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Open Left Exclusive: UnitedHealth Lobbyist Announces Pelosi Fundraiser As She Begins Backing Off Public Option
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time yesterday suggested she may be backing off her support of the public option. According to CNN, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "said they would support any provision that increases competition and accessibility for health insurance - whether or not it is the public option favored by most Democrats." When "asked if inclusion of a public option was a non-negotiable demand - as her previous statements had indicated Pelosi ruled out any non-negotiable positions," according to CNN. This was also corroborated by the Associated Press, and by Pelosi's own words, as quoted in those stories.
This announcement came just hours before Steve Elmendorf, a registered UnitedHealth lobbyist and the head of UnitedHealth's lobbying firm Elmendorf Strategies, blasted this email invitation throughout Washington, D.C. I just happened to get my hands on a copy of the invitation from a source - check out this OpenLeft exclusive:
9-11 and Oil
By Cindy Sheehan | Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
Friday was the 8th anniversary since the tragedies of 9-11 and before I go forward, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of the people who were killed that day, but to also recognize that everyone in this country has suffered whether they know it or not.
On that sunny and bright morning, 8 years ago, I awoke from my sleep to learn that the first plane had hit the first tower. As the events of the day unfolded, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this event would somehow lead to the death of my oldest child Casey, who was in the Army stationed at Ft. Hood, Tx. I went into a tailspin of depression that didn’t break until I fell on the floor screaming after I found out he was killed in Iraq on 04/04/04. I wasn’t depressed anymore I was in a pain-soaked, white-hot rage.
9-11 was, of course, the defining moment of this generation. Of course, whether it was an inside job: evil Dick Cheney planning it between heart attacks in his bunker; to the “official story” (yeah, right!); the attacks were exploited to lead to, among other things: get our country militarily mired into three countries by now; torture; Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and rendition (began under the Clinton admin); USA PATRIOT ACT; military commissions act; lack of personnel and equipment to help the victims of Katrina in her aftermath; crumbling infrastructure here in America; collapsing economy; the FISA Modernization Act, etc, etc.
The role that psychologists played in the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies is slowly being made public. Military psychologists, with the full support of their professional organization, the American Psychological Association (APA), advised, implemented, and sometimes initiated programs that are drawing harsh criticism and calls for an independent investigation. When other national and international professional health associations withdrew their support and implicit endorsement of these policies, the APA remained steadfast in their support of the government’s illegal practices. Meanwhile many, perhaps most, members of the APA were unaware of the policies that were being carried out in their name. I shall briefly describe how the APA aided and abetted the U.S. government in Guantánamo Bay and the CIA black sites, and the steps that a number of psychologists are taking to end this unholy alliance.
In Torture and Democracy, author Darius Rejali points out that many decent professionals leave their posts when the state begins to torture, while those professionals who continue to work for the state create a “culture of impunity.” In 2002, shortly after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the American Psychological Association altered its ethics code (PDF), thereby creating it own “culture of impunity.” To a clause that read: “If psychologists’ ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to the Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict, ” the following sentence was added: “If the conflict is unresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority.” (emphasis added). As Kenneth Pope, a former chair of the APA’s Ethics Committee who resigned from the APA in protest over these changes and other ethical breaches, recently wrote in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, the APA’s ethics code “now runs counter to the Nuremberg Ethic.” In other words, when American psychologists are charged with unethical conduct, they can claim that they were merely following orders, just as health care professionals in Nazi Germany did when they were prosecuted at Nuremberg.
When the American Psychiatric Association overwhelmingly voted to discourage its members from participating in the interrogation process in Guantánamo Bay, Steven Behnke, the Director of Ethics for the American Psychological Association, emphasized the “unique competencies” that psychologists bring to their role in interrogations, and claimed that psychologists who help military interrogators made a valuable contribution. Furthermore, he argued, psychologists play a vital role in safeguarding the welfare of detainees.
Human rights organizations and congressional oversight committees take a very different view of this collaboration. Physicians for Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and the Senate Armed Services Committee document cases of psychologists advising, and in some cases directing, the interrogation of detainees in enhanced interrogations techniques that constitute torture under international law. Read more.
When seen from a distance, kites in Gaza may look quite ordinary. But while Gazan children, in many respects, are just children, their kites are hardly ordinary. Often adorned by the red, black, green and white of the Palestinian flag, Gazan children´s kites are expressions of defiance, hope and the longing for freedom.
This is hardly a cliché. People living under oppressive rules take every opportunity to express defiance, even through such symbolic ways.
Born and raised in Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, I remember my first kite. It, like most kites, carried the colors of the flag. The kite was the work of my older brother, now a successful medic in the West Bank. He obliged before my incessant cries for a kite despite my father´s objections. But why should a father object to something so seemingly harmless? Simple.
A notorious Israeli military camp and detention center was stationed on the outskirts of our refugee camp, between Nuseirat and Buraij. The military camp served multiple purposes. It was to immediately dispatch troops into our refugee camp at the first sign of protest. Further, the men stationed there guarded a nearby Jewish settlement. Finally, it also served as a temporarily prison where Palestinian activists suffered torture before being hauled off to Gaza´s central prison, or worse, Al-Nakab.
The military camp however, hardly enjoyed a moment of peace. Students and other refugees from adjacent refugee camps would descend into the Israeli military grounds, almost daily with marches; carrying flags, throwing stones and demanding that the soldiers´ depart. Of course, the soldiers didn´t oblige, and my refugee camp paid a heavy price in blood with every confrontation. Read more.
Here is another fact to add to your list of health care talking points.
Today, I received this alarming email from Physicians For a National Health Plan:
Significantly, in Massachusetts, where an individual-mandate health reform law, much like what President Obama is proposing on a national scale, was passed in 2006, at least 352,000 people, or 5.5 percent of the population, remained uninsured in 2008. That number was actually (but non-significantly) higher than the number of uninsured in 2007, before strict enforcement of the individual and employer mandates went into effect.
"The legislation championed by the president and the congressional leadership is a virtual clone of the Massachusetts plan," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). "Today's numbers show that plans that require people to buy private insurance don't work. Obama's plan to replicate Massachusetts' reform nationally risks failure on a massive scale."
Keep in mind that Massachusetts has a relatively low percent uninsured. I live in Texas, which has the highest rate of uninsured in the nation (25%!) despite being the country's second richest state and the world's 15th largest economy. If Mass was unable to make mandatory private insurance work, how on earth are the states that really need help going to get by?
Answer: they won't. Mandatory private insurance is nothing but a scam being run against the American people by private insurers who stand to make a fortune writing policies for healthy young people who will not use their insurance and older, sick folks who will be sold paper only policies that do nothing but save them from paying the fine for being uninsured.
But insurance is insurance.
Ha! An insurance policy with a two to three thousand dollar deductible sold to working class Americans will only be used in the event of a major emergency. People will not seek care for chronic problems like hypertension and diabetes, and they will not get preventive care like check ups and Pap smears. Indeed, if forced to pay a thousand dollars or more for a policy like this, folks will be even less likely to get necessary care since they will be $1000 poorer.
Universal healthcare in countries like France and Canada work--i.e. they do not break the national budget---because they are designed to encourage folks to get necessary preventive care. That makes them healthier so they are less likely to require expensive emergency care. Most of the world's industrialized countries pay less than half per person for health care (compared to the U.S.) and achieve better results in measures of public health like life expectancy and infant mortality. That is the benefit of prevention. A sane universal health plan emphasizes prevention. In contrast, our insane Congress's health plan emphasizes insurance company profits. Read more.
US starting new system for Afghan detainees to challenge their detention
By Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press | ABCNews
The Pentagon has begun putting into place a new program under which hundreds of prisoners being held by the military in Afghanistan will be given the right to challenge their detentions, a defense official said Sunday.
Prisoners at Bagram military base are all to be given a U.S. military official to serve as their personal representative and a chance to go before new so-called Detainee Review Boards, to have their cases considered, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to be able to discuss a program that has not been formally announced.
The initiative amounts to the first time prisoners will be able to call witnesses and submit evidence in their defense. There are some 600 detainees at the facility, some who have been held for up to six years.
An order creating the review boards was signed in July by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn. Some military officers serving in Afghanistan have already been assigned to the boards and some who will serve as personal representatives have already been identified, the official said. He declined to say whether any proceedings have already been held.
The guidelines came to light as the Obama administration is reviewing Bush-era detention policies and determining where to make changes. Read more.
Mad As Hell Doctors Road Report - Day 3 - Helena MT, Headin' for Fort Collins, 4:30 PM, Civic Center Park
Sunday, September 13 Fort Collins, CO
Mad As Hell Doctors Rally Make your voice heard - demand real health care reform!
Hosted by: Mad As Hell Doctors
Where: Civic Center Park, LaPorte Ave & Howes St., 80521
When: Sunday, September 13 from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
More in Fort Collins tomorrow, below the fold. Click "Read more."
Most of you probably don't know this, but the US military (using well over 15 million of your hard-earned dollars) has recently opened up a center for teenagers to have "the army experience" by playing video games and going through "simulations" of Humvees and "operation centers." It's called The Army Experience Center (AEC), and it's a 14,500 square foot recruiting tool located in the Franklin Mills Mall in northeast Philadelphia. It's something that the military industrial complex - excuse me, I mean the army - wants to replicate across the country.
Today I went to a protest in front of the AEC that was meant to shut it down for the day and hopefully lead to it shutting down for good. Go below the fold to see what happened, how I might be on national television, and some pictures.::::::::Crossposted to Docudharma.com, Dailykos.com, and Greenchange.org
The AEC is just what it sounds like - a rather disgusting military recruiting tool that exists to deceive kids into thinking that war is nothing more than a video game. I'm 16, and I can see how something like this would appeal to friends of mine. If it was just an arcade, I could have a fun time in there. But it's not just an arcade - it is a huge piece of propaganda that doesn't acknowledge the harsh realities of war. Like giving recruiters VIP access to high schools isn't enough, here is yet another attempt by the minions of the military industrial complex to militarize our culture and the nation's youth.
OpedNews Journalist and Six Protesters Arrested At "Army Experience Center" In Philadelphia (Updated 9/13/09)
By Linda Milazzo
UPDATED - 9/13/09: The six women, including OpedNews journalist Cheryl Biren, and one man, who has now been identified as Richard Marini of World Can't Wait, arrested yesterday at the Army Experience Center, were released early this morning, September 13, 2009. All were charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Failure to Disperse. Their arraignment is scheduled for September 23, 2009 at 11:30am (ET).
Philadelphia, PA, September 12, 2009: Six members of various anti-war groups, including World Can't Wait and Military Families Speak Out, and an OpedNews journalist, were arrested today at approximately 3:00pm (ET) at a protest organized to shut down The Army Experience Center, located in Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, PA.
(Dr. Flowers, a nationally recognized leader in the Single-Payer movement sent this out last week. I added the photo and wanted to share it with Backbone Campaign members to let you know how much our progressive movement leaders and allies depend on the Backbone Campaign for our creative tools. After Pres. Obama's speech last night, it is yet more important to build pressure on the Administration and Congress to not enshrine private profiteers in the role of guarantors for our human right to healthcare. The Count is on the road - we couldn't wait - but we still need your support. In collaboration ~ Bill Moyer)
We have come a long way. Single Payer is not only "on the table," it is "on the floor!" On July 31st, Speaker Pelosi agreed to a debate and vote on single payer on the floor of the full House of Representatives. This is the first time that this has happened in the history of our nation. This vote is expected to take place at the end of September (or later), after the Congressional Budget Office has completed its scoring.
By Dave Lindorff
Liberals are acting all righteous and offended that a member of the Republican opposition, Rep. “Joe” Wilson of South Carolina, would deign to besmirch the “dignity of the presidency” by calling out “Liar!” in the middle of President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening.
But what’s wrong with that? Whatever the veracity of Obama’s claim that his proposed health care “reform” would not pay for the health care of illegal immigrants residing in the US (and one can only hope that statement was fatuous, because at a minimum we would certainly want the government to pay for the care of an illegal immigrant in childbirth, or of an illegal immigrant who came down with a contagious disease), and even if Rep. Wilson is a racist bozo who wrongly thinks or wants to imply that Obama's plan would be out there enrolling undocumented workers in the millions at taxpayer expense, why shouldn’t members of Congress call out a president if they think he’s lying to them from the podium?
Mad as Hell Doctor, Dr. Paul Hochfeld, discusses how congress is being manipulated by industry to create policy that serves the interests of corporate America. We are getting policy that is more about profits than public good.
More videos below the fold. Click "Read more." Check the schedule for dates, times and locations here.
Congressman Grijalva Statement on President Obama's Address on Health Care Reform | Press Release
I am pleased that President Obama made the right choice to recognize the importance of a public option as part of the health care reform legislation.
A public option is the most effective way to achieve our goals of controlling costs, eliminating abuses of patients by insurance company abuses, and providing quality health care to all.
However, the President needs to be more direct on what the public option means and what it will do for the American people.
President Obama was elected to bring change and progress. I fear that if my party and the President do not appreciate the mandate the American people have given us, the people will lose confidence in the idea that they can vote for change and get what they voted for.
Over 70 Labor Organizations Call on AFL-CIO Convention to Endorse HR 676
By Kay Tillow | UnionsForSinglePayerHR676 | Press Release | Physicians for National Health Program
More than seventy labor organizations have submitted resolutions to the AFL-CIO Convention calling for the labor federation to endorse HR 676, single payer healthcare legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).
Resolutions were submitted by five national and international unions including the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), the International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees (IATSE), the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), California School Employees Association (CSEA), and the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE).
Seven state AFL-CIO Federations submitted resolutions including Wisconsin, South Carolina, Maine, Michigan, Kentucky, California and Vermont.
The remaining resolutions were submitted by Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations in twenty states.
All resolutions, including one expected to be submitted by the Executive Council, will be referred to the Convention’s Legislative Policy Committee which is chaired by Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers.
Healthcare is expected to be discussed on Tuesday September 15th after President Obama addresses the Convention.
HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a greatly improved Medicare system to everyone residing in the U. S.
HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.
HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.
In the current Congress, HR 676 has 86 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced SB 703, a single payer bill in the Senate.
HR 676 has been endorsed by 566 union organizations in 49 states including 134 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 39 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO, MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI, MT, NE, NY, NV & MA).
For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample endorsement resolution, contact:
- The writ alleges that the CIA has blocked defense counsel's attempts to explore Binalshibh's treatment when he was in the agency's custody and the effects of that treatment on his mental health.
Two military psychiatrists found that Binalshibh has a "delusional disorder," and he has been given psychotropic medicines at the military prison, according to court papers. The writ also alleges that the government has arbitrarily denied Binalshibh's attorneys expert assistance and access to medical records. The lawyers also quote one of the military judges in the case, who said in a ruling that the military commission is part of a system "in which uncertainty is the norm and where the rules appear random and indiscriminate."
Military attorneys for Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged conspirator in the Sept. 11 attacks, have filed an emergency writ with a federal court in an attempt to stop hearings in their client's case at a military commission at Guantanamo Bay.
In a sweeping brief filed late Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Navy lawyers asked that the commission be found unconstitutional, arguing that "nothing about this case bears any resemblance to the orderly and regular criminal process that occurs in federal and state courts."
Attorneys for Binalshibh acknowledged that the motion was unusual and the prospects for success uncertain, but they said they felt compelled to act to draw attention to the fact that hearings continue at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, despite President Obama's order that proceedings at the military base be temporarily halted. Obama has vowed to close the military base by January. Read more.
Problems Defending Palestinians in Israeli Courts
By Stephen Lendman
Established in 1992, the Addameer (Arabic for conscience) Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association provides support for Palestinian prisoners and works to end torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, other forms of abuse, and unjust and unequal treatment in Israel's criminal justice system that handles Jews one way and Palestinians another.
In January 2007, it published a report titled "Defending Palestinian Prisoners: A Report on the Status of Defense Lawyers in Israeli Courts" in which it explained obstacles lawyers face in representing Palestinians in military and civil courts. They're hampered by military orders, Israeli laws, and prison procedures that prevent them from adequately helping clients - from their time of arrest through detention, trial, imprisonment, appeal, and other constraints against justice.
Yet international law is clear and unequivocal. Article 2, section 3(b)(c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:
....persons "shall have (the) right (to effective remedy through a) competent judicial, administrative or legislative (authority), or by any other competent authority provided for the legal system of the State (to) ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce (judicial) remed(ies)."
Article 14, section 1 states:
"All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals (and) shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law." They shall "be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law."
They're also entitled to competent counsel, may meet with them in confidence, and censorship of their written and oral communications is prohibited.
Listen to Peter Gamble, Publisher and Bill Fletcher, Executive Editor, both of Black Commentator.com, analyze President Obama's speech to the joint session of Congress. Bill Fletcher made some key points: that Obama was more forceful than in the past; that he wouldn't play games with those who caricature positions he elaborated in his health care plan; whether or not Obama delivered the speech he needed to deliver; where progressives should concentrate their efforts, and the part Congress will play in negotiating the health care legislation. Listen here.
In the fear that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Americans were told that defeating Al Qaeda would require us to ``take off the gloves.'' As a former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and a retired commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command, we knew that was a recipe for disaster.
But we never imagined that we would feel duty-bound to publicly denounce a vice president of the United States, a man who has served our country for many years. In light of the irresponsible statements recently made by former Vice President Dick Cheney, however, we feel we must repudiate his dangerous ideas -- and his scare tactics.
We have seen how ill-conceived policies that ignored military law on the treatment of enemy prisoners hindered our ability to defeat al Qaeda. We have seen American troops die at the hands of foreign fighters recruited with stories about tortured Muslim detainees at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. And yet Cheney and others who orchestrated America's disastrous trip to ``the dark side'' continue to assert -- against all evidence -- that torture ``worked'' and that our country is better off for having gone there.
In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Cheney applauded the ``enhanced interrogation techniques'' -- what we used to call ``war crimes'' because they violated the Geneva Conventions, which the United States instigated and has followed for 60 years. Cheney insisted the abusive techniques were ``absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives and preventing further attacks against the United States.'' He claimed they were ``directly responsible for the fact that for eight years, we had no further mass casualty attacks against the United States. It was good policy . . . It worked very, very well.''
Repeating these assertions doesn't make them true. We now see that the best intelligence, which led to the capture of Saddam Hussein and the elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was produced by professional interrogations using noncoercive techniques. When the abuse began, prisoners told interrogators whatever they thought would make it stop. Read more.
Debbie Sumner prefaces a note from Granny D:
You may know Granny D (Dennis Kucinich does), Any way you can
help her get the word out about public funding legislation? This was
recently sent out through her group PACE (Public Action for Clean
I'm now reading your book Daybreak, and I agree with John Nichols
that you are our modern day Thomas Paine. Thank you for making sure
we're aware of what's been happening and that we need to keep pushing
Congress to fulfill its responsibilities. Granny is still pushing at
P. O. Box 492
Dublin, NH 03444
September 4, 2009
In September the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. will try again to decide
if corporations are persons and, if so, would have all the rights of a
person; and could send as much cash as they consider effective to
candidates running for office. I HOPE THEY DECIDE AGAINST CHANGING
OUR LAWS FORBIDDING CORPORATIONS FROM USING THEIR HUGE TREASURIES TO
INFLUENCE THE OUTCOME OF ELECTIONS.
Kucinich Responds To Obama's Address To Congress
Tomorrow, September 11
Idaho Falls, Idaho Mad As Hell Doctors Town Hall
Mad As Hell Doctors Keeping up the Good Fight
Hosted by: Mad As Hell Doctors
Type: Causes - Rally
Where: Sam Bennion Student Union Multipurpose Room, Idaho State Univ., 1784 Science Center Drive, 83402
When: Tomorrow from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Saturday, September 12
Pocatello, Idaho Mad As Hell Doctors Soapbox Stop
Clean out the old system, we need single payer health care now!
Hosted by: Mad As Hell Doctors
Type: Causes - Rally
Where: Holt Arena Park (S. 18th & E. Bonneville),
When: Saturday, September 12 from 8:30 am to 9:30 am
A number of new articles highlight evidence of illegal human experimentation on U.S.-held “terrorism” prisoners undergoing torture. The articles follow the release of a “white paper” by Physicians for Human Rights [PHR], Aiding Torture: Health Professionals’ Ethics and Human Rights Violations Demonstrated in the May 2004 Inspector General’s Report.
This article looks at those recent charges, and reveals that experiments by a CIA researcher on human subjects undergoing SERE training went unreported in the legal memos the Bush administration drafted to approve their torture program. It will also connect major military and intelligence figures to the SERE experiments, and tie some of them to major science and “experimental” directorates at the CIA and Special Operations Command.
An article by veteran journalist William Fisher, looking at PHR’s white paper, asks, “Did physicians and psychologists help the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency develop a new research protocol to assess and refine the use of waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques?”
“We Need a Better Change in this Country”–Mom of 17-YO Girl Who Died After Private Insurance Denied Claim for Liver Transplant
...we had insurance. We were covered. We thought we had insurance. So it’s like having insurance and not having insurance is the same thing. People who have insurance and don’t have it, they get the same care. But having insurance and knowing that you do have it, and you are recommended to a certain hospital, because the insurance company only pays if you go to that hospital, you go to that hospital, which in our case was UCLA. We were transferred there. By the way, that’s our fourth hospital within, I would say, three years, because they were jumping us around. And finally, you go there. My son gave her the perfect bone marrow transplant, perfect match. And my daughter needed a liver transplant. And so many requests, so many requests, and they were—the doctors were denied. We were denied, until the California Nurses Association stepped in, helped us out.
We had to get out and go to their headquarters in Glendale, make a scene with our family, the Armenian Youth Federation, our church. Why do we have to do that? I’m a mother who should have been next to my daughter. Only if I knew she was going to die that same day, you think I would have that energy to go out there and do that? I could have been holding my daughter’s hand and praying with her. This is not right.
We speak with Hilda Sarkisyan, the mother of Nataline Sarkisyan, who died two years ago at the age of seventeen after the insurance giant CIGNA denied her claim for a liver transplant. “We need a better change in this country, and I’m willing to help the President to do that…I want to meet him. I want him to feel how it feels not to have a daughter. He has two girls; he should know,” says Hilda Sarkisyan. “If we don’t stop this now, every family is going to have my story in their family.” [includes rush transcript and video] Read more.
...in California alone, 45 million claims since 2002, and in the first half of this year alone, their rates continue to skyrocket. Some of these rates ranged as high as 40 percent for UnitedHealthcare’s PacifiCare. And other large, giant insurers like Blue Cross, Health Net, CIGNA, Kaiser were all in the range of 30 percent. So it shows a clear pattern of very high denials by the very insurance companies that people depend upon to assure that they get care they need when they need it.
President Obama begins his final drive for healthcare reform tonight with a nationally televised prime-time address to a joint session of Congress. His speech comes after an explosive August recess consumed by raucous town halls and talk of government-run “death panels.” We take a look at California’s “real death panels.” That’s what the nation’s largest nurses group is calling private insurers, as new data reveals they denied one of every five claims over the past seven years. We speak with Charles Idelson of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. [includes rush transcript and video] Read more.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who is leading a group of six senators negotiating for a bipartisan approach to the health care bill, told reporters today he thinks a government-run, public option "cannot pass the Senate." It's the strongest language Baucus has used yet, though others (notably, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.) have been saying it for months.
The public option has been a major sticking point between Democrats and Republicans.
President Obama, who will address a joint session of Congress on health care at 8 ET tonight, has supported the public option as a way to provide competition in the insurance market and "keep private insurance companies honest." Politco reports here that Obama plans to give a strong endorsement of the idea during the speech tonight, but not make an ultimatum. Read more.