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  Big Breakthroughs for Single Payer Health Care
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COMMENTARY:

Big Breakthroughs for Single Payer Health Care

Less than a month after 13 single payer advocates were arrested protesting the exclusion of single payer health care, it is at the table in both Houses, making progress while the multi-payer pro-insurance reform is faltering.

by Kevin Zeese
Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Single payer pays for itself, while multi-payer will add to the deficit.

When we started our campaign one month ago to put single payer national health insurance on the table, we were ignored.

When we stood up and demanded that single payer be part of the debate, we were arrested.

Today, single payer is breaking through, while the multi-payer pro-health insurance reform is faltering.

Here’s the news: single payer national health insurance will be at the table in the Senate, with a witness participating in a hearing on Thursday, June 11. And, on Wednesday, June 10 a hearing was being held on single payer in the House of Representatives.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education and Pensions has invited Margaret Flowers, M.D., of Physicians for National Health Policy to testify on June 11 at 3:00 PM in a hearing on health care reform. Flowers was one of the "Baucus 13" (I was another) who were arrested three weeks ago for protesting the exclusion of single payer from Senate Finance Committee hearings.

Also, on Wednesday, June 10, the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education & Labor Committee held a hearing titled “Examining the Single Payer Health Care Option."

Single payer, in short, is making advances while the multi-payer pro-insurance industry reform bill is faltering. Here's why:

  • There are deep divisions over how to pay for the reform with the very unpopular taxing of health benefits now being considered. This was something President Obama opposed during the 2008 campaign. Paying for single payer is much easier, as the waste, fraud, abuse and bureaucracy of the health insurance industry—totaling $400 billion annually—would be applied to providing health care. Single payer pays for itself, while multi-payer will add to the deficit.
  • Mandating that people buy insurance or face fines—another provision President Obama opposed during the campaign—is gaining popularity among pro-insurance company legislators. And, the mandates would provide subsidies to the poor so they can purchase insurance (of course, this is also a subsidy to the health insurance industry). The working class, which cannot afford to purchase insurance, will feel the burden of this requirement. Under single payer, people are provided health care without these costs, which is one reason it is the most popular reform among voters.
  • The Public Insurance Option is opposed by Republicans and the insurance industry. While several schemes have been reported to make the public choice option ineffective, it is causing deep divisions. Single payer is the most popular health care reform among voters, doctors, nurses and economists because it provides all Americans with choice of doctors and providers.
  • The business community is questioning the pro-insurance reforms because they will include mandates on business, requiring them to pay for health insurance. At this critical time, business needs relief, not burdens. Single payer will provide businesses with economic relief by reducing the costs of health care and leveling the playing field among all businesses and allowing them to compete internationally with other countries with single payer systems.

In an effort to save the faltering pro-insurance reforms, President Obama announced his administration would be getting directly involved in health care negotiations with Congress. And, he has announced town hall meetings throughout the U.S.

President Obama will find that at all of these town hall meetings single payer will be the most popular reform among Americans. He needs to listen to voters. When Obama was in the Illinois Senate he said he supported single payer, but that before Americans got it they needed to win back the House, Senate and Presidency. Well, all three are now in Democratic Party control. It is time for President Obama to advocate for the people and push for single payer. The multi-payer system, as favored by the insurance industry, is the root cause of the problems in health care in the U.S..


For those who support single payer, now is the time to escalate your activity. Contact your member of the House and Senate today (202-224-3121). Let Congress know you want real health care reform not a subsidy for the insurance industry.

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This story was published on June 10, 2009.
 

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