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Baucus to Meet with Single Payer Advocates

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Senator Max Baucus and the Finance Committee are feeling the pressure

This Wednesday Sen. Baucus will meet with a delegation of leading single payer national health plan advocates.

The delegation includes: Dr. David Himmelstein, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), Dr. Marcia Angell, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Medical School and former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Oliver Fein, Associate Dean, Cornell Weill Medical School, and President of PNHP, Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, and Geri Jenkins, president of California Nurses Association.

This step would not have occurred without the consistent and growing pressure being put on Senator Baucus and the Finance Committee.  This is a victory for single payer advocates.

Kevin Zeese in handcuffs after health care protest

But we know that a private meeting with single payer advocates does not mean that single payer is on the table or that will get a fair hearing.

We are pleased Sen. Baucus is feeling the pressure and reacting but an off-the-record meeting is not enough.  We want single payer on the table and really being considered.  We know that on every measure: cost, patient choice, improved health care and covering all people -- single payer wins every argument.  It isn't even a close question which is why a super majority of Americans support single payer -- improved Medicare for all.

Please take action and write Senator Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee today.(You can take action at www.ProsperityAgenda.US.)  Tell them that while we appreciate a private meeting for single payer -- that is not good enough.  Single payer needs to be on the table because with fair consideration single payer will be the health care plan adopted by the nation. 

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The multi-payer system that Sen. Baucus is pushing will be a gift to the insurance industry that has so generously supported him throughout his political career.  Indeed, it only makes sense from the perspective of the insurance industry.  It makes no sense as real health care reform.

The plan he is working on will push, perhaps even force, people to buy insurance, it will subsidize the industry even more than it already is, it will not control costs indeed it will increase taxes to pay for insurance subsidies, and, if there is a public insurance option it will have so many strings attached that it will fail.  This is not reform that provide health care to all at a price the nation can afford.

President Obama put forward three goals for health care reform.  On every measure single payer wins on the facts.

1.  Cover all American: It is the only system that will ensure that every American has access to health care throughout their lives. Single payer will allow people to keep insurance unrelated to their employment.  The Massachusetts model on which the senate is basing their plan has failed to insure all people in Massachusetts.

2.  Control Costs: Single payer is the only cost-effective way to achieve health care for all because it immediately saves $400 billion in health insurance created bureaucracy, it will uncover hundreds of billions in waste, fraud, and abuse, it will allow for negotiation on the price of pharmaceutical drugs and and it will reduce malpractice as people with bad health outcomes will have health care to treat them.  The Massachusetts model has led to rapidly increasing costs.

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3.  Provide Consumer Choice: Single payer provides people with the maximum choice.  They will no longer be limited by the insurance or HMO "approved" list of doctors but rather will be able to pick their doctor, their hospital and their treatment.  The senate is conflating choice of health care with choice of insurance.  The latter is really irrelevant as under a single payer system people will be able to keep their current doctors and providers or change them.  People have maximum choice under single payer.

Real reform of health care is needed.  We do not need to tinker with the broken multi-payer system. We do not need to preserve the costly, failed private insurance system -- we need to end it.  Single payer has worked in every country that has tried it.  Medicare is working in the United States.  Single payer is merely expanding improved Medicare to all Americans. 

It is time to put single payer on the table, indeed it is time to make it America's national health policy.  A private meeting should spur our movement to increase the pressure senators are feeling. 

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Kevin Zeese is co-chair of Come Home America, www.ComeHomeAmerica.US which seeks to end U.S. militarism and empire. He is also co-director of Its Our Economy, www.ItsOurEconomy.US which seeks to democratize the economy and give people greater (more...)

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