As you might already know, I attended Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh last week as a grateful "scholar" from Democracy for America (DFA). Other than my extreme enjoyment in meeting all the interesting bloggers and inspiring activists, the second best aspect of Netroots, for me, was that I rediscovered Howard Dean.
Why Howard Dean? He was clear, compelling and just plain correct about health care reform. He gave so many of us renewed hope about healthcare reform, right when we are feeling disillusioned and disappointed in our elected officials' collective ability to stand up to insurance lobbyists.
And - get this - Howard Dean answered the two questions that I sent him by way of Twitter, live on C-SPAN! I asked two and he answered both! Both were essentially the same question, each phrased slightly differently.
The first Twitter question I posed was, "Given that we want public option (preferably single payer), what points should we stress to the public in our blogs?" My second one asked: "What are the points to stress about public option? What should we clearly blog? How can we keep it simple?"
In this video, you'll catch the second question I submitted (as Everyday Citizen) to him on stage! Is that cool or - is that cool?
Dr. Dean knows that in order to reform healthcare and truly improve both its costs and quality, we need to restructure how healthcare is paid for, while preserving how it is delivered.
Like all proponents of the public option, Howard Dean wants to preserve the private delivery of healthcare, making sure that hospitals and doctors can remain independent. He wants to preserve patient choice and protect patient freedom. He advocates that doctors and hospitals operate in a free market and that patients should always be able to choose their own doctor, choose their own treatments and make all of their own decisions about care.
Dr. Dean has seen the healthcare industry from the inside, just like I have. He is acutely aware of the fact that in today's current healthcare "market" that patients really don't have choice. Their options are limited by the rules set out by the insurance industry. The insurance industry dictates what kind of procedures and treatments a patient can have.
Real reform must give the power back to patients. Both "public option" and "single payer" plans return power to the people. Single payer takes power completely away from the insurance industry and gives it to the patients and their doctors. Public option does the same by giving citizens opportunities to choose between plans offered by the people (public plan) and plans offered by insurance corporations.
Dr. Dean knows that huge problems exist in how healthcare is funded, not in how healthcare is provided by doctors and hospitals. He wants to shift power away from the insurance industry and put it squarely back into the hands of patients and their doctors. He knows that only way this can be accomplished is if we offer alternatives to patients by not giving insurance companies all the power.
He spoke at Netroots Nation on Friday morning, emphasizing (and I agree) that the "public option" plan is already a compromise and a step down from the best plan. (The best plan is "single payer." By accepting "public option" we are already compromising. Therefore, we say don't ask us to compromise any further. If compromise beyond public option, we aren't engaging in reform anymore.)
Dr. Dean also talked about the misinformation that the insurance lobbyists have been spreading and gave tips on how to straighten it out.
On this page (below) I offer you the four videos, in hopes you will be inspired, too. The first two offer parts one and two of the rousing keynote speech that Dr. Dean gave on Friday morning. The third video begins with my second question to him. And, the fourth video was taken Friday night by Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake.com. Both Jane and I were standing right next to Dr. Dean in this last video.
In fact, in the last and final video below, when you hear the intermittent "Yay!" and the exuberant "Yeah!" and "That's right!" and "Woo Hoo!" - you are definitely hearing me! My voice is the loudest! (I'm standing just three feet directly in front of Howard and I'm about five feet away from Jane's microphone!) At the very end of the last video, when the cam pans the crowd, you'll see me there - front and center - clapping.
I couldn't contain my enthusiasm. I was thrilled to be there. It was a hopeful atmosphere.
Dr. Dean, thanks for answering my questions and also for the autographed copy of your book, Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform. But even more so, thank you for providing much needed inspirational leadership in healthcare reform. We need your clarity and determination now, more than ever. I absolutely stand with you and so do millions of other Americans!