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General News    H2'ed 8/14/09

What To Do for Health Insurance Reform While Congress is Away

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Message Paul Karsh
Write letters to blue dog Democrats advocating for health insurance reform that includes a strong public option or, better yet, a single-payer system. It is very important to write if your elected officials are among the blue dogs, but even if they are not, we should write to the blue dogs. We are quite justified in doing so as their votes affect all of us.

The issue of health insurance reform has captured the attention of the general public. Anecdotal evidence suggests that when enough people contact their elected officials minds can be changed. I have called the office of Senator Feinstein several times over the past few months on this issue. I have heard that her phones were ringing off the hook about this. Until recently, I was told by the staff person that the senator had not made up her mind, but the last time I called, I was told that she now supported the public option. I recently heard a reoport that a California blue dog, Loretta Sanchez, had come out in favor of the public option.

A point that seems to resonate among our elected officials is the idea that on this issue it is very clear that if they do not support a strong public option they are standing with big corporations against ordinary people. When I last spoke with someone in Senator Feinstein's office I pointed this out and the staffer was quick to assure me that she didn't favor big corporations. I have also heard other reports that suggest that senators and congresspersons are defensive about being percieved as tools of the insurance companies standing against ordinary people. Many of you reading this will argue that in fact they are and I will not argue the point. I will only say that they don't like being perceived as favoring big business over the little people and so may be moved in the direction of acting for the public good.

I have heard that the way in which you contact these people makes a difference. I was told that Congressional staffers count phone calls as representing less than one voter. Emails represent roughly one voter. Hand-written letters, on the other hand, represent about fifteen voters. I do not know if this is true and different Congressional staff offices may count things differently. If there are any Congressional staffers reading this who would like to comment on it, that could be very useful information for all of us.

It is unclear to me at this point what effect the insurance companies' brownshirts disrupting Congresspersons' town hall meetings will have, but the publicity given to this political theater should not dissuade us from writing to these people. Even if you are discouraged and believe that change is not possible within the system this is still an important thing to do as the numbers of people who contact them could make a difference. The simple arguments made from time immemorial still apply. Making our opinions known to these people may not sway them but remaining silent surely will not.

According to this link on DemocraticUnderground,

click here

these Democratic senators oppose including the public option in health insurance reform:

Max Baucus (Montana)
Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Maria Cantwell (Washington)
Tom Carper (Delaware)
Kent Conrad (North Dakota)
Dianne Feinstein (California)
Mary Landrieu (Louisiana)
Joe Lieberman (Connecticut)
Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas)
Bill Nelson (Florida)
Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
Mark Pryor (Arkansas)
Ron Wyden (Oregon)

The Blue Dog coalition in the House consists of these members:
Griffith, Parker (AL-05)
Harman, Jane (CA-36)
Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie (SD)
Hill, Baron (IN-09)
Holden, Tim (PA-17)
Kratovil, Jr., Frank (MD-01)
McIntyre, Mike (NC-07)
Marshall, Jim (GA-03)
Matheson, Jim (UT-02)
Melancon, Charlie (LA-03)
Michaud, Mike (ME-02)
Minnick, Walt (ID-01)
Mitchell, Harry (AZ-05)
Moore, Dennis (KS-03)
Murphy, Patrick (PA-08)
Nye, Glenn (VA-02)
Peterson, Collin (MN-07)
Pomeroy, Earl (ND)
Ross, Mike (AR-04)
Salazar, John (CO-03)
Sanchez, Loretta (CA-47)
Schiff, Adam (CA-29)
Scott, David (GA-13)
Shuler, Heath (NC-11)
Space, Zack (OH-18)
Tanner, John (TN-08)
Taylor, Gene (MS-04)
Thompson, Mike (CA-01)
Wilson, Charles (OH-06)

Mailing addresses for all of these legislators can be found by going to for the Senate, and for members of the House, and looking at the Web sites for the individual members.


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I am a sometime software quality assurance engineer who lives in Martinez, California. These days I amuse myself by playing harmonica. The harmonica is a wonderful musical instrument. It is easy to play, expressive, cheap, and portable. I always (more...)
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