Wednesday, September 2, 2009


One of the things I'm realizing is that while the opposition to the public option is national, and includes large numbers of people who have essentially the same empty talking points (government is always bad, socialism is always bad, you have to read every page of the House bill because there are weird hidden genocidal policies in it), support for the public option is local and personal.

At first I thought that this was because of party politics, etc. -- but now I think it's more that you don't really know how broken our system is until you encounter it. So you have full-time politicians, pundits and talk-radio hosts who see nothing but cost and political ideology, and then you have citizens and patients who have seen how destructive the system can be. I say this as a way to introduce Veronica De La Cruz, who lost her brother to a treatable heart problem even though she raised a million dollars to pay for his transplant and treatment. She explains it better than I could in this open letter. Veronica was on-air at CNN and has a big microphone, but this system repeats itself in small ways every day:

-- a new father forced into hour-long negotiations on his cellphone in a hallway at work because the insurance company has once again delayed payment for his son's care (Hi Bryan!)

-- the terrifying job hunt of a recent college graduate who is not just trying to avoid moving back in with her parents, but to keep her insurance from lapsing and causing her recently diagnosed depression and anxiety to become uninsurable pre-existing conditions (Hi M!)

-- an adjunct teacher making $15,000 a year who pays $250 a month in insurance premiums -- that's $3000 a year, 20% of her take home pay (Hi Emily!)

These are the activists we have in the fight for the public option -- their suffering is the motivation to get this bill passed and this system reformed -- and there are millions of them, scattered out over the whole country. The trick is to make sure their voices are heard.

So: I found two events this week in my area through Health Care for America NOW, which can show you where town halls, rallies and speeches in your area will be held, and I've seen events planned through President Obama's community organization website. There's also a really vigorous conversation on Twitter, centered in part around (but certainly not limited to) the #PublicOption hashtag -- a lot of this seems to be among and between networks of friends and acquaintances. Finally, though, the ultimate effect of organization is to put pressure on your representatives -- you can find out where your senator stands on reform here, and contact them through the same site, or any of a number of others.

EDIT: forgot to mention this site, where you can see some of the impact HR 3200 would have on your community specifically.

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