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It's great to be back here live-blogging with you on DailyKos!  Today I wanted to talk to you a bit about my health care plan, and answer any other questions you may have about my campaign for U.S. Senate in Idaho.

Our race is tight -- as close as 10 points or less, based on recent polling -- and we're closing the gap.  One reason for that:  I'm out talking to hundreds of Idaho families every week on the campaign trail, unlike my Republican opponent, Jim Risch, who is arrogant, out-of-touch, avoiding debates, and taking the voters of Idaho for granted.  

For my part, I'm working side-by-side with real Idahoans in my "Working for the Senate" campaign, having taken 35 jobs all across the state -- the most recent one as a bricklayer in Pocatello.  But everywhere I go, in break-rooms and living rooms all across the state, people are worried about the economy, and especially about their health care.  

More below the fold.

You wouldn't want your boss as your doctor. So why trust him or her with your health care?  That's the core principle of my health care plan, an American-based system that will provide more options -- public, private, and portable -- so that you can choose a health care plan that works for you, not your job.  You're not the same as your co-workers, and your boss doesn't know your needs -- so why should these factors determine your health care?

Many Idahoans are only an injury or illness away from bankruptcy, yet my Republican opponent, Jim Risch, has no plan for health care. But then, how could someone who doesn't even check his own email be up-to-date with working, middle-class Idahoans? Worse yet, he lacks any real plans in crucial areas like energy, veterans affairs, and civil liberties.

We must commit ourselves to provide quality affordable health care to all families in Idaho.  You can read my full health care plan on my website, but here are the key elements:

Quality affordable health insurance for all:  All Idahoans and all Americans should have access to affordable health insurance. Right now, about 15% of Americans and nearly 20% of Idahoans are without health insurance, and more than 40% of these Idaho families are in rural areas. Furthermore, 80% of those uninsured are in working families.

Personal choice in health insurance: Individuals should be allowed to keep their current health insurance. The choice of insurance products will be completely up to the individual and not made by the employer.

"Portable" health insurance: All health insurance will be 100% "portable" -- everyone can take their chosen insurance policy with them if they move, or if they change jobs.

Increase the number of physicians to increase the availability of care: Recent studies have found that unless we change things, there will be a shortage of physicians in the coming years, as baby boomers reach retirement age and as the number of insured Americans increases.

Help our physicians learn and work: We need to eliminate obstacles that discourage people from going into or practicing medicine -- allowing interest on medical school loans to be deferred until a young doctor has completed his or her medical residency, while giving additional allowances to doctors who commit to practicing in rural areas and other underserved communities.

Address our nursing shortage: Nurses are the backbone of the health care system, and Idaho is facing a nursing shortage. A survey in 2005 found that 6% of the job vacancies for registered nurses in Idaho were already going unfilled, hitting especially hard at rural hospitals and clinics.

Promote health information technology for better and less expensive care: Federal funds should be available to encourage the U.S. health care system to adopt modern information technology, including electronic health records, especially in rural and low-income communities that will have a harder time paying for the transition. Identifying and implementing health information systems will save money in the long run, and that makes it a good investment right now.

Preventative care for better health, and lower costs: Too little of our health care spending goes for preventative care and public health -- less than 4¢ of every health care dollar. Studies show that only about half of recommended preventive services are actually provided. For example, about 20% of children do not receive recommended immunizations and 60% of adults do not receive recommended colorectal cancer screening.

Really, my health care plan boils down to two main parts: Fixing the health insurance system, and increasing the quality and availability of health care itself.  I look forward to pushing ahead on both fronts as Idaho's next United States Senator.

You can help me get there: Please sign-up to join our campaign, and stay up-to-date with everything going on in Idaho, and contribute today to help us get our message out across the state!

Thanks for your help.  I look forward to our dialogue today.


UPDATE (2:08pm MT): I've got to sign off for now.  It was great blogging with you today, and I look forward to being back again soon! Healthcare reform is so important this November and I look forward to making the changes we need as Idaho's next U.S. Senator!

Originally posted to Larry LaRocco on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 11:45 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I wouldn't want John McCain telling me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when I could go to the doctor either.

    Republicans are not a national party anymore. Read My Lips: One Spouse, One House.

    by jalapeno on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 11:47:10 AM PDT

  •  Looking forward to the dialog (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for joining me for todays live blog! I'll be around for an hour or so and look forward to responding to your questions and comments.

  •  Health care at the top (3+ / 0-)

    of everyone's list this election. It's all part and parcel of the larger economic woes for average Americans.

    Thanks for being out in front on this one, Larry.

    "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." - John Adams.

    by Joan McCarter on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 11:58:51 AM PDT

    •  My "working for Senate"..... (4+ / 0-)

      .....has been very enlightening.  I am working side by side with people who are letting health care needs for themselves and family go unattended.  I have found many people rolling the dice on health care by staying in jobs w/out health insurance or not enrolling.  I met with young capitalists in an economic incubator one day and asked about health care and insurance.  One woman said she would never have started her business (she has a patent) if her husband had not been covered.  She had previously had cancer and the pre-existing condition would have priced her out of the market if she was a single woman.  It's startling that Risch has not revealed any position on health care other than to say he would copy McCain's.  Nothing, nada, zero on his website.  The market meltdown and economy have overshadowed this issue but they are all linked.  Thanks for writing, McJoan.

      •  Economy, health care, housing, energy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mcjoan, terjeanderson

        They are all linked. We are on a high-wire, all of us.

        Everyone around the world is struggling with the high price of energy and food. Housing and health care seem to be more uniquely American issues, due to GOP deregulation for the former and lack of consensus and vision on the latter.

        Larry, I agree with you on the portability issue. So many people are tied to jobs they dislike because they have health care. Imagine the incredible boom in innovation and creativity we'd see if people didn't have to worry about where their health insurance comes from.

        ... we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests - Barack Obama

        by Red State Rebel on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 12:11:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Portability (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Red State Rebel

          I talk about this throughout Idaho and folks really respond.  This is the type of reform we need as well as eliminating pre-exisiting conditions.  Once insurance companies know their policy holders will be sticking with them (for a lifetime) they will start dealing with prevention issues in a more realistic way.  This will avoid cherry picking the young and the healthy.  It will - as you say - unlock a great creative energy in the US.  

  •  Idahoans seek an independent voice in DC (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    I tried to ask this at last week's debate, but I'll give it another go here.  Idaho voters value having an independent voice to represent us in DC.  As such, where would you see yourself differing from a (hopefully) President Obama in terms of policy?

    •  No time during last debate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Totalizer

      Thanks for tuning back in.  Sorry to have run out of time during last week's debate with Rex Rammell.  Jim Risch dodged another debate.  Rammell and I are again debating on September 25th in Caldwell.  Risch is again invited but he will probably again show disrespect for Idaho voters and stay in his bunker.  The time is 7:00 - 8:00 PM (MDT).  I will be able to be a strong voice for public access to public lands.  Obama has been an advocate for veterans and, as a veteran, I will pound the table for veterans benefits and programs.  We don't differ much in this area.  I strongly support the 2nd Amendment and this may be a point of departure down the road.  I voted against NAFTA when I was in Congress in spite of some arm breaking by President Clinton.

  •  Universal, single payer ... eventually? (0+ / 0-)

    Larry, thanks for being here. Accessibility to affordable health care is definitely a huge problem, and I like your ideas.

    I personally wish we would just adopt a universal health care plan paid for by our tax investments, as so many other countries do, but I understand that it may take us a while to get there.

    Do you see what you propose as steps to an eventual single-payer plan? Would that work in the United States as it has in so many other countries?

    ... we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests - Barack Obama

    by Red State Rebel on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 12:08:02 PM PDT

    •  Where is this all heading (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Red State Rebel

      I have outlined my plan and values so Idahoans know where I stand.  I will work across the aisle to bring about quality, affordable health care for all Americans.  We must do something.  The system is broken and we would not design the delivery and health insurance system we have today if we were starting over.  No way.  I am not a rabid incrementalist but I want to do something and firmly believe we can accomplish a major reform in the first 100 days of the session if we work and hang together.  I do believe in the end this will be an American system based on our values.  The final design will take the work of many people.  I will stand by my proposal and be mindful of other proposals as well.

      •  Sounds good. Taking SOME substantive action (0+ / 0-)

        is what's most important. The status quo can't continue - although, as you say, it sure would with John McCain and Jim Risch.

        ... we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests - Barack Obama

        by Red State Rebel on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 12:37:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "I have outlined my plan and values ... " (0+ / 0-)

          This is what really irks me about Risch. I looked at his website issues page the other day and he has a total of about 300 words on policy. Larry has 2,000+ words on energy alone.

          Why isn't the traditional Idaho media pointing out the discrepancies between your campaigns? Why is no one calling out Butch Otter for letting Risch seize the spotlight at every opportunity?

          ... we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests - Barack Obama

          by Red State Rebel on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 12:44:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Who is covering what? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Totalizer

            This is quite frustrating.  Today we saw the announcement of the cutbacks at McClatchy affecting the Idaho Statesman.  The contrast in our camapign style is quite startling.  I believe you govern as you campaign.  You point out the absence of specificity and content from Risch and it is a true issue in this campaign.  Today Channel 2 covered my criticism of Risch calling for lax regulation which is exactly what brought about the market meltdown.  Risch will probably respond via some staffer and then try and stay in the bunker until TV ads start appearing.  If we do "govern as we campaign" what does this say about how Idaho will be represented.  Let me give you an example.  One of my recent jobs was with the Boise Hawks. Risch found out about my job with the Hawks so he went out the night before to the game and threw out the first pitch and departed.  In contrast, I donned the Humphrey the Hawk suit, threw out the first pitch, helped out in the Will Call booth, sold beer/pop/water in the stands for 3 innings, helped the grounds crew at the bottom of the 5th and then sold Wendy's baseballs in the stands to help raise funds for homeless children.  That contrast shows the difference in the way we approach campaigning and governing.  You will see Risch with a hard hard and tie at a ribbon cutting.  You will see me with a hard hat working with plumbers at a new dairy facility.  Risch is out of touch and represents the status quo. I am in touch and will represent the forgotten working families of Idaho.  

  •  Rural health issues are pressing (0+ / 0-)

    As you allude to in several of your bullet points above, access to health care in rural areas is dire at this time.  Whether it is the basic shortage of clinics, doctors, nurse practitioners. and nurses; the unavailability of specialist care; the lack of preventative services; rising costs of prescriptions and diagnostic tests; or the basic issue of health insurance that is more expensive and covers less. rural areas feel it worse.

    Where I live, I have to drive 1 1/2 hours to see my specialist (and I know in Idaho the distances can be even further) - and with the cost of gas these days, we know what distances like that mean.

    It would be great to see you in the Senate -- and to know we'd have someone fighting for better health access for rural folks, and everyone.

    Good luck.

    Once social change begins,it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read...You cannot oppress people who are not afraid anymore.

    by terjeanderson on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 12:09:12 PM PDT

  •  Nursing Shortage (0+ / 0-)

    Hi Larry,

    I was wondering if you have a plan to retain nurses once they enter the health care field.  They have such a frustrating job where they can't just focus on providing care to people, but they have to deal with beaurocratic red tape as well.  

    •  protecting Larry's wiki page (0+ / 0-)


      Just want to let you and Brad know that I've been fighting a pitched battle on Larry's wiki page over the past week.  Finally had to call in the cavalry and have this one vandalizing editor blocked from constantly trying to publish some inflammatory material on the page.

      •  Irwin (0+ / 0-)

        Thanks Irwin!  Brad said you've been very steadfast about making sure nothing but the truth goes on Wikipedia about Larry.  I'll be emailing you with another volunteering request soon.  Keep up the great work!  We really appreciate your dedication.

        •  available after Monday (0+ / 0-)


          I'll be more available after next Monday when I'll be taking the second certification exam to be a HS physics teacher.  After that date, I should only be unavailable for the first weekend in October.  Otherwise, my schedule will be very open.


    •  Retaining Nurses (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Totalizer

      This has been a real problem.  I address this in my plan on my website.  I believe if we provide economic incentives like loan forgiveness for nursing students who spend time after graudation in rural and low-served areas we can help close the gap.  The aging of our population forecasts that this problem is acute and must be addressed.  That's why we need change in Washington.

  •  Job shadows? (0+ / 0-)

    Larry, early in your race, you shadowed a CNA in Pocatello. Can you tell about that and any other health-care jobs you've had, and what you've learned about the people who are keeping our health-care system running while we try to get the political will to improve access and cost?

    ... we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests - Barack Obama

    by Red State Rebel on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 12:39:38 PM PDT

    •  Nursing home job (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Red State Rebel

      I am often asked what job had the most impact on me.  I say it was the job at the nursing home.  It is very tough work.  I really admired the employees I met for their dedication.  I was surprised at the low level of pay for Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) positions.  Oftentimes, CNAs work w/out health insurance in spite of the fact they work in the health field.  I saw there is also a reimbursement problem/issue with nursing homes because so many residents are Medicare/Medicaid folks and the reimbursement weighs on profit margins and benefits for the employees.  I never drive by a nursing home or assisted living home facility without thinking of the staff of caregivers inside.  It's 24/7 tough work.  I also worked with paramedics in Lewiston and went out on three "calls" with them to deal with emergencies.  That experience showed me a different side of health care.  When the call comes in the ambulance responds and never stops until the situation is dealt with on the scene or in the hospital.  The billing situation is handled....somehow...but the care is provided.  I think we would be amazed at the way Americans have made adjustments.  I worked in a pharmacy and saw the intersection of pharma and insurance come together for people's prescriptions.  I have met people who get their presceiptions filled in Canada on-line and I have been given the card of a Mexican dentist who rebuilds teeth.  I didn't realize so many Americans went to Mexico for dental work.  Americans are cobbling together a system on their own due to economic pressures, but in the long run I truly believe we are putting our health at risk because there is so little emphasis on prevention.  

      •  We are a creative nation (0+ / 0-)

        Larry, thanks for sharing these stories. They really attest to what a hard-working nation we are, and how creative we are, too. Life has plenty of obstacles, and we do whatever it takes to overcome them.

        Here's to a new era of cooperation and creativity. I believe we can get it with Obama in the White House and a 60-seat Dem majority in the Senate. Thanks again for being here today.

        ... we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests - Barack Obama

        by Red State Rebel on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 01:03:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  response to Obama survey today (0+ / 0-)

    Earlier today I filled out a survey from the Obama campaign.  At the end of the survey, I informed them that I was investing my time and money in Larry's campaign because once Obama is sworn in next January, he will need a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate to ensure that his progressive agenda can sail through and be implemented.

    I feel that if we can send Larry to DC next year, that magic 60 vote threshold will be within reach!

    •  Good call, Irwin (0+ / 0-)

      If Larry wins, the 60-seat majority will have been attained, no doubt about it.

      This is one of those just-under-the-radar races that hasn't yet created a national stir, but may over the next few months, just like Jon Tester's did in '06.

      And if any of you out there are fans of the Ed Schultz Show, please ask Big Eddie to have Larry on sometime soon. I'd think that Larry's Working for Senate campaign and the fact he's running for the seat now held by Larry Craig would be great fodder for the show - and Ed's listeners need to know more about Larry.

      ... we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests - Barack Obama

      by Red State Rebel on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 12:47:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Is the 9/25 Caldwell debate open to the public? (0+ / 0-)

    Will you be doing any others in the Treasure Valley, or is this the only one within driving distance of Boise?

    ... we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests - Barack Obama

    by Red State Rebel on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 12:48:56 PM PDT

    •  Caldwell Debate (0+ / 0-)

      We have accomodated the public in the Coeur d'Alene and Sandpoint debates and this will be no exception.  We try and take questions from the audience in the room and the on-line audience.  The prior debates have been on-line (first in the state) and quite successful.  Risch's refusal to join us has really hurt him.  He appears arrogant and disrespectful of the process. Just because he doesn't use e-mail doesn't mean he can't join us on-line! Many people mention this to me in my hand-to-hand campaigning.  Rammell and I have yet to schedule other debates in the Treasure Valley but I suspect there will be at least one more in that region.  

      •  Risch and McCain don't use email (0+ / 0-)

        What's with these people?!

        Yes, please let us know the times and places of future debates. I've enjoyed streaming them at RSR, and I hope to get to one in person.

        ... we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests - Barack Obama

        by Red State Rebel on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 12:59:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry to break with topic... (0+ / 0-)

    But Larry, I'm wondering, with your background in banking, what do you think about the recent downfall of the stock market?  And what do you think is the cause of so many of our financial institutions filing for bankruptcy?  

  •  Many thanks from Larry (0+ / 0-)

    I deeply appreciate you all joining me here today.  I saw many friends at the Big Tent in Denver so I know this race is on the radar screen of many.  My handshake poll tells me Risch is stuck in the low 40's and his tax shift is very unpopular.  There are many undecideds out there and I will find them and talk to them about their vision for Idaho and America.  This is the most important election of our lifetimes.  We must get this right.  So, I will continue working with all my energy and my great team to change the politial landscape of Idaho.  Idahoans are ready for change.  They're ready for a U.S. Army vet in the U.S. Senate.  They're ready for accountability and oversight.  And they're ready to reject the status quo represented by Jim Risch.  Join me.  Best wishes.  Larry

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