Chamber of Not-So-Secrets

We got to have a little fun with the Chamber of Commerce today.

Here’s where the story starts (from The Washington Post – emphasis mine):

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an assortment of national business groups opposed to President Obama’s health-care reform effort are collecting money to finance an economic study that could be used to portray the legislation as a job killer and threat to the nation’s economy, according to an e-mail solicitation from a top Chamber official.

The e-mail, written by the Chamber’s senior health policy manager and obtained by The Washington Post, proposes spending $50,000 to hire a “respected economist” to study the impact of health-care legislation, which is expected to come to the Senate floor this week, would have on jobs and the economy.

Step two, according to the e-mail, appears to assume the outcome of the economic review: “The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document.”

Thanks to CAF, we’ve already got the ‘hundreds of other economists’ the Chamber’s looking for, and they’ve all already signed on to a letter. Unfortunately for the Chamber, it’s a letter expressing support for health care reform. An excerpt:

We, the undersigned economists, business leaders, and health care experts, urge the new President and Congress to reform America’s health care system—to move boldly to cover all Americans with health insurance, to bring down health care costs and create improved quality and value within the health care system for families, businesses, and taxpayers.

Some have argued that we cannot afford health insurance coverage for all because of the economic crisis. But solving America’s big health care problems is essential to economic recovery. We need to cover everyone now as part of comprehensive reform to rebuild our economy and restore prosperity. Affordable coverage with good benefits will give cash-strapped lower and middle-income Americans greater financial security – and the ability to pay their mortgages, start small businesses, save for college, pursue new job opportunities, and make other choices that will benefit our economy. And it will help business owners to insure their workers. Ensuring health security for all will allow workers to move to those jobs that fit them best, not just those that provide health insurance, promoting entrepreneurship and labor market productivity.

The rest of the letter is here. It was sent to the White House and Congress in June. Today, we pushed out a press release with the following quote:

“Since the Chamber has put out a help wanted ad, we thought we could be of some assistance,” said Richard Kirsch, National Campaign Manager, Health Care for America Now. “If the Chamber would like the phone number of any of these economists or business leaders, we would be happy to provide it to them.”

The whole release is here.

Praying for Joe

Last night, 500 people held a prayer vigil for Senator Lieberman. The Stamford Advocate has the full story and photos:

Quietly holding candles, hundreds of clergymen, congregants and reform advocates lined the sidewalks outside Independent U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman’s Stamford home Sunday night in a show of support for universal health care.

“When we heard not only would he vote against it, but he’d use his power, his position as a swing vote … to block it from coming to a vote, we had to send a message so he knows people who vote overwhelmingly favor the public option,” said Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford.


The vigil began at Stamford High School, Lieberman’s alma mater, and ended at the senator’s home, the Hayes House, across the street.

“In some sense, it’s poetic,” said Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, who attended the vigil. “The place where Sen. Joseph Lieberman received his high school education, the place he visited upon his announcement to seek the vice presidency, a place where his run for the presidency began — and it just so happens, a place across the street from where he lives.”

The Hour’s got a good write too.

Image credit: Hour photo / DAVID ESPOSITO

Gold Crush

Sam Stein front and center on HuffPo:

A Goldman Sachs analysis of health care legislation has concluded that, as far as the bottom line for insurance companies is concerned, the best thing to do is nothing. A close second would be passing a watered-down version of the Senate Finance Committee’s bill.

Now why would the insurance industry be dumping money into opposition behind the scenes? I wonder.

I hope Karen “We’re all for reform” Ignagni is having a fun Friday.

Quote Of The Day

“I think this is a good recipe for your level.”

– Levana commenting on ridiculously simple instructions for “fried apples” I found online in my quest for a way to turn a whole bag of gala apples into something cooked or baked and edible.

The Games They Play

I had to call my health insurance company yesterday for preauthorization.

Interesting concept really. I pay for coverage. That coverage includes certain benefits. But in order to get those benefits paid for, I have to get my insurance company’s ok in advance. Who exactly at that insurance company has the knowledge or expertise to say yes or no to a service or treatment my doctor and I decide I need? I know the woman who took my call yesterday isn’t a medical professional. She’s a customer service representative. In the preauthorization department. She inputs data and doles out codes. She is not in any way, shape, or form qualified to make medical judgments.

That all said, getting the approval I needed yesterday was easy enough, but there’s an interesting catch clearly designed to trip up customers and save the insurance company money.

Here’s how it works. You can get preauthorized for SOME of the service or treatment you need but not all. You have to check in after a certain amount of time and get their ok for the next batch of benefit allotment. And if you don’t call in at just the right time and there’s any gap between your last approval and your next approval, tough luck. You have to cover the interim claims out of pocket. Even though you’ve already paid for the right to the service or treatment as part of the benefits package you’ve bought.

In the immortal words of the Connect Four kid, pretty sneaky sis.



Lou Dobbs Leaving CNN

By Kevin Allocca on Nov 11, 2009 06:34 PM

BREAKING: TVNewser has heard from multiple sources that Lou Dobbs will announce he is leaving CNN on his program tonight at 7pmET.

A CNN spokesperson could not confirm nor deny that Dobbs would make an announcement about his future at CNN or that he will be leaving the network.

Dobbs originally joined CNN in 1980.

We will be watching and updating.

Update: The NYTimes confirmed with an executive that Dobbs will “announce his resignation,” which is “effective immediately,” and that the show tonight “will be his last on CNN.”

Update: At 7:05ET, Dobbs says:

This will be my last broadcast here on CNN, where I’ve worked for most of the past 30 years, and where I have many friends and colleagues whom I admire deeply and respect greatly. I’m the last of the original anchors here on CNN and I’m proud to have had the privilege to helping to build the world’s first news network. I’m grateful for the many opportunities that CNN has given me over the many years. I’ve tried to reciprocate with a full measure of my ability and my energy.

Over the past six months it’s become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us, and some leaders in media, politics, and business have been urging me to go beyond the role at CNN and to engage in constructive problem solving as well as to contribute positively to the great understanding of the issues of our day. And to continue to do so in the most honest and direct language possible. I’ve talked extensively with Jonathan Klien, he’s the president of CNN, and as a result of those talks, john and I have agreed to a release from my contract that will enable me to pursue new opportunities.

At this point, I’m considering a number of options, and directions, and I assure you, I will let you know when I set my course.

What’s your best guess? Fox? Congress?

UPDATE: Chez says Fox. You should check in with Chez whenever news breaks on this one. He’s bound to have the funniest stuff around.

In The Mix

I have no good excuse for not posting anything yesterday other than being busy and losing track of the fact that I hadn’t contributed until I was too tired to care anymore.

How’s that for blunt?

Anyway, for your reading pleasure today, here’s a cool TPMDC post on six big players in the health care debate. HCAN gets some love:

Health Care for America Now

There are more pro-reform groups working to pass a bill–unions and consumer groups and health care issue organizations and so on–than a single journalist could possibly describe. Some have played the inside game (the Service Employees International Union), others have been less beholden to the White House’s line (AFL-CIO) but dozens of them, from across the spectrum, aligned under HCAN’s wide umbrella. HCAN has spent millions of dollars on a campaign for a comprehensive health care bill. To the extent that liberals and reformers have a single basic understanding of what constitutes a public option, it’s because HCAN defined it and helped organize around it. HCAN’s efforts haven’t been as punchy as some of the more liberal groups would have liked, or as passive as the Obama administration might have preferred. But the group has the ear of the White House and key players in Congress, and has used that access at times to great effect.

Neat, huh?

Back on CNN

This time it’s radio, and I’m not the interviewer but the interviewee. Click here and scroll down.

The article accompanying my interview is about HCAN’s new ad campaign. Below is one of the 20 ‘thank you’ spots we’ll have up on the air starting tomorrow:

Victory and Defeat

We passed health care legislation through the House late Saturday night. That’s a big step for the cause:

The Representatives who voted ‘yes’ sided with the American people and not the big insurance companies that have been working overtime to try and kill meaningful health care reform. Tonight members of Congress stood up to the insurance lobbyists, voted to stop insurers from denying people health care when they need it most, and finally brought true choice and competition to the health insurance marketplace by creating a national public health insurance option.

But it’s a touch bittersweet b/c it included one rotten step for women. The Stupak amendment is not about federal funding for abortion. It is much broader than that. It prevents millions of women from getting coverage that is widely available now – insurance that covers abortion services.

The core premise of health reform is that if you like the coverage you have, you can keep it. Yet for the millions of women whose current insurance plans include coverage for abortion care, that promise will be broken if this becomes law. NYT:

Abortion rights advocates charged Sunday that the provision threatened to deprive women of abortion coverage because insurers would drop the procedure from their plans in order to sell them in the newly expanded market of people receiving subsidies. The subsidized market would be large because anyone earning less than $88,000 for a family of four — four times the poverty level — would be eligible for a subsidy under the House bill. Women who received subsidies or public insurance could still pay out of pocket for the procedure. Or they could buy separate insurance riders to cover abortion, though some evidence suggests few would, in part because few plan for unintended pregnancies.

That last point is very important. Under the Stupak amendment, the millions of women who will get coverage through the Exchange, from private or public insurance, will not be able to get coverage for abortion services. But most private insurance plans now cover abortion services. And it does not make any sense to say that women will still be able to buy coverage for abortion outside of the Exchange. Abortion is a difficult decision that women make for an unplanned pregnancy. It’s not something that you buy insurance for.

If you’re pro-choice and haven’t gotten involved in the fight for health care reform yet, now would be your call to action.

Tea Minus…

Dana Milbank on yesterday’s spectacle at the Capitol:

More ominously, a man standing just beyond the TV cameras apparently suffered a heart attack 20 minutes after event began. Medical personnel from the Capitol physician’s office — an entity that could, quite accurately, be labeled government-run health care — rushed over, attaching electrodes to his chest and giving him oxygen and an IV drip.


By the time it was over, medics had administered government-run health care to at least five people in the crowd who were stricken as they denounced government-run health care.

It drives me nuts that ill-informed, easily manipulated people are being whipped up into a frenzy to rally against their own best interests.