Although I have worked, wished and prayed for Single Payer Health Care every day for at least 5 years, I can't stand only in the Single Payer camp any longer. I agreed with that strategy all along in order to keep up the pressure for Single Payer for as long and as far as we could push the issue but I hope you are paying enough attention to know that the cards are being dealt right now in Congress!!!
The Senate has come out with one of their plans and it's not even close to a Single Payer plan! In fact Kennedy's plan is similar to the Massachusetts plan, which has been disastrous to the middle class and even the poor (increased the cost of health care for 95% of residents, health care premiums went up 25% since 2006 because the Insurance companies have a captive audience secondary to the mandates and it has whittled away the safety net hospitals and clinics that were giving care to the poor for free prior to the "reforms"). It has hurt the state badly too (they are facing record deficits because they have been subsidizing the poor in that state and sending their money to the Health Insurance companies for their policies) and it has grown the power of the Health Insurance companies in that state because of the mandates! My sources tell me that Kennedy's bill is not going to be the major contender in the Senate and that Baucus's bill is the major factor so keep your eyes open for that one coming out soon, but today Jan Schakowsky said in a public meeting that mandates have not been taken off the table in the House, arghhhh!
Conrad and Baucus are talking right now about Health Care Coops like Group Health in Puget Sound, they have 580,000 members, I ask you, how long do you think it will take for institutions like that to form across America, 10 years? A long time, even with seed money from Obama!. Go on line and check out their premiums, I was not impressed with any significant cost savings to their members, they are still very expensive so will do nothing for the average uninsured American!
Also think about it for a second, we are trying to tell Congress to do away with a large chunk of Industry in this failing economy, this Health Care Industry is 1/6th of the American Economy. Although Single Payer is the most cost effective and humane system, and even though it has revocation funds in HR 676 for the Insurance industry workers, I can see that it is impossible for Congress to do this at this time! They can't pink slip that many Americans with one bill, the country would go crazy!
We MUST have a fall back position. Can you imagine an army that never reevaluates it's strategy? My call now is for a Strong Public Option that allows the uninsured and underinsured to buy into an existing program like Medicaid or Medicare, this may be a way for Congress to save Medicare too, at least temporarily, so that is a PLUS! (But it is my understanding that in the House they are talking about a separate new program for the Public Option that would be co-managed by the Medicare administrators.)
NO MANDATES, these create a captive audience and grows the power of the Health Insurance corporations, we do not want to do that at all costs!
NO MEANS TEST, we want to allow anyone who wants to join the Public Option to join, no income levels necessary or previous inability to get insurance in the private market. We want to sign up as many Americans into this plan as possible so that it is not just a pool of sick people. This will be our strategy, if we are able to get this plan, to drive the Health Insurance companies slowly out of business or at least whittle away at their power!
No Massachusetts Fiasco for America and NO COOPS, A Strong Public Option Open to all NOW!
It is my understanding that the House has already agreed to a list of regulations of the Health Insurance companies that will include no preexisting illness clauses but it would be prudent to mention that when you call your Reps and Sens too!
Some of the Single Payer advocates, God Bless them, I am one of them, do not understand that the present political situation has not really swung in our favor, yes we got a couple of hearings in Congress, that was fantastic and a true show of our power, kudos to everyone!!! And it will help us greatly move a Stong Public Option. But some of them openly say that they are in favor of the whole effort in Congress failing right now in order to be able to push Single Payer in the future which I think is a very dangerous postion in this failing economy for millions of Americans. I cannot in good conscious accept that outcome! Complete failure at this time is a distinct possiblity folks, the House and the Senate are very far apart. Look for the House bill to come out of their Tri-Committee this week. So even with Obama's tour of the country, we may get nothing, unless we get smart!
So I must ask you to consider a more nuanced position as stated above and also as stated by the Congressional Progressive Caucus in a letter to Pelosi at www.grijalva.house.gov-it is important!
I say we start by calling the Progressive Caucus members and telling them that we have their backs!!! Ask them to remain strong in their demands, 1-866-338-1015. Then start working the other members of Congress, including Baucus!
On Monday, outside the AMA Convention at the Hyatt,
151 E. Wacker, 9am to 1pm, I will be standing with a sign saying;
No Mandates, No Triggers, No Means Test, No Preexisting Illness Clauses!
I am doing this, using their own language, to get Obama's attention and the attention of the AMA. I know there is going to be a lot of people coming down there for various reasons, I am not going to get arrested, I will stand as close as I can to the entrance to the convention, please join me!
There are important rallies in Washington on
Thursday June 25th, 10 am,
at the Washington Monument on the National Mall
The Great American SickOut