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Universal Health Care Demanded in US

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This article courtesy of Atlanta Progressive News.

(APN) ATLANTA Elected officials, medical workers, and activists gathered at events nationwide on June 07, 2006, to demand Universal Health Care for all Americans which would build upon the success and effectiveness of the Medicare Program.

The events were held on 6/7/06, National Health Insurance Day, to coincide with US Rep. John Conyers 's (D-MI) bill, US HR 676, the United States Health Insurance Act. HR 676 would create a single-payer system of universal health care for Americans.

Coincidentally, on National Health Insurance Day, a panel formally commissioned by US Sens. Wyden and Hatch, found most Americans want universal health care, the Associated Press reports. The panel went to 50 communities and talked with 23,000 people.

Respondents to the survey actually had to insist they wanted universal health care even though it wasn 't one of the multiple choices offered in the structured survey, Rita Valenti, Spokeswoman for Georgians for a Common Sense Health Plan, said in a telephone interview.

Here in Atlanta, two events were held including a "People 's Congress " at the First Iconium Baptist Church (held the night before), and a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol.


Meanwhile, Members of the Georgia Legislature have proposed Georgia HR 1605, which would endorse the idea of US HR 676 on the national level. The 3 current co-sponsors are Rep. Stephanie Benfield (85th), Pat Gardner (57th), and Mary Oliver (83rd). The bill has not passed the Georgia House.

For years, Georgia Rep. Bob Holmes has introduced legislation which would create universal health care for Georgia. Holmes has not introduced the bill in the last session while he and health care activists are studying best ways to structure a new bill in the future, Rita Valenti said in a phone interview.

"Recent studies have shown that single-payer health insurance is fiscally responsible, quite feasible, and provides a real basis for solving many of our health care problems, " Georgia Rep. Holmes said.

State Rep. Pat Gardner has also introduced state legislation to ensure all children in Georgia are covered under the existing Peachcare system in Georgia HB 1464.

"I 've talked to constituents of mine and they believe it 's time for this country to look at getting every single citizen covered... As we began the discussion about covering all Georgians, everybody said 'How about you start with the children? ' " Georgia Rep. Gardner said.

US Rep. Conyers 's bill has attracted a total of 71 sponsors and cosponsors in US Congress to date, including Georgia 's US Rep. John Lewis and Cynthia McKinney, both Democrats.

"Universal health care is within reach and National Health Insurance Day will go a long way toward building momentum to reach our goal of health care for all, " US Rep. Conyers said in a press release.

"We spend more than $177 million [per] day to bring democracy to Iraq, but we fail at democracy at home. The rights of Americans must be protected and [I believe] that universal access to health care ought to be a right, " US Rep. McKinney (D-GA) said in a statement prepared for Atlanta Progressive News.

"Access to health care in a democratic society is a right. It should not depend upon the size of a person 's wallet or the digits in a zip code. Good health is essential to full participation in the democratic process, and that is why the richest, most powerful nation in the world should find a way to accommodate the basic human needs of ALL OF its citizens, " US Rep. Lewis (D-GA) said in a statement prepared for Atlanta Progressive News.

Single payer health care would provide private health care through a public financing system of progressive taxation, and would be cheaper than the current system while including everybody, research has shown, Dr. Henry Kahn of Emory University, said.

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