Above photo from Code Pink's single-payer action Oct 14, 2009 in Washington, D.C. (See Code Pink's Flickr page for more.)
In the run-up to the vote on health reform legislation Saturday, the possibility of getting a vote on single-payer in Congress was looking more likely each day. Leaders were admitting privately if not publicly that single-payer grassroots groups were keeping reform legislation from dropping the public option entirely.
But, as Katie Robbins, assistant coordinator of the single-payer advocacy group, Healthcare-Now!, explained, those leading the mobilization for single-payer (Physicians for a National Health Program, Progressive Democrats of America, California Nurses Association, Public Citizen, etc) had a quite jarring experience in the 72 hours before a vote that Democrats now regard as a huge victory for health care reform.
Between Thursday and Saturday, the movement witnessed Pelosi's refusal to allow any amendments on single-payer to come to the floor, Obama's message to Congress to not allow a vote on single-payer so close to a vote on his health insurance bill, Kucinich's and Conyers' decision to not support a vote on single-payer in the House, and a vote on an anti-choice amendment brought to the floor by conservative Democrats and Republicans after Pelosi declared no amendments to the bill would be allowed to come up for a vote.
There was no bloc of representatives in the House willing to stand firm against the White House on the issue of healthcare as a human right or on the issue of establishing a health care system in America that does not let for-profit health insurance companies administer or largely define the solution to the healthcare crisis in America.
"Some very strong single-payer advocates like John Conyers and Donna Edwards did not vote their conscience. They voted for a bill that's a corporate giveaway, " said Kevin Zeese of the Prosperity Agenda. "They know that single-payer is right but first they're Democrats and they'll allow the Democratic Leadership, which is not a single-payer supportive group, to tell them how to vote."