URGENT: Single Payer Breakthrough in Congress!

John Conyers & Martin L. King
John Conyers & Martin L. King

by Randy Shannon

August 1, 2009
Dear Progressive Friends,
The insurance company lapdogs in Congress that told us single payer national healthcare was off the table are now eating their words!
Those who have told us that HR 676 – The National Healthcare Act would not come up for a vote this year and that only a watered down ineffective version of healthcare reform is politically viable have been proven wrong!
The trade union leaders who mistakenly believed worthwhile concessions could be won from the insurance companies while discounting the demands of rank and file workers now have cause to reconsider.
Today, the progressive Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Congressman Weiner of NY, withdrew their motion to substitute HR 676 for HR 3200 after being promised by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that HR 676 would be introduced, debated, and voted by the full House in September!
Not since the Voting Rights Act has such a far-reaching piece of social change legislation reached the floor of the House. Progressive Democrats, independents, and liberals must unite in a massive grassroots lobby campaign during the month of August to call, visit, picket, and persuade your Congressperson to vote for HR 676 – the National Single Payer Healthcare Act when Congress reconvenes in September.
How did this happen when so many had already thrown in the towel on single payer national health insurance? There is a profound political groundswell underway that is shaking up all political relations and requires us to reassess the potential for radical change.
 The main reason this breakthrough has occurred is the persistent growth and action of the grass-roots movement for single payer healthcare. It is led by Progressive Democrats of America, the California Nurses Association, the Physicians for a National Health Program, the All Unions Committee for Single Payer Healthcare, and Healthcare NOW, along with hundreds of local committees, in coordination with the office of Congressman John Conyers and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
This upswell was manifested on July 30th, the national lobby day for single payer healthcare when over a thousand vocal and articulate single payer activists visited their Congresspersons and Senators after a rally at the Capitol.
The second factor that led to this breakthrough is the tremendous frustration in Congress and among the public with the pace and the character of the effort of the leadership of the Democratic Party and their supporters at the top of the trade unions and the undemocratic mass organizations like MoveOn to forge a compromise with the insurance companies that own most of the Republicans and a large number of Democrats. The people’s fear and loathing of the compromising Democrats and the human-hating Republicans when lives are at stake is rising to a roar of threatening anger.
Lastly the Republican Party, which has a far-right anti-Obama, agenda and a narrow base, has taken the position that the best healthcare reform – single payer healthcare – is the greatest liability for the Democratic Party and President Obama. They believe their own propaganda: that single payer healthcare is socialism – communism – government controlled murder- etc. This has lead them to adopt the tactic of voting for the progressive Democrats’ efforts for single payer, in what they believe will be an embarrassment to President Obama and House Democrats. Not surprisingly for this group of reactionaries, this is a serious miscalculation. We can only hope that the Republicans  do not realize their mistake before the vote in September.
If they continue this tactic, then HR 676 has a very good chance of passing in the House. This event will destroy the Republican leverage in the Senate. It will lead to a completely different compromise in the reconciliation of the House and Senate bills – a compromise which will be much better for the American people. And this will lead to a tremendous battle to whip 51 Democratic Senators in line to support the reconciled bill.
Indeed we have been presented with an opportunity to wage a legislative battle that could be the most important battle of our generation. Let us all throw ourselves into an all out effort to leave no task undone to convince, pressure, and threaten our representatives to vote for HR 676 in September. As our brother, British Labor Party member Tony Benn, pointed out in the movie Sicko, national healthcare will free the American people from the oppressive fear of illness and bankruptcy, and allow us to build a more just and democratic society.

One thought on “URGENT: Single Payer Breakthrough in Congress!”

  1. i receieved this from cong.altmire ,we need to get him on board … how can i help do this i feel like one lonely voice

    Dear Mr. Faraone,

    Thank you for contacting me about the health care reform legislation currently being debated in Congress. I appreciate hearing from you about this important issue.

    The skyrocketing cost of health care is simply unsustainable. Rising health care costs affect every family and every business in this country. Less than half of American small businesses can afford to offer health care to their employees, and families across the country have seen health care costs continue to eat up a larger and larger chunk of their discretionary income.

    Equally important, we can never hope to bring America’s deficits and long-term national debt under control until we begin to slow the rate of growth in health care costs, which already account for 18 percent of our gross domestic product. Additionally, duplication and inefficiency in our health care system waste billions of dollars and contribute to unnecessary medical errors that cause hundreds of thousands of injuries and deaths every year. This is why I believe commonsense reform is necessary to bring down costs for everyone, while preserving what works in our current health care system.

    I voted against the health care legislation under consideration in the House when it came before the Education and Labor Committee because I believe it failed to make the necessary cost reductions before expanding coverage. We cannot simply add fifty million uninsured people into our current system and expect it to save money. The House bill that I voted on in Committee also contained a number of poorly designed policies that I believe will actually lead to an increase in health care costs. I believe it is important to ensure that every American who is satisfied with his or her current insurance can keep it, even after any reforms are passed into law.

    Congress has taken the initial steps in drafting a bill and is beginning to move it through the legislative process. I hope that you will take a moment to review the House bill on my website at http://www.altmire.house.gov. Look under “Health Care” on the issues page to link to the bill in its entirety. As you may have read, the House is not going to vote on any health care bill until the month of September and changes continue to be made to the bill. I hope that you will stay in touch with me over the next several weeks as Congress works to finalize a health care reform bill in the fall.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. Please do not hesitate to be in touch should I be able to assist you on this or any other issue.

    Sincerely,

    Jason Altmire
    Member of Congress

    Please sign up for my e-newsletter at http://www.altmire.house.gov.

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