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NC Blue Cross Protest Speech

Thanks to the State Employees Association of North Carolina, I fulfilled a longtime ambition to protest in front of North Carolina Blue Cross Blue Shield. NC Blue Cross is opposing a public option health plan as a part of health reform. It’s easy to see why. With 96% share in the individual market and 3 out of 4 people overall insured in NC having to “choose” Blue Cross, they have a sweet monopoly going and don’t want any competition. This state of affairs has gotten me pretty fired up:

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4 Comments

  1. Lou Meyers

    July 16, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Powerful speech, Adam!

    What Blue Cross has morphed into has no place in a modern and humane healthcare system. Besides, we simply can’t afford their “cut” of the action any longer. Millions of our premium dollars wasted trying to block a public option won’t change that. Aside from being less than prudent with our healthcare dollars, it’s another cold blooded attempt to deny care to those that have been refused or priced out of the private market.

    That building in the background truly is the house of shame!

  2. Kay Zwan

    July 17, 2009 at 7:31 am

    Thank you ADAM!!!!! you and the NC Justice Health Access Coalition continue to be the PEOPLE’s voice for equal access to affordable quality H/C. Please continue to empower, inform and mobilize NC on Breaking the Private Insurance Industry Monopoly that is BREAKING American Families and America’s Economy!

    I have attached the email that I sent out asking Wilmington Area to Call Congressman McIntrye (a Blue Dog Democrat like Etheridge) The Blue Dog Democrats are planning to stop healthcare reform that includes a Public Health Insurance Option! We must call them and ask them who side are they on???? (if people would like the link to the news articles mentioned in this request just email me at kzwan@att.net.

    To Wilmington Yes We Can Team; NC OFA and ALL Supporters of Change in America,

    My Ask Demonstrate Our United Power: PLEASE CALL CONGRESS MCINTYRE starting today and everyday until he agrees to support the House Bill released July 15, 2009 that guarantees affordable quality healthcare for ALL Americans. Call at least 5 friends and family members to ask that call Congressman McIntyre also. WE must UNITE to demand Healthcare Freedom and Independence from the Private Insurance Monopoly Choke-Hold that is destroying working American Families, our healthcare system, American Businesses and America’s Economy! We Demand the CHOICE of a Public Health Insurance Option that will empower us with the ability to protect our greatest Asset our Health. We demand that our Public Servants break the Private Insurance Industry Monopoly that is breaking America.

    My Ask of ALL: Call Congressman McIntyre EVERY DAY at 1-877-264-4226 Our Ask of Congressman McIntyre: Please VOTE for our FREEDOM from the Private Insurance Industry Monopoly by Voting Yes to Current House Bill that guarantees access to affordable quality healthcare for ALL. Ask Congressman McIntyre whose side he is on? The AMA came out publically endorsing the House Bill, we need Congress McIntyre to join the AMA and to VOTE on the side of the People, not on the side of the insurance industry or the blue dog democrats.

    Blue Dog Districts Need Health Care More than Most

    by Nate Silver @ 10:24 AM

    Our Reality is that our Healthcare System is NOT working for ANYONE: All Classes of People (Upper and Lower Middle Class, the Poor or the Sick/Disabled) Businesses, Healthcare Professionals or Government – The Current Healthcare System ONLY Works for the Private Insurance Industry!

    The Private Insurance Monopoly is at the core of our economic and healthcare crisis. Therefore, In order to restore our Human Rights, Our Healthcare System and Our Economy we MUST break the choke-hold of the Private Insurance Industry Monopoly whose discriminate destructive practices have led to our economic crisis and the greatest Human Rights Crisis of the 21st Century.

    Our goal is to get Congressman McIntyre to support ALL of his constituents, upper and lower middle class, the sick, disabled, elderly and the poor; with access to affordable healthcare like he is supporting for Federal Civilians & Military Retirees as noted in his Newsletter below. Let’s print this News letter out and take it with us when we meet with him. Let’s inform Rep. McIntyre and his staff that the Public Health Insurance Option empowers ALL people with the CHOICE and ability to protect our greatest asset our health through equal access to affordable, quality healthcare. Our request is that Rep. McIntyre support the Public Health Insurance Option that will entitle ALL Americans to have the CHOICE and access to the same level of affordable quality healthcare that our Public Servants and their families enjoy; and that McIntyre is sponsoring legislation for the Federal Civilians and Military Retirees! “During these difficult economic times, the need to make health insurance more affordable for federal and military retirees is evident. They deserve the same right to pay for their health insurance premiums with pre-tax dollars as active federal employees, and Rep. McIntyre will continue to support the passage of this legislation.” (Rep. M. McIntyre)

    Our Ask of Rep McIntyre is to advocate that ALL Americans Deserve the RIGHT to equal access to affordable quality healthcare: Support the Public Health Insurance Option CHOICE that empowers ALL Americans with equal access to affordable quality healthcare; empowering them with the the ability to protect their greatest asset their Health. Our health is at the core of our wealth individually and collectively. The Public Health Insurance Option will break the Private Insurance Industry Monopoly whose discriminatory/destructive powers are destroying families medically and financially, restore our human rights, restore our healthcare system and restore our economy!

    Healthcare For America Now “Public Health Insurance Plan Option”

    § Real Choice: Guarantee of Quality Coverage You Can Afford

    § Comprehensive benefits you can count on

    § Choice between private or public health insurance

    § Equal Access to affordable, quality care

    With warm regard,

    Kay Zwan

    kzwan@att.net

  3. sfumccancersupportgroup AT gmail.com

    July 18, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Thank you Adam. Your speech gets me right fired up too.

    Every time I think about my neighbor, or the countless people I see in the volunteer work I do, having to be bankrupted by healthcare bills, I get sick. (Or, sicker.)

    What so many folks don’t seem to realize is how vulnerable even those WITH health insurance are.

    As someone contending with metastatic breast cancer, I am in constant fear of losing our insurance, dependent as it is on my husband’s job. How could we ever afford insurance without his job? And what would it mean for my survival, and our family’s survival, if we lost it? I do not exaggerate when I confess, the idea of being uninsured with cancer literally terrifies me. I’ve seen what happens when you don’t have coverage. People lose everything. And die.

    So — how is it that a “non-profit” can pay executives so much? And continue to raise premiums? Am I missing something? It just doesn’t make logical, or ethical, sense to me.

    I also cannot, for the life of me, understand how a non-profit supposedly dedicated to serving the public, and enjoying the legislative protections it does, can actively work to thwart delivery of healthcare to people they do NOT even serve!

    Finally, in an exercise of cynicism even I find surprising, BCBSNC has co-opted the name “nchealthreform” and, using doublespeak, tries to paint a conciliatory, progressive image, even as it works to deny coverage to people it doesn’t want as customers: http://www.nchealthreform.com. (No comments appear on the site – yet.)

    Thanks again for your advocacy, Adam. I pray Greczyn is wrong about how long it will take to achieve real reform – we need it NOW.

    All good,
    Barbara

  4. Steve Newcomb

    October 13, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    2009-10-13.

    I just spoke with “Peter” at Congressman McIntyre’s office in a conversation that I was surprised to find lasted several minutes (a good thing, and bravo to you for that, Peter). Peter does an excellent job of not answering questions, instead repeating talking points; it was a frustrating experience. Peter would not say what, specifically, Mr. McIntyre *would* support with respect to healthcare reform, but instead repeated several times, in several ways, that the existing bills have not been conservative enough — “Blue Dog” enough — to win his vote.

    (Peter introduced the phrase “Blue Dog” into the conversation, and explained that Blue Dogs are more conservative than normal Democrats. I thought it was a peculiarly nonresponsive way to answer a voter’s specific policy question — to explain that the Congressman is a member of some sort of subunit of the Democratic Party, as if that explained and justified everything. Weird! It also made me wonder about the Democratic Party, which in my congressional district seems to feel compelled to offer a candidate with the distinguishing difference that he’s Conservative, as opposed to the candidate offered by That Other Party. Well, as Will Rogers famously said, “I’m not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” The head-scratching continues even now, a century later. Truth is, I would vote for a conservative if I could find one to vote for. Mostly, what’s on offer, and what’s being described these days as Conservatism, is actually Fascism — a system in which specific business interests control the government for their own benefit. Both Conservatism and Liberalism are completely different animals than Fascism is; both are concerned with leveling the playing field, so that real competition can inure to the benefit of everyone, and the argument between them is merely about *how* to accomplish that goal. Fascism’s goal is very different: the acquisition and retention of power and wealth by select private interests, using government power to make that happen. So I’d vote for a Liberal, if I could find one, or a Conservative, if I could find one, because the goal is the right one in either case. But I digress.)

    Peter explained that there were reforms that McIntyre would support, chiefly to be “stricter” about the access that illegal immigrants would have to health care, and tort reform. I asked whether the Congressman felt that patients should be required to prove their U.S. citizenship before receiving emergency medical services, at which point Peter backed off a bit, saying that the Congressman was in favor of increased strictness only “as far as possible”. I decided not to bother asking whether Peter knew that emergency services must be provided to everyone, under existing law, and whether he knew that emergency services are the most expensive possible way to provide medical services. But one can only wonder why the “conservative” Mr. McIntyre wants to continue to waste the maximum possible American tax money on existing expensive healthcare mandates. I didn’t want to ask whether Mr. McIntyre prefers to allow illegal immigrants who are experiencing medical emergencies to die in the streets outside American hospitals. It’s easy to sound shrill when responding to absurdity. I find I have to censor my rhetoric.

    Peter said several times that the Congressman was not responsible for national healthcare reform, and that he served on other committees, instead. In summary, everything Peter said was consistent with the idea that McIntyre intends to obstruct reform, in part by playing a guessing game with everyone about what kind of reform he would *not* obstruct. Quite frankly, this is not an approach I can respect in a person elected to accomplish the people’s legislative business. And it’s easy to conclude that McIntyre earns his corporate campaign contributions by voting against things for which he is “not responsible”.

    I confronted Peter with this interpretation, so that he could deny it. Instead, he repeated his earlier vacuous talking points to the effect that the Congressman would vote for a bill that was conservative enough to suit him, whatever that meant (and he again refused to explain exactly what “conservative” means in terms of the specifics of healthcare reform). I wound up the call by asking how much money the Congressman has received from the insurance industry. “I do not have those numbers in front of me,” was the reply. I thanked Peter for his attention and concluded the call.

    As a small businessman in NC, I have no good options, and very few options of any kind, when it comes to health insurance. In view of the lack of competition in NC for my health insurance business, I have little faith that the very expensive insurance that we must pay for will in fact be of any value to our employees if we ever need it. Fortunately, we have never yet needed it. Unfortunately, we may need it someday.

    It might be useful to know exactly how much money the Congressman has accepted from the healthcare industry. After all, our fair state’s health insurance oligopoly would be unsustainable without our present national system of legalized bribery. (Whups, I meant to say “our present national system of campaign finance”, of course.) Bribery yields poor results when it is exposed to the full light of day, day after day.

    While looking for information about this, I discovered that if Congressman McIntyre had had his way in 2003, when his opposition to allowing the importation of prescription drugs for American patients was unsuccessful, I would be buying my maintenance prescriptions at Wal-Mart, at a cost to me that is almost six times what I pay to buy the exact same drugs from India, by mail, via progressiverx.com. That’s several thousand dollars that would be out of my pocket annually, none of which would be covered by my high-deductible insurance. Does Congressman McIntyre have the interests of taxpaying small business people like me at heart? I have little reason to think so. To me, he looks like just another fascist in Washington, serving the interests of specific big businesses, like almost all of them do these days.

    There’s more relevant information about McIntyre and other North Carolina legislators at

    http://www.insurancereformwatch.org/opposition/contributions.shtml