OFA Health Care Kick Offs Get Coverage from Hawaii to Maine

From a living room in Kansas to a bagel shop in New York to an Alabama church, Democrats have started mobilizing support for President Barack Obama's healthcare reform plans. Suburban housewives and social workers mixed with Baptist ministers, college students, retirees and many others at grassroots gatherings over the weekend. Spurred by the Democratic National Committee's burgeoning political machine dubbed "Organizing for America," thousands of such meetings had been planned for Friday through Monday.

[Reuters, June 8, 2009]


Please see below a roundup of news clips from Organizing for America’s (OFA) Health Care Organizing Kickoff events that were held this weekend in thousands of locations in all 50 states. These events were an opportunity for volunteers and supporters to share their personal stories on their health care and engage in a conversation about President Obama’s three principles for health care reform; reducing costs for American families, and business, allowing patients to choose their own coverage and doctor - including a public plan option, and assuring that every American is provided quality, affordable care. In the coming months, volunteers across the country will continue reaching out to their neighbors and friends to discuss President Obama’s three principles and stress the urgency of getting meaningful reform passed this year.


June 8, 2009

IA – Decorah Journal (Staff) “Citizens discuss healthcare reform”: Twenty-seven Decorah area residents met recently to discuss healthcare reform legislation as it is developing in Congress. In attendance were healthcare providers, representatives of the health insurance industry, and consumers of healthcare in a variety of its forms. The Organizing for America network encouraged such events nationwide and provided information and suggestions for consideration. Meeting in the back room of T-Bock's Sports Bar and Grill, local participants first looked at President Obama's principles for the plan that will emerge from Congress, including reduced costs, guaranteed choice and ensuring that all Americans have quality, affordable health care. LINK, [6/8/2009]


IL – Chicago Tribune (Mark Silva) “Obama’s healthcare push: grassroots”: As President Barack Obama pushes for healthcare reform this summer, he also is attempting to rally that 'permanent campaign'' of supporters known as Organizing for America. The president recently telephoned supporters from Air Force One, and over the weekend, the organization circulated an email message to supporters. The president spells out the three principles of the reform that he is pressing, with House and Senate leaders promising to expedite plans in the coming weeks. Obama and Organizing for America are calling this their "Health Care Organizing Kick Off.'' Tens of thousands of Americans attended thousands of events in all 50 states this weekend where they discussed the urgency of passing health care reform this year and how they could work in their communities to achieve that goal, the Democratic National Committee says. LINK [6/8/2009]


IA – DesMoines Register (Thomas Beaumont) “Iowa GOP reaches out through travel, talks, texts”: (...) Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, is gearing up for a second term and raised $1 million last year during a period dominated by the presidential campaign. And the statewide campaign apparatus that helped Obama win the caucuses and carry the state in November has been reactivated. Now called Organizing for America, Obama's campaign network has Iowa staff and is organizing events to support the president's agenda. "Most of these people were involved during the campaign. We have many new volunteers as well," said Organizing for America's Iowa director, Derek Eadon. "It keeps growing." Eadon has headlined 23 meetings with supporters since arriving in March. LINK,


MI – Flint Journal (Elizabeth Shaw) “Health care reform the topic at public meeting with Organizing for America”: Health care reform will be the focus of a nationwide grassroots campaign kicking off this week across the country. A local kickoff will take place at 6:30 p.m. June 9 in the media center of Carman-Ainsworth High School, 1300 N. Linden Road in Flint Township. The Organizing for America health care kickoff will start with the group watching a special message from the President on ways to develop a local plan to make health care reform a reality. The effort focuses on the Obama administration's three principles of health care reform: reducing the cost of health care for families and business, guaranteeing Americans the choice of their own coverage and doctor and ensuring that quality, affordable health care is available to all Americans. LINK


Reuters (Carey Gillam) “Democrats stoke grassroots US healthcare campaign”: From a living room in Kansas to a bagel shop in New York to an Alabama church, Democrats have started mobilizing support for President Barack Obama's healthcare reform plans. Suburban housewives and social workers mixed with Baptist ministers, college students, retirees and many others at grassroots gatherings over the weekend. Spurred by the Democratic National Committee's burgeoning political machine dubbed "Organizing for America," thousands of such meetings had been planned for Friday through Monday. Those attending the scripted two-hour events viewed a videotaped message from Obama, shared personal stories and made local battle plans to counter the expected stiff opposition. "It's going to be a vicious fight," said 76-year-old Hank Putsch who attended an organizing meeting on Saturday at a Kansas City restaurant. "The insurance companies and healthcare companies are gearing up to oppose this. We've got to get our voices heard." LINK, [6/8/2009]


Bloomberg (Kim Chipman) “Obama Seeks to Show Health Care Revamp is Affordable”: (...) Grassroots Strategy. Meanwhile, Obama is participating in a nationwide campaign that seeks to tap 13 million supporters from his presidential campaign and turn their attention to health-care policy. The aim is take the same grassroots strategy that helped Obama, 47, win the White House and apply it to the challenge of getting Congress to approve a bill that meets the Democratic president’s three main priorities: reduce health costs, retain consumers’ choice of medical care, and guarantee affordable treatment for all Americans. Obama, who participated on a May 28 conference call with the group, Organizing for America, and delivered a video message to volunteers June 6, will play a visible role in pressing lawmakers for a bill, an administration official said. LINK, [6/8/2009]


June 7, 2009

Tampa Tribune - Hernando Today (Tony Holt) “Local democrats make a push for universal health care”: Democrats in Hernando County want to do their part to revamp the nation's health care system. They met for their monthly party meeting and listened to several samples of speeches from President Obama, who called the current system "unsustainable." The meeting, which took place at the Southern Pines Community Center, helped kick off a series of grassroots meetings centered on health care reform. The next-closest events took place in Lake Wales and Orlando. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced thousands of such events nationwide as part of its Organization for America (OFA) program, a project designed to provide support to Obama's commitment to making health care more affordable to more citizens. According to the DNC, 45 million Americans are without health insurance. LINK, [6/7/2009]


NV – Reno Gazette Journal (Staff) “Input wanted on Obama’s health-care plan”: A meeting will be held today to gather input from residents about President Barack Obama's health-care talks. It is one of a number of meetings being held all over the country and in Northern Nevada as part of a national weekend to discuss health-care reform. About one-third of Nevadans lack health insurance, and 841,000 Nevadans younger than age 65 are uninsured. Combined with the rising unemployment rate and fears that the economic crisis will last many months, issues of health care have taken on critical importance. In 2007, it has been reported that an estimated 25 million additional adults became underinsured. Most insurance in the U.S. is employer-based, so layoffs have left many people without coverage. Also, 2007 census figures show that households with lower incomes have higher percentages of uninsured rates. More than 45 percent of households with incomes of less than $49,999 do not have health insurance. Further, minorities tend to have high uninsured rates. Since uninsured and underinsured people tend to wait longer for care, when they finally do seek medical attention, their problems have worsened and become more costly. LINK, [6/7/2009]


Hotline – On Call (Staff) “Obama And OFA Push Healthcare Reform”: Shown at health care organizing kickoff events held across the country this weekend. A message from Pres. Obama and Organizing for America. Obama: "Passing real health care reform will be hard. It's a challenge that's vexed this great nation for generations. I know that you know when we work together we can do extraordinary things. Let's make it happen this time." LINK, [6/7/2009]


LA – Baton Rouge Advocate (Ashley Bailey) “Groups meet on reform of health care”: A little more than a dozen people showed up at the Garden District home of Lessie Freeman Saturday to take part in a nationwide Healthcare Organizing Kickoff event hosted by Organizing for America. OFA, closely affiliated with the Democratic National Committee, was formed with the aim of mobilizing grass-roots efforts to gather support for President Barack Obama’s health-care reform campaign. “Grass roots is vital. For too long, we’ve had people in Washington dictate to local citizens what is important,” said Robert Wilson, a volunteer who set up the meeting at Freeman’s home. Another dozen or more people also met Saturday at the home of Carruth and Mary McGehee. OFA had estimated that thousands of people around the United States would attend similar gatherings. LINK, [6/7/2009]


June 6th, 2009

MA – Boston Globe (Foon Rhee) “Obama presses case for healthcare overhaul”: President Obama, who this week staked out his clearest guideposts yet of what he wants in a healthcare overhaul, uses his weekly radio and Internet address to reinforce the point.

"We must attack the root causes of skyrocketing healthcare costs," he says, adding that "any healthcare reform must be built around fundamental reforms that lower costs, improve quality and coverage, and also protect consumer choice." With Congress just starting the nitty-gritty work of drafting detailed bills, then trying to reach compromise, the president says that fixing the healthcare system cannot be postponed any longer. His grassroots campaign group, Organizing for America, is holding thousands of house parties and other events across the country to kick off a lobbying effort behind his healthcare proposals. LINK, [6/6/2009]


MI – The Grand Rapids Press (Shandra Martinez): A life-size cutout of President Barack Obama greeted visitors to Mary Alice Williams' house Saturday, giving the feeling he was with the Grand Rapids woman in spirit. After helping to elect Obama, Williams now is rallying support for his most ambitious effort: a national health care plan. The goal, Williams said, is to build on the momentum that put Obama into office, using that energy for a grassroots push for health care reform. Eight others joined her Saturday afternoon to begin a health care organizing campaign. Thousands of similar meetings were held throughout Michigan and the country. LINK, [6/6/2009]


OH – Toledo Fox News (Jennifer Irving) “Toledoans fight for health care reform”: Dozens of people in Toledo kicked off a local Health Care Reform meeting. The group is a part of Organizing for America, a project to support President Obama’s agenda for change. This was just one of thousands of meetings that were held across the country. “I for one am uninsured and I’m 54 years old and, if we continue like this it’s only going to make our economy worse," said local organizer Robin Deter. "It’s not just for the uninsured, it’s even for the people that are insured." Saturday’s meeting was held at Deter’s home on North Toledo. Several people met to discuss the President’s three principles for reform and ways to develop a local plan that ensures this reform will be a reality. LINK, [6/6/2009]


CNN (Kevin Bohn) “Democrats mount grass roots effort to push health care reform”: As Democrats on Capitol Hill prepare to unveil landmark bills to dramatically overhaul the nation’s health care system, the White House and the Democratic National Committee are mounting increased efforts to rally public support around the idea. On Saturday the DNC’s advocacy arm, Organizing for America, is sponsoring thousands of meetings across the country in which it says tens of thousands of activists will discuss how to change the system, will hear a message from President Obama encouraging their activities, and will be recruited to engage in other activities that will be held throughout the summer’s “campaign for healthcare reform.” In March, the group sponsored a canvassing effort and collected hundreds of thousands of pledges of support for the administration's budget bill. It’s also mounted an effort to support the president’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. This effort, though, will be the most sustained to date on a key agenda item for the president. LINK, [6/6/09]


The Review (Michael McElwain) “Health care reform meeting today”: Calling the current health care system "broken," members of a nationwide organization are embarking on an agenda for change. The group Organizing for America (OFA), a project of the Democratic National Committee committed to supporting President Barack Obama's agenda for change, will hold a Health Care Organizing Kickoff 10 a.m. today at the Coffee Fusion and Tea Company in East Liverpool. LINK, [6/6/2009]


New York Times (Sheryl Stolberg) “Obama to Forge a Greater Role on Health Care”: “We must attack the root causes of skyrocketing health costs,” Mr. Obama said, pointing to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and other institutions as among those that offer high-quality care at low cost. “We should learn from their successes and promote the best practices, not the most expensive ones. That’s how we’ll achieve reform that fixes what doesn’t work and builds on what does.” The radio address was the start of a public relations campaign coinciding with a 50-state grass-roots effort that Organizing for America, the president’s political group, began Saturday to promote a health care overhaul. His hope is to provide what his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, called “air cover” for lawmakers to adopt his priorities. It is a gamble by the White House that Mr. Obama can translate his approval ratings into legislative action. LINK, [6/6/2009]


The Hill (Susan Crabtree) “DNC lays foundation for healthcare reform”: Organizing for America, a DNC project aimed at supporting Obama’s agenda, this week will begin hosting thousands of meetings at individual homes in local communities throughout all 50 states, according to a party release. The events will include a message from Obama outlining his principles for reform and goals to provide affordable healthcare for all Americans while protecting people’s choice of doctors and health plans. LINK, [6/6/2009]


June 5th, 2009

PA – Times Leader (Staff) “Health care kickoff meeting planned”: Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee committed to supporting President Obama’s agenda for change, will hold a Health Care Organizing Kickoff on Saturday at noon. The meeting will take place at the NEPA Organizing Center, 198 S. Main St. This event is just one of thousands taking place in all 50 states that will mark the official launch of OFA’s health care organizing campaign. OFA is holding listening tours across the country soliciting input and ideas from volunteers and supporters on the best ways to organize in their communities and what issues are most important to them.

During these meetings, participants will start the conversation on health care reform by watching a recorded message from the president, talking about his three principles for reform, and developing a local plan that ensures health care reform becomes a reality.

“The current health care system is broken,” said OFA State Director Elizabeth Lucas. LINK, [6/5/2009]


WI – ABC 2 News, Green Bay (Matt Smith) “Political preparation for the president’s visit”: President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Green Bay in less than one week. We’re told the president is holding a listening session and will discuss his administration's plan for nationwide health care. Local Democrats are getting a head start. “Very much so. I voted for him,” Jim Haskins laughed. If this is a local Democrats reaction to the Obama agenda and pending visit to Northeast Wisconsin, then this is how local Republicans respond after his 136 days in office: “I think the overall feeling is unease,” Tom Van Drasek said. Van Drasek, the Brown County Republican chair, explained, “Because it goes back to all the spending and all the things going on that don't seem... no one seems to know what is going to happen in the end.” In one week the president is expected to sell his health care plan in his first visit to Wisconsin since he took office. (with video) LINK, [6/5/2009]


HI – Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Brian Schatz) “U.S. health care reform needs grass-roots action”: Tomorrow, there will be community-based health care kickoffs across Hawaii and the nation where people will join to support national reform from the ground up. You can find more information at www.barackobama.com. President Obama’s recent White House gathering of strange bedfellows offers us new promise in what is possible if we shake off the old constraints. But make no mistake. This is a huge undertaking that requires a sustained grass-roots movement to drive it forward. So get involved. As the president has said, “Reform is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait.” LINK, [6/5/2009]


MT – Ravalli Republic (Sepp Jannotta) “Democratic organizers to discuss health care reform in Hamilton”: On the heels of a statewide health care listening tour by the staffers of Sen. Max Baucus, a group dedicated to advancing President Obama’s legislative agenda will convene a meeting on Monday in Hamilton to discuss the same topic. Organizing for America will officially kick off its own health care discussion in Montana with its Hamilton event, scheduled to run from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Hamilton Carriage House, 310 N. Fourth Street. Anna Gustina, the Montana director for Organizing for America, said the meeting would focus on sharing the president’s message on health care as well as on hearing from citizens who are concerned about changing the way the system works. “This is an opportunity to have people share their stories,” Gustina said. “People want people to know that they are struggling to meet their health care needs - they want to talk about it ... and we’ll put a local face to the issue.” LINK, [6/5/2009]



OH – Berea Sun News (Jaime Anton) “Organizing for American will kick off grass-roots health care reform effort in Berea and Cleveland”: Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee committed to supporting President Obama’s agenda for change, will host Health Care Organizing Kickoff events June 6 in both Berea and Cleveland. The events are among thousands of such being hosted in all 50 states to mark the official launch of OFA’s health care organizing campaign. During these meetings, participants will start the conversation on health care reform by watching a special message from Obama, talking about his three principles for reform, and developing a local plan that ensures health care reform becomes a reality. “The current health care system is broken,” said OFA State Director Greg Schultz. “Saturday's events will be an opportunity for Americans across the country to come together in an urgent effort to support President Obama's push to pass health care reform this year. These events across Ohio are a critical step in our efforts to get power brokers in Washington to listen and to get comprehensive health care reform done - and get it done now. Millions of families suffering in this broken system simply can't afford to wait.” LINK, [6/5/2009]


GA – Augusta Chronicle “Group meets this morning on health care reform”: Members of the group Local Organizing for America are meeting this morning to rally around President Barack Obama’s health care reform plan. The organization is supporting the president’s agenda through its Health Care Organizing Kickoff event, which officially launches the group’s health care organizing campaign. During their Saturday meeting, supporters will talk about local and national health care reform and watch a televised message from the president. “The current health care system is broken,” said Lee Goodall, OFA's Georgia state director, in an e-mail. “Saturday’s events will be an opportunity for Americans across the country to come together in an urgent effort to support President Obama’s push to pass health care reform this year.“ LINK, [6/5/2009]


ME – Portland Press Herald (Dieter Bradbury) “Local teams join health care fight”: "Unless you have grass-roots support, the lobbyists will run the show," said Deprez. "So you've got to become a lobbyist yourself by providing information." The house parties mark the beginning of several weeks of campaigning, said Julian Federle, the Maine director of Organizing for America, an offshoot of the Democratic National Committee. Other activities are likely to include leafletting, door-to-door canvassing, phone banks and a "day of action" on June 27, when supporters will volunteer in health care settings, Federle said. "The interesting thing for me about this effort is, it really is grass-roots organizing at its best," he said. "We're really trying to organize volunteers around the president's agenda." LINK, [6/5/2009]


Politico (Carol Lee) “OFA launches health care campaign”: In a message he has already taped, President Obama will ask his campaign supporters on Saturday to engage their neighbors and elected officials to get health care reform passed as soon as possible, a Democratic official said. Obama’s message kicks off what will be a series of health care events in coming weeks coordinated by his extended campaign operation, Organizing for America, which operates out of the Democratic National Committee. The event follows a classic Obama template. The president’s words will be delivered via video at house-party-type gatherings around the country that are being hosted by his supporters. His message talks about the importance of health care, the sense of urgency in getting reform passed and why it’s important for his supporters to get their neighbors involved and contact their elected officials. LINK, [6/5/09]


June 4th, 2009

NC - Charlotte Observer (Karen Garloch) “‘Real change’ on health care”: At least a dozen groups are holding meetings in the Charlotte area Saturday or in the next month as part of a grassroots effort to push for health care reform. “Our representatives need to know we want real change, not the same old system,” said Virginia Sullivan, a retired Charlotte nurse, in her online invitation at the Organizing for America Web site, www.barackobama.com. Sullivan's “snack and wine” party for 20 on Saturday is booked, but other parties still have openings and can be found on the Web site. Organizing for America is a project of the Democratic National Committee and was formed as an extension of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. LINK, [6/4/2009]


TX – Waco Tribune Herald (Cindy Culp) “Got a beef with health care? Tell it to the White Houe – without leaving Waco”: If you have been itching to give President Barack Obama your take on how to reform the nation’s health care system, you’ll be able to do it without leaving town. The local chapter of Organizing for America is hosting community meetings to gather grass-roots input about health care reform. Participants will be able to share their personal stories about health care access. They also will be asked to come up with local projects for an upcoming national day of service that will focus on promoting healthier communities, said Kelly McDonald, lead organizer for the U.S. 17th Congressional District. Four hour-long meetings will be held in Waco starting Friday. Participants may complete a form describing their experiences with health care and offering ideas for how the delivery system can be improved. The forms will be forwarded to Obama administration officials developing reform proposals, she said. LINK, [6/4/2009]


NV – LV Review Journal (Staff) “Editorial: Health care ‘reform’”: (...)Whether it was intended that way or not, there was one piece of good news on this front out of the White House last week. "If we don't get it done this year, we're not going to get it done," President Obama said last Thursday in a call to members of Organizing for America, the political group formed to advance his agenda, as he urged them to organize a giant push to promote European-style socialized medicine on these shores. The president may be right. In 1917, the Bolsheviks promised everything would be fine once they seized the wealth from the wealthy and "spread it around." By 1921, there were no more "wealthy" to loot, and people were boiling their shoes for soup. LINK, [6/4/2009]


NC – Citizen-Times (Leslie Boyd) “Grassroots effort to reform healthcare kicks off tonight in Asheville”: The Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America kicks off its national health care reform campaign this weekend with thousands of community events across the country, including one at Hill Street Baptist Church, 135 Hill St. at 6:30 this evening. At tonight’s event, participants will watch a short video of President Obama talking about his three principles for reform, said Joanne Peters, regional press officer for the DNC. The video will be followed by a discussion about how to organize people in Western North Carolina to work on the issue of health care reform... An estimated 52 million Americans lack health insurance, and millions more are underinsured, struggling to pay co-pays and treatments and medications that aren’t covered by their policies. Tens of thousands die each year because of lack of access to quality health care. Organizing for America is trying to get tens of thousands of pledges from people who will contact their representatives and senators to lobby for meaningful reform. LINK, [6/4/2009]


FL – The Miami Herald (Beth Reinhard) “Health care, health care, and more health care”: That's the theme of the national Democratic Party's push this summer, part of a sweepingeffort to keep President Obama's campaign volunteer network engaged and ready to re-elect him in 2012. Organizing for Americawill hold "health care organizing kickoffs''Saturday in all 50 states. LINK, [6/4/2009]