According to the groups, the White House has “unlawfully collected information on political speech,” thereby illegally using the power of the White House to chill opposition to its plans for health care reform. The lawsuit was prompted by the White House solicitation for the public to report any “fishy” comments to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org.’Although the White House has slightly revised its data collection procedure, the email address still exists, the illegal activity continues, and, say the litigants, it is part of an “unlawful pattern and practice to collect and maintain information” on the exercise of free speech.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a leading national physician organization, is one of the only groups standing up against the White House and calling them on the carpet for what could easily be described as an unlawful gag order.
Most of you are not aware but the AAPS had probably the largest influence on derailing the Clinton Health Care Plan in the 90s that Hilary sought to implement.
The AAPS is the only professional organization I pay annual dues to belong to. I have been a member for nearly 20 years. Membership is limited to physicians and medical students, and I would encourage any physician or medical student to consider joining this group, which continues to be one of the loudest voices for medical freedom in the United States.
You can also check out AAPS’ newest project, TakeBackMedicine.com. They are working with more than 150 other groups in a coalition that is battling the expansion of government control over medicine.
The site is filled with useful fact sheets and handouts to learn more about health care reform and get involved in returning the system to the people.
Physicians can even sign their petition to Congress and the President to keep medical care in the hands of patients and doctors, not government and insurance companies.
In keeping with their mission, AAPS and the Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) are suing the Office of the President and other White House officials because they have solicited the public to report any “fishy” comments relating to health care reform via their email, email@example.com.
Although the White House maintains they have stopped the collection, the email address still exists and, according to AAPS, the illegal activity continues.
Did the White House Intend to Chill Free Speech About Health Care Reform?
The lawsuit states the White House knew its data collection would chill free speech and in fact intended to do just that.
AAPS calls the White House solicitation a “bait-and-switch” tactic, accusing opponents of spreading misinformation about their goals for health care reform, and in so doing “refusing to come clean about its real agenda.” The lawsuit states:
- As part of their effort to advance the White House healthcare reform agenda, the White House has accused opponents (including AAPS) of spreading misinformation on issues such as whether health reform would:
- Provide public funding for abortions
- Put death panels in place to deny care to the elderly or infirm
- Amount to a government takeover of healthcare
- Increase healthcare costs
White House officials and the administration have spread misinformation, semantics and disinformation on these topics.
- By denying and continuing to deny that healthcare reform legislation includes death panels that make individual life-or-death decisions on the elderly or infirm, the White House administration has ignored and implicitly denied and continues to ignore and implicitly deny that their healthcare reform agenda involves rationing healthcare.
It should raise a red flag anytime a government begins to collect information on political speech, but aside from the potential free speech violations is the issue of what’s being done with all the emails, names, and information the White House has collected.
Said Kathryn Serkes, director of policy and public affairs for AAPS:
“My hate mail started shortly after the White House issued the “fishy” request. We were quite visible and vocal before then, so it doesn’t seem like a coincidence. Who did they share their data with? With whom might they share it?”
This lawsuit is clearly about much more than health care form … it’s about securing your right to freedom of speech … including political speech.
Is the Right to Free Speech … and Free Press … Really Secure in the United States?
The United States was founded in large part on the first amendment, which includes the freedom of speech. Yet, it ranked only 36th in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index.
At the top of the list were Iceland, Luxembourg and Norway. These were the countries with no recorded censorship, threats, intimidation or physical reprisals.
In the United States, however, there is an absence of a federal “shield law,” which means the confidentiality of media sources is still threatened by federal courts. There were also many arrests of journalists during the Democratic and Republican conventions.
Did You Know the Health Care Legislation in Congress Will Cost Nearly $2 Trillion?
If you didn’t already know this, American medical care is the most expensive in the world. The U.S. spends more than twice as much on each person for health care as most other industrialized countries. And yet it has fallen to last place among those countries in preventing avoidable deaths through use of timely and effective medical care.
So clearly there is a need for a radical overhaul.
But the health care reform currently on the table will cost close to $2 trillion!
And for what?
Will a government-sponsored health plan reduce the number of unnecessary prescriptions? Will there be fewer unwarranted surgeries? Will it reduce costs by focusing on prevention, and offering less dangerous and more inexpensive alternatives?
I believe the answer is no.
Further, the White House has already been making behind-the-scenes deals with the drug companies to limit their share of costs in the health care overhaul in exchange, in part, for their financing a $150-million advertising campaign to promote the new health care legislation.
The fact that the White House has been making deals of any kind with Big Pharma, coupled with their unlawful collection of data about those opposing the reform, should be sending off alarm bells to anyone and everyone who takes the time to listen.
So please help to spread the word about what is really going on in the realm of health care “reform.”