Statement by Healthcare NOW on Withdrawal of Single Payer Amendment

Dear Healthcare-NOW! Supporter:On the eve of what could have been the first vote on single-payer legislation in our nation’s history, we have just learned that because of last minute developments, the vote and debate on Congressman Weiner’s single-payer amendment will not happen.

Speaker Pelosi received a statement from Rep. Kucinich and Rep. Conyers, the co-authors of HR 676, that they do not think that this is the right time for a vote on national single-payer legislation. They made this statement despite the extensive mobilization in support of this vote across the country. In addition, Speaker Pelosi felt that offering a single-payer amendment would open the floodgates to amendments proposed to limit abortion funds, restrict immigrant access to healthcare, and other regressive legislation.

Let us remember that the potential vote on Congressman Weiner’s single-payer amendment resulted from holding fast to our principles of universal, comprehensive healthcare with no financial barriers. These efforts have brought truth and clarity to a national debate on healthcare reform that has been polluted by the corporate influence over Congress. While the private insurance industry has sent 3,000 lobbyists to Capitol Hill this year, spending 1.4 million dollars a day to shape reform that protects their profits, our calls, faxes, and demonstrations have created the momentum to bring legislation based on HR 676 to the floor of the House and Senate.

The vote for Congressman Weiner’s single-payer amendment would have allowed advocates to have their representatives on record as single-payer supporters.

But this legislative battle is not yet over. Our focus can now turn to two remaining efforts for single-payer in this Congress. Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce S 703 in coming weeks, and we understand that he is considering editing it to be more like HR 676. We will have the opportunity again to see the first ever vote on single-payer in this Congress. In addition, Rep. Kucinich’s amendment to allow states to more easily implement a single-payer system may be reinserted into the bill during the conference committee between the House and Senate.

All of these efforts are crucial to building the movement for the only solution to our healthcare crisis – single-payer national healthcare.

If this Congress passes inadequate legislation, there will no doubt be emboldened state movements in the coming years. We welcome them. But let us not forget the movement to push our federal legislators to meet the demands of the people, not roll that responsibility onto the states. Healthcare-NOW! and the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care remains committed to a national, single-payer solution to the healthcare crisis. Comprehensive, quality healthcare is a right that should be extended to every U.S. resident.

At this important time, let us not forget how far we have come. Either now or later, a single-payer national healthcare system must come to the table. We will keep building the movement to make that happen.

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