Posts Tagged ‘single-payer’

by John Sparks

There was no Senate vote on the single-payer health care amendment on the floor December 16, thanks to the parliamentary obstruction of amendments by Republican senators in their battle to prevent any and all health care reform this year.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) attempted to introduce his Medicare-for-All, single-payer health care substitute amendment, but when he requested the usual unanimous consent to dispense with the reading of the entire bill, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) objected, and under Senate rules, clerks were obligated to read aloud the entire 700-plus page amendment – a process that would have consumed nearly eight hours.

After 2 hours and 43 minutes, Sen. Sanders withdrew his amendment in order to allow the Senate to proceed with other business in the dwindling days before the Christmas recess – but he then gave a rousing, blistering speech on the Senate floor, condemning the insurance cartel, anti-reform obstructionists in Congress, and promising that the day will come when America has true universal healthcare.

Had Sen. Sanders’s amendment been allowed to proceed to debate and vote, it would have been the first time a complete single-payer plan had been considered on the Senate floor, a milestone in the history of nearly 60 years of effort to reform the nation’s health care system.

Sanders was proposing the amendment as a substitute for the compromise bill put together by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats, and supported by the Obama Administration. That bill has been so watered down in an effort to please enough Senators to reach the 60 votes necessary to stop a Republican filibuster that some progressives now say (more…)


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Dr. Andrew Coates at the PNHP blog writes about the difference between health insurance “reform” (the bill that Congress is trying to pass) and true health care reform, something that could be achieved with a Medicare-for-All, single-payer health plan. Unfortunately, many Democrats and self-described liberals dismiss the notion of single-payer as unfeasible, pie-in-the-sky thinking. Coates calls this refrain not only condescending but tiresome:

The nation asked the Democratic White House and the Democratic Congress for health care and so far we have gotten “health insurance reform” with a bonus – restricted access to abortion . . .

Our nation can do without “insurance reform” that will criminalize the uninsured, subsidize unaffordable insurance premiums with rivers of tax money, protect pharmaceutical company superprofits at patient expense, hugely expand Medicaid in the face of nationwide state budget crises and thus quickly prove fiscally unsustainable. (Incidentally the insurance industry projects its price increases will reach between 79% to 111% by 2019, under the proposed “insurance reform.”)

Coates is right. The people wanted health care reform. What we’re being told to settle for is just another scheme to line the pockets of the private health insurance industry.

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By John Sparks

This morning, in spite of strong support from health care advocates like Public Citizen, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) agreed to withdraw his single-payer health care amendment from consideration as the House approaches a floor vote on the major health care package supported by the Democratic leadership and President Obama.

This news may not surprise many who believed single-payer to be dead on arrival in today’s healthcare reform debate. But even political insiders were stunned by the resurrection of the possibility of a single-payer vote. Over the past week, activists across the country and the coalition of pro-single-payer organizations in Washington got behind Weiner’s campaign to offer an amendment and forced the leadership to seriously reconsider a floor vote.

Weiner acknowledged that last-minute developments caused him to make the difficult decision to withdraw the proposal. The chief reasons stemmed from pressure on (more…)

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There is only one solution to the twin problems of escalating health care costs and the epidemic of the uninsured: a Medicare-for-All, single payer system.

Unfortunately, the healthcare debate on Capitol Hill has evolved without serious consideration of the Medicare-for-All single payer health proposal. There are many reasons for this, but one is that many who actually support Medicare-for-All have claimed that the proposal is “not feasible.”

With the House leadership having settled on a single proposal, now is the time to set aside worries about feasibility. The House process is resolved. Members of Congress should have the opportunity to vote on the merits, up-or-down, on a Medicare-for-All single payer health proposal.

Whether they will have this chance is in the hands of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and is likely to be decided soon. Contact her right away to urge that the House be permitted to vote on a Medicare-for-All single payer health proposal. Call (202) 225-0100 or (as a second best alternative, submit comments on the Speaker’s web page).

Representative Anthony Weiner, D-New York, has proposed to introduce such a Medicare-for-All measure on the House floor in the form of an (more…)

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Filmmaker Michael Moore gave an impassioned plea for single-payer health coverage at a press conference today at our offices in Washington, D.C. His message for President Obama and members of Congress was rather simple: Give us single-payer, universal health coverage now, or feel the wrath of the voters come election time.

If President Obama would support a single-payer plan, tens of millions of Americans would flood the streets to support him, Moore said. “We will be there with you, every step of the way,” Moore said. “We have got your back.” It’s time to start over with a plan that includes single-payer, Medicare-for-All, he said. “Just hit the reset button and go back to the drawing board.” (Moore outlined what is missing from current health care proposals in a Huffington Post article.)

Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, who introduced Moore, said it’s time to end the current, broken system:

It is appropriate that filmmaker Michael Moore returns us to first principles, because the big picture of health care reform has been so badly obscured during the political theater of the past many months. Those first principles are: Health care is a right, and the private health insurance industry must be replaced. It is too cruel, too inhumane, too arbitrary, too bureaucratic and too inefficient.


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Who said health care reform is hard to understand? Andy Lubershane at Earthly Comics did a great job of explaining how our system works (or doesn’t) and why opposing universal care because it is  “socialism,” as if that’s a bad thing, is just plain silly. (Hat tip to The Worley Dervish)

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This morning, Howard Dean spoke to the crowd at Netroots Nation ’09 to address health care reform. Unsurprisingly, Dean’s talk consisted mostly of touting the Democratic “public option” plan for health care and talking points bloggers should repeat to push that compromise plan through Congress.

Now, there are lots of single-payer fans at Netroots. Outside the convention center in Pittsburgh, a number of protesters have been carrying signs promoting John Conyers’ (D-Mich) single-payer bill, HR 676. Inside, many of the bloggers and advocates I’ve spoken with have expressed their preference for single-payer over the Democrats’ proposed half-measures.

So it’s no surprise that when Dean confessed that he thinks single-payer should not have been off the table and that the Democrats’ proposal should have been a single-payer plan, the conference hall lit up with applause.

Of course, should have/could have/would have only goes so far. Single-payer still needs your support. Urge your Congress member to support HR 676 today!

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Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Public Citizen’s acting president and director of its Health Research Group, at the rally for single-payer health care held last week near the Capitol.

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What a time it was! Over 2,000 people gathered in Upper Senate Park today to show Congress and President Obama the kind of support single-payer health care has in America.

They were doctors, nurses, lawyers, politicians, activists, seniors, faith groups, students and average Americans working for a better system. They came from New York, Pennsylvania, California, Wisconsin, Georgia and many other states, all bearing a common desire: a single-payer system.

With the Capitol Building looming in the background, our own Dr. Sidney Wolfe spoke, as did Dr. David Scheiner, President Obama’s former physician. In fact, Dr. Scheiner has been sought by news outlets all over the country, like CNN, MSNBC, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and many more.

See more pictures from the rally on our Flickr page.

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Medicare, one of the government’s most popular programs, turns 44 today. To celebrate, Public Citizen is working with Physicians for a National Health Plan and Healthcare-NOW! to advocate for a program that might be just as popular: a single-payer health system.

As President Obama works with different parties with a stake in health care reform, one increasingly vocal constituency is senior citizens. Why? They don’t want to see their beloved Medicare cut down to anything less than it is today. According to the Wall Street Journal, Obama has spent much time with the AARP reassuring them that any cuts are intended to reduce wasteful spending, not benefits.

If only everyone could have this kind of concern. Congress and the President still refuse to consider the single-payer option, under which everyone would have health insurance, regardless of ability to pay or previous medical conditions.

But in an attempt to change that, Public Citizen is participating in a rally today at the Capitol to help show just how many people support a single-payer system. Joining us is Dr. David Scheiner, who was President Obama’s primary care physician for 22 years while he lived in Chicago. Though Dr. Scheiner is a big fan of the President, he believes that any proposed health care reform that does not involve a single-payer plan will not work.

In addition to Dr. Scheiner, Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Eric Massa (D-NY) and Anthony Weiner (D-NY) will speak at the rally. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will be in attendance as well. Throughout the event, about 100 D.C. taxis will circle the rally bearing signs indicating their support for a single-payer system.

Look for updates, pictures, and video from today’s event in the coming days. If you’re in town, please join us at the rally! We need all hands on deck to get our message firmly across: the American people will not sit idly by while our government refuses to consider the single-payer option.

Flickr photo by bookgrl.

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