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Blue America Launches New TV Initiative in Arkansas — And We Need You

Jane’s in Sweden and I’m in Indonesia but we left Blue America in the best of hands. Digby, John, Jacqui and D-Day have been working non-stop on our campaign of cable TV ads to get one of the few senatorial culprits in the war against health care reform who actually has to confront voters next year–Blanche Lincoln–to reconsider her position. Lincoln, always an opponent of giving working families an equal break, is a member of the Health Care Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee. We want her to forget her avaricious campaign donors for once in her miserable political life and think about the average citizens of Arkansas and America for a change. Last week, HHS Secretary Sebelius’s report on the state of the nation’s health care situation is especially bleak for people living in Arkansas–not for Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor or the 4 congressmen, all of whom get free platinum health care coverage for themselves and their loved ones paid for by the taxpayers, but for regular working families.

We’re hoping our TV ads will help persuade Lincoln, worrying about her re-election prospects, that with 80% of Americans favoring at least a public option, her career i n politics depends on her championing her constituents, rather than Health Insurance CEOs. Digby wrote three TV ads, produced by Brave New Films and directed by D-Day. Here’s one, but you can view all three here: Campaign For Health Care Choice

We need you to vote on which of the three ads we should use first and we need you to donate what you can to getting the ads on TV in every nook and cranny in Arkansas so that there isn’t one single solitary person in the state who doesn’t know that their senator is playing a crucial role in health care reform. The raw facts about health care in Arkansas speak for themselves. Blanche Lincoln should speak for her constituents, not for Insurance Industry CEOs:


Roughly 1.5 million people in Arkansas get health insurance on the job, where family premiums average $11,486, about the annual earning of a full-time minimum wage job.

Since 2000 alone, average family premiums have increased by 81 percent in Arkansas.

Household budgets are strained by high costs: 27 percent of middle-income Arkansas families spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care.

High costs block access to care: 17 percent of people in Arkansas report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.

Arkansas businesses and families shoulder a hidden health tax of roughly $1500 per year on premiums as a direct result of subsidizing the costs of the uninsured.


18 percent of people in Arkansas are uninsured, and 69.5 percent of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.

The percent of Arkansans with employer coverage is declining: from 57 to 53 percent between 2000 and 2007.

Much of the decline is among workers in small businesses. While small businesses make up 75 percent of Arkansas businesses, only 29 percent of them offered health coverage benefits in 2006–down 3 percent since 2000.

Choice of health insurance is limited in Arkansas. Blue Cross Blue Shield AR alone constitutes 75 percent of the health insurance market share in Arkansas, with the top two insurance providers accounting for 81 percent.

Choice is even more limited for people with pre-existing conditions. In Arkansas, premiums can vary based on demographic factors and health status, and coverage can exclude pre-existing conditions or even be denied completely.


The overall quality of care in Arkansas is rated as “Weak.”

Preventive measures that could keep Arkansans healthier and out of the hospital are deficient, leading to problems across the age spectrum:

20 percent of children in Arkansas are obese.

26 percent of women over the age of 50 in Arkansas have not received a mammogram in the past two years.

45 percent of men over the age of 50 in Arkansas have never had a colorectal cancer screening.

70 percent of adults over the age of 65 in Arkansas have received a flu vaccine in the past year.

You can see the three ads here; you can vote for which one we should start with here and you can donate here–and they’re all the same here.

John Amato explains what we’re trying to do really well at C&L and Digby did the same, with less words, at her blog. I don’t know if this is going to work or not but is it worth $5 or $10 to give it a try? Sooner or later we absolutely have to make these elected officials understand that, even if they have delusions of serving in an American House of Lords, they work for us. And if Blanche Lincoln loses, what do progressives lose? She’s already declared that she’s not just opposed to Employee Free Choice, but that she’ll support the threatened Republican filibuster. According to Progressive Punch only two Democrats–Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh–have voted more frequently with the GOP on substantive matters since Obama was elected than Lincoln. Would the Democratic caucus be better off without her? You bet; she consistently pulls it to the right and is worthless more often than not. And last year a Green Party candidate racked up 20% of the vote against Mark Pryor without anyone noticing. This year, the Greens hope to build on that and teach the Democrats–at the very least–to stop taking progressive values and working families for granted.

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Howie Klein

Howie Klein

Howie Klein spent much of his life wandering around the world living in places like Afghanistan, Nepal, Holland and Morocco. He moved backed to America when Richard Nixon resigned and promptly helped start the first punk rock radio show in the country and then a DIY punk rock record label. His adventures in the music business ended a couple of years ago when he retired as president of Reprise Records. He began blogging almost immediately, starting Down With Tyranny. Jane taught him html while he held one of her dogs at a party. He is a raw foodist, lives in L.A., swims and hikes every day, thinks Howard Dean could be a president as great as FDR and will never be completely happy until Bush and Cheney are behind bars.