[COMM-ORG] Virginia Organizing health reform organizing

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Fri Aug 27 14:14:41 CDT 2010

  From: Joe Szakos Virginia Organizing <szakos at virginia-organizing.org>

Last week we let you know about the Governor's new Virginia Health 
Reform Initiative Advisory Council, which he stacked with big insurance 
CEOs, hospital CEOs and not a single consumer. We asked you to write 
letters to the editor on the fact that the panel did not have a single 
consumer. Your response has been amazing and letters are popping up in 
newspapers across the state.

I would like to share with you an article that ran in the Richmond 
Times-Dispatch this morning calling attention to the lack of consumers 
on Governor McDonnell's panel.

Your efforts and energy have made a huge difference in holding the 
McDonnell administration accountable to regular people.

Please take a moment to keep the pressure on by calling Governor 
McDonnell at:

(804) 786-2211

Tell Governor McDonnell that:

·             There should be a consumer on the Virginia Health Reform 
Initiative Advisory Council. And please get your friends and neighbors 
to call, too.

·             Consumers like yourself know first hand what is wrong 
with the health care system and should have a seat at the table!<o:p></o:p>

·             Putting hospital and big insurance CEOs in charge of 
implementing the federal health care bill that they vehemently opposed 
makes no sense at all.

If you have not done so already, please write a letter to the editor of 
your local paper, too. And thanks for all that you do to fight for a 
more just Virginia.

Joe Szakos

Executive Director

(434) 984-4655 x222

<o:p> </o:p><o:p></o:p>

Some say McDonnell's health-care panel needs representation from 


By http://www2.timesdispatch.com/staff/492/ Olympia Meola | 

Published: August 24, 
Buzz up! Richmond, Va. --<o:p></o:p>

The composition of Virginia's new health-care advisory panel is causing 
some consumer advocates heartburn.

Gov. Bob McDonnell's council is tasked with helping the state prepare 
for implementing the massive federal health-care reform and also with 
overseeing a broad inspection of the state's system of care.

The 24 people doing that work include health-care professionals, 
insurance executives, legislators and members of the business community. 
Missing at the table, some say, are the consumers.

"The people who provide the services have one perspective and the people 
who use the services have another perspective," said 
Sarah Williams, a 
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/topics/types/city/tags/bristol/ Bristol 
resident who supported the federal health-care legislation. "I don't 
think that with a one-sided panel that the consumer interest will be 

Williams recently wrote a letter to 
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/topics/types/position/tags/editor/ the 
editor of her newspaper calling for consumers to be added to the 
Virginia Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council -- a cry echoed in 
other corners of the state.

"I understand that the administration wanted it to consist largely of 
people with day-to-day expertise on implementation and health-care 
delivery, but it seems like they're really missing the mark with not 
having uninsured and underinsured people who have not been able to get 
care as part of the panel from the get-go," said 
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/topics/types/person/tags/mira-signer/ Mira 
executive director of the 
National Alliance on 
Mental Illness of 
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/topics/types/provinceorstate/tags/virginia/ Virginia.

"Those are the people who can really describe very accurately what's 
really wrong with the system, what's missing, what really needs to be 
addressed and what works well."

http://www2.timesdispatch.com/topics/types/person/tags/bill-hazel/ Dr. 
Bill Hazel, 
secretary of health and human resources, serves as the panel's 
chairman. He said yesterday that he thinks the administration has done a 
thorough job of bringing together people with different perspectives, 
including that of the patient.

Everyone at the table, be it health-care executives or 
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/topics/types/position/tags/secretary/ the 
secretary himself, are patients and have family members who have to 
navigate the system, he noted.

"This is about making the system work better for everybody," 
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/topics/types/person/tags/bill-hazel/ Hazel 
said. "The system is very complicated and the political blocks to 
improving it are going to come from people with vested interests, and 
they're the ones that need to be there and we have to get all of those 
on the table in a situation where they can be addressed and discussed."

Virginia Organizing, a 
liberal advocacy group, is mobilizing its grass roots around the state, 
urging people like 
Williams to write letters or to contact the governor's office. The group 
also wants to set up meetings with the five legislators on the 

"While we are very disappointed by the panel's makeup, we will be taking 
every opportunity possible to make sure that consumers can weigh in on 
the panel," said 
Janice "Jay" Johnson, 
chairwoman of 
Virginia Organizing.

Additional people will be asked to serve on one of the council's six 
task forces to drill into more specific issues, 
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/topics/types/person/tags/bill-hazel/ Hazel 
said; all of those meetings will be open and the public will be given an 
opportunity to speak.

But hearing from people in a public forum and having them at the table 
are different, advocates insist.<o:p></o:p>

"This is a critical perspective that needs to be at the table where 
decisions will be made. Providers, 
insurance companies and academics are there. Consumers have vital 
interests too," said 
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/topics/types/person/tags/jill-hanken/ Jill 
staff attorney with the 
Virginia Poverty Law Center.

The result is a lopsided panel, said 
Signer, with the 
mental health alliance, which is a statewide organization that focuses 
on people with 
serious mental illness.<o:p></o:p>

"The reality is that the people who have not had care and have been 
marginalized are the ones who are able to describe very accurately 
what's wrong with the system," she said. "Having them on equal footing 
as http://www2.timesdispatch.com/topics/types/company/tags/anthem/ 
Anthem, it also send a message to those million people out there 
pounding on the door saying 'Something's wrong, I can't get care.' It 
sends a message that they're part of this."<o:p></o:p>


703 Concord Avenue

Charlottesville, VA 22903-5208

(434) 984-4655   (434) 984-2803 fax

http://www.virginia-organizing.org www.virginia-organizing.org


On 8/21/2010 10:00 AM, Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
> --------
> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
> All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
> --------
>    From: Joe Szakos Virginia Organizing<szakos at virginia-organizing.org>
> Dear Randy,
> It seems like Governor Bob McDonnell finds a way to show how out of
> touch he is with regular Virginians on a weekly basis! This week
> Governor McDonald announced his 24-person Virginia Health Reform
> Initiative Advisory Council, whose task it is to figure out ways to
> implement the new national health care law in Virginia. This panel will
> be advising on Medicaid reform, insurance reform, delivery and payment
> reform, capacity, technology, and will have considerable influence on
> the future of Virginia’s health care system.
> The problem is that there is not one health care consumer or consumer
> advocate on this panel! In fact, it is mostly made up of big business
> leaders, hospital CEOs and of course the CEO of Anthem, C. Burke King.
> As you may know, I found out just how much C. Burke King wants to hear
> from health care consumers when I was arrested in front of Anthem last
> year for trying to ask about our health insurance rates! I don’t have
> any confidence that he or any of Governor McDonnell’s big business
> appointees will look out for consumers like you and me.
> For the last two years we fought—and won—the right to reign in the
> insurance companies. Now, Governor McDonnell is putting them right back
> in the driver seat without a single consumer to hold them accountable.
> I find it offensive that our Governor thinks so little of Virginia
> health care consumers and the uninsured that he would allow corporations
> to speak on their behalf. So we are encouraging folks to write letters
> to the editor about it. Would you take 10 minutes to write a letter to
> the editor of your local newspaper? Here is a list of contacts for
> newspapers across the state. Please email our Communications Director,
> Julie Blust, at blust at virginia-organizing.org if you need any talking
> points or tips on writing a letter to the editor.
> Thanks for everything you have done to continue the fight for health
> care for all Virginians. And thank you for supporting the idea that real
> people should have a say in their government.
> Take care,
> Joe Szakos
> Executive Director
> (434) 984-4655 x222
> 703 Concord Avenue
> Charlottesville, VA 22903-5208
> (434) 984-4655 • (434) 984-2803 fax
> www.virginia-organizing.org
> _______________________________________________
> Colist maillist  - send messages to Colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
> To change your subscription, go to http://comm-org.wisc.edu/mailman/listinfo/colist
> All messages are archived at http://comm-org.wisc.edu/pipermail/colist/
> Please contact original message authors to request permission to forward messages.

More information about the Colist mailing list