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White House Conference Call on Health Care Reform

by Brenda Peluso

The White House Office of Public Engagement has extended an invitation to participate in a conference call on Friday August 14th at 12 noon Eastern regarding “heath insurance reform” with Tina Tchen, the Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Michael Hash, Senior Advisor in the White House Office of Health Reform, and David Simas with the White House Communications Office.  According to the invitation: “THIS CALL IS CLOSED PRESS. WE SUGGEST YOU DIAL IN 5 MINUTES EARLY TO ENSURE PARTICIPATION.”

WHAT: White House Conference Call on Health Insurance Reform

WHEN: Friday August 14, 12 noon Eastern

Call-in Number: (877) 260-8900

Please note:  During the last White House conference call regarding health care reform, the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers indicated she did not know how the Administration’s health care reform plans or other legislative proposals would treat nonprofits as employers, but offered to find out. The National Council of Nonprofits wrote a follow-up letter offering to post that information on its website “so the more than 15 million people who work for the more than one million charitable nonprofits across the country will be able to learn how the Administration and Congress plan to treat them.” To date, more than two weeks later, neither the Chair nor anyone else from the Administration has provided that information. The information is vitally important because data show that in this bad economy escalating operating costs (especially health insurance premiums) and declining revenues (including governments failing to pay nonprofits for contracted services already provided) are limiting the capacity of nonprofits to meet the public’s increasing needs for services.   For the health and safety of our communities, nonprofits cannot be ignored, forgotten, or left behind.

What to Expect: In the past, these types of calls have lasted 30 minutes. When you call in, the operator will ask you to identify yourself and your organization. You then will be put on hold until the call starts. When the conference call begins, the operator will advise callers that you have been put on mute and the call is being recorded. Then someone from the White House (here, probably Tina Tchen) will welcome everyone before introducing the topic and speakers. After that 5 minute prelude, the speakers will present information for about 15 minutes. Then the lines will be “opened” to questions for the last 10 minutes in this way: the operator will come back on and invite callers wanting to ask a question to push a number on their phone’s keypad. The operator will then open someone’s line to let them ask their question live and the speaker will respond. So in that 10 minutes, there can be 3-6 questions, depending on how long the questioner goes on and the speaker responds. (Occasionally, the calls have been longer, so there may be more time for questions, but this pattern seems to be the norm.) So these calls are easy and painless ways to learn some more details about what policy makers are thinking.

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