Live Blogging: Gov. Howard Dean Addresses Netroots Nation on Health Care Reform

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Dr. Howard Dean addresses the Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

August 14, 2009, 8:40 a.m. CST: Dr. Dean is speaking live.  This story will be updated as the presentation continues. Refresh your screen to get updates.

Pittsburgh, PA–(ENEWSPF)– Gov. Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, says the American Medical Association has endorsed Rep. Henry Waxman’s health care reform bill.

“You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. The American Medical Association has endorsed Henry Waxman’s bill,” Dean said, adding, “Doctors are not dumb. They’ve figured out they’re better with real health care reform.”

“If you get into the public option and learn that it’s not for you, you can get out of the public option,” Dean said. “The problem is the health insurance industry are not really in health insurance. They’re in the business of making money.”

“There is a role for the private sector in medicine,” Dean said in response to a question on keeping innovation in medicine. “I’ve beat up on insurance companies with good reason.  But there are insurance companies that are better than others.  We need to move from an illness model in this country to a wellness model.”

With respect to President Obama’s focus on bipartisanship, “He needs to let the Republicans speak for themselves.  I think he’s doing exactly the right thing.  As long as he let’s the American people see the Republicans for what they are, ‘No way, no how,’ allowing the Republicans to show their true colors to the American people is smart.”

With respect to the proposal of medical coops, “We’ve already tried this in this country and it didn’t work.  We want the insurance companies to serve us better.  In the long run, the coops will fail, they’ll be too small, the insurance companies will crush them.”

In response to a question on what will be done to ensure that there is adequate mental health coverage, Gov. Dean said, “The brain is an organ, treated like any other organ, and there ought not to be limits on treatment.  I’m hoping that the bill will have true mental health coverage.”

“When we frame this debat, I don’t think we want to spend all our time refuting [death panels, etc.].  They’re not going to change their mind anyhow.  The question is, are we going to give the American people the option to have a full choice?  That’s the first part.  Second, whose side are you on?  Are you with the insurance companies, or are you with the people who pay your salaries?”

“The public option is still much better at controlling costs, and it’s cheaper.  Medicare already has a 16% advantage over the market.  We’re paying for [high risk] patients anyway.  We’re paying for these people anyway.  That money is already in the system.”

Should small business be exempted entirely?  “I do.  As I’ve said before, this is an opportunity to do something for the sector that creates 80% of the new jobs.  I would make this more friendly for small businesses than even the Blue Dogs did.”

“Mandates are not very popular, which is why I’m against the Republicans mandating everyone to stay with the health insurance industry. I would give everyone under 30 health insurance for free.  This is the hardest group to sign up for anything.  Then, for the over 55s, I’d let them buy into medicare.”

“I would not do away with employer-based insurance.  It’s bad for the economy, but people like it.  I think you need to give the American people a choice.  Insure everyone under 30, let everyone else buy into Medicare.”

“80% of the people in this country have insurance.  We ought to let people choose on their own.  This president has put forth the best health care bill I’ve seen,” because it allows the American people to go at the pace the American people are comfortable with.

“I have been very careful to not criticize any Democatic senator.  I think in the end we’re going to get them all,” Dean said. “I think we can be polite, but I think we need to be firm.  We have made our compromise.  There will be no more compromise.”

There are over 2,000 people attending the convention in Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Dr. Dean concluded his town forum at 9:13 a.m.