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Wanted: Obama healthcare reform volunteers willing to be paid $15 an hour


It seems that, despite all the media attention lavished on e-mail appeals to his supporters, not everyone pushing for President Obama's embattled healthcare reform plan these warm August days is an idealistic volunteer in it for the sake of helping move the country forward and gaining medical attention for millions of uninsured Americans.

The website's large-type headline announces: "Work to Pass Obama's Healthcare Plan and Get Paid to Do it! $10-15 hr!"

It's a web ad on Craigslist: "You can work for change. Join motivated staff around the country working to make change happen. You can make great friends and money along the way. Earn $400-$600 a week."

So both sides appear to have paid lobbyists in this colossal summertime struggle for public opinion and control of the multi-billions flowing into the nation's burdened healthcare system.

The ad links to the Boston-based Fund for the Public Interest, an umbrella organization that rounds up people to round up support, money and signatures for all kinds of campaigns, including healthcarDemocrat president Barack Obama speaks at his healthcare town hall in Portsmouth New Hampshire August 11 2008e reform and the environment.

It's hiring and assigning canvassers to work in at least 28 states, including California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Oregon, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Jersey.

"Now is our chance to make health care work," says the ad to recruit recruiters in support for the president's proposals. "America’s health care system is broken. Health care costs are spiraling out of control, throwing families, businesses and government into financial crisis.

"Families are worried their health coverage won’t be there when they need it. Our country can’t afford to wait for health reform that keeps costs down and protects consumers"

It sounds much like the president at one of his healthcare town halls; (next stops, Montana and Colorado). "We’re fighting for healthcare that will protect families’ financial health, lay out a clear path for all Americans to afford healthcare, and improve patient safety and quality care.

"Help make change happen," pleads the advertisement. "If you're good with people and feel passionately about the environment and human rights, you'll make money working for the Fund."

Sounds like an ideal kind of idealism, the profitable kind.

Meanwhile, a want ad memory:

-- Andrew Malcolm

Also wanted: Eager volunteers to click here and receive free Twitter alerts on each new Ticket item. No money needed -- or offered. Or follow us    @latimestot

Top photo: A Massachusetts Obama supporter outside Obama's New Hampshire town hall this week discussing healthcare reform with opponents. Credit: Joel Page / Associated Press

Bottom: Obama speaks inside the high school. Credit: Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (118)

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Nice bribe for those poor people who will do anything for money. It is wrong to pay people like that to get support for something.

Opponents of healthcare reform show up at protests out of care, concern, and passion. Supporters show up for $10-$15/hr. Wow, that's real commitment.

Paid supporters to try to push something the majority of Americans don't want. I wonder how many will belong to the SEIU.

we need to use stimulus money to offer medicare to americans that can not afford health insurance why reinvent the wheel

"So both sides appear to have paid lobbyists in this colossal summertime struggle"

Where's your evidence that opponents to health care reform are getting paid?

How can you be a volunteer and be paid for your services? Makes as much sense as this debate!

People will sell their souls for $.

hahaha! ASTRO TURF!!!!

Excuse me if I take offense to the statement, "So both sides appear to have paid lobbyists". Can can the writer please explain what he means by 'appears' as the only party that has run ads seeking paid lobbyists has been the dems. They have also paid people to attend town halls and bused them in. The hypocritical dems have the nerve to call the Americans who have shown up to protest the socialization of health-care as mobs and well paid lobbyists, which is untrue. The protesters are average Americans who, in many cases, actually voted for this demagogue but are now waking to the fact that the change he promised has turned into a nightmare for most taxpaying Americans.

Contratulation Mr President for your effort to cover the millions of uninsured Americans.They have no lobbyist,no special interest groups ,no influence on our representatives.Many of representative keep the interest of the lobbyist not the interest of the people whom they represent.You have the support of millions of Americans who keep away from the so called politics.
best wishes

Where are the links or citing information for the lobbyists paying people to oppose Obamacare and attend townhall meetings?

I wonder why the masses, society, the general populace cannot see the separation of the elite and themselves...
Seriously, do any of you think there is a single politician, or political party follower that cares about anything other than self advancement and personal wealth accumulation.

If the people making the laws, Senators and Congressman, have their own isolated insurance, and lifetime salary retirement and are not taxed, as they are now, what makes any of you think they care one bit about you?

Once you ascend to the throne you no longer wish to be among the peasants. That is how Obama and his Democrats think, and that is how the republicans, independants, green party etc, all think. They want personal wealth and power and to he11 with you.

I say we vote them all out of office. No more incumbents, vote in new people everytime, until the ones that get in figure it out. By the way, once you get elected as a senator or congressman, you get your salary for life. We need to limit that to their term only. Limit all of them to 2 terms.

This is a country for the people of the people, not for the greedy few who can afford commercials and prime time media coverage. who are the "ASTROTURF", "manufactured", "brown-shirted", phony segment of this healthcare "debate" now???

The Democrats are showing their true goal.........WIN AT ANY COST....

Don't bother writing your comments as this paper censors those opinions that do not reflect their liberal leanings. I commented only to have my previous post deleted, not for any profanity or abusive language but for disagreeing with the writer.

So, the only good deal is a *Carl Rove* deal?

my first comment appeared instantly! Now they're being moderated?

President Obama had a Town Hall style meeting on 8/11/2009 in New Hampshire. He told America today that he supports private insurance when before he said he wanted to eliminate it. See the video at

I'm glad to see some of Obambi's stimulous money working it's way back into the economy.

Wake up America!

Funny, no one has to pay anybody to speak out against obamacare! Those against this radical reform clearly outnumber those for it! Listen to America and go back to the drawing board!!!!!

I hope that in addition to paying these advocates $15/hour, that they are also paying for generous health insurance, the way they want to mandate other businesses to do.

I hope that in addition to paying these advocates $15/hour, that they are also paying for generous health insurance. After all, they want that to be the mandate for all businesses.

Obama continues to use tax payers money to continue lying, manipulating, intimidating and coercing people into submitting to his will and shoving socialism/communism down out throats!

EVERYTHING Obama has done so far has harmed us. He has multiplied our deficit, increased unemployment, increased poverty, and decreased our wellbeing and safety. He sides and defends terrorists and U.S. enemies (Hamas, Castro, Chavez, Zelaya) and harms us and our friends (Israelis, Hondurans).

How can anyone believe that his plans to socialize our health care system are good for us?

Socialized health care is just another step to impose socialism/Marxism on us, and the corruption, poverty, enslavement, destruction and despair that Marxism entails.

Imitating Hugo Chavez, Obama wants to nationalize everything, including our health care system! "Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama!" Chavez cheered on Venezuelan TV. He added that he and Cuba's Fidel Castro would now have to work harder just to keep up.

The right has NO paid protestors...That's why we carry homemade signs...I have 8 kids & took my shrinking grocery budget to pay for gas, babysitter & posterboard & markers before attending my own town hall. I'd just like my kids to not be burneded by massive govt. intrusion into our life.
Thank you for at least trying to report honestly by showing the craigslist ads. I'd LOVE to get paid $15 an hour, but not for something I feel is going to wreck our economy.
Rosie -navy wife, stay at home mom, not a paid protestor

I keep hearing about how Republicans are paying people to attend these townhall meetings, but have seen no actual evidence to support that. Do you have any evidence to support that the Republican party is paying people to protest against the HC reform?

Rent a Mob??

Why don't you just go the the local homeless shelter and promise them a meal????

Okay -- you threw a link to the ads asking for paid supporters of the health care legislation, and mention that both sides have paid legions. Any link to demonstrate the paid hackery of the anti-legislation side?

Both sides have paid lobbyists but that's rather irrelevant. What is important is that the American citizens protesting the ill-thought, ramrodding takeover of the nation's healthcare system are not paid and trained organizers like those on the left. They are normal, intelligent hardworking people who are appalled at Obama, Pelosi and Reid and want the government to pull back from taking over our lives and our freedom. How pathetic that the Obama supporters have to be paid to get out there.


Our country has been hijacked by thugs that will, if you don't agree with them, use anything to get their agenda pushed along. This includes brute force, smears and attacks against REAL protesters, threats and bold faced lies.

The American people had better wake up and show up to these meetings in support of getting our country back to what our founders envisioned.

If you don't, just look across the ocean at the socialist countries that fell to these sort of tactics either because those citizens were not interested, too busy, or afraid to take a stand and fight for their rights.

That angry "paid" woman is wearing a SEIU badge, a union rent-a-thug, one of Obama's army of thugs.

Funny how granny will make it out to these meetings while the thugs need to be paid, who's the real protester now?

This is dumb!! How do you volunteer but get paid??? Great so I get to pay for folks again who work for this crappy bill and bs. Those of you knuckleheads who bought this garbage the DNC is selling.... I have a bridge to sell you too!!

"Astroturfing for me, not for thee."

Let's see if I've got this staight. Insurance companies are sparing no expense in their campaign of misinformation and lies, but the left is suppossed to work for free? Because we care more about people than profits that means we can't pay/be paid a modest hourly wage? That you could even think of comparing the earnings of $15 an hour temporary part-time workers to the billions in profits insurers stand to lose is enough to wipe out any credibily you might have been hoping for.

First, when politicians and the media mistakenly indicate that 47 million "Americans" in the U.S. are uninsured. This number actually refers to "people", which include legal and illegal migrants.

Sensible healthcare reform is long overdue, but Obama's plan will be a fiscal disaster if adopted because it ignores the impact of mass legal and illegal immigration although some immigrants are assets to the U.S. In fact,
According to the March 2007 Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, about one-third of all foreign-born people in the U.S. lack health insurance; immigrants and their U.S.-born children under 18 accounted for nearly one third of all people in the U.S. without health insurance and more than 70 percent of the growth of the uninsured population in the U.S. The media should warn Americans that Obama's immigration plan will lead to an explosion of legal and illegal immigration.

Decades ago, China already understood that population growth would impede its economic success. It has seriously restricted immigration even for people of Chinese descent. When will American leaders take serious steps to drastically curb teen pregnancies which total 750,000 a year nationwise and enact some sort of immigration moratorium especially now at least 15 million Americans, including legal immigrants, have lost their jobs?

We should all remember that all causes are lost causes unless we also simultaneously stop the population growth. And we are adding 3 million people a year to the U.S. who need jobs, health care, education and many other expensive social services!

Yeh Ling-Ling, Oakland, CA

I can tell you nursing homes need reform badly. My mother was put in a Sun Healthcare Group facility after I cared for her at home 6 yrs. I visited her in the nursing home every day, sometims three visits per day. I became so confident they were caring for her well. When a neighbor at the home showed me the filthy air vents on the floor where air came thru for heat and air and ventilation I was amazed. When the state agency governing such equipment came out and taped the vents closed and disabled the system -condemning it even in writing to us. Filth had been coming into the hospital. That wasn't all: blood pressure monitors were found to be broken a month or two before that. This continued although I'd written to Sun Healthcare's CEO Rick Matros to please fix or repair them. We soon after learned an injunction existed against Sun Healthcare in the State of Calif not to have this same broken equipment again or understaff, as they'd killed patients in a Burlingame, Calif facility in 2000. This was 2003. The medical director Dr L Scott Stoney pleaded with management to staff according to law and to repair or replace the HVAC system, and replace ALL b/p monitors for the patient's health and when he saw patients harmed he gave notice and quit. My mother contracted the super bug MRSA from this Sunbridge facility in Newport Beach, California, where the CEO of Sun Healthcare even lives. CEO Rick Matros sent an employee Julie Campbell on Saturdays to meet with me and apologize, providing me with her home phone number to call at any time of the day or night for help. My mother suffered a nine month long horrific death, unable to swallow because of a stroke they caused, renal failure, respiratory problems from the superbug MRSA and lack of ventilation in the facility, she was in acute care hospital most of the final 6 months of her life. During this time I hired an attorney and we met with Sun Healthcare's lead counsel, kelly Priengtz and Dr Hunker a board Member at my attorney's offices. We asked to settle then, before she died, so that the funds could be used for her benefit solely. I wasn't interested in making money off her suffering. They asked me to fax the Dept of Health statements that were 60 pages long. Then they played coy with us and we never heard from them. My mother died four months later. Yrs later the lawsuit came to fuition. But when I went to the settlement negotiations my attorney, Daniel Leipold, gave me messages from the CEO of SUN Rick Matros, that if I pursued this case to a jury trial he would rip me a new axxhole and make me out to be a crazy woman. That they were punishing me for writing too many complaining letters to Mr. Matros and deducted $20,000 from the amount we'd gotten to at that point in negotiations. Mr. Leipold screamed in my right ear "You're not getting the keys to Rick Matros' Bentley". These threats and coercion caused me to sign of on a fraud charge instead of wrongful death, elder abuse, intentional infliction of emotional distress and pain & suffering. Yet we could prove willful misconduct by CEO and board member Dr Hunker, as he'd written me a letter stating they weren't repairing or replacing that broken HVAC system. And therefore I was due treble damages (triple). About $3-$4 Million. I attempted to file a motion with an attorney, Keith Wisbaum of Laguna Beach, but he never filed it for me, no excuse, just too busy -even after paying him $2,500 to do so. I should ask for that back! Then the courts denied my request to set the settlement aside and I was stuck with it. All the while I'm recovering from pancreatic surgery. When I regained my strength I hired a malpractice attorney, Eugen Andres, and sued Leipold -he died 2 weeks later. I won that case. Weeks earlier I'd delivered a poster to Rick Matros' gate guard in Newport Beach, stating "Here he lives with a view of the sea; slumlord for the elderly; RICK MATROS CEO of Sun Heatlhcare Group inc who lives in Newport Coast, patients died from neglect, Dept of Health cited for lack of staffing, NO HVAC in patient rooms." Mr Matros attempted to file a restraining order against me. But the Judge, Gregory W. Jones, in Orange County Harbor Court, stated "NO, she's not a danger to him or anyone. He's the dangerous one. He killed her mother. She did a whole lot less than I would have done if I were her. Delivering a sign calling him a slumlord is freedom of speech, protected speech, peaceful protest. She proved here he is a slumlord she certainly can state it. The Plaintiff just produced evidence that she doesn't know what he looks like. Doesn't know what car he drives. How can I ask her to avoid someone she doesn't even know? How can I ask her to stay 100 ft away from cars you say he doesn't even own?" NO -it was all quite funny. That Judge said SUN illegally barred me from contacting SUN's board of directors, since I was in pro per. Recently I've contacted them so they can review this fraud.

I just want to say volunteers and paid do not equate!

This article is very informative on two fronts. First it seems as if it is being very fair and balanced by reporting that the Democrats are paying people to rally at Townhall Meetings. However in the same breath it shows the Los Angeles Times bias by saying that both sides are paying people. The Times makes this statement as fact yet there is no evidence supporting that. One can find that the Democrats really are paying people by going to their Website.

The Times is trying to subliminally convince its readers of a lie. This is not journalism. It is being a government stooge. The LA Times is now just like Pravda of the Soviet Union.

It's amazing--the people who are protesting the so called "Health Care Reform" look like the ordinary everyday Americans I have talked to who are very angry about the government taking control of every aspect of their lives, including their health, and using the IRS to monitor many aspects of this plan, as well as a "Health Choices Commissioner" with a 'death panel' to choose what therapeutic procedures, drugs, and interventions may be legally performed and in what instances, and presumably to what people (young, supposedly productive (ie taxpaying) as opposed to old (tax consuming). Has anyone been able to produce any people who were paid to protest against Obamacare? Instead the White House Smear Machine is out to destroy them, and is working in concert with these George Soros' type, no doubt tax-supported organizations which are paying the bogus pro Obamacare demonstrators. And those that are not being paid this way seem to be union goons, especially from the SEIU. So paid goons are being sent out to harrass ordinary citizens who don't like what the Feds are up to. Sounds like a bunch of Democrats to me (and they all get paid to be too!)

"So both sides appear to have paid lobbyists"

Where is the support for that statement? Do you have some evidence of Obamacare opponents paying for "volunteers?"

If you believe that the outcome of this health reform will affect you one way or the other, why do you need to be paid for support. If this is NOT a government run health insurance , Who is the Provider? Who writes policy? Don't force this down our throats, present entirely in Layman's terms and let everyone see EXACTLY what's being proposed.

Considering that the GOP has Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, O'Reilly and Glen Beck prepping the Mobs why cant the opposition have someone to get the supporters out and root for the right reasons.

Reform health care, STOP funding the pockets of the insurance companies CEOs! It's like the financial crisis but this time they are playing with our health!

I don't recall any of the protesters against the bill being paid to protest the bill. You don't have to pay people to be angry about something that will further drive us into deficit spending and slow any hope of an economic recovery.

So, basically, the totalitarian Dems are so desperate for any support to offset the very real, very justifiably concerned folks who DON'T want the inept, corrupt government to have the power to say "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" on their medical care -- the totalitarian Dems are so desperate to offset this, that they have resorted to hiring "supporters."

IN SPITE OF the fact that the mainstream media has become their propaganda machine -- in spite of the endless shilling from the newspapers and all the major networks except FOX -- the Marxists are resorting to HIRING their "pro-reform" demonstrators. Oh, and let's not forget the goose-stepping Union weasels that were called in.

"ASTROTURF," indeed.

I love how this article says
"So both sides appear to have paid lobbyists in this colossal summertime struggle for public opinion and control of the multi-billions flowing into the nation's burdened healthcare system."

Yet it only shows the pro obama side as the one that is having astroturf people at the events. So how is it both sides if it is clearly only the left that is doing it. Misleading spin much?

I was at Portsmouth NH and I saw the pro obama people on the buses, getting their shirts to wear, and the signs to hold.

I even made a video about it. You can watch it here:

So here we have actual evidence of the far left paying people to protest, I'm still waiting for anyone to show a similar ad offering jobs to protest from the right. The lamestream media keeps claiming that the people against NObamacare are all paid shills, yet so far the only evidence of paid protestors shows us the exact opposite is true.

Health Care Management and physicians were warned over twenty years ago that prices for their services/service were too high, yet they choose to ignore this fact. As all persons have illnesses, good healthcare is important and doctors are trained to save lives and do no harm. Nurses and doctors take oaths to do just that. Sorry to say, many go into these fields just for money. No system is perfect. I once heard an old joke that the undertaker and doctor are friends.Prevention is best and our president is sick of getting answers from the healthcare communities all over this country saying this is how we do it here. No uniformity and too much drain on the system. If someone does not pay in, why do they think they have a right to get from? How could you do better?

The Agency paying people $15/hr to lobby for Obama's healthcare plan should put the money to better use, like community aid and service. Since when do Americans spend so much money to push a bill from the federal government. A bill that is not popular with the majority of the nation. Where is the money coming from that funds this project? Obama? or special interest groups that stand to gain from this bill? We have a saying in this country, "follow the money." Who in the Obama group of backers and bailouts stands to gain the most from a national healthcare project? You have to look no further than GM. It has been said over and over that most of the money at GM goes to healthcare for employees and retirees. What better way for the unions to get rich than to have the citizens of this country pay for their health care.

Are you a volunteer if you get paid?

Sweet, i can make back some of my tax dollars that will be taken for the stimulus by pushing through another tax increase? Why not lower this vote down to the state level. if the state wants it they can have it. thus those that want this can move to those states that want it.

Well, $15. an hour to "demonstrate" for Obama care; and, the opposition has paid lobbyists as well?

I am a senior citizen on a fixed, so to speak, income. If the opposition is paying $15. an hour to "demonstrate", I could sure use the name and phone number of the people hiring. Would you please provide that, in the interest of fairness? (And, also, I could use a few bucks.)



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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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