July 26, 2009

Health care forum invigorates debate on need for reform

Community leaders made a forceful argument Sunday for the need to overhaul our nation's health care system to reduce costs and expand coverage. A series of speakers invited to Community for Change's "Community Conversation on Health Care" laid out the toll the current system is having on people, businesses and local governments, with several experts concluding change is needed.

Barb Tylenda, executive director of the Health Care Network of Racine County, gave a forceful speech about the need to expand health care coverage to all people. Tylenda was hired about 20 years ago to run the non-profit, but was only promised a job for three years because organizers said health care reform was inevitable. Two decades later Tylenda is still running an organization that is needed more today than at any time in its history.

"In 1987, the (health care system) was unacceptable," Tylenda said. "Today it is not unacceptable, it's unsustainable."

While the forum coincided with Obama's effort to reform the U.S. health care system (an effort that presidents have tried and failed at for 100 years), the most poignant debate among speakers centered on a "single-payer" system that would remove health insurance companies from the process and put the federal government in charge of paying for health care for everyone.

Paulette Garin, who ran for Congress in 2008, said a 6.6 percent payroll tax (essentially 6.5 percent of your pay would go to health insurance) would cover the cost of a national system that guaranteed every American top-of-the-line health care. She said the current system is broke because insurance companies place "profits over patients." The result are 46 million uninsured Americans who are locked out of the health care system.

Garin's line, "Health care is a human right," drew applause from the crowd and a shout of, "I am not a statistic." She described the fight for health care reform as the "civil rights movement" of our time.

"It's the fight of our lives because our lives depend on it," Garin said.

Dr. Kenneth Kurt, of Racine, rebutted Garin by saying 70-80 percent of Americans have adequate health care (though the safe number is closer to 65 percent), while those who don't have care cost the system "a tremendous amount of dollars."

"They're not the healthiest group of people in our country," Kurt said.

However, he didn't dismiss the idea of a single-payer system.

"We need to look at single-payer, but we need to look carefully at who is going to pay the bills," Kurt said, drawing applause.

Alderman Greg Helding (above) discussed the potential impact of health care reform on the local level. Helding estimated 20 percent of the city's budget pays for employees' health care. Switching to a single-payer system that charges an 8 percent payroll tax would save the city millions of dollars it could use for additional street maintenance and city services, like police.

This year alone the city is expecting an 11 percent increase in its health care costs, Helding said. Over time health care costs could grow to 10 times the amount of the city's property tax levy, a number that is simply unsustainable, he said.

"(Health care) costs us a lot of money and it's increasing rapidly," Helding said.

Rep. Cory Mason echoed Helding's speech on the state and national levels. He said 16 percent of every dollar is spent on health care - a number that far exceeds European countries' rate of 8-10 percent. Worse, the U.S. system provides worse coverage than other industrialized countries.

Mason said part of the problem is we have a "sick care system" that only responds when people are ill. Preventative care is often uncovered and too expensive, Mason said.

Racine gets it particularly bad because it has some of the highest health care rates in the country, but still deals with thousands of people without health insurance every year.

"We have to do better," Mason said.

Kelly Gallaher (above), of Community for Change, moderated the speakers during the forum. She opened the speeches by briefly discussing the organization's path to the forum. Community for Change was formed from volunteers who worked for President Obama's campaign, but is now working to become a non-partisan community organizer that connects groups around important issues, she said.

The health care forum gathered together 50 local businesses and organizations, 14 speakers, a 12-member community panel and three short documentaries made by local filmmakers.

Several hundred people (I'd guess 300, but no one had an accurate count) attended Community for Change's Community Conversation on Health Care Reform at the Masonic Center in Racine. Attendees listened to speakers and walked through an exhibit hall.

Designed as an opportunity to open dialogue about the leading issue of the day (Congress is debating an overhaul of the health care system), the forum's strongest messages came from a series of speeches delivered by local experts on health care and politics.

Sarah Clemmons (above), of the Racine Health Department, was on the list of scheduled speakers, among at least 16 in the afternoon. They included:

Bruce Joffe, LGBT Center; Jack Waters, Kenosha Community Health Center; Paulette Garin, Progressive Democrats of America; Nina Frank, ADRC; Steve Drenning, Transition Living Services; Sister Brenda Walsh, Siena Center; Maggie Bruhner, Lakeview Pharmacy; Mary Wilson, NAMI; Linda Stengel, Partners in Health; Art Shattuck, Roots and Legends; Betty Williams, Racine County Birth to 3 program; Jeff Van Koningsveld, IBEW; Greg Helding, Racine City Council; and Sarah Clemmons, Racine Health Department.

Featured speakers included: Ron Thomas, United Way; state Rep. Cory Mason; Barb Tylenda, Health Care Network; and Pastor Melvin Hargrove, Zoe Outreach Ministries.

RacinePost sat on the community panel along with County Executive Bill McReynolds, Mason, four aldermen, union leaders and others.

A small farmer's market was available outside of the Masonic Center. Fresh veggies and eggs were for sale.

Overhead view of the exhibitor's hall.

More from the exhibitor's hall ...

and more.


  1. Guess dickert was gone gettin Racine some new jobs.

  2. Who cares?

  3. The speakers were fantastic. They really brought home the local aspect of reform. We really do need to solve this problem.

  4. If health care is a right, as Paulette Garin claims, then it is the responsibility of the rest of us to care for her. Rights come with responsibilities. The problem with this notion is that in order to create the right to health care, you first have to do away with the right to liberty. People forced to take care of or pay for Paulette Garins health needs are no longer free. Denis Navratil.

  5. Denis...loss of freedom to do what? I really don't follow.

  6. Bob Roeschen7/27/2009 9:14 AM

    I believe that we have the best health care in the world. You don't see anyone going to England or Canada for health care. I am 76 and have been in the system all my life and consider my longevity is due to our health care system. My concern with the new system proposed that I at 76 will be denied the advantage of the new advanced technology for me to continue to have quality of life. Page 425 of the new Bill says:

    PG 425 Lines 4-12 Govt mandates Advance Care Planning Consult. Think Senior Citizens end of life

    Pg 425 Lines 17-19 Govt will instruct & consult regarding living wills, durable powers of atty. Mandatory!

    PG 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3 Govt provides apprvd list of end of life resources, guiding u in death

    PG 427 Lines 15-24 Govt mandates program 4 orders 4 end of life. The Govt has a say in how ur life ends

    Pg 429 Lines 1-9 An "adv. care planning consult" will b used frequently as patients health deteriorates

    PG 429 Lines 10-12 "adv. care consultation" may incl an ORDER 4 end of life plans. AN ORDER from GOV

    Pg 429 Lines 13-25 - The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.

    PG 430 Lines 11-15 The Govt will decide what level of treatment u will have at end of life

    Pg 469 - Community Based Home Medical Services=Non profit orgs. Hello, ACORN Medical Svcs here!!?

    Page 472 Lines 14-17 PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORG. 1 monthly payment 2 a community-based org. Like ACORN?

    PG 489 Sec 1308 The Govt will cover Marriage & Family therapy. Which means they will insert Govt in2 ur marriage

  7. We have problems we are not addressing with health care. Throwing money at a broken system is stupid.

    Health care costs are astronomical. Law suits have pushed the costs into outrageous amounts for simple lab work or band-aids. What to do about this? Why should a lawyer get as much out of a lawsuit as the guy who lost his eyes?

    We are unhealthy. Our diet and lifestyle that is common is one that is killing us.

    The Pharmaceutical companies are running health care. The Dr.s we see are just prescribing robots, you need "quietall", damn the side effects.

    Our food has dangerous additives which make it addictive and cause us to be obese.

    Do these health plans look at solving these issues?

  8. Rees Roberts7/27/2009 9:19 AM

    I attended the forum. Some random thoughts....

    My only regret was there should have been vastly more people attending. I now understand why more people didn't attend.

    If you have health insurance you most likely are sitting dumb and happy. What I learned was even if you do have insurance it doesn't mean you have enough to prevent you from bankruptcy. In other words you could be in a class of the under-insured.

    It took a ton of effort and dedication to create this forum and I thank Kelly Gallaher and her volunteers. But like my involvement with Sustainable Racine, very very few people are willing to even come out and listen, much less to participate when the subject is Health Care. Sad thing is many who could benefit from the knowledge provided at this forum are the ones who stayed home.

    The main push for health care reform is coming not from the people. That is clear from the previous descriptions just shared with you. The push is coming from the executive branch of the Federal Government which realizes the cost soon is going to be so dang high that even the Feds, who pay the Medicare bill, won't be able to afford it.

    But then you have the legislators, from both sides of the aisle that see things like they always have and don't want to make any change because if individually they are wrong then they fear not being re-elected. DAMN. They are supposed to be looking out for OUR skins not theirs. Just once I would like to see an election based on what was accomplished in health care.

    Barb Tylenda, executive director of the Health Care Network of Racine County, gave the best presentation, in my opinion. People stood up to reflect their agreement when she was done. I only wish what she had to say was available here. It would open your eyes up. Now wait, that's a good idea. I'm gonna ask her if we can do that. Dustin or Pete, would you publish her comments on Racine Post?

    I would rate Alderman Greg Helding's comments as #2 as I learned just how much more our local taxes would accomplish if we were able to hold the line on the cost of Health Care. No wonder our cities in this country are looking like hell.

    Paulette Garin talked about a single payer system. Think Medicare but for everyone instead of just folks at or over 65. Much of what she said was reasonable and doable. But until we get rid of the powerful lobbyists in Washington, D.C. I fear it wouldn't happen. Again profit over the common good.

    But what I discovered the most alarming, the most damning, the most impossible to believe is our own health care provider, yes, All Saints refused to attend. When I asked Kelly where All Saints was, she indicated "I called All Saints multiple times and was refused each time". If All Saints thinks this was smart on their part I beg to differ. They obviously have something to either fear or feels it should be walking around with their tail between their legs. All Saints, you really need to step up to the plate and be accountable. Not participating sure makes it look like you had something to hide. (hmmmm)

    Last but certainly not least Sister Brenda Walsh exhibited the same inspiration which helped start the Racine Health Network some 20 years ago. I just hope, like Ron Thomas stated, "I hope it doesn't take another 20 years before we get reformed health care." They all said we needed it 20 years ago and we certainly can not afford to let this opportunity pass us by this time.

    Many other good speakers shared info too.

    How we treat the least able to help themselves is the measure all countries should rate themselves. So far the United States of Apathy is going to sink themselves if they don't wake up by providing for the common good.

    I just learned that Senator Kohl is still on the fence on this subject. I hope the majority of those who attended this forum will call him and make their views known. We collectively will succeed or divided we surely will die. Literally.

  9. This article is far from accurate in reporting the number in attendance at this "forum". I was there from 1-4pm and at most there were 65 in the auditorium where the speakers were making their presentations and of this 65 about 19 or 20 were the presernters themselves.

    This was not a public discussion about health care reform and an idea sharing forum, but more of a support for single payer health care rally. The one good thing I got out of the event was that there was such a low turnout. Hopefully this means that our community supports real Health Care reform and not the socialistic type that Congress seems to want to force upon us.

  10. Who cares? For starters ...

    * the 46 million people in the U.S. (and thousands in Racine) who don't have health insurance.

    * the 50 million additional people (and thousand in Racine) who have some form of health insurance but still can't pay their medical bills

    * the families who file for bankruptcy every 90 seconds in the United States because of medical bills

    * the man I met last week who has a massive hand injury but no insurance or way to pay to have his fingers amputated, as the doctors recommend.

    * My wife and I who went a year without insurance hoping we wouldn't get sick or break a bone.

    * city officials who have to balance a budget where one out of every five tax dollars goes to pay for city employees' health insurance.

    * U.S. businesses that spend 16 percent of their money on health insurance while western European companies spend 8-10 percent for better health care.

    So you ask who cares?

    Everyone should care because the health care system is failing all of us. Paulette Garin described health care reform as the "Civil Rights Movement of our time." I'm wondering if a different analogy is more appropriate. This is the Vietnam of our time. Millions of people are suffer silently every day, we all know it, and no one will do anything to stop it.

    But who cares.

    Another reporter covered the health care forum yesterday and told an organizer: "I don't know how I can find a story in this."

    Look around! Throw a friggin' stone and you'll hit someone who's uninsured or underinsured, someone who goes to bed at night worrying about medical bills or trying to figure out how to get the prescription drugs for a loved one or their child to a doctor. This isn't an abstract issue. It's here and now.

    Agree or disagree with Community for Change, they did something. They tried. But they can't force people to pay attention and they certainly can't force people to care.

    You hit the nail on the head, anonymous: Who cares?

    Millions of people care and eventually their voices will be heard. Health care reform is needed, and we shouldn't just leave it up to Congress. Community input and dialogue filter through the system and influence outcomes. So share your stories and learn more about the issues. If you have something to share, contact us and we'll post it here or call the JT (262-634-3322)and ask them to write a story.

    Start the dialogue today!

  11. How can the Community for Change organization be "non-partisan" when it was formed by a group of Obama campaign volunteers?

  12. There should have been some lawyers present to inform the public how much the health care system would save by Tort Reform. It has been said that the new system would have about 10% fraud. The legislators just take the above for granted.

    Just look at the recent fraud in Racine where two women baby sitters for each other defrauded RACINE COUNTY & THE STATE.

    Reform is needed, but why should it be done quicker than our president took to pick a dog.

  13. Sounds like another liberal rally to reinforce the socialistic loss of another freedom.

  14. Anon 9:10, if you are forced to care for Paulette Garin or are forced to pay for her medical care, you are not free to use your time or money as you like. This is a loss of liberty. I am not sure how else I can explain this.

  15. Denis, what would you rather purchase instead of the health of another in need? Is your motivation freedom or greed?

  16. Anon 9:55, I am not sure why the manner in which I exercise my freedoms is relevant. I suppose you are looking for an opportunity to peg me as greedy. Ad hominem attacks don't really add much to what is an important national debate. Try again anon.

  17. Denis - are you a Christian?

  18. Recently I asked a Canadian friend: Would you prefer to keep your healthcare system AS IT IS NOW, or switch to the American system of healthcare. Here is his reply:

    While our health care system is under some stress, it is still an excellent system and I will keep it thank you. Our system is obviously not free, we just pay for it in a different way i.e. through our taxes. The difference between Canada and the United States on this issue is that I, as a Canadian (and fortunately I'm only typical), don't mind paying high taxes so that I know that EVERYONE in Canada has a reasonable level of health care. Yes, there are people in Canada who are getting the same health care as I do and do not pay a cent of taxes towards it. That doesn't bother me. What I can't understand is why so many people in the United States, a country with a slogan of "liberty, equality and fraternity", seem so upset when those that have must pay more so that those that don't have can have an adequate level of care. What kind of a just society is that?

    Could our system be improved? Of course. To start with, doctors who have about 80% of their education subsidised by the various levels of Government, should have some commitment to serve. As it is now, many leave Canada on graduation to get a job in the US where they feel they can earn more. They should likely have at least a 3 or 4 year commitment. If that was a requirement right from the get go then it wouldn't be a problem. Canada is looking at this issue. Another area that Canada is progressing on is the role of the medical or nurse practitioner (somewhat between a nurse and a doctor) to take some of the load off the doctor. Many doctors have been reluctant to accept the nurse practitioner as they believe that if someone else does some of their work, then they will ultimately earn less. There is enough work to go around and those doctors that are employing nurse practitioners are able to spend their time doing more critical work.

    In Canada over the last 15 years there has been much effort put into getting Government out of certain things and turning them over to civilian contractors. In most, if not all, cases where this has happened all we have really done is swap government inefficiencies for contractor's profits. There has been no real money saved and some contractors have become quite rich. The service provided has rarely, if ever, improved. The better way to attack the problem would have been to get rid of the government inefficiency.

    There is no way that I would ever trade our system, even with all it's wrinkles, for you system based on profit. We have had several occasions over the last 10 years to utilise the Canadian health care system. Ten years ago Connie's mother had to be hospitalised. She was admitted immediately and was kept in the hospital for 6 months. She got excellent care. It cost us absolutely nothing. Five years ago our son had a serious mountain climbing accident when he fell 45 feet down the face of a mountain sustaining a serious head injury. He was airlifted into Banff, then into Foothills Hospital in Calgary. He spent 3 weeks in the Trauma Centre in Foothills Hospital then another 2 weeks in a rehab centre followed by 6 months of periodic visits to the rehab centre for check ups until he was declared fit. He recuperated fully and is now on his way to his second tour in Afghanistan. His entire hospitalisation and follow-up cost us nothing. Our daughter is pregnant and due in August. Her entire pregnancy and future delivery will cost us nothing.

    I believe that we are blessed in this country. I hope that you end up with something at least as good.


  19. What a thoughtful reply from Rick via email. I too hope we do as well, if not better. I'm envious.

  20. President Barack Obama claimed during his Wednesday night press conference that there are 47 million Americans without health insurance.

    A simple check with the U.S. Census Bureau would have told him otherwise.

    Obama said: "This is not just about the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance."

    That assertion conflicts with data in the Census Bureau report "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007." The report was issued in August 2008 and contains the most up-to-date official data on the number of uninsured in the U.S.

    The report discloses that there were 45.65 million people in the U.S. who did not have health insurance in 2007.

    However, it also reveals that there were 9.73 million foreigners — foreign-born non-citizens who were in the country in 2007 — included in that number. So the number of uninsured Americans was actually 35.92 million.

    And of those, "there were also 9.1 million people making more than $75,000 per year who did not choose to purchase health insurance," CNSNews stated in a report based on the Census Bureau data.

    That brings the number of Americans who lack health insurance presumably for financial reasons down less than 27 million.

    The Census Bureau report also shows that the number of people without insurance actually went down in 2007 compared to the previous year — from 47 million to 45.65 million — while the number with insurance rose from 249.8 million to 253.4 million.

    The next Census Bureau report disclosing health insurance data, with 2008 numbers, is scheduled to be released in August, and could figure in the healthcare reform debate.

  21. anon 10:17, what on earth does my religious affiliation have to do with this health care debate? You are making a fool of yourself. No wonder you wish to remain anonymous.

  22. When did the United States adopt a slogan, and when did the word "fraternity" enter it?

    Perhaps there was low attendance for this event because most people realize that we have no voice or vote in health care reform. The decisions will be made by beltway insiders and lobbyists. We can jump and down and scream and holler all we want - it affects nothing in Washington and cannot begin to compete with the billions of dollars involved. You'd have to reform government before you could reform anything else. We will receive the usual pastiche of cobbled together earmarks and pork intended to further enrich the vested interests of the medical field.

    Sometimes you just get tired of rising to the bait. Mostly, though, I get tired of being told that I am responsible for the poor choices that other people make, health-related or otherwise. Over and over, that is the mantra of "reform:" someone else is making a mess - you have to clean it up. STOP telling me that I am responsible for other peoples' actions, and maybe I would join in efforts at reform.

  23. Denis

    You can't answer the question because your world view is in direct conflict with God.

    Christians know what their obligation is to the poor and to each other, and it does not involve hoarding money for yourself in your endless pursuit of possessions.

  24. Then perhaps God should reform health care for us. When and where will He be presenting His legislation?

  25. Ever feel like we're back in the middle ages where the kings and lords make the peasants give them all their money so the rich could live in luxury? That's how I feel these days. I believe some health care reforms are necessary because of corporate greed, but we all know the liberals and special interests will load all kinds of unfair earmarks into a heath care reform bill that will hurt our country all the more.

    By the way, Anon 10:17, I am a born again Christian and believe that abortion is an abomination in God's sight. It doesn't solve anything. It kills a baby, destroy's a woman's self-respect, promotes promiscuity and spread of infectious diseases, hurts relationships and desecrates the value of human life. Why should any taxpayer be forced to pay for someone's abortion? If they choose to do kill their baby, they should cough up the dough to pay for it. Many women opt to give birth because they can't pay for the abortion. Then we get the pleasure of paying for them to "keep" their offspring instead of doing the responsible, loving, sacrificial act of making an adoption plan. Our society is so selfish and short-sighted that we need reform all right--it's called repentance!!!

  26. Glenda,
    My cousin is a physician in Canada and paid for his education to be a physician. He had the option of having the government pay for his medical degree, but If his education is paid by the Canadian government, the physician is obligated to repay the government by practicing medicine in a remote area assigned by the government for three years for payment.

    His comments on the Canada experience are it is broken and bankrupt. It is very difficult to practice medicine in the Canadian system. Many life saving treatments used in the states are not paid for in Canada. Example Enteral tube feeding for the aged. He said that he is authorized to order one EKG each year. He had a patient come in last October that had immediate need of an EKG. The hospital said that the patient had one in Jan. and could not provide one. What did he do, He told the hospital that he would pay for it.
    Lab tests must be ordered by each specific test and in the states a multi channel tests are ordered. If a test he ordered does not fit the diagnosis, NO PAY.
    Patients are required to go to physicians as assigned by the government. He could not take care of his mother, as she lived on the other side of town. Of course he would take care of her, but could not admit her to a hospital, because that was not his assigned area.

  27. Jesus said "give unto Caesar what is Caesars’' and unto God what is God's", not "give unto Caesar so that his minions can extract cash all along the way in order to help your fellow man and Caesar will have the power to throw your ass in jail if you don't pay". Christ said to be generous to the poor and sick and the least of His brothers and NEVER SAID that the government should be the intermediary.

    I am so tired of people pulling out the Christian card when forcing people to pay Caesar, even IF some good comes from it, is absolutely NOT what Christ said or implied!

  28. Jesus would not say to Paula, I'm sorry but I refuse to help you because I want to buy things for myself.

    Part-time Christians that use the bible for the abortion issue and then ignore the Word when it comes to other things.

  29. 11:56

    You then must give all you earn to the poor?
    Of course if you own a home (that you should have given to the poor) how many homeless do you care for?

  30. Part-time Christians who live in the richest nation on earth while thousands die of starvation daily. If you're not living like Mother Teresa, you are not living your faith. Christ sent out His disciples to spread His Word with only the sandals on their feet, trusting the Lord to provide for them. If you are not doing the same, then you are just another part of the problem: one materialist calling another materialist names.

  31. everyone is trying to figure out how to pay the high costs of health care- how about geting the costs under control first ? drug companies making huge profits,insurance companies, doctors & hospitals also !!

  32. If we took fraud, aid to druggies, illegals, and abortion (God forgive us) off the table, the "perceived picture" would change significantly.

  33. "Liberty, equality, fraternity" is France, I think, but that's OK. It's still a good idea, and we do sing, "... crown thy good with brotherhood..."

  34. Cost control has to be a primary objective. That is the source of most of the problem.

  35. "Over time health care costs could grow to 10 times the amount of the city's property tax levy, a number that is simply unsustainable, he said."

    Dustin - I was referring to our long term (30 yr) post-retirement costs for healthcare, or our 'GASB 45' number, which is about $374M. I guess it is actually closer to 9 times our yearly tax levy, but 10 is a nice round number.

    Actual healthcare costs to the city are about 20% of our budget. We have had some good years recently and some bad years. The increase for fiscal year 2009 was projected at 11%. At that rate, our costs would double in 8 years.

    My point was not that we should adopt a single payer system. In fact, I said that I was not advocating that. My point was that something needs to be done to control costs or we will be in big trouble. If 80% of our costs (salaries, materials, etc) increase at a rate of 2% per year and 20% of our costs (healthcare) increase at a rate of 11% per year, in 10 years, healthcare would eat up 35% of our budget. In 20 years, healthcare would be more than 50% of our budget.

    From my experience at the city level, the current level of costs and the rates of annual increase simply cannot continue as is. They are unsustainable.

    As I said at the forum, I am not sure the answer is a single payer system. It probably isn't. However, if something (tort reform, transparency laws, etc) can bring costs down, city property taxpayers will benefit.

  36. Colt,

    Are you using the example of others and not the example the Lord gave to us to justify your decisions? Is that how your walk was taught?

    There is an opportunity to do something here and all you can do is spew lies and call names.

    Orbs - Where is God's plan for healthcare? Check the Bible. That is our guide.

    The time for Convenient Christians has passed. Believers believe in the whole Word, not just the parts they like.

  37. Wrong Orbs - Christ recognized that his disciples would need to be given food and shelter by those who had more than enough for themselves. If everyone followed your definition of being Christian there would be no farmers, tailors, etc. and we would all starve, nakedly. Did Christ EVER give his disciples the authority to take from people, even if it was for a good cause? Should people starve in the street while some guy shops for a new Maserati, no, but that is called free will. That person is free to help the poor and less able - as Christ implores - or not at all. Give more to the government if you want so they can skim all the way down to the few pennies left over for those without healthcare. But don't pat yourself on the back for identifying part-time Christians.

    Here is the kicker for me: even if the government healthcare saved big money and the birds came out and sang and everyone received prompt, incredible care (all of this is a joke of course) - is it constitutional for the government to even begin to usurp individual liberties to do it? We've lost plenty over the years but the dam will break on this one.

  38. 1:40

    The good news is that the government is not taking over the system so you don't have to worry.

    You have the freedom to chose a private insurance provided plan as your coverage.

  39. Would somebody please pass me the Constitution................................................................................Thanks


  40. I liked what Greg Helding had to say. He put the costs in perspective for the average Racine resident which is useful. The reality it is quite a burden and eats up considerable amount of budget.

    I did not take from it that he supported single payer. That would be misreading his remarks.

  41. What liberty is anyone losing? People keep saying this but don't really explain. The liberty to do what exactly? The government is not taking over the system, they are merely providing an insurance option.

  42. I Wrote to Rep. Paul Ryan to urge compromise on passing health care reform this session and received a thoughtful reply, most of which mirrors Rep. Ryan’s health care stand on his web site: http://www.house.gov/ryan/top5issues/pca.htm.

    Though approaches differ on both sides of the aisle, what struck me was a commonality of points regarding the overall problem:

    The third-party health insurance system is broken; government needs to help more people get insurance; insurance companies need to be encouraged and/or punished so they stop excluding “uninsurable” sick people; some wealthier people probably will need to pay more toward supporting a health care system with broader reach … it’s pretty much all there.

    Now, I don’t necessarily agree with Rep. Ryan on all his solutions, like asking wealthier people on Medicare to pay more for their prescriptions, or waiting a while longer before computerizing patient records and/or not moving ahead now with a good system of quantifying the quality and effectiveness of different care.

    Maybe I’m reading too much into it and if so, I apologize to the congressman, but there may even a nod in there toward at least the desirability of something akin to some of those things.

    My point being that maybe everybody won’t agree on how to solve these issues, but solve them we must, even if some of the solutions in this most current effort don’t necessarily adhere perfectly to personal, political or ideological preference.

    I almost wish the people had a means of calling Congress into continuous session, requiring everybody to stay in both houses until they get this done, even if it winds up to be the Democrats’ bill, White House Democrats’, Pelosi Democrats’, Blue Dog Democrats’, conservative Republicans’, liberal Republicans’ (if there are any).

    It’s gotta be somebody’s bill. Better still if it’s everybody’s

    Come to think of it, we can insist that they get this done this time, can’t we.

    We’re the voters.

    We can just tell them to stop screwing around. This thing isn’t all that hard. Key stakeholders already have signed off on a good deal of it, and I’m convinced the people really want it this time.

    It’s the politicians who are behind the curve on this one. They need to drop the rhetoric and work this out without further delay, or history will judge them harshly.

  43. Well said Randolph. Interestingly enough, Paul Ryan was asked many times to come to the forum but declined. It would have been good for the public to be able to ask questions about what is going on in Washington and get more details around his vision.

    Opportunity lost.

  44. The liberty of being able to give up everything or nothing to help you. My choice, not yours and not the government's - under threat of fines and jail time.

  45. Maybe if some of the people on the panel would lose some weight we would not have a health problem. Secondly 10% of the population is without insurance. Let's not "f" everything up to get insurance to them. Furthermore - the minute you come out with a government plan, how long do you think private companies will subsidize insurance for their employees? Then we will have 100% of the people on the plan - cost skyrocketing and inferior care and coverage. Dustin do you really want Obama to decide if your mother has that surgery? He may think she is too old. This current Obama plan most fail.

  46. 1:40:

    I never defined "Christian," so how can you say what my definition would mean?

    If I did have to define it, though, I'd say that a Christian is someone who loves others as he loves himself.

    How does that translate into everyone starving to death?


    "Orbs - Where is God's plan for healthcare? Check the Bible. That is our guide."

    Smug, arrogant, meaningless tripe that allows you to feel superior while doing nothing to alleviate the suffering of others. Ashes in the mouth, ashes.

  47. Anonymous,

    Sunday seemed pretty partisan to me, frankly, or at least kinda one-sided. That's a bit of a problem, on both sides. By contrast, there's a pretty good consensus in the country around Social Security, at least in some form or fashion. We need that kind of consensus around health care. Not everybody liked Social Security, especially in the beginning, but the people did. Politicians need to recognize that now about health care.

  48. Not sure how Sunday was partisan actually. The people that spoke were generally in community organizations and closest to the issues. They spoke about their experiences and efforts, not about their belief in a political party.

    Reform was the key message and that it needs to get done now. That in and of itself isn't partisan. Both sides agree.

    Paulette was pushing single payer, but I found that to be more informational than anything else. The government isn't really considering it at this point (which would actually be a government takeover of the industry).

    I suppose the other side (for balance) would have been to talk about why we should not reform the system.

  49. I know, I know, I'm boring. But will you please pass the Constitution.....with large print, so everybody can read it. If some state wants to guarantee insurance for everybody...that's ok. If it happens to be this State, I can always move. See, I can always use the cash saved up in my Social Security Account....it's still there, right?

  50. HEAR ALL ABOUT IT....HEAR ALL ABOUT IT.......We're bankrupt. Get it....NO MONEY(well, borrowed money from China, that your kids, grand-kids, and great,great grand-kids will have to pay back), don't we just love those little tykes? When you're broke...you can't buy new stuff.

  51. So Roy - what is your idea? Do nothing? That's not so hot either. Talk about screwing the kids, grand kids and great grandkids....

  52. Say what you want about the RacinePost, but at least they offer a forum for discussion on this critical issue. Folks can at least weigh in and put their opinion out there.

    I have not seen that on other outlets.

  53. Orbs, if everyone walked around in their sandals ministering to the poor and no one was out in the fields growing something to eat, do you think that might translate into everyone starving to death?

    "Part-time Christians who live in the richest nation on earth while thousands die of starvation daily. If you're not living like Mother Teresa, you are not living your faith."

    That is your quote and I understood it to contain a definition.

  54. We'd all do better without the likes of Orbs and Colt.

  55. Anon 3:54 here - no, Orbs and Colt speak their minds and should be welcome here and in any other venue.

  56. My idea ??? Take all the bureaucratic government involvement off the practitioners of medicine, let me talk to my doctor about my health, and I'll pay him/her. If I can't pay him/her....work it out with them. Relieve the liability burden they carry. Get government out of all of this. We, just like our government, cannot buy things we cannot afford.

  57. Colt's been here 4:59. must have missed it.

  58. Attack the fraud within all of our governmental systems, and the coddling of illegal invaders and those inherent costs and we could probably pay for that insurance you want.

  59. Tough on us now....tough on us (children, grandchildren)later. Somebody's going to pay the piper. Remember all that cash they have stashed away for us in the Social Security Fund? Where is it now????? That's why this dribble they're trying to sell us won't work. Simply put....you can't trust them...PERIOD

  60. Anon (on Sunday),

    I was just hoping for a bigger tent, unlikely since I registered to attend through the Obama camp. Not a bad idea to get the troops out, but, realistically, it means a limited turnout of other folks of other persuasions, is all. I really wouldn't expect Rep. Ryan attend such a function when it looked like a Democratic convention.

  61. I'm not sure how the tent could have been much bigger. I'm not sure what you are suggesting could have been done differently.

    As for Paul Ryan, he absolutely should have attended. He has made this his signature issue. He is all over the national media but he won't come here? This forum was open to the entire public and feature nearly 50 health and fitness organizations, hardly a democratic convention. Orgs were not asked their political affiliations to participate.

    Even if it isn't this forum, Paul Ryan owes us an honest and open discussion on the topic. This just happened to be the perfect opportunity. All he had to do is show up. Would he have faced tough questions? You bet, but what is wrong with that? That's exactly what we need right now, not FOX interviews and JT blogs that go unchallenged.

  62. Anon,

    You make good points. Rep. Ryan's been at the forefront nationally but, true, he hasn't really addressed these issues locally for his constituents in any public fashion here, so far as I know. It might have been a lot to ask of him to cancel other important functions for a Sunday appearance at a conclave that was basically organized by what could be seen as his opposition, but that's not the only way he could do it, The Senate leadership looks as if it's working on some kind of bipartisan compromise. Maybe someone will step up to take the lead in the House. It would be nice if it were our guy.

  63. I didn’t vote for him, but I’ve got to admit that Rep. Ryan’s earning his chops as a decent thinker for his party and for the nation.

    I disagree with him on most things, frankly, but I’ve also met the man, and I know he at least thinks.

    My gut tells me that when the time’s right he’ll do the right thing on a lot of issues – immigration, taxes, health care reform. But he’s got to pick the right time if he’s going to continue to emerge as the leader on his side of the aisle.

    That’s just business.

    Still, I’ve got to believe that the right time on health care is right now. There’s an overriding national concern, and whoever helps put it all together will deserve our respect and our support, and more than likely will get it.

    Mitt Romney stepped forward to try to solve this in his state, and while I don’t think that’s why he fell on his sword in his presidential bid (more likely it was being a Mormon, as detestable as I find that kind of bigotry) you’ve got to give the man credit for trying. There have been some problems – well, that’s what happens when you try new things.

    The truly courageous risk it.

    I predict the next man who steps up will get lots more credit, especially if it contributes materially to the national solution and on the national stage.

    People recognize the difference between ideological purity and leadership.

    Look at history. They always have.

  64. 65 people?! Hopefully the next forum will be on education, so that some will learn the necessary elements of simple arithmetic. Thre were people at the door upon opening at 1:00. There were at least 100 visitors - not presenters or expo people - during the first 45 minutes! People of all walks were filing in steadily. It was estimated that about 350 in all attended - as visitors/consumers/concerned and questioning citizens of our community. It was a choice they made on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in our community, while many other things of interest were also going on. They were hungry for information on services available in our community that were available and accessible to them. Many went away, as I did, with much new information and knowledge.

    Many asked, "Will this be done again next year?" - and these were the expo folks, who were very pleased with the steady crowd of interested individuals from all walks of life.

    Kudos to Community for Change for making this a "Community Conversation on Health Care". All were invited, and many chose to attend. Non-partison, YES!

    Yes, and where was Paul Ryan??? We ARE his constituents, last time I checked...This is our Viet Nam, Dustin, and where was the fearless leader of our Congressional District? Hmmmm...Maybe TMZ will have the answer.

  65. Downtown Denizen7/27/2009 11:15 PM

    There has been a WHOLE LOT of liberal/facist/socialist garbage spewed here by people who apparently don't know what "freedom" and "Christianity" are all about. And there have been a FEW who have made sense and actually gotten to the root of the problem.

    Liberals like to use big numbers (mostly overinflated) to scare everyone into believing their views. Screw the truth and the facts. That's what's going on here. I'm even amazed to hear any (or even one) of them admit to being Christian. God did say to give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's and in our case that's what's necessary to sustain our federal government AS LAID OUT IN OUR CONSTITUTION, not what it has degenerated into (i.e. presidential kings like Obama, Clinton and the Bushes, and noble overlords like our senators and representatives). God also gave us the freedom to CHOOSE who we help and who we do not. I believe in the Christian Children's Fund and CHOSE to support it for over 15 years helping a family raise their daughter and educate her because 85% of what I donated actually got to the family. I CHOSE not to support United Way because, by their own admition, 85% of what was donated actually went for their beaurocracy. That is the freedom of choice we were given.

    Why didn't Ryan attend Sunday's "discussion"? Because it wasn't a discussion, it was a "love-in" for ObamaCare. Does Ryan owe us some public rhetoric on the topic? Yes, I think he does.

    Discussions with most of the vendors (and yes, they were "vendors" in the booths) revealed that they did not agree with what is being proposed and were only there to advertise their services.

    There were no where near 300 people attending this event. The number was closer to 100, or less, unless you add the speakers, vendors and organizers, which shouldn't count.

    Those few who did get the root of the matter are those that suggested getting THE COST of heath care under control, stop pandering to illegal aliens, instill tort reform and put a cap on legal awards. The more money and greed you remove from the system will drive insurance premiums down.

    Don't kid yourself about being able to purchase any type of additional private insurance you want to. As out lined by the House Ways and Means Committee, "insurance providers cannot create new policies outside of of the exchange." The "exchange" being a government regulator committee that will dictate to insurance companies what they can offer, to whom, and what the price will be. The HWMC said, "the exchange will not be a private market. It will be a program in which Americans can buy individual plans from private companies in competition with the "public option" provision of the bill that will provide taxpayer-subsidized coverage. The exchange will be a highly regulated clearinghouse of providers that meet the government's standards." Only those providers that follow Washington's stringent guidelines will be allowed to join this exclusive club. That means there will only be about 6 insurance companies to choose from and they will all be government regulated. Socialism!

    Lastly, those in congress do not participate in the same health care system that we citizens do. They have their own fully-paid-from-dollar-one health care that covers virtually anything and everything for them and their families - FOR LIFE! Take that away from them and put them in the same pot with the rest of us and see just how fast REAL health care reform is implemented.

    The thing to do is to vote out EVERY incumbent in government today, impose term limits, take away the "for life" pensions and health care perks that they currently receive, and outlaw lobbying by special interest groups (i.e. legal bribary).

  66. "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

    – Declaration Of Independence

  67. Anon 10:38 -

    I was upstairs at the actual forum - hardly any of your 350 people made it up there.

  68. Why would we want to screw up an insurance plan that is working for 90% of Americans. If you look at the unisured numbers, many are young people who think they are infallible and choose not to buy insurance, many are eligible for current government programs and just don't take advantage of them, we have 12M illegal aliens who should not be covered, so that 10% unisured is really something much less than that. So we are going to upheava what we currently have and spend trillions of dollars to do so. Obama's plan is just idiotic.

  69. No, it isn't idiotic. Once this starts and grows exponentially, even those who didn't want it will not want to vote for politicos who "promise" to decrease it, so welcome to the one-party USA. Make everyone dependent on government and the party who did it will remain in control until the end.

  70. Now that this is a discussion about health care. When is our president going to apologise to Sgt. Crowley.

  71. Obama's going to buy him a beer instead of apologizing - If I were Crowley I'd pass. Obama is the racist in this story.

  72. I'm a bit confused now. When I sign up for my free ObamaCare, will I still be able to eat cheeseburgers and fries three times a day, wash it down with beer, and have a couple of smokes after?

  73. Oh Constitution, oh Constitution where are you?
    Yesterday someone asked about liberty...

    1. freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.
    2. freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.
    3. freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.

  74. That's right Anon 12:39 - you and I better keep doing cardio five times a week so we can stay in shape to pay for all the healthcare we won't be getting when we need it. My motorcycle will be taxed into oblivion and the rest of my life controlled before one piece of candy or fried food is taken from one morbidly obese welfare mom with six kids. Sorry, but there it is. And thanks for your last post roy -

  75. "3. freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice."

    Roy - if you think that you have this in any aspect of your life at all then you are fooling yourself.

  76. A government health insurance option (also known as choice)is in no way equal to destroying liberty and freedom. The drama queens here are unreal.

    Chose not to buy the government insurance option, call yourself free and call it a day already.

  77. Yes, it is that simple - until the rules change, again and again. Recall that social security was supposed to be in a trust but that sure changed - now we pay into a system that will be broke before many of us collect much if anything. Yes, real drama queens.

  78. I'm not aware of anything that has been put in place that didn't need change at some point.

    I'm glad social security exists and am confident it can be fixed.

    The drama queen label is deserved. Crying out about your personal liberty and the government taking control of your lives and ruining the fabric of the country because they want to offer a health insurance option is way over the top.

    I would understand some of the comments if single payer was on the table because that would be a really huge change.....but it isn't. Some people sure are acting like it is though.

    I think some people listen to some media outlets way too much. What happened to thinking for yourself?

  79. Social Security is dead already, unless you fail to notice how the retirement age keeps getting pushed back every couple of years.

    It was meant to be a short term solution, for problems of the depression.

    The money goes in slower than it goes out.

    What is the solution?

    There is not one period.

    Same will hold with this initiative, govt. is corrupt at its heart.

    Greed special interest groups etc.
    Same old song just like the last song.


    Not in a good way, just another way.

    ...watch your phone bills watch your personal taxes watch your property taxes. Licences etc.

    This adminstration will once and for all eliminate the almost non-existent middle class and there will be just two left.

    Which one do you belong to?

    Are you already rich? Good for the rest the immigrants and the citizens will all be on the same level.
    In my humble opinion.

    Time will tell?

  80. Many of us do think for ourselves, do you Anon 4:08? The government is clearly setting up an elite system for themselves and anyone else who can squawk loud enough and be excluded. Have you though for yourself about this, or do you just listen to what your TV says? Do you like this? Do you think public servants should be exempt - and why do you think they insist on being exempt, for life? There is much more to this but doesn't this aspect of the equation seem a little fishy to you?

  81. . . . and a wise man once said "democracy has to be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner". If people with less stuff are empowered, through their elected officials, to demand and receive more of "the rich guys' stuff", where will it stop? Answer: it won't.

  82. Paste this in your browser and see if any of this is information you think is important!

    Or just look on businessweek online you will find it.

    I did and I do.
    The plan is rotten at its base!!!!


  83. Exactly what was accomplished by this forum? How many people left with anything remotely close to help in their own particular situations?
    Who really learned anything they didn't already know before going there?
    How many people showed up that are not somehow related to one of the presenters there? How many were just people off the street?
    Was someone at the door as people were leaving asking them if they were going away with more than they came with?
    To me this seems like just another side show for the benefit of getting some names out there in the way of free self promotion with the aid of the Post.
    Again, exactly what was accomplished? Did anyone leave in favor of health care reform that was not in favor of it before hearing the speakers? Or, before reading the literature? Whose minds were changed? Did McReynolds walk away a new man? Helding certainly made it clear he's not changed his mind on single payer.
    This is no different than the tea party people. All show, no substance.

  84. You fix Social Security by extending the income limit upon which the Social Security tax is paid. That's worked every time over the past 70 years, and it's a relatively simple adjustment, so long as people making more than $100,000 per year are willing to continue contributing their fair share.

    A public option for health care insurance is a good option so long as private insurance companies continue to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Otherwise, sick people can't get medical care at any price.

    Then, it's the same thing as driving past an accident scene where somebody's hurt, and refusing to stop or summon help.

    Or, for the biblically inclined, ignoring an injured man along the roadside, until the Samaritan happens to come along.

  85. Not true this state and most others have a HIRSP insurance program, so the "at any price" is untrue.

  86. As I've noted in earlier posts, we are fortunate to live in Wisconsin, where the public option HIRSP is available. It's my only choice now that my COBRA is running out. And unless you qualify another way, you still have to get turned down by at least two private insurance companies first. I'm not certain, but the insurance catalog that's part of the bipartisan bill may extend a similar option for everybody, but whether it's the "public option" of the Democrats, the health care insurance registry of some Republicans or the non-profits the Senate's starting to discuss let's hope it happens for everyone one way or another. There's enough common ground here for that.

  87. suzieQ is a bitter, bitter person

  88. with regard to the forum....

    we came, we heard and saw, we left.

    What was accomplished? What polls were taken? What did we put our names to?

    SuzieQ isn't bitter.

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