue to pay for insurance through their company's group at the same rates charged to their group? I know Cobra is available, but it has time limitations. When people get another job, that benefit exists through their new company.

I believe there are ways to resolve some of the problems that involve a small percentage of citizens without incorporating all citizens into new programs.

For many years, government grants, private grants, medical research has developed life-saving procedures, diagnostic breakthroughs of early detection, much with the taxpayers dollars. It seems in the proposal now, these medical advantages will be limited. Why is what was developed with taxpayers money so expensive to those who have financed the development?

Will life saving surgeries and treatments such as transplants be allowed or limited to people with a longer life expectancy?

I shall end with a quotation of the President during the campaign regarding his grandmother's hip replacement surgery:

"I don't know how much that hip replacement cost," Obama said in the interview. "I would have paid out of pocket for that hip replacement just because she's my grandmother."

Obama said "you just get into some very difficult moral issues" when considering whether "to give my grandmother, or everybody else's aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they're terminally ill.

"That's where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues," he said in the April 14 interview. "The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health-care bill out here."

I am pleased he would have paid for his grandmother's surgery out of his pocket. I presume he was contacted about her care before the surgery took place. Should I have faced that dilemma, I couldn't have afforded it.

I guess he can save money. 80 percent savings is pretty good. What were those end of life discussions again?


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