At the BlogHer '09 conference, five MOMocrats writers were among a group of women bloggers who met with White House Adviser and Public Liason Valerie Jarrett to talk about health insurance reform. Representing MOMocrats.com were BlogHer Political Director and MOMocrats contributor Erin Kotecki Vest, MOMocrats Founding Editor Stefania Pomponi Butler, PunditMom creator, Huffington Post contributor, and MOMocrats writer Joanne Bamberger, MOMocrats writer Sheila Bernus Dowd, and MOMocrats writer Jaelithe Judy.
Also in attendance were:
- BlogHer Community Manager Denise Tanton and BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone
- Jenny Prokopi, the founder of an online community for women living with chronic health conditions, ChronicBabe.com
- Kerri Morrone Sparling, author of Six Until Me, a blog about living with diabetes.
- Loolwa Khazoom, journalist and founder of the Dancing with Pain chronic pain management website.
- Kim McAllister, who writes about her life as a nurse at Emergiblog.
- Liz Henry, tech blogger, momblogger, disability rights advocate and BlogHer contributor.
- Kelly Wickham, a public school administrator, writer of the blog Mocha Momma, and BlogHer Content Editor.
- Daphra Holder, Manager of Mobilization Marketing for the charitable organization Donors Choose.
- Katie, who has written about her experiences as a brain surgery patient at Overflowing Brain.
- Casey Mullins from Moosh in Indy, who has written about her struggles with depression, endometriosis and infertility.
- Loralee from Loralee's Looney Tunes, who has written about her experience being denied insurance coverage for a high risk pregnancy.
Here is the official BlogHer liveblog of the Valerie Jarrett meeting, written by Denise Tanton as the meeting happened.
The discussion focused on the President's level of support for improved patient rights, how far the President is willing to go to preserve the inclusion of public option -- a provision of some current versions of the health care reform bill, supported by the Obama administration, that would allow people to voluntarily buy into a not-for-profit government-sponsored insurance plan, similar to existing public insurance plans, like Medicare and Medicaid, if they could not find good, affordable private health insurance -- and on how to improve communication between the administration and the public on the nature of the proposed plan.
During the meeting, more than one blogger came forward with personal stories about how her life had been affected by the broken health care system. Clearly passionate about the President's plan to improve health care, Ms. Jarrett also seemed to show a very genuine interest in what each attendee at the meeting had to say.
MOMocrat Erin Kotecki Vest frankly expressed concern that the President might compromise on the public option or other key aspects of the current plan under political pressure from the right, saying, "Let me be completely honest - I'm a big supporter of President Obama what I love and hate about him is that he will compromise. As a progressive that drives me nuts, but it's better than the alternative. I'm thankful that he is willing to compromise, but what scares me is real health care reform will be compromised just to get it through. I'm afraid for people like my dad who will only take half of his pills because he can't afford to buy. Can you assure me that those average people who really need health care aren't going to get left behind?"
Jarrett replied, "At least every other day, he says to us, 'Let's remember we don't want to get just something done, our goal is to improve the quality of the health care.' We have to provide the stability and the security so families don't wake up every day taking half a pill. When you talk about compromise, true believers don't want any compromise, I think that the president is a pragmatist but he's not going to compromise fundamentals. He thinks the public plan is the right thing to do. He thinks it will prevent insurance companies from having monopoly and better serve the American people."
MOMocrat Jaelithe Judy explained that she had recently heard an occupational therapist, an educated health care professional, express fear that the government intended to entirely take over the health insurance industry in a single-payer plan, when in fact that option is not anywhere in the legislation currently being considered. Jaelithe asked specifically how the Obama administration planned to clarify the difference between a voluntary public health insurance option -- which is on the table -- and the idea of totally government-run, government-sponsored single payer health care -- which is not.
Jarrett replied by asking the group to submit ideas on better communication strategy to her by email.
And after Loralee shared her story of losing her home as a result of being denied health insurance coverage for her high risk pregnancy, and mentioned that despite all this, her husband, a conservative, is still opposed to government intervention in the health care system, and worried that the Obama plan might result in "socialized medicine,"Valerie Jarrett said, "Have your husband call me. On Monday."
This wasn't an empty promise -- Loralee confirmed to a MOMocrats writer earlier today that the call happened.
And as for Erin's concerns about the President's support for the public option, and Jaelithe's worry about the President's communication strategy having failed to sufficiently clarify the difference between a public health insurance option and government-run health single-payer care?
Well, this is what President Obama said at a meeting with grocery workers in Virginia July 29th, just days after the meeting:
Talk to the White House about health care. They're listening.
Read MOMocrat Joanne's own excellent recap of the Valerie Jarrett BlogHer meeting on PunditMom.
Submit your own health care ideas for Valerie Jarrett to MOMocrat Erin at Queen of Spain.