Reports on Health Care, Media, Demographics, etc.

Healthy, Wealthy, & Wise report

Click the image to download the research report, in Microsoft Word format, with searchable content and active hyperlinks.

Healthy, Wealthy, & Wise: The Public Option as the Best Insurance of Health Care Coverage and Cost Control

A Research Report for Progressive Activists


On October 7, 2009, I sent out the following e-mail — including the Executive Summary of the report — to my list of progressive activists nationwide, and beyond; and I also posted the message in various sites online:


In order to assist other progressive activists in moving health care reform — including a public option — forward, I have prepared a report entitled Healthy, Wealthy, & Wise: The Public Option as the Best Insurance of Health Care Coverage and Cost Control. As indicated by its Executive Summary (below), this report includes comprehensive (searchable) content, commentary, and hyperlinked references. You may download it in Microsoft Word format here ...


If you have trouble downloading the file, I can e-mail it to you as an attachment (less than 1 MB in size).


I hope that by virtue of its thorough and comprehensive examination of the medical, economic, and political dimensions of our health care problems and proposed solutions, the information in this report will lead any reasonable person to conclude that of all the plans being considered by Congress with significant public support as well as any realistic chance of being passed, the public option is the best means of insuring health care coverage and cost control.




After examining the nature of the costly, life-and-death problems in the current U.S. health care system — and the economic and political forces aligned against changing the status quo — we consider the various solutions — individual mandates, government subsidies, Medicare savings, increased revenue, and the Exchange — being advanced by President Barack Obama and by Democrats in both the House and Senate.


In particular, we focus on the “public option,” a Medicare-style program proposed to compete with for-profit plans in the Exchange market, for those without employer-provided health insurance. The Republican and insurance company opposition to the public option is contrasted with polls showing public support for the plan. Various parliamentary maneuvers that Senate Democrats might employ in order to pass a health reform bill with a public option — “commit to cloture,” promoted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and “budget reconciliation,” possibly requiring a heroic stand by Vice Pres. Joe Biden, as President of the Senate — are discussed in detail, as are their political ramifications.


Alternatives and adjuncts to the public option being offered by Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and others are also examined, each with unique advantages and disadvantages.


Lessons are drawn from the experiences of two states, Massachusetts and Hawaii, and two nations, Switzerland and The Netherlands, that are often cited as examples of where the U.S. health reform is headed, given that those systems were also based on private insurers, not a single-payer system, which is also discussed.


Finally, by considering everything that has been presented — the costs of inaction; the medical, economic, and political costs and benefits of the various solutions being deliberated in Congress; and the limited success of market regulation to control costs in other nations — we come to two important conclusions:

  • Current U.S. health care reform efforts will probably result in almost universal coverage, the number one concern of Americans.
  • As demand for health care insurance, services, and products increases with more people insured, the best way of controlling costs — among the solutions having public support and any realistic chance of being passed by Congress — is to include a public option among the choices in the Exchange.

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Media in States with Centrist Senators report

Click the image to download the research report, in Microsoft Word format, with active hyperlinks.

Media Research in Health Care Reform

On September 11, 2009, I sent out the following e-mail to my list of progressive activists nationwide, and beyond; and I also posted the message in various sites online:


In the wake of President Barack Obama’s stirring and historic speech this week to a joint session of Congress, I have prepared a research paper to aid those who want to help the health care reform effort by grassroots action; namely, contacting the media in the states (or commonwealths) of those “centrist” Democratic and Republican senators whose votes will most likely be decisive, given the partisan divide on the issue in the Senate and the large Democratic majority in the House in favor of reform.


The report, entitled Media in the States of Centrist Senators, is in Microsoft Word format — with active hyperlinks within the text — and it is downloadable (and printable) from here:


If you have trouble downloading the file, I can e-mail it to you as an attachment (less than 1 MB in size).


To introduce each state in question, I present its vote in the 2008 presidential election.


Then I present information on the one or two senators from that state generally recognized as “centrist”: I present their Senate Web site address, their address in the “Open Congress” wiki, their membership (or not) in the “Moderate Dem(s) Working Group” (which met with the president the day after his speech), whether or not they are in the “Gang of Six” trying to reach bipartisan agreement on health care (Note that I have included all of the Gang of Six, even though most are not generally, otherwise considered “centrist”), and when they next face re-election.


Then for the state I present its “Blogroll: Covering Congress,” from the “Open Congress” wiki, with links to political blogs in the state.


Finally, I present data for the four biggest cities within the state. For each city, I present its population, its fact-filled Web page in, its TV stations, its News Talk radio stations, and its newspapers — if no data exist, I simply omit that category (Sources of all the data are included and linked in the report).


I hope that this information proves useful for further research — almost all TV and radio stations as well as newspapers have Web sites, with contact information and often public blogs — all of which can prove useful in sharing information with the people in these key states — through interviews (as via Skype for TV or telephone for radio) or writing (as in blogs or Letters to the Editor). That can help turn public opinion more in favor of health care reform. As the president did this week, policies can be clarified, myths can be debunked, and stories of the life-and-death consequences of inaction can touch hearts in any state of the Union.


Just remember, although these “centrist” senators and their “moderate,” “independent,” or even “conservative” constituents may well determine whether or not America gets health care reform, they are not the “enemy.” They might be misinformed on some issues; but overall, they are usually united by a sense of “fiscal responsibility.” Fortunately, the policies we pursue will result in great savings for families, businesses, and government. If we frame our messages to centrists in those terms, we should achieve our best results.


In particular, when discussing a “public option” remind folks that it would be just one choice among many for insurance buyers; but because it is non-profit, it would naturally tend to bring down the prices of its for-profit competitors as well — that is, if the public option were on a national scale, unlike the regional co-ops being proposed, so that the public plan could have sufficient leverage to negotiate the lowest prices. Like most progressives, I have not heard of a means better than a public option for cost-control, other than strict government regulation of prices, which is not under consideration by Congress and which would undoubtedly incite much the same opposition as for a public option.


In effect, we are selling “insurance for insurance.” And though most folks don’t like to have an insurance agent call on them, most people today realize the need for change in our health care system. Trillions of dollars and millions of lives are truly at stake.


Change health care? Yes, we can!




P.S. If you or others need any further motivation, remember the heartrending, true stories of loss under the current health care system, as I caught on videotape at the Organizing for America / Health Care for America NOW! rally last week ...


As the president keeps reminding us, the status quo is not an option!


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Kelly Hayes-Raitt for Assembly

Note that the image above is the title card from the campaign video I shot.

Assembly Campaign of Kelly Hayes-Raitt

In 2006, term limits would force the retirement of California Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, serving the 41st Assembly District, along the coast from Santa Monica north to Oxnard and several miles inland. Because this wealthy and influential district is heavily Democratic, the winner of the primary would surely win the general election. Among the candidates who would declare was Kelly Hayes-Raitt, a nationally known community organizer and Los Angeles County Woman of the Year.


Because I knew and respected Kelly, I was happy to lend my efforts to her campaign. My two most significant contributions, at her request, were research into her political opposition — although she never ran a negative campaign — and also a demographic handbook of the cities in AD 41.


Although Ms. Hayes-Raitt failed to win the nomination, she did attract significant support — as from actors/activists Martin Sheen and Ed Begley Jr. and the Sierra Club — and she was most appreciative of my assistance. I am happy to report that Kelly is still organizing grassroots efforts nationwide, in support of truly progressive causes.


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AD 41 Handbook of Cities

California Assembly District 41: Handbook of Cities

Click to view official map in detail.

California Assembly District 41 comprises the cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Santa Monica, and Westlake Village as well as the unincorporated areas of Newbury Park, Oak Park, and Topanga. It also includes some of the western communities of the city of Los Angeles: namely, Encino, Pacific Palisades, Tarzana, and Woodland Hills.


See below for a summary of the information included for each city.


PDF Icon Click here for a PDF sample chapter: demographic and other data for the city of Santa Monica.


PDF Icon Click here for a PDF sample of supplemental data to the AD 41 handbook (delivered on CD): business data for the city of Santa Monica.


Typical Data for Each City

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Opposition Research

Opposition Research Web Site

Click to explore the Web site, whose functionality is greatly reduced here, for the sake of privacy (although all reports were published online).

The likely opponents of Ms. Hayes-Raitt were Calabasas City Councilmember Barry C. Groveman, District Director of outgoing Assemblymember Fran Pavley and former Mayor of Agoura Hills Louise Rishoff (who would eventually drop out), Santa Monica – Malibu Unified School District Boardmember Julia Brownley (the eventual winner), and attorney Jonathan Levey. For each of them, I amassed from online sources, particularly the Los Angeles Times and various local newspapers, reports published over the previous 20 years. The information presented was by no means exhaustive, nor was its selection unbiased. However, it was intended to be representative and illuminating.


In order to most efficiently present this wealth of information, I designed a Web site (with a private URL, known only to Ms. Hayes-Raitt and me) based on “frames.” At the top of the site one could select a candidate and then any general area of interest, based upon the candidate’s published record. In the left-hand frame, there were chronologically ordered summaries of articles (Those that posed potential political liabilities, such as reports of special interests donating to his or her campaign, were displayed in red): That allowed the reader to quickly scan through a great deal of information very quickly. If one wanted to read more about any particular article, one could click on that article’s summary, in the left-hand frame, and bring up extensive highlights or even an entire article in the right-hand frame. Instructions were also given about how to download or print any article.


By scanning through the well-ordered summaries of articles, one could quickly learn not only the achievements and shortcomings of these candidates but also, to a certain extent, “what made them tick.” What’s more, from how all this was reported in the newspapers, one could readily appreciate what was most important to the voters in District 41.


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“From the comprehensive research that went into this project [a demographic analysis of CA AD 41], to the clear organizational style in which you present the information, your hard work and professionalism are obvious. ... I appreciate your commitment and energy!”

— Kelly Hayes-Raitt, 2006 Candidate (from Santa Monica) for California Assembly

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Note: My address and phone number have been updated in the older, PDF documents.

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