The powerful and deep-pocketed health lobby has managed to delay floor votes on health care reform until after the August recess. It is well known that they intend to dole out huge amounts of money during the recess for the dual purposes of putting huge amounts of misleading advertising on television and to buy the votes of Congress members who can be persuaded to vote against the interests of their constituents.

It is crucial that we fight back and fight hard. Polls continue to show that over 60% of Americans want a public option, and on the rare occasion that pollsters ask about single payer it wins by a large margin as well. I think that a key to winning this battle is for us to publicly question our members of Congress in a way that forces them to confront the fact that the health lobby is putting its massive resources into preserving its disgustingly huge profits that are achieved through denying care to as many citizens as possible.

These questions should be posed both in public events where the Congress members appear and in letters to the editor in local newspapers. Do your research first, and find out how much money your Congresscritter has accepted from the health lobby. OpenSecrets.org is a great site for this research. For example, my Congressman, Cliff Stearns [a Republican bordering on wing-nut], received $45,310 from "health professionals" in the 2008 election cycle. That was out of a total of $806,444 raised, for a total of 5.6% of his total funding coming from health professionals, who were the industry with the highest amount of donations to his campaign.

A few sample questions follow below.

1. "Congressperson X, you have accepted Y dollars from the health lobby. Which is a higher priority for you, getting re-elected or achieving meaningful health care reform? A large majority of the voters in our country want a public option for health insurance, but the money you have accepted from the health lobby makes me think you intend to repay their money with a vote against a public option. Is your vote for sale to the highest bidder?"

2. "Congressperson X, you have accepted Y dollars from the health lobby. Health insurance companies make huge profits by accepting our premium payments and then denying care. Why not return the favor to them? Please take their money and then vote for a public option. That is the only way for you to demonstrate to us that their money is not buying your vote."

I’m sure the creative commenters here at the Lake can come up with questions that are framed much better than my examples. Let’s share ideas and then go out and give it our best shot. Jane and the rest of the folks here at the Lake have been working their tails off to keep the pressure on Congress while they were in session. Now it’s our turn to apply the pressure while they are in their districts, roaming among us.

We may not have a better opportunity to achieve meaningful health care reform. Keep in mind that it has been kept "off the table" since the failed attempt at reform in 1993. How many people have died because they could not afford adequate health care since then?

Jim White

Jim White

Follow me on Twitter @JimWhiteGNV

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