Can Obama Advisor Valerie Jarrett Help Get Health Care Done?

valerie jarrett

Each year, as I prepare for the annual BlogHer conference and then reflect on how things went, I lament that media and politicos alike tend to shy away from women bloggers.

But this year, a handful of us got to have a serious chat with one of Barack Obama’s closest and most trusted advisors, Valerie Jarrett.

Meetings like this could easily end up being nothing more than a meet and greet where everyone gets a quick handshake and a canned speech about whatever the topic of the day is.

That is so NOT what happened with Jarrett.

I was amazed at how much time we had with Jarrett.  She didn’t rush us, she didn’t glance at her watch and she ignored both of her cell phones!

She greeted each one of us personally and carefully considered every question and comment posed to her.  Most of our queries focused on health care, spanning the range from costs of future health insurance plans to telling personal health care nightmares.  My question to Jarrett was this — Harry Truman delivered a speech about health care very similar to Obama’s over 60 years ago.  Virtually nothing has changed to help struggling families get the health insurance coverage they need.  So what has to happen to tip the balance this time to make sure we do provide health care coverage for every person who needs it?

Her response?  She believes the confluence of the current health insurance crisis and our economic crisis will push it over the edge so that something better gets passed.  So many families, Jarrett remarked, are struggling to make ends meet not only for the day-to-day needs, but also for medical basics, that she thinks the collective cry for help will make it happen.  We’ve rarely had as many major domestic problems as we do now, she observed, and that,  she believes, will make our collective demand for change will make it a reality now.

I hope she’s right.  Given what I’m reading in the newspapers this week, it doesn’t sound promising and it’s looking like a tepid, watered-down version that changes nothing when it comes to providing health care to those who need it most is what will get the attention of lawmakers who can’t seem to find a backbone to truly change our broken-down system.


I know that President Obama and advisors like Jarrett are doing what they can to help the millions who need medical care, but for some reason lawmakers are resistant.  I wonder if their positions would change if they had family members who couldn’t get the medical care they needed.  Maybe that should be a new requirement to be elected to Congress — no new lawmakers unless you have a family member who can directly relate to the real-life problems the rest of us face.  That would get things moving.

The meeting with Jarrett was live-blogged by Denise Tanton, so you can take a look at all the other interesting and relevant questions she addressed — these were not your run-of-the-mill, mainstream media type questions, either.

If anyone can keep President Obama on track on this issue, it’s Jarrett.  After reading the profile of her in the New York Times Magazine, I have even more confidence in her abilities to make things happen and to get women’s voices and concerns in front of the president.

As a matter of fact, after I finished the article, I believe Jarrett ought to have the White House in mind for herself someday.

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7 Responses to “Can Obama Advisor Valerie Jarrett Help Get Health Care Done?”

  1. Chris Wysocki Says:

    Before you start printing bumper stickers for Valerie Jarrett you might want to pick up a copy of Michelle Malkin’s book. Or at least read this blog post –

    But then I suppose if you had asked Jarrett about the patient dumping proclivities of Michelle Obama’s Chicago health care hospitality house you would have ruined the magic moment. And if you wanna see her check her watch and grab for a cell phone? Bring up Grove Parc.

  2. PunditMom Says:

    And I would believe anything Michelle Malkin says because …???

  3. Lawyer Mama Says:

    Oh for crying out loud, Chris. Michelle Malkin doesn’t even qualify as a journalist in my book. Take your hate and scare tactics elsewhere. We’re trying to actually CHANGE things around here.

  4. Wife and Mommy Says:

    I’m so jealous you got to attend this session. Not that I would’ve had anything intelligent to say, but it still would’ve been cool!

  5. MadamaAmbi Says:

    This is helping me put some puzzle pieces together…not that I’m happy about the final picture, but at least maybe I understand the landscape. And this is what I’m getting from your report and reading the NY Times article and following closely what, if anything, is coming out of The White House Council on Women and Girls. It’s basically the same message I distilled from months of volunteering for the Obama campaign, intensely studying every word that fell from his mouth: MAKE ME.

    IOW, if you want me to get you what you deserve, you, the public, will have to exert pressure on Congress so that I can deliver. Tina Tchen recently told Planned Parenthood that if we don’t get out there and fight for comprehensive healthcare to include abortion, it will not be in the ultimate plan. IMO, she was ringing the alarm. Jarrett may have her finger in all of The White House pies, but she doesn’t have the clout to deliver Congress. Or does she?

    In the end, women are still fighting for basic human rights. We are barely represented in Congress. Does it matter that we have the Council? I’m still waiting to see if they have any clout. Can Valerie Jarrett get women with compelling abortion stories in front of the committees deciding whether or not to include abortion in healthcare??? Because if she can, I’ve got a few women with powerful stories.

  6. MadamaAmbi Says:

    Joanne–I just read Denise’s live blog of the meeting with Jarrett. She invites you all to send her ideas. Can you please advise on how to contact her? Also, I’ve sent numerous emails to Tina Tchen via her email, which she provided at the Feminist Campus conference earlier this year. I have yet to receive even a form acknowledgement.

    thanks much

  7. PunditMom Says:

    MadamaAmbi, You make excellent points. I have worried about that for a long time, though it is hard to say those things out loud and not be attacked by other progressives — that President Obama will not really be a champion for women’s issues unless we make him be.

    And, yes, questions for Valerie Jarrett can be sent to her through Erin Kotecki Vest at BlogHer.

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