The Week We’ve Had

Where to start? We had a protest on Tuesday. More than 5,000 people turned out to let the insurance companies know enough is enough and to let Congress know it’s time to take action and get reform done:

Here are just four of the gazillion print and online clips:

WaPo: Thousands rally to support health-care reform in downtown Washington

LATimes: Rally backs health plan

NPR: Protesters, Including ‘Vampire Squid,’ Picket Health Insurers’ Confab

HuffPo: Health Care Protesters Face Off Against Insurance Lobbyists

Then there was this from the Associated Press:

Dozens of health care activists are protesting in the nation’s capital against what they call an abusive health insurance industry…

We had at least 5,000 people there, and the AP’s first write-thru said “dozens.” This is especially comical because when we had more than 10,000 back on June 25th, the AP wrote hundreds and refused to issue a correction. I don’t expect a reporter will necessarily take my word for it on an exact crowd count, but there is a sizable difference between dozens and thousands. When you’re on the scene, you can kind of tell. After two of us called to complain, a later write corrected the record:

Organizers with Health Care for America Now say thousands came in from across the country for the protest.

On Wednesday, 24 health insurance abuse survivors “testified” in a Congressional forum on the Hill. CNN did a small piece about it, but the video’s not online yet. I’ll post if it turns up.

Also yesterday, Richard took on a guy from AHIP on NewsHour. That clip is here. My favorite exchange was this one:

JIM LEHRER: But is it not a fact that — that the premiums are going up? And aren’t — I thought the records — the recent reports showed that profits are up in your — in your major health insurance companies?

MIKE TUFFIN: In the past year they were up. In 2008, according to “Fortune” magazine, our city profits were 2.2 percent, one of perhaps the smallest of all health care stakeholders, and very near the bottom of the list of the industries “Fortune” tracks.

Last year, they were about 3.5 percent. So, that’s a 50 percent increase from about 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent. Meanwhile, other sectors in health care have margins of 15 percent, 20 percent, 25 percent. So, if profits in health care are the problem, you’re not looking at the right place.

JIM LEHRER: Not looking at the right place?

RICHARD KIRSCH: Absolutely, we are looking at the right place.

And I went to business school, and he’s talking about return on sales. And if I tried to use that in my finance class, I would have gotten an F. What shareholders look at is return on equity under investment. And for the health insurance industry, it was 16 percent. That’s higher than cable TV. It’s higher than cell phones. It’s higher than beer.

Today, little 11-year-old Marcelas Owens appeared at a press conference with Majority Leader Reid and Senators Durbin, Schumer, and Murray. This is Marcelas in Sen. Murray’s office on Tuesday:

He did a great job in front of all the cameras today, but the media was infuriating. The Senators all made the point that health care reform is not about procedure but people, people like Marcelas who lost his mom because she couldn’t get the health care she needed. Marcelas got up and spoke about his mom and why he’s continuing to fight for health care reform. It was genuine and compelling. Then they opened the presser up for questions, and every single one was about procedure. Every…single…one.


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