The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

* New Healthcare Ads * Corrupted Finance Committee?


Farrell is an actor best known for playing Dr. B.J. Hunnicutt on M*A*S*H. He appears in a series of just-released TV ads calling for healthcare reform. Available for a limited number of interviews, Farrell is author of the book "Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist."

One of the ads features Farrell saying: "Mr. President, the insurance companies have stiffed us time and time again. Don't give in to them. Yes, we know they're powerful, Yes, they have lots of money and lots of political clout, but don't sell us short. It's time to get the insurance companies and their costly red tape out of our health care system." Other ads feature Farrell alongside "real life" doctors and nurses. Videos of the ads are here.

Newhall is a doctor and a lawyer from Utah and executive director of Health Justice, which produced the ads Farrell is featured in. Of the "voluntary insurance companies' plan" announced today, Newhall said this afternoon: "They say you're not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth, but you better look inside this horse, because it's a Trojan Horse. The insurance companies say they'll reduce costs by $200 billion -- but their favorite way of reducing costs is to provide less healthcare. Anything else just isn't in their DNA." Newhall is traveling to D.C. later today.

Farrell and Newhall will be speaking at a news conference in D.C. on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Room 2203 in the Rayburn Building.

The ads ask viewers to call a comment line which stores calls and then phones congressional offices during working hours with the audio of the calls, thus reversing the typical "robo-calling" of citizens by politicians. Several of the ads were written by Sam Husseini, IPA's communications director.

Zeese said today: "The voluntary [insurance companies'] plan is a promise that can't be enforced, and they're talking about a 20 percent decrease in the expansion. That still means projected increases of nearly $2 trillion over the next ten years. In contrast, a single payer system, which gets the insurance companies out, would actually decrease costs."

Executive director of ProsperityAgenda.US, Zeese wrote the piece "Why I Was Among Eight Health Care Advocates to Get Arrested in the Senate," about being arrested last week for protesting the Senate Finance Committee's exclusion of any advocate for single payer or Medicare-for-all; for video, see here .

Max Baucus is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Zeese also recently wrote the piece "Max Baucus Should Not Be Deciding Health Care for America." The Senate Finance Committee is having another hearing Tuesday, and protests by reform groups outside the hearing are expected, see here.

Also see "Power Players: With Health Sector's Money Supporting Him, Baucus Offers Prescription for Reform," which notes that "Baucus's top donors have been American International Group (AIG), Goldman Sachs and New York Life Insurance -- in the 2008 election cycle alone, these companies' employees and PACs contributed $148,550 to his campaign chest."

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.