Monday, June 08, 2009

My Day At An Obama Health Care Meet-Up

Being a conservative Republican, I originally only signed up for a profile on in order to examine the site and write about the various ways in which Obama used social networking to entice young people to help his campaign. I never though that this research would lead me to the house of a middle aged woman named Sandra Cuneo in North Hollywood, California. listed Sandra’s house as one of hundreds of meet-up locations around the country where Obama supporters could get together and discuss their strategy for selling the president’s health care plan to the nation. “Brainstorming Sessions” was what the literature created by the Obama administration and distributed to the meetings' participants, called it.

While this type of grassroots organizing worked exceptionally well for Obama in the fall election, I was skeptical that the same excitement and willingness to hit the pavement would exist among the activists when it came to an issue as complex and controversial as health care reform.

So there I was, undercover, on a Saturday afternoon, sporting a name tag that read “Al”, eating organic sushi and vegetarian burritos with some of Obama’s most loyal supporters, listening to a woman discuss the difficulties she had in putting a Barack Obama Fathead sticker on her apartment wall.

After the group of roughly twenty people had arrived and taken their seats to watch a special video from the President, the first thing I noticed was that besides myself (and obviously, I didn’t count) there was only one individual at the meeting who could have possibly been under 30 years of age. Where were Obama’s legions of young supporters whose energy had helped Obama win the election? Perhaps they were hung-over from Friday night benders. Perhaps they were at other meetings and just not this particular one. Perhaps they don’t care as much about health care policy because they rarely get sick. Whatever it was, the median age at this particular event was clearly somewhere in the 50’s.

As the discussion began, the meeting's participants immediately began firing off questions about the details of the health care plan to Sandra and the other woman who was leading the event. For all of their enthusiasm, these group leaders were completely incapable of describing the particulars of the Obama plan in any coherent way. What they did understand however was that Obama’s “public option”, the government-run insurance program that Obama wants to create to compete with the private insurance companies, was the first step towards the entitlement that almost everyone in that room (based on the raising of hands at the beginning of the meeting) was really longing for: a European style “single payer” health care system. They also understood that part of their job as grassroots activists promoting the plan was to assure people that the plan was not going to result in “single payer”. How Obamaesque.

Sandra and our other esteemed leader explained to the group that the primary focus of the administration's efforts to sell the health care plan was going to be in emphasizing “personal stories”. So, for the next few months, we can expect a steady stream of sob stories about some guy named Raymond who has Lupus and has to subsist on cat food in order to pay his skyrocketing health care bills. The Obama administration knows that the majority of Americans will not be able to grasp the consequences of this complex plan and therefore, as liberals tend to do, they plan to play on the emotions of the American people in order to sell the massive bureaucracy which this plan will inevitably spawn.

In keeping with the community organizer code, we eventually broke into groups where we were to “brainstorm” and think of events we could hold that would raise awareness of Obamacare.

In my group, we sat in a circle and each of us read one of the talking points listed in the Obama health care packet. This practice struck me as being similar to grammar school, where we would go around the classroom and each student would read a certain portion of a given text. Why one person couldn’t have read the entire paragraph I have no idea. We were then each asked to share our ideas for raising awareness and gaining support for the Obama plan.

Some of the ideas that came out of this pow-wow were:

-Going to a busy L.A. intersection and holding up signs saying “Honk If You Support Barack Obama’s Health Care Plan”.

-Sitting in front of grocery stores and having people signing petitions showing their support for Obamacare.

- Holding another meeting.

-Setting up a table in front of a Metro station and having people take a quiz created by the Obama campaign that posed difficult multiple choice questions such as:

“How important is it for you to choose your own doctor?”

a) Very
b) Somewhat
c) Not At All

The correct answer of course being:

“The third principle of President Obama’s health care reform is that everyone have a guaranteed choice of doctor, hospital and insurance plan”

So if you answered that personally choosing your own doctor didn’t matter to you at all, you would be wrong.

There was one very good suggestion made during the group meeting. It was to go to a local mall and hand out a list of the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of the Blue Dog Democrats whose votes will determine whether or not the bill passes. Passersby would be urged to contact these legislators and inform them of their support for the president’s plan.

Halfway through making this suggestion, I realized that I was being far too helpful.

I came away from this meeting with a renewed confidence that Obama will not be able to rely on his loyal activist army to sell nationalized health care. While these individuals are passionate and are perfectly capable of handing out flyers and talking about “hope” and “change” during an election cycle, they are clearly grossly under-prepared to answer questions from concerned citizens about an issue as complex as health care.

Perhaps I’m wrong. I’ll find out on June 27 when the Obama army takes to the streets and we see the results of the brainstorming sessions in action. However, the entire time I was at the meeting, for all of the talk of “health care for all” and how “meaningful reform can’t wait” there was not a single question about or mention of the program's potential costs to the taxpayer. If these well-meaning activists are under the impression that they won’t be confronted by individuals who are already incensed with Obama’s proclivity to spend large sums of money and his failure to propose any realistic way of paying for it all, then they have another think coming.

Concerned citizens have a good chance of killing this ill-conceived health care overhaul. I’m convinced of this after seeing first-hand those who Obama has fighting for him on the ground.

-Dan Joseph

Fathead Obama

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Sue said...

Great post Dan! I'm sure hoping you're right on your predictions. I'm wondering if Obama will bolster these middle aged "grassrooters" with the classic astro-turfed, ACORNS?

I've been trying to get conservative groups to join together in a large push back as mentioned on this blog:

Jason Ramin said...

Awesome.. Keep it up man!

Anonymous said...

I would like to know your reform plan to lift the USA above the 37th rank in healthcare globally (behind far poorer nations). How are you going to stop the 22 million US citizens who die from treatable diseases, many because of denied insurance claims?

How are you planning on changing the fact that 78% of bankrupcies due to healthcare costs HAD insurance. The 50 million uninsured are fine?

This is your country. Take responsibility, blog proactively instead of sneaking around.

Anonymous said...

Loved it DAN!
can't get over that picture of the wall ! YUK!!!

Mary said...

You have just made my day. You have given me hope for change, Falling Panda/Dan person!

Also, the person griping about how America's healthcare sucks: Well hell, it's good enough for the Canadians.

Andrew said...

Anonymous is as brainwashed on this subject as those people at the meeting. He probably doesn't know how the world health rankings are calculated. And 22 million US citizens who die from treatable diseases? The population of the US is around 300 million, so he believes that around 8% of the population dies each year from "treatable" diseases? I have lived in Germany for a couple years, and believe me, you do not want "universal health care." When I was a college student, I believed the single payer system was great. Then I graduated, got a job, grew up, opened my eyes and actually learned about the system. Read "Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen's Guide" by Sally Pipes. Great book and very detailed, unlike anything that is being proposed by the Democrats right now.

Anonymous said...

Of this so called statistic of 45 to 50 million uninsured Americans, roughly one third just choose to not pay for their own coverage, just choose to not have insurance. I guess they choose to spend their money on cell phones, cable, netflix, internet, etc. Another 15+ million are the ILLEGAL ALIENS, and why should we pay for ANYTHING for them? The other third or so uninsured are people who can't find access (medically can't get policies, etc). We need to allow that last group access to the same coverage as our federal employees. When I could not get coverage due to pre-existing, I would have gladly paid for access to their insurance. WHy should my neighbor pay for my policy? Since then, I have secured my own policy, but I had to move to a state where the laws don't preclude pre-existing conditions as much as where I used to live. We are responsible to pay for our own insurance just like we pay for our own auto and house insurance. I don't expect my neighbors to pay for my car or home insurance, so why do we expect others to pay for our health insurance coverage?

Anonymous said...

Serious people need to understand the WHO stats. The large majority of posters citing them don't know the details (and probably don't care)

Deaths due to all causes are captured. For example the US in high in lost years due to injuries (anything from car wrecks to shotguns). So this will force our rating down.

Plus our prevalence of HIV is high relative to a lot of these comparison countries.

So get knowledge from WHO...there are many may conditions that we are the best in the world.

Don't let tollish poster play games and trick you into thinking the grass is ain't.

e said...

For every story about a guy like Raymond, there are multiple stories to be found about people being denied care or mistreated under "universal healthcare" around the world.

As a general rule I dont like that kind of debating, but in a setting as described in the post, I think it can be effective to show the human cost of being forced to pay taxes for healthcare, then being forced to pay to actually see a doctor (described as "fee", not as "cost") and then being denied care because some beaurocrat dont think you're sick, or that you are too old for them to spend money on, or some other reason.
Anyone promoting universal heathcrae should be forced to be sick under it. (without any political connections to get special treatment.)

Scott A. Robinson said...

We are far better off with our current system. Here is some actual data.

StewartIII said...

Undercover at an Obama health care meet-up

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thank you!!! Believe you me, you do not want universal healthcare. My native country, Taiwan switched to socialized medicine and the quality of physicians have declined dramatically. The best of the best no longer want to pursue a career in medicine because the financial reward isn't there anymore. Also, because the supply of providers remain the same, yet the demand has exploded, it takes months and months before a patient can be seen. Talk to some patients in Canada and they'll tell you that they come to America to receive immediate care.

Anonymous said...

I, too, attended a neighborhood meeting but with the intention of asking questions and providing facts about funding the proposed legislation, lack of choice of doctors, rationing, etc.

At this group, the proposal was not even discussed so I had no opportunity to get into specifics.

The leaders went right into story sharing and brainstorming after showing the video. The group was also middle-aged and included only 3 men of the 25 or so in attendance.

They had no idea what was included in the proposed Dem legislation. The majority of the comments centered around the problems divorced women had regarding healthcare.

The hostess actually had an O shrine set up! I fled as soon as possible.

Rose said...

NIce post - linked!

Rose said...

To anonymous 8:43, this certainly IS a proactive blog post. Obama's bankrupting of the nation is not.

Last time I was in the emergency room, 9 out of 10 people there had medical insurance, what they did not have was a doctor. The doctors have been closing their practices because of increasingly onerous regulations and insurance costs. They get paid pennies on the dollar by the health insurance providers.

One family PAYS $900 a month for health insurance (Blue Cross) WITH a $5,000 deductible per person - a family who never goes to the doctor, whose combined medical file isn't a quarter of an inch thick.

They don't need the government to pay for their health care, they need reasonable premiums.

And by the way, that $900 a month is money they ARE paying, that pays for OTHER PEOPLE'S health care ALREADY. Additional taxes to take more isn't going to help. But if you think it will, I suggest you pay double your current tax bill, just donate it, you'll feel better, you know you will.

While this post gives me hope, I am not convinced that anything can stop this abomination. If our system of checks and balances doesn't kick back into gear, we are screwed.

Anonymous said...

People need to understand that the WHO is merely a branch of the UN, which does NOT have America's interests at heart. The WHO is a complete globalist sham!

My husband is a physician, and I will tell you that his reimbursement from Medicare/Medicaid goes DOWN a great deal each and every year, even as all other costs go up. Still, he goes in the middle of the night to help save people's lives whether they have insurance or not.

I think it is ironic that Americans are screaming for their "right" to healthcare while simultaneously living increasingly unhealthy lifestyles! Where is self-responsibility?

Insurance should not be tied to employers OR the government...some people want it, some don't. They should have that choice, but live with the consequences.

We have a local charitably run health clinic that serves those that fall through the crack for a VERY nominal fee. Doctors volunteer their time and services, and the patients receive compassionate, high-quality service! This is a LOCAL, NON-GOVERNMENT, CREATIVE solution! Why can't other communities do the same?

How much dignity do people feel after leaving the SS Admin. Office or the local DMV? And people want the same for their healthcare?


dave said...


Obama's minions inviting the opposition to brainstorm was good.

Your post exposing them as the dolts they are was great.

But anonymous asking you to stop sneaking around that is just priceless.

Szandana said...

Way more than scary! I have plenty of horror and sob stories about folks that are now in government health care. The veterans health care stories would scare the heck out of ya. Trust me government health care would be your worst nightmare.

Anonymous said...

“The third principle of President Obama’s health care reform is that everyone have a guaranteed choice of doctor, hospital and insurance plan”

As a retired military man, I am enrolled in a government-administered health care program - the VA Health Care System. I enrolled with my local VA Health Center on 16 January. I have been seen by one doctor (not my permanent doctor) to be "evaluated." I got this appointment (in March) because I began calling the enrollment center weekly and asking about my status - the voicemail system made this quite a chore, too.

I have now been given an appointment to meet my permanent doctor for the first time - on July 20th; just over 6 months since my initial call! I was NOT given a choice of doctor, nor was I given a choice as to the date and time of this appointment. It's not convenient for me, but I don't dare try to reschedule it, because I am afraid that I might have to wait months more for my care if I do.

Anyway, that's my "personal story" about government-provided health care, and I can't wait to meet up with an Obamacare supporter to share it with them!

Jennifer said...

Of the thousands of such meetings held across the country, I'm glad to hear your particular choice of sessions to attend help you fulfill your goal of "exposing" them as doltish cult meetings.

It's a shame you couldn't have joined the one I did, with nearly fifty people (avg. age? probably 30) contributing constructively and pro-actively to both the conversation and the steps forward. Not all of us agree with every aspect of Obama's plan, but we all shared actual ideas, not just criticism. It was good afternoon of activism being, well, active.

Anonymous said...

I am working as a nurse for the Federally run VA, I have been employed for about a yr and...the annonymous poster is 100% correct; No choice in your provider,months to get an appt, unbelievably cumbersome telephone system (no person answers the phone- and when they's inevitably the wrong extension), confusion over who to call if a health issue arises, and last but not least, the left hand NEVER knows what the right hand is's chaotic in my opinion. What keeps me coming back...the Veterans.

Anonymous said...

You should all also look at Ronald Reagan's great speech against socialized medicine!

He was talking about Medicare, but I don't think that really matters. Socialized medicine is socialized medicine whether its for old people or young!

reading said...

Its nice to hear and it really good post. I think its good time for you when you are in this health care center.
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Nancy Harris said...

With various health care reform bills floating around both the House and the Senate, President Barack Obama is pulling out all the stops to get the votes that the bill needs, which is good news for the public option. President Obama continues to rally behind health care reform. I am really concerned that the fiasco of this reform may make Obama a one-term president.

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Anonymous said...

This is stupid, you're an idiot. You don't like Obama as President? Do something about it and quit bitching

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E.cigs said...

I, too, attended a neighborhood meeting but with the intention of asking questions and providing facts about funding the proposed legislation, lack of choice of doctors, rationing, etc.At this group, the proposal was not even discussed so I had no opportunity to get into specifics.