US Capitol Building, Washington DC
Guess who called today?  Are you sitting down?

Birds on a Wire Blog was one of five chosen for a morning conference call with aides from the office of none other than Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, to answer questions and discuss elements of the Baucus bill for health care reform.  

Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By recommended us, as one of several blogs taking on health care reform issues in a serious and thoughtful manner. Its readers fall into that category as well. 

I'll get to the specifics we discussed in another post, but here's what I believe this call tells us:

1. At least some members of Congress have learned a lesson from the Obama campaign, which made very good use of social networking tools to build a viable base, deliberately and efficiently. If it worked for Obama, it can work for health care reform.   

Yesterday, I read on BlogHer that Reid's office would be using this technology for outreach to specific constituencies (seniors, women, etc.), in hopes of building a groundswell of public opinion in favor of the bi-partisan bill. I believe we were the first or among the first called.

2. Congressional outreach by way of the blogging community makes good use of aides' time. For every blogger they talk to, they have the potential to reach at least hundreds, maybe thousands, more. No travel and no fancy preparations are necessary.  

3. Complex issues require serious study, thought and discussion. You're not going to be able to discuss nuances of various health care reform proposals through soundbites on talk shows or--heaven forbid!-- rowdy demonstrations. Our readers have the time and inclination to mull over ideas, read up on the details, compare and contrast content, and float their own ideas within a supportive community.

4. What better platform could there be than a blog, to provide a town hall-type forum? It's free, open and raucous-proof, by design.

5. Apparently, people working in the great halls of Congress read blogs. Even better, they read THIS blog. Just knowing that adds a lot of value--and responsibility--to what we do. All bloggers and blog readers (of every stripe) should take pride in the fact that this new media counts, and probably count even more in the future.

6. Your ideas can and will be heard through your blog comments, as well as your direct correspondence with Congressional leaders and and their staffs. WRITE today! Tell them you appreciate their interest in your comments through Birds on a Wire Blog, and other blogs.



Erin Cochran
09/22/2009 12:05


Thanks so much for your kind words. We had a great time speaking with you today and hope we can continue this conversation throughout this important debate.

I also wanted to thank your loyal readers for keeping up with this critical topic of health care reform. We need everyone's support!


09/22/2009 13:33

As you know I am a health psychologist and I have conducted a large health study in the UK. Taking a person centred perspective and over-laying interpersonal and institutionalised health, I looked at how our NHS health system impacted on the health identity of women.

Whilst there were stories about worry regarding ageing and terminal illness, there was little concern about primary care, with the NHS system providing a reliable base care whilst women sought health information from other sources (internet, TV, relatives). Whilst women are still objectified in health dualism, they are not further marginalised by a means tested system.

The most important factor found was that women are not passive users of healthcare but monitor their own health through many mechanisms so healthcare is never a case if 'you don't miss what you don't have'. The health identity begins inside with an inherent feeling of self, and extends outwards in times of crisis.

In the UK this extension is largely met by a NHS for everyone. I wish my friends in the US the same.

Keep up the good work Paula.

09/23/2009 08:05

Having a response from the Senate Majority Leader's office is encouraging. No one should have to go without medical care because they can't afford it.

Karen Holmgren
09/23/2009 10:24

Thank you, Senator Reid, for taking the initiative to listen!

Like so many, I have my own health insurance nightmare story. Suffice it to say that loss of coverage due to layoffs and the denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions are injustices of great magnitude and need to be outlawed immediately. Unaffordable premiums are equally unjust, as they create a "survival of the richest" condition.

The Constitution of the United States guarantees that every person is entitled to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Affordable access to medical care for ALL persons to guarantee "life" is implied, in my opinion, by our founding fathers.

It's past time for the partisan wrangling to be done so that some serious negotiating can begin for crafting legislation that can pass Congress. Yes, the financial implications are unsettling, the possibility of increased taxes is daunting, but there must be some way to work it out so that keeping people healthier actually reduces medical costs over time. It's time for the United States of America to join the rest of the developed nations in this area.

09/23/2009 10:41

09/23/2009 10:45

Ronni Bennett provided a wonderful service in setting up the conference call. I'm sorry that my inability to hear well prevented me from taking part, but am happy that you and the others were able to ask the right questions and to make our voices heard.

The only weapon we have to fight the obscene funds trying to defeat meaningful reform is our voices. I urge everyone to repeatedly contact you representatives until a bill is passed.

Thank you, Paula, for helping with the fight.


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