Demand Single-Payer on March 5, 10, 11th

If you want everyone in the United States to have health coverage simply paid for by the government for less money than we spend now, eliminating all health insurance companies, but allowing you to choose any private doctor or hospital of your choice, and boosting the economy with a net gain of 2.6 million jobs …

and if you can be near a telephone or be in Washington, D.C., on March 5th, 10th, or 11th, keep reading.

Here’s an announcement of the March 5th event from Physicians for a National Health Program:

White Coats To Crowd the White House Gate Thursday
March 5, 12pm -1pm The White House Lafayette Park, Washington, DC

Doctors criticize exclusion of single-payer advocates from summit

President Obama is holding a Healthcare Summit on Thursday, March 5th. Over 120 are expected to be in attendance, including representatives from Americas Health Insurance Plans, the largest group of private health insurance lobbyists.

“It appears that despite the fact that a majority of Americans and American physicians support a single payer — an improved Medicare for All — as the best solution to our nation’s health care crisis, they will have no voice at this Thursday’s summit,” said Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Single payer – which would create a health care system based on public financing of privately delivered care much like that seen in other industrialized nations – is the health reform with support from 60% of the American public (Gallup Poll, 2007)) and the majority of American physicians (Annals of Internal Medicine, 2008). Single payer would usher improved health and affordable health care to all Americans.

Single payer national health care is the only model proven to lead us out of a seemingly perpetual health care crisis. “In years past, President Obama endorsed single payer as the best solution to the crisis,” Young said. “Today it appears that this option will not even get a hearing at the summit. We believe this exclusion compromises, profoundly, the possibility of a popular, effective solution to our No. 1 domestic problem. This is a colossal blunder.”

PNHP and other members of the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, the National Single Payer Alliance, will demonstrate on Thursday, March 5th from noon to 1:00 pm at Lafayette Square in front of the White House. If you are a health care provider bring your white coat.

Please join us. For more information contact Danielle Alexander, (202) 662-0614, danielle@pnhp.org

*****

Sometimes Nurses Know Better Than Doctors. In This Case They Agree:

Nation’s RNs on the Healthcare Summit: Insurance-Based Reform Will Fail, and Undermine Public Trust,

Only Medicare for All Can Achieve Administration’s Goals

On the eve of President Obama’s healthcare summit Thursday, the nation’s largest organization of registered nurses said today that expanding and updating Medicare to cover everyone is the most cost-effective and comprehensive approach to achieving the goals and principles outlined by the president in his recent address to Congress and budget proposal.

While welcoming President Obama’s call for achieving “comprehensive” healthcare reform this year, “a laudable commitment and a huge departure from the dismal healthcare policies of the past eight years,” the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee warned that most of proposals floating around Congress would default on the promise and principles set by the administration.

“And, they would almost certainly fail to contain the rising costs that put so many families in peril or to repair our broken healthcare system,” said CNA/NNOC Co-president Geri Jenkins, RN.

“That’s the reason the majority of the nation’s nurses and doctors — the very people who have the most daily interaction with our healthcare system and see its failures and tragedies up front, favor a single-payer approach, or expanding Medicare to all.”

“To achieve the lasting and cost-effective reform the president seeks and most Americans desire, we must confront the source of the present crisis — an insurance industry that has been steadily pricing people out of access to care, or bankrupting them if they attempt to use it,” Jenkins said. “Insurance company practices drive skyrocketing costs, a problem that won’t be solved by more technology, electronic medical records, or any other stopgap measures some propose.”

Jenkins welcomed the principles outlined by the administration for reform, and the call for progressive tax changes to help finance them, but warned that any reform “premised on expanding an insurance-based system will likely fail, frustrate the public desire for a real solution to our healthcare crisis, and undermine the political capital the administration has earned for reform.”

“Private insurance plans aren’t universal because they exclude people based on pre-existing conditions or age or anyone else they think will be expensive to cover. They don’t guarantee choice of physician or hospital, but limit you to their network of providers.

“The insurers won’t assure affordability because they are constantly raising premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other fees to generate high revenues and profits. They can’t guarantee safety and quality because they actively discourage the delivery of care or deny treatments, diagnoses, or referrals they don’t want to pay for. And, they will never be fiscally responsible because there is no independent oversight, decisions are made in secret in closed boardrooms or CEO offices, and, their priority is profits, not care,” Jenkins said.

“Medicare for all, however, does succeed in all eight areas. It removes the incentive for price gouging, and it takes control of our health away from the insurance companies, and puts it where it belongs, in the hands of patients, families, and their doctors and nurses,” said Jenkins.

This reform, she added also promotes national recovery by creating 2.6 million new jobs, infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues, and injecting $100 billion more in wages into the U.S. economy, according to a recent CNA/NNOC study.

HR 676, the U.S. National Health Care Act by Rep. John Conyers, is the plan that best meets the grand vision painted by our president. “We call on Congress and the administration to work with us to enact it,” Jenkins said.

CNA/NNOC represents 85,000 RNs in all 50 states, and is a founding member of the newly formed United American Nurses-NNOC.

*****

Guess Who Is Invited to the White House.

On March 5th, for the White House Health Summit, the Obama team has invited members of AHIP – the organization of health insurance lobbyists. However, despite repeated requests to be included, even from Chairman John Conyers himself, the word is that no single-payer representatives will be included.

We cannot allow our voices to be silenced. The majority of Americans, including the majority of physicians, want a national health program based on public financing of privately-delivered health care. Please call the White House today at 202-456-1111. If you can’t get through, you can fax Karen Richardson at the White House: 202-456-2461. Or you can send an email at www.whitehouse.gov

The American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the trade group that develops the policies that keep profit first in our health care system while leaving over a third of the population uninsured or with inadequate coverage, is meeting next week at the Ritz Carlton in Washington DC (1150 22nd Street, N.W. Either Dupont Circle Metro or GWU/Foggy Bottom Metro.) Activists will be gathering in front of the Ritz Carlton for both days of the conference to give them a “warm welcome.” For DC Metro single-payer supporters, these are must-do actions!

March 10th at 11 a.m. Demonstrate for HR 676

The Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care will be organizing activists to meet and rally in front of the AHIP Conference. There is no regulating the industry that puts profits before health. Join activists to demand real health care reform. HR 676: Single Payer Now. For more information, contact Donna Smith, donnas@calnurses.org

March 11th at 10 a.m. Burn your Health Insurance Bill Day

Single Payer Action, a newly formed group planning direct actions supporting single-payer will gather at 10am at the Ritz Carlton. At the demonstration, some will burn health insurance bills. It will be a symbolic act. Single payer legislation (HR 676) will effectively make it a crime to sell basic health insurance for profit. Single payer will be the equivalent of the death penalty for health insurance corporations as they exist. So, pass the word. Bring your health insurance bills. Matches provided. For more information, write russellmokhiber@gmail.com

Peace and Justice,

Healthcare-NOW!
http://www.healthcare-now.org

*****

Also on March 10th: Energy and Commerce Committee Announces First in Series of Hearings on Making Healthcare Work for American Families.

WASHINGTON, DC —Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Frank Pallone announced that the first in a series of health reform hearings the Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold over the next several months will be held on Tuesday, March 10, 2009. The first hearing will explore options for making the health system work better and for designing a high performing healthcare system.

“This is a year of decision on health care for all Americans and, in partnership with President Obama, we must not let this opportunity pass,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “Making health care work for American families means achieving, at long last, our goal of affordable, high quality, universal coverage. All three elements are essential, and we will not solve any one of those fundamental issues without resolving all of them together by bringing into existence a high performing healthcare system.”

“Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are ready to work with President Obama to enact health care reform legislation this year,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health. “Next week, we will take an important step towards reform by beginning the process of holding hearings. It is my hope that this will lead to the creation of a health care system that improves the quality of care, lowers costs and provides universal coverage for hardworking American families.”

WHAT: Subcommittee on Health Hearing on “Making Healthcare Work for American Families: Designing a High Performing Healthcare System”

WHEN: 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 10

WHERE: 2123 Rayburn House Office Building

The hearing will be webcast at http://www.energycommerce.house.gov

*****

Why Support Single-Payer If Obama Doesn’t?

Congress members, pundits, and activists recognize the extent to which we now have a monarchical rather than a legislative government. They are inclined to await the president’s proposals before acting on an issue. But no union negotiator ever opens with what they’ll settle for. You open with your ideal, and then compromise from there. And we elect representatives and senators to push our ideals forward.

HR 676 had 93 cosponsors last congress and already has 60 now. All 60 of them are well aware of the unlikelihood of passing the bill this year. But many of them may recognize the increased likelihood of achieving a more significant “public option” component in the bill we end up with if a major push for HR 676 is part of the initial picture. We need more Congress members to add their names to that list of 60.

HR 676 would create single-payer healthcare. This would mean the elimination of all for-profit health insurance companies, along with their bureaucracies, advertising, and waste. (This tells you where the primary opposition to single-payer comes from.) With single-payer we don’t get government healthcare, just government insurance, so people get complete choice of private healthcare — choose any doctor or hospital you want, not just the ones some company tells you to. It’s Medicare enhanced and expanded and covering everyone. The stronger the push is for it, the more likely we are to win it or to see a component of it in what we end up with.

HR 676 would give us a net of 2.6 million new jobs. In other words, it would be a more effective economic stimulus than much of what we have recently funded for that purpose. This report explains:
http://tinyurl.com/hcarestimulus

Here are 10 great reasons to support HR 676, the U.S. National Health Insurance Act: http://guaranteedhealthcare4all.org/sites/default/files/10-Reasons.pdf

1. Everybody In, Nobody Out. Universal means access to health care for everyone, period.

2. Portability. If you are unemployed, or lose or change jobs, your health coverage stays with you.

3. Uniform Benefits. No Cadillac plans for the wealthy and Pinto plans for everyone else, with high deductibles, limited services, caps on payments for care, and no protection in the event of a catastrophe. One level of comprehensive care for everyone, regardless of the size of your wallet.

4. Prevention. By removing financial roadblocks, a universal health system encourages preventive care that lowers an individual’s ultimate cost and pain and suffering when problems are neglected and societal cost in the over-utilization of emergency rooms or the spread of communicable diseases.

5. Choice. Most private insurance restricts your choice of providers and hospitals. Under the U.S. National Health Insurance Act, patients have a choice, and the provider is assured a fair payment.

6. No Interference with Care. Caregivers and patients regain their autonomy to decide what’s best for a patient’s health, not what’s dictated by the billing department. No denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions or cancellation of policies for “unreported” minor health problems.

7. Reducing Waste. One third of every private health insurance dollar goes for paperwork and profits, compared to about 3% under Medicare, the federal government’s universal system for senior citizen healthcare.

8. Cost Savings. A guaranteed health care system can produce the cost savings needed to cover everyone, largely by using existing resources without the waste. Taiwan, shifting from a U.S. private health care model, adopted a similar system in 1995, boosting health coverage from 57% to 97% with little increase in overall health care spending.

9. Common Sense Budgeting. The public system sets fair reimbursements applied equally to all providers, private and public, while assuring that appropriate health care is delivered, and uses its clout to negotiate volume discounts for prescription drugs and medical equipment.

10. Public Oversight. The public sets the policies and administers the system, not high priced CEOs meeting in private and making decisions based on their company’s stock performance needs.

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