By David Swanson
Word is that the full House will vote on national single-payer Medicare for All on Friday. This vote is a cover for the removal of an amendment that was in the House "healthcare" bill until Pelosi stripped it out. That amendment would have made it easier for states to enact single-payer, and still would if a conference committee is persuaded to reinstate it.
Of course we want to see a vote on a real national healthcare plan like Medicare for All. of course we want it to pass or to come as close as possible. But this vote is not more a real effort than John Conyers’ pseudo-impeachment hearing last July was a real effort to hold Bush accountable. This is a game and we are being played. There has been no debate, no discussion, no mark-up, no amendments. It’s a throw-away vote.
And perhaps that hurts nothing. Perhaps a good showing advances the debate in round two. But that’s if there is a round two. We have 57 Democrats who commited in a letter to Pelosi last July to not supporting a bill as lousy as the current one. If even 40 of them keep their word, the bill dies. If some Blue Dogs also vote no, then not even 30 are needed. But what if those members can go home to their constituents and brag about how they voted for single-payer before voting for the insurance corporation bailout? Not a bad deal, eh?
Meanwhile the best shot at real healthcare reform, at really saving lives in the near future, sits stewing in state capitals. Some advocates think they can get around restrictions in federal law without the Kucinich Amendment, some don’t. Few have any doubt that insurance companies will sue to prevent any state from providing its residents with healthcare.
Canada created a civilized healthcare system in one province first. If California or Ohio or Pennsylvania takes the lead, the United States will follow. The insurance companies know that and fear it and have fought it. The president has fought it on their behalf. The "leadership" in Congress has fought it. Congressman Kucinich and a handful of courageous representatives have pushed back. But we have not had their backs. We need to have their backs right now. Right now. Call your congress member and tell them to tell the leadership to put the Kucinich Amendment back in.