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Mad as Hell Doctors stop in Seattle

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opednews.com Headlined to H4 9/9/09

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The Mad As Hell Doctors are on a tour around the country. They're Mad as Hell about the broken medical system in the US. They think the best solution is single-payer health care.

Actually, they say we don't have a health care system. We have a health care mess, a health care "scam", a "for profit hustle." One of the organizers of the event, Dr. Paul Hochfeld, discusses the issues and the tour with Thom Hartmann here.

The tour began in Sequim, WA on Aug, 28 and will arrive in Washington, D.C. on Sept 30. You can see their tour schedul here.

On the afternoon of Sept 8th they made a stop in Seattle, where the event began with street theater. I saw Count Bleed ya Dry representing the insurance, drug and hospital industries and Uncle Sam on a stretcher. Huge syringes extracted cash from the patient and fed it to Count Bleed ya Dry. Here's an excerpt of the skit (my camera and my photography skills are not the best):

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Next the event moved inside, and there were a panel discussion by six physicians, discussion, musical performances, and high energy. There was also a chance for questions and answers, plus "Mad as Hell Minutes", where audience members got a minute to say why they're mad as hell.

I'd estimate that over 200 people were in attendance in the Langston Hughes Performance Hall, which is in a lower-middle class neighborhood of Seattle. I notice that the audience was mostly white. The hall was full.

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As always, I worried that the event would be "preaching to the choir" (speaking inside the progressive echo chamber). A reporter and photographer from the Seattle Times were there. But even if the Seattle Times gives coverage, they won't have the time or space to go into detail about what's broken and how to fix it. And there were no TV stations covering it. We need our own media!

[Update (Wed, Sept 9): the Seattle Times did cover the event in the print edition, but only with a photo and paragraph-long caption. I also found this story that was published the morning of the event; it has quotations and arguments for and against single-payer.]

The issues with health care are complex, but Americans are easily swayed by deceptive slogans like "death panels", which the conservatives seem much better at producing. Alas, there are DEATH PANELS RIGHT NOW! Even though you and I know that, it's hard to market our message to the public.

Someone in the audience asked what good slogans they had. One doctor responded: "Everybody in, nobody out." "Health Care for People Not Profit" is the slogan on the side of their van:


Still, I think shorter, catchier, cleverer slogans would help.

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Many of the speeches were inspiring and informative. These people are trained physicians and educators.

They said medicine should be a healing art. Instead it's become a for-profit commodity. Doctors are fed up with having to be told what to do by insurance companies, who deny care for frivolous or venal reasons. Another problem is that primary care physicians are vastly underpaid as compared to specialists. Students finishing medical school have over $200,000 in debt, so, of course, many of them choose to go into specialties. One such medical student spoke.

Some of the stories told at the meeting were heart-rending, including a woman denied care who lost her kidneys and is now on dialysis.

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DFA organizer, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See http://WALiberals.org and http://TruthSite.org for my writing, my (more...)

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