Health care supporters rallied in SF

SAN FRANCISCO

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The demonstration was held outside the San Francisco offices of Anthem Blue Cross -- a health insurance company that is part of the industry-wide effort to defeat the president's call for a publicly funded alternative to for-profit health insurance.

The demonstration outside the Anthem Blue Cross office in San Francisco was mirrored by another in Los Angeles. The union backed demonstrations blame insurance carriers for dropping coverage and cutting benefits.

"They're making record profits even in this economic downturn," said Linda Lew from Health Care for America Now.

Also today MoveOn.org released a political ad using sarcasm to attack the health insurance industry. The ad says "Insurance company CEO's have a right to their American dream... and it's five houses, a private plane, $500 million in your pocket..."

>> Click here to watch the political ad on health insurance

Blue Cross agent Daniel Masarsky says insurance companies are an easy target. "Definitely. I mean insurance companies are the first place people go to put a finger of blame," said Masarsky. However, he adds medical costs are much more to blame than insurance companies.

And Anthem Blue Cross responded on Tuesday with a statement saying in part "...the demonstrations were not a spontaneous reaction by Americans to the health care reform debate, but instead were part of a heavily scripted campaign with pre-approved talking points, slogans and tactics."

Which coincidentally is pretty much what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said about the anti-Obama health care demonstrations.

ABC7's political analyst, professor Bruce Cain, Ph.D., says Tuesday's protests are an effort to make up for a mistake the Obama administration made when it ignored public opinion.

"They went immediately to working with Congress to find a solution. They didn't develop a strategy with respect to public opinion, the outside strategy, that would've sustained the support for their plan," said Cain.

Professor Cain said in the absence of a public opinion campaign to support the president, the president's opponents seized the opportunity and mobilized opposition, first at town hall meetings and then at tea party rallies, culminating 10 days ago in a huge gathering on the Washington Mall.

Only now are supporters of the president's plan coming forward to counter that display and it may come too late to save a government funded health insurance alternative.

"At this moment in time given where public opinion is given, where the blue dogs are, given where the moderates in the Senate are, the betting in Washington is overwhelmingly against the public option," said Cain.

If supporters of the president hope to save the public option, they'll need to swing public opinion not in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but in the districts where moderate Democrats are worried about losing their seats to Republican rivals.

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